Hillary Clinton unveils economic plan at the New School, heterodox economics out to lunch.
If you missed Hillary Clinton’s big unveiling of her new economic plan at The New School recently, don’t feel bad. So did most of The New School community, which was kept in the dark until shortly before the event. Originally planned as a closed-door, “press only” event that, when news of the event leaked to the public the Clinton campaign, in partnership with the university, “gracious” extended a last minute invite for a handful of New Schoolers to attend. For the plebs there was always CSPAN.
So what did the unveiling of Clinton’s big economic plan reveal about her likely presidential agenda? Not much, on my reading. Her entire economic plan was summed up in three witty catch phrases: strong growth, fair growth and long-term growth. “So today I’m proposing an agenda to raise incomes for hard-working Americans. An agenda for strong growth, fair growth, and long-term growth.”
After listening to all the various and sundry examples and proposed plans that Clinton laid out as part of her campaign plan, it was hard not to feel like you were listening to a broken record, one where the needle got stuck in the groove called “growth.” Sadly, an economic campaign based on growth is the same plan everyone else running for president has also proposed, with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein. So what, if anything, was actually innovative or progressive about her plan?
There were a few dim glimmers of actual half-descent ideas, which are worth highlighting. Among the relevant points Clinton raised, I would highlight the passing remarks about supporting immigration reform, investing in clean and renewable energy, removing gender barriers in the workplace, raising minimum wage and helping reduce student loan debt burdens. While her championing of small business support and tax relief is admirable, as well as her bashing of wall street corporate raiders, they amount to a lot of pie in the sky promises. After all, when it comes to being cozy friends will Wall Street corporate raiders, Hillary Clinton is already a close bedfellow.
It should come as no surprise that Clinton picked The New School, once famous for its Marxist and heterodox economics, as the place to deliver her economic plan for president. Sadly, other than a passing mention of the words “progressive” and “capitalism” there was nothing even remotely heterodox about her plans. To get a sense of just how far out of touch Clinton and the DC elite are from reality, consider the following remarks about handling the rampant corruption in the financial industry.
“We will ensure that no firm is too complex to manage or oversee. And we will also prosecute individuals as well as firms when they commit fraud or other criminal wrongdoing. [audience applause] When the government recovers money from corporations or individuals for harming the public, it should go into a separate trust fund to benefit the public. It could, for example, help modernize infrastructure or even be returned directly to the taxpayers.”
Think about that for a minute. Why are we applauding Clinton for following the law? And even worse, why in the world would we propose funding public infrastructure projects with a stream of revenue that requires, encourages even, continual Wall street fraud and corruption? It’s absolutely ridiculous, not to mention politically toxic. But I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised. After all, Clinton described her own politics as “clear-eyed capitalism.”
And while we are at it, we should call Clinton out on another of her own talking points. Clinton loves evidence, or so she professed to the audience. “I will seek out and welcome any good idea that is actually based on reality. I want to have principled and pragmatic and progressive policies that really move us forward together…” In that spirit, Mrs. Clinton, it is worth asking about the evidence of your destroying thousands of official Secretary of State e-mails you kept in a private e-mail account, followed by an extended cover-up and denial, followed by the release of even more supposedly non-existent files, all the while continuing to deny any wrongdoing on your part. What does this say about your principles, how you understand pragmatism, and what you consider to be progressive politics?
We may have lost touch with a lot of our original spirit over the years at The New School, but there is one thing we are still pretty good at, and that is critiquing snake oil salesman. On behalf of many at The New School, I’d like to suggest you peddle your wares somewhere else, cause we’re not interested.