Hillary speaks

My friend and former boss Larry Mishel has an early take. Here’s another at TPM. And here’s the awesome Joe Stiglitz phoning in a very not-awesome plug (“Today Hillary Clinton began to offer . . . ” Began? How much more time does she need??)

Her main theme is raising middle class incomes by reversing wage stagnation. This is a good start, though any candidate could claim the same point of departure. Even John Ellis Bush Bush adviser Glenn Hubbard (“Grrr. Give it your best shot.”) acknowledges the need to reverse wage stagnation. It’s where you go with it that matters.

If wage stagnation is the result of “policy choices,” what were those choices, and what policies would reverse them? EPI where I worked for 18 years has been on this forever and arguably has moved the Democratic Party in this dimension, so for that kudos to them.

HRC’s biggest remedy is a $12 minimum wage. I would agree this would be a fine thing. The other measures on wage theft and overtime are welcome but second tier issues to me. More to the point is the discussion of the right to organize, so I ask again what we could rightfully expect in light of past, lackluster pursuit of this goal by Democratic politicians?

The commitment to full employment is another one of those things that everyone is always for. Or nearly everyone. How to do it? I don’t think she has the goods on this one. In her prepared text we can still see some phobic references to the national debt. There are references to the 90s boom, with the implication that it was due to deficit reduction. Wrong wrong wrong. She gets the relevance of tight labor markets, which is crucial, but how to get them?

I have to laugh, or cry, when I think back to the chatter that Bernie doesn’t care about black folks, and HRC does. Her remedy for the ‘hood is “empowerment zones,” which is Ronald Reagan/Jack Kemp bullshit. I could also note with displeasure her 50s nostalgia about how great the middle class had it, since the greatness was limited to white people.

The speech is being played as providing a concession to Bernie Sanders with a commitment to ‘fairness,’ while also nodding to the center with an affirmation of the centrality of growth. The former is said to be dependent on the latter. To the contrary, as a narrowly economic matter, OF COURSE we could have more ‘fairness’ right now at the same level of economic output. This would seem to make fairness contingent on future growth, which is not looking spectacular at the moment.

To be clear, there is some good stuff in the speech. My preference is to illuminate the sucky parts. She’s going to be the nominee, I’m going to vote for her, and she will probably win. In light of all that, I’d prefer people have a better idea of the gaps in her platform.


Hillary speaks — 9 Comments

  1. This is weak tea. Problem is that Jeb! is a nightmare.

    It is easy to get full employment with wage gains. Look at the late 90s and it wasn’t a result of deficit reduction.

    Deficit reduction and deregulation led to too much reliance on the private sector and bank which led to the tech stock bubble which morphed into the housing bubble.

    We need increasing government spending and investment (“big government is back”) and we need a reduced trade deficit and competitive dollar. And most importantly we need a Federal Reserve that won’t prematurely raise rates.

    We need to make the environment more union friendly so workers get more income.

    The Democrats need to be moved in this direction with real solutions or we’ll just end up with the Piketty doomloop, increasing inequality and disastrous politics.

  2. What about the stuff on shareholders, short-termism etc. I am biased but I thought it was a step forward. Identifying “corporate raiders” and “cut and run shareholders” as the problem seems like a step forward. And the fact that she specifically highlighted how much of corporate profits are paid out in buybacks and dividends. I don’t think you got that sort of thing from Bill, did you?

  3. The short-termism spiel is not a compelling avenue to me. I think it’s too hard to diddle firms to invest with taxes. You just end up blowing revenue away. Boost consumption, including public spending, and supply will respond.

  4. Here’s a platinum standard wage stagnation (? — wage depression) cure and SUREFIRE ELECTION ISSUE (which latter seems what Clintons primarily concern themselves with):

    Pew poll reports 55% of Americans under 30 years of age approve of labor unions — only 29% disapprove. Among Republicans under 35, approval edges out disapproval 45% to 44%. The propaganda hasn’t worked – the culture is ours.

    All that remains is to graft onto existing labor organizing laws those itty-bitty structures they are plainly short of: call them dentures. Imposing compelling economic pressure to obstruct employees from exercising a legally spelled out process for organizing collective bargaining units is every bit as free market warping as anything the Rockefellers or the Carnegies carried off — while atrophying the political sinews of the majority of Americans to boot.

    Making union busting a felony at state level (job loss not core offense — free market warping core offense) opens the door for federal RICO prosecution. 33 states have their own RICO statutes. All other forms of free market arm twisting are heavily sanctioned by law.

    “But when Pew sliced and diced its responses (which Gallup did not), it found that young Americans were unions’ most fervent supporters. While 46 percent of its respondents in each of its three older age groups (30 to 49, 50 to 64, and 65-plus) viewed unions in a favorable light, fully 55 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 held a favorable view of unions, while just 29 percent held unfavorable ones. Pew even found that a slim plurality of Republicans under 35 thought well of unions: 45 percent held positive views, 44 percent negative. For that matter, 65 percent of Democrats (of all ages) thought favorably of unions, and given the towering share of Democrats (or left-of-Democrats) working in the media, new or old, the Gawker vote should have surprised no one.”

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  7. I’ll just repeat some of what I wrote elsewhere:

    A lot of people claim to know what Hillary believes or knows or supports. I don’t know any of that because every time Hillary speaks it’s in carefully chosen weasle-speak, especially on economic policy. Unfortunately, even when she seems straightforward, she’s not convincing.

    The difference between Hillary and Bernie, then, is that Bernie is able to speak plainly because he isn’t trying to fool his audience. He isn’t trying to hide anything like, say, divided loyalties. He is consistent and direct and has been for forty years.

    Hillary can’t match that because she is trying to woo two diametrically opposed constituencies: the 1% and the 99%. Thus she chooses to present her message in the lifeless language of “investing in assets” instead of investing in people.

    Another difference, it seems to me, is that Bernie is explicitly calling for “a political revolution” of the type that would make some fundamental changes in our economic system. Hillary is having none of that. She is solidly for the status quo with some tinkering around the edges to make things a little fairer.

    It makes her campaign as joyless and uninspiring as a blancmange left over from 1993. If she is the nominee, I will have a very, very, very hard time voting for her. I’m not sure I can.

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