It cannot go without being said how impressive the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign is. That is not to say Hillary Clinton is a good or bad presidential nominee. Nor is it a statement that the focus of the Clinton campaign is a benefit for the nation. It’s just impressive how old ideas are being repackaged for the 2016 Presidential election.
Case in point, the latest announcement by Hillary Clinton. The latest incarnation of the Clinton campaign is a throwback to the 2008 presidential race and initial days of the Obama Administration. In fact, if this were a film it would be called an homage (or in less complimentary wording, a revisioning or rip-off). On November 29, 2015, Hillary Clinton announced that she would focus on the American infrastructure if elected. Her plan is to spend $275 billion to create jobs. Sound familiar?
Some may immediately think of the $1 trillion suggested by the other Democrat running for the 2016 presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders. But both of these ideas are a retread. Both are just another version of “shovel-ready jobs.”
At the core of the Democrat Party, the President and the Democrat nominees, appear to have a similar view on jobs. That view is that Government is the primary source for jobs. While public statements may acknowledge that small business is the engine of job growth, the Democrat candidates and the President advocate policies that focus on Government. As President Obama said,
“If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”
It is this focus on Government, and redistribution of wealth, that marked the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (commonly called the Obama Stimulus) and his Administration. A plan to spend $787 billion to fix the American infrastructure and create jobs. The actual cost was $831 billion. Considering the cost to the American taxpayer, the question would arise if the infrastructure is not already fixed? Not nearly.
The Obama Stimulus failed in every aspect. It did not cap unemployment. It was more expensive than promised. It did not create the long-term jobs it promised. Infrastructure was a mere 10% of the total spending. As the Wall Street Journal noted in 2014,
“…the stimulus was a failure of the neo-Keynesian belief that economies can be jolted into action by a wave of government spending. In fact, people are smart enough to realize that every dollar poured into the economy via government spending must eventually be taken out of the productive economy in the form of taxes.”
People may be that smart, but apparently not Democrats. At least the ones that run for President – and/or elected to the position. Because once again, infrastructure is on the table. Minus the “shovel-ready” label that even President Obama later laughed at in June 2011.
Hillary Clinton is proposing what would be a total of $500 billion in infrastructure spending. The answer on how to pay for this is the same as always, cutting corporate tax loopholes and increasing taxes on the wealthy. No specifics, just the normal rhetoric that Democrats spin every election year. But if the Obama Stimulus is an example, it will net add to the national debt, increase the decline on the participation rate, increase pork spending amendments, and ultimately result in very little actual infrastructure improvements.
But the Clinton announcement is getting major coverage. It’s as if this were a new idea. Then again, 2 presidential elections and 8 years is considered ancient history for American voters. Few expect the public to remember a failed policy that Democrat policymakers have been actively trying to forget.
The real problem is not that the Clinton campaign is effectively plagiarizing a political program from the past. That is the common daily business in politics and election campaigns now. The problem is that this is a failed program. A doubling down on the very same neo-Keynesian policies that don’t work in the real world but fulfill the belief that Government is the answer to the issues facing the nation.
The Obama Stimulus, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in May 2012, resulted in less than .08% improvement in unemployment, and cost an estimated range of $540,000 to $4.1 million per job created. Revisioned ideas sometimes do exceptionally well, and assuming that the Clinton rip-off is 2x as successful at half the cost, the result would be at most a 1.6% reduction in unemployment, a cost of $270,000 – $2 million per job created, with half the drop in participation rates, after 4 years.
Perhaps a better idea would be to give every member of the Civilian Labor Force (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – BLS) $3,100 each and allow the American public to improve the economy. Or cut taxes by 15.2% across the board for the same money. Or cut payroll taxes by 46%. All of which would have a more immediate and dramatic impact on the economy. Even if the Clinton campaign offered to take the same money, to give to the 15.2 million unemployed & underemployed – roughly $32,957 each – it would still be a savings versus a best case scenario of cost to effect.
Of course that would also mean that Government was getting out of the way of the public and not involved in job creation – which is not what the Democrat leadership appears to believe in. Instead, the public is being offered more of the same in a new package – heralded as a brand new idea as they hope the public does not notice. It works for Hollywood, so why shouldn’t it work for the Democrat superstar Hillary Clinton.