Democratic presidential candidate’s economic approach heavy on ideology, regulations

Vice President Joe Biden, left, applauds as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses a gathering Aug. 15 at a campaign rally in Scranton, Pa. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO
Vice President Joe Biden, left, applauds as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses a gathering
Aug. 15 at a campaign rally in Scranton, Pa. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Hillary Clinton, whose family income is in the top tenth of the top 1 percent, something like $10 million in 2015 to go along with more multimillions in net worth, long ago created an economic plan with husband Bill that has worked wonderfully.

You get into politics, give speeches for as much as $500,000 each, start a corrupt foundation and embrace conflicts of interest with stealth, affection and greed.

Sadly, when it comes to moving beyond the personal to figuring out an economic plan for the nation, she is not so adept.

To make us more statist, win votes through freebies and undertake some projects that would make sense if there were compensating cuts, she wants to increase spending over the next decade by a figure Moody’s Analytics puts at $2.2 trillion. Considering the spending fun already being had and what’s going to happen to entitlements when baby boomers retire, it’s a plea for debt devastation.

But even supposing the worst doesn’t happen on that front, a study of more than 200 fiscal rearrangements dealing with deficits in 21 countries shows it is cutting spending — not increasing it with taxes galore, another Clinton objective — that works to inspire economies.

Harvard economist Alberto Alesina, a coauthor of the study, wrote that big spending can lead to recessions and says in the study we’re close. What is especially frightening right now is the anemic 1 percent economic growth rate we saw during the first half of this year, part an economic recovery that’s been the worst since World War II.

You’re not going to conquer this without a reversal to vigorous growth, which won’t arrive without vigorous business expansion. We’re not getting it, Alesina says, because businesses are scared to death of what’s going to hit them when they try: not just tougher taxes of varied kinds but also new regulations, collectively the equivalent of heavy artillery taking out a cavalry charge. Shuddering is hardly a misplaced reaction.

Understand that our corporate tax rates are already the highest in the developed world, and, said the Tax Foundation, they are also the highest effective tax rates in the developed world. What’s needed for more competitiveness, more jobs and higher wages is a tax revamp, not the crippling corporate tax increases Clinton so longingly dreams of.

Then we come to regulations, and yes, some are needed. But we have an egregious excess of them, and no one has piled it on better than the unilaterally minded President Barack Obama.

The Heritage Foundation reported that, since 2009, he has given us an unmatched 229 big-time regulations — some of them dubiously legal — at a conservatively estimated annual cost of $108 billion. That has obviously added to hundreds of billions of other regulatory costs already doing damage.

Those facts barely begin to tell the story of how government has come to think it should micromanage our affairs with no way of deciphering a fraction of the questions confronted. Overregulation means lost freedom and businesses increasingly less able to do what they otherwise could to improve our lot. Clinton has all kinds of joyrides in mind by way of coerced benefits and wages that will lead to higher prices, increased unemployment and business stultification cheating millions.

Her list of malware ideas goes on, such as energy plans that do nothing about warming but a ton to raise energy prices and some beloved projects that won’t get done without an attitude change about regulation.

Fix infrastructure? Regulatory inspections prohibit shovels being ready on time.

Some of the Clinton plan has to do with sheer politics, of course, but much of it is ideologically driven, as in wanting something much closer to equality of outcome. The only chance for that to happen under this scheme would be equality not through more money for many, but through less money for many.

Don’t worry about Clinton, however. This candidate, who as a U.S. senator promised 200,000 new jobs in upstate New York and then lost jobs, does know how to plan for herself.

Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Send comments to