Friday, August 12, 2016

Clintonomics: We, Not Me

Hillary Clinton went to Michigan to deliver her speech on the economy.

Mrs. Clinton called for making the biggest infrastructure investment — $275 billion — since World War II, and urged aggressive spending on green energy to counter China and Germany. And she repeated her plans to make public colleges and universities tuition-free for in-state middle-class families.

And she sharply criticized important elements of Mr. Trump’s tax cut plans, particularly the elimination of the estate tax and his plan to cut the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent; she said his plan for business owners included what she called the “Trump loophole,” which would “allow him to pay less than half the current tax rate on income from many of his own companies.”

She characterized her opponent’s economic doctrine as a “more extreme version of the failed theory of trickle-down economics” mixed with his own “outlandish Trumpian ideas that even Republicans reject.”

And she rejected Mr. Trump’s promises to ease financial regulation and do away with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which he calls detrimental to average Americans.

“Even conservative experts say Trump’s agenda will pull our economy back into recession,” and cause the loss of 3.4 million jobs, Mrs. Clinton said, pointing to an analysis for Moody’s Analytics led by Mark Zandi, who advised Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Mrs. Clinton’s remarks often transcended policy, as she sought to portray Mr. Trump as an out-of-touch businessman who would squash the working class. She talked about her grandfather’s years of labor in a lace mill in Scranton, Pa., and her father’s small drapery-printing business in Chicago.

“This is personal for me,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I am the product of the American middle class.”

The major difference that I see between what Hillary Clinton put forth and that by Donald Trump earlier in the week is that while neither of the candidates came up with radical new ideas — even Ms. Clinton’s most ardent backers will admit that there’s nothing in her speech that we didn’t hear from every other Democrat running for president since 1932 (updating the WiFi reference from the REA) — Mr. Trump focuses on the individual (I’ll cut your taxes, I’ll find you a job), Ms. Clinton’s plan requires all of us to participate.  We instead of Me.

That’s a major difference between the two parties.  The Republicans focus on merits of rugged individualism, the small business owner, and the family values as if they all existed outside of any community responsibility.  Of course it’s all right to be against gay marriage if you’re not gay or oppose reproductive rights if your wife doesn’t mind being told what to do with her body.  It’s perfectly okay to home-school your children so that they don’t find out that Jesus didn’t have a pet T-Rex.  The government shouldn’t tell you what to do, although there’s nothing wrong with you telling someone else how to live their life.  And paying taxes just takes money out of your pocket to give it to someone who will spend it on booze or worse.  Oh, yes, let’s all talk about how much I love my country, but let’s make sure that everyone agrees with me first, okay?

To be fair, it hasn’t always been that way with the Republicans.  They used to be very community oriented and it was a Republican president who spent the most money on a government infrastructure project — the interstate highway system — in the history of the country.  (The fact that the underlying idea behind the interstates was to provide the military with unfettered coast-to-coast highways to defend against the Red Tide was only a minor selling point.)  But in the last forty years, the GOP has turned into the What’s In It For Me? party, and Donald Trump is the unabashed symbol of it all.

The Democrats would rather get us all involved, even if we might have different family structures or ambitions.  As their nominee once wrote, it takes a village — we all participate — and as we work together, nothing can stop us from achieving greatness.  Yes, we have to pay our taxes, but that keeps the roads and schools open, and if we help those with the least, it benefits us all.

There have been some notable failures and unintended consequences in those noble if sometimes naive plans to help us all, but what matters is that the motives were to support the community and all of us and appealing to the better nature in us to help the other person first.  It’s why we have a police force and a fire department and a water and sewer system that are publicly operated, not relying on an AR-15 and a garden hose next to the outhouse.

Our economy has swung from the right to the left — the robber barons of 1898 vs. the New Deal of 1933 — and back again — The Great Society of 1965 vs. Trickle-Down of 1981 — and spent most of it somewhere in between.  Based on what we’ve heard from Mr. Me Trump and Ms. We Clinton, we’re better off going with Us.