Hillarynomics, the first in an endless series
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After my previous post, burdened by the lack of a text for Hillary’s speech today, now I have the text and a bit more to offer. Most of what I said below holds up in light of the actual text. There’s a lot to like in the speech, but in my view there are some serious analytical shortcomings not necessarily visible to the naked eye.

The all-American value of being rewarded when you put in extraordinary effort is upheld.sloth But suppose you don’t feel like making an extraordinary effort, just an ordinary one? Suppose you work to live, not live to work? Don’t you deserve some modicum of economic security? To paraphrase the great Senator Roman Hruska, don’t slackers deserve some representation? (I recently came across this delightful piece on sloth from Thomas Pynchon.)

In a related vein, the middle class is said to need “growth and fairness.” In fact, economic growth is not the be-all and end-all for the working class. You can have growth along with increased inequality, where the benefits to growth are not broadly shared. Have HRC and her economic mavens been asleep for the past two years? I discount the qualifier of ‘fairness’ because its meaning in common political rhetoric has been watered down to the point of meaninglessness.

Several times HRC gives a shout-out to balanced budgets, even paying off the national debt. This is deeply wrong-headed economic policy, especially in the current period. Combined with her tax cut proposals, you have to wonder where any money for her spending initiatives would come from. It suggests she is under some delusion that the elimination of budget deficits under President Bill in the late 90s had something to do with the economic boom. For another view, see my friend Bob Pollin’s book, Contours of Descent.

The critique of the Republican economic policy appears to hinge on a bogus connection between the Bush tax cuts and the 2007-08 financial meltdown. Obama used to flog this horse too, as in “Well they cut taxes and look what happened.” This analysis glosses over the financial deregulation of the 90s in which Bill Clinton played no small part. It fundamentally misunderstands what happened to cause the financial system to blow up.

The rhetoric about “long-term economic value” refers to business investment. More investment is always welcome, but that’s not the biggest problem at the moment. Private investment has recovered reasonably well since 2008. The big shortfall in this mediocre recovery has been in public spending, including public investment, by Federal, state, and local governments.

And finally, there was this, to which I can only say yuck:

“No other country is better equipped to meet traditional threats from countries like Russia, North Korea, and Iran – and to deal with the rise of new powers like China.”

But I’m not doing foreign policy today.

I contend that the points above are not nit-picking but important weaknesses in the speech. I may be some kind of radical crackpot, but the points I make do not rely on any sort of radical economics. If we’re going to take a speech seriously, I think I’m justified in the issues I raise. They are not trivial.


Comments

Hillarynomics, the first in an endless series — 9 Comments

  1. I agree that they (HRC, Obama) need the correct diagnosis. As you say it wasn’t that the Bush tax cuts caused the financial crisis. It goes back to Bill Clinton and beyond. Deregulation, anti-unionism and globalization plus a monetary-fiscal mix of macro policy that left workers lacking bargaining power. Wages have stagnated.

    Hillary has been silent on the TPP (the positive spin would be it’s as deference to Obama). But the Democratic revolt over the TPP (even over Pelosi) demonstrates that they get it. Bill Clinton’s formula didn’t work. It gave us the Tech stock bubble and the housing bubble without wage gains and prosperity for all. As Bernie Sanders says, the middle class is being hollowed out and inequality is increasing.

  2. It’s the same problem we had with Obama, isn’t it? Lots of pretty large print, but the stuff in the fine print didn’t hold up.

    I don’t see how anyone as beholden to the big banks as Hilary Clinton can solve our economic problems, since the big banks are a big part of the problems.

  3. So OT, I like to read Patrick Chovanec’s twitter feed, because he’s always talking about how a huge crash is coming in China, but sometimes he tweets stuff like these:
    “As a response to a national economic crisis, going on strike is the stupidest one I can think of. Second only to scaring away the tourists.”
    https://twitter.com/prchovanec/status/610878932586508291

    “I believe in responding compassionately to economic distress. But face up to facts first. True compassion cannot be built on self-deception.”
    https://twitter.com/prchovanec/status/610884282823876608

    …which strike me as a load of crap, but what the hell do I know. On the other hand the stuff about the big China crash makes sense to me, but I wonder what the repercussions here might be.

    Anything smart that you might have to say about any of this would be appreciated.

  4. So OT, I like to read Patrick Chovanec’s twitter feed, because he’s always talking about how a huge crash is coming in China, but sometimes he tweets stuff like these:
    “As a response to a national economic crisis, going on strike is the stupidest one I can think of. Second only to scaring away the tourists.”

    “I believe in responding compassionately to economic distress. But face up to facts first. True compassion cannot be built on self-deception.”

    …which strike me as a load of crap, but what the hell do I know. On the other hand the stuff about the big China crash makes sense to me, but I wonder what the repercussions here might be.

    Anything smart that you might have to say about any of this would be appreciated.

  5. OK, I just figured out that those tweets were followups to a bunch about the IMF and Greece, rather than being a weird context-less general attack on the idea of going on strike, which is what I thought they were. FWIW.

  6. anyone who considers iran a threat to the united states is a moron. that is all.

  7. Idiot savant, maybe. China’s got all kinds of bubbles bubbling apparently. Makes me scared.

  8. Pingback: Clinton Comes Out As a Deficit Hawk. This Is Not Good | Mike the Mad Biologist

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