Hillarynomics: Big Policy Questions for Clinton

Mrs. Clinton will need to find ways to project freshness, but her biggest differences with President Obama on economics may be about style.

Comments: 64

  1. If Hillary Clinton supports progressive positions such as the ones listed below, then she has my vote. Of course, I am not optimistic that she believes in a progressive agenda when she receives $200,000+ in speaking fees from Wall Street and large corporations, and financial support from other big money interests.

    - Using the bully pulpit to help overturn Citizens United and move to public funding of elections
    - Protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
    - Raising the minimum wage to a living wage ($15)
    - Making college affordable
    - Reducing the bloated military budget; diplomacy instead of war
    - Reining in the NSA and restoring Fourth Amendment rights
    - Rewriting our disastrous trade policies so that we have fair trade (no TPP and TTIP!)
    - Supporting a single-payer Medicare for All health care system
    - Ending the misguided policies of Race to the Top (a rebranding of NCLB)
    - Significantly investing in our crumbling infrastructure, creating millions of good jobs
    - Moving away from fossil fuels and to a clean energy economy, creating more jobs
    - Breaking up the big banks
    - Establishing a financial transaction tax
    - Doing away with tax loopholes and cracking down on offshore accounts so that corporations pay their fair share of taxes and creating new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, their effective tax rates are the lowest in decades

    The media portrays progressive policies as left or far left. Actually, a majority of Americans support these positions.

  2. A big majority.

  3. RLS and David Leonhardt: You both have given us a to-do list which I approve of overwhelmingly. Do I think it even remotely possible to achieve? No, but I loved reading through your material.

    Missing is the one thing needed more than all you both have written: Recreating or re-finding a Congress that will work meaningfully across party lines.

    Do that, and the United States will quickly become a far better place to live.

  4. Important list.
    We do not get much information.on her plans. In a previous comment to article on Hilary some well informed readers remarked worrisomely that one of her major supporters was a principal proponent against social security; and that Daughter had participated in telling college students that their parents or elderly or words to that effect would deprive them of benefits. Is so the NY Times should follow up.

  5. The portmanteau "Clintonomics", being a single word, isn't really a phrase.

    And Hillarynomics sounds so forced and awkward. May I suggest Clint2nomics?

  6. Rodnomics?

  7. After a week of horse-race articles on Clinton, it's nice to see a bit of policy begin covered. Yet, still, the emphasis is on a single candidate. I'd love to see an article that revolved around an issue, comparing candidates' views, rather than on single candidates. It may be true that the biggest differences between Obama and Clinton is one of "style," but last time I checked, Obama wasn't running! And couldn't we tip the balance toward substance, rather than style?

  8. Of course, no mention of corporate 'free trade" in this article, which remains a taboo subject. Corporate"free trade" is a primary culprit as the cause of virtually every pathology coursing through our economy. They include job loss, unemployment and underemployment, wage stagnation, the loss of employment benefits and security, the loss of our middle class, loss of unions, gross income and wealth disparity, the loss of tax base for our state and local governments and so much, much more. Because it makes a small group of obscenely rich people even richer, however, our politicians and members of the corporate media refuse even to acknowledge it much less discuss it. Oh, yeah, the TPP also undermines our sovereignty by setting up special tax courts where corporations can attack our laws before corporate lawyers serving as "judges."

  9. Bill Clinton furthered the deregulation movement commenced modestly under Carter and intensified under Reagan. He took the Democratic party to the right promoting the DLC because it served his political purposes in Arkansas as it became a red state. He promoted NAFTA and ignored side provisions which he kept out of the main agreement designed to protect the environment and working conditions. Perot was right. The sucking noise you heard next was US jobs heading to Mexico. Clinton promoted the repeal of Glass-Steagall. The Clinton economic miracle so-called really set the stage for the great recession which followed. Will Hillary, still advised by many of Bill's economists be willing to re-regulate? To restore Glass-Staegall, to strengthen Dodd-Franks to appoint Elizabeth Warren Sec. of Treasury? Dream on.

  10. Mrs. Clinton may have a vicarious responsibility for the economic trends going back to Mr. Clinton's presidency. Her own base may hold her responsible for the long range trends in family wealth and the GOP may want to rub her nose in it.

    Family wealth surveys have shown that the poorer half of the U.S. went from a 4% share in 1995 to a 1% share today - the same as the global average. The middle class (50 to 90 percentile) went from 29% in 1995 to 24% today and is trending toward the global average of 12%. Should tax reform stop and reverse this trend? What will Mrs. Clinton say?

    More than anyone, she and her husband are responsible for the decline of the 90%. If she has no bold plan to change things it could be a problem.

  11. Hillary is a smart and shrewd politician. Surely she relaizes that if goes with the weak tea - GOP light policies discussed here she'll get creamed. Why would any working middle class American vote for that platform? On taxes, equalizing earned and capital gains rates and establishing new higher marginal rates on truly large incomes is probably the least it would take to catch any interest from the middle class voter. On healthcare, use anti-trust law to provide uniform pricing for all patients with a reasonable profit -say 15% - above actual cost. (How is it not collusion in restraint of trade for hospitals and insurance payors to negotiate prices that leave everyone else paying much more). That would pretty much take care of healthcare costs too. On labor, how about simply enforcing laws allowing labor to unionize. Instead of using police officers to shut down fast food workers' strikes? Simply proclaiming how bad the other guys are, if Democrats want win, they have to act as Democrats, not honorary citizens of Mark Leibovich's This Town.

  12. What this all boils down to is that there is no compelling reason to elect her unless one somehow believes it is now her turn.

  13. One very good reason elect Hillary is avoid putting more right wingers on the Supreme Court.

  14. Almost every picture of her shows her on her smart phone which she is ever gazing upon as if it is her crystal ball. What does it show? Will we ever know? This all too familiar perennial candidate remains a mystery.

  15. Progressive? Populist? Or, Peronist? Hillary is not telling. Her economic policies are something of an enigma. Or, perhaps, she really does not have any firm convictions. This would not be unusual for a woman whose only real conviction is centered around what to say to get elected.

  16. I think that the defeated universal health care plan of 1994 offers a good clue to her economics.

  17. "It's the Economy, Stupid!"

  18. Hillary is no mystery. Ever since Bill Clinton formed the Democratic Leadership Council, Team Clinton has been pro corporate, pro Wall Street. She's not very different than Obama. On this issue both parties line up.

  19. Stagnation started in the 1980's with the implementation of Reaganomics. Give money to the rich. That policy has to change,not likely with this Congress or even the next one.

    The most important Presidential election will come in 2020. A census year.

  20. The best way to improve the standard of living for middle class people would be to revolutionize the way medical care is financed and provided in this country. A major reason people have experienced stagnant take home pay is that healthcare spending represents an ever increasing share of their total compensation. Compared with the rest of the industrialized world, we pay too much and get too little from our healthcare sector, which is an unholy alliance of for-profit insurance companies and hospitals, big pharma, and overpaid medical specialists.

  21. This article is really about what talking points Hillary may make during the run-up to the 2016 Presidential contest. If she gets in office, and that is likely, although it will be close against a weak Jeb Bush, the Congresses sitting at that time won't allow her to do much of anything about the tax structure.

    Redoing the tax structure and getting rid of exemptions and loopholes is great stump speech fodder. It sounds substantive and meaningful, but such work is done by Congress, not the President. She will only be a moderate cheerleader for a tax re-do.

    Given the likely composition of those future Congresses, full of libertarians, nothing will get done to make our tax structure more equable to the middle and lower classes with the possible exception of a slight expansion of earned income tax credits, which don't help the desperately poor at all because most aren't working. Republicans will only go for proposals about people who work.

    One this article's links was from the old David Leonhardt, the one who was on the beat and sussed out great stories like this one about what Larry Summers was up to after he was forced out of his Harvard presidency. The article is just before our economy imploded in 2008, and makes for interesting reading:


    That men like Summers care about wage inequalities is one of the great mysteries about human beings, compassion. He is independently wealthy.

  22. "Republicans will only go for proposals about people who work."

    If you think Republicans will do anything to help people who work for a living you haven't been paying attention for the last thirty years. No one is more hostile to working people than a Republican.

  23. pedigrees in Williamsburg, OH: I was talking about the income tax credit , or EIC, which has been expanded as recently as 2010. I believe it is you who hasn't been paying attention.

  24. By cutting lower and middle income taxes, often is meant the payroll taxes, is that what you mean?

    These should not be cut and in fact the ceiling on eligible earned income should be increased. Payroll taxes support the retirement benefits that are the only old age support that most Americans can definitely count on. Cutting these taxes will hasten the demise of these programs and convert them to another unearned welfare program. The difference between an earned and unearned program is clear cut.

  25. May be Good Billionaires should be part of advisory team

  26. "“If you made it less easy for employers to fire union organizers, you would meaningfully impact the amount of collective bargaining,” Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary, said."
    Yes, we absolutely need a president who will lead a strong movement to reform and restore some balance to the labor/management equation by saving the unions before the cynical "Right to Work" laws spread to the point of making labor unions extinct. No amount of protecting union organizers is going to turn around the very successful GOP program of demonization that the labor unions brought on themselves by their corrupt and totally irresponsibly self-serving actions that they are perpetuating, even in their diminished, state to this day. As Mr. Leonhardt points out, accountability is hard to achieve. What he doesn't say, is that labor unions are widely viewed as major contributors to that difficulty, and are doing nothing of significance to dispel that perception.

  27. Gee the answer is more corrupt unions? The government does almost all the valuable things that unions did in the past. This is a great achievement of the union era, but makes them obsolete. Now they are just an arm of progressive (read that some way to extort pay) politicos.

  28. Vulcanalex, God forgive there's collective bargaining for workers against massive corporations that want to keep low wages. Yup, that's providing "opportunity" all right.

  29. Sure unions very often aren't pretty. "Corrupt" is blatently untrue.

    Management is equally unpretty, at least. Finance is absolutely horrible.

    But the bottom line is that too few people have too much money, so much that they have much too much influence on who gets elected, and therefore what happens to all of us.

    Do we really want Sheldon Adelson, the Koch boys, Rupert Murdock and some others running our country through the strength of their wealth?

    Strong labor unions, for all their faults, would fight back against the undemocracy of management, finance, and radical right-wing forces.

  30. Realigning wages with productivity growth and giving labor more clout in corporate decisions are key elements to deal with any sustainable reduction in inequality. Workers (and I mean not just factory workers but white collar and service workers) must share in profits and the added value that their work brings. Profit sharing is good but some new union like organizations much develop to fight for workers interests.

    Secondly Germany has labor unions on corporate boards and, strangely enough, CEO salaries in Germany have not skyrocketed as much as in the USA and worker education systems are more useful to both job creation and growth. Corporate decision making needs to take into consideration workers' interests and see them as stakeholders not as disposable resources... The German model of board room decision making might be one to explore for the USA.

  31. American elections have become the exclusive property of billionaires.

    The 320 million Americans who are not billionaires have no one to represent them, no one who is not too rich to care about us.

  32. True

  33. During the first Clinton co-presidency, the plug was pulled on Glass-Steagall. Not exactly an encouraging sign. Buy maybe it's politically impolite to bring that up.

  34. Taxing the Rich: Ted Cruz just stated he wants to revamp the tax laws and institute a flat tax rate system (no deductibles) which would tax the wealthy 22% ... they now average 5.6%.
    Of course Cruz said it in the context of the book, "President Ted Cruz: The 2016 Election and America's Future". But the book points out he is basically a Cuban Obama and, as a Canadian, ineligible to be POTUS.

  35. Talk about deja vu all over again. The CENTERPIECE of Clinton's 1992 campaign was a middle-class tax cut, financed by a high-end tax hike. Instead, he used the money for deficit reduction and expansion of a low-income entitlement, the EITC. When Democrats again had full control in 2008, they left every detail of the Bush tax regime intact, using the entirety of their political capital to enact another low-income entitlement, the ACA. Talk of tax cuts at this point is a joke. They need every penny of tax and then some, just to pay for the entitlements they've already created, and they're not going to get more from the wealthy. Even if Dems could enact any tax they wanted, the wealthy would find a way to evade it - as a last resort they can simply renounce citizenship.

  36. Or better yet fix all these entitlements and reduce their costs while actually helping those who need it and not those who game the system.

  37. If the comments on this article are a reflection of the coming elections we are doomed. The writers don't trust Mrs. Clinton. She is pro Wall Street, pro corporations, her husband caused the last recession. May I remind them he brought the most sound economy of late? And I believe he was as pro Capital as she is, if not more.
    None of the presidential candidates is an Economist. That's good because you can find economists advising opposing stances on every issue. In my mind a good President's role is to follow the course when things are working and to adjust when they aren't. And if one of the candidates can do it it's her.

  38. Gee trial and error with correction is your answer??? How about being competent to run a large organization. So that the VA actually works correctly or is replaced. So that the IRS is not corrupt toward some citizens due to their opinions. So that the justice department is not politically motivated and run better. That the secret service returns to that elite and very ethical organization that I assume it was in the past. Bad leadership leads to bad results.

  39. Mr. Leonhardt: May I briefly address two points in this analysis. 1) As the recent Great Recession drove many corporations revenue downward, managers were forced to try to reestablish profitability by strict cost (or expenses) containment. So, automated, smart machines were substituted for workers to control wage costs. As a result, cost containment became a pathway back to profitability, while exacerbating the declining revenue problem via reductions in potential wage growth. And, Rana Foroohar, a Time magazine economic analyst, notes in her 03/16 column: Under a caption termed "Human Vs. Machine: 44%: Percentage of U.S. firms since 2008 that have reduced their head counts in part because of automation." 2) With 50 states undergoing national tests, then 50% of the tested teachers' average students' scores will place above this national median; and, 50% of their students will rank below it. But, 50% of teachers do not want their student scores below this median; it is unprofessional. Also, within each of the 50 states, even the best performing; 50% of the teachers' students' test scores will again, now trail this state median. So, the perils of testing for many teachers become evident. About 75% of all teachers' students may trail either a national or state median standard. Such an outcome is likely to generate much "sound and fury" to paraphrase Faulkner; from teaching professionals benchmarked in either of these bottom 50 labels.
    [{JJL}; 3/14 Sat. 3:18 p.m.; Greenville NC]

  40. Great points, but a real analysis of such will provide the real answer. Make the distribution narrow and the average in excess of what is acceptable. Then being in the lower 50% will mean you are very capable and all will be well. Few actually understand basics of the normal distribution. Now one of the issues with common core standards is that your previously considered very smart child is now not so great. Having high objective standards with appropriate testing shows reality, you might not like reality.

  41. You remember "sentence first, verdict afterwards"? For the Clintons, it's candidate first, policies afterwards.

    This is the Democrat's major weakness, since the Republican candidates are going to win or lose over policy. They will discuss illegal immigrants, and whether allowing them to stay reduces job oportunities for citizens. Many voters are keenly interested in this topic, while the Democrats don't want to even discuss it.

  42. Two thoughts:

    1. The top marginal income tax rate isn't very important or effective in a world where every family business morphs into a "private equity firm" upon the key leaders' retirement. There are literally tens of thousands of these five-to-twenty-five million, in-name-only investment vehicles. They exist solely because the tax rate on so-called "carried interest," which is otherwise known as the two-and-20 rake, is 20 percent. So rich people halve their taxes instantly with a boilerplate investment advisor. This is before the employment of the usual trusts and off-shore Sha-Na-Na-nigans.

    2. The question of workers' bargaining power has already sped far past the old paradigm of union-vs-corporation. As the Uber litigation illustrates, corporations have for generations found ways to get workers to perform profitably without granting them the status of "employees." That is where the action lies.

  43. "Every" Not anywhere near correct. After all many family owned businesses fail either sooner or later.

  44. A much more critical position is defying the vested interests and obsessive wealth accumulation in the hands of the plutocrats — bankers, corporate tycoons and CEOs, etc — and the compliant obedience of lackeys from both parties in all branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. Even the press has become subservient to hyper-capitalism and blurred its focus on the public good.

    The tit-for-tat between republicans and democrats is a distracting sophomoric game that has corrupted politics and the democratic ideals upon which this nation was founded.

    Wake up! We are becoming angry as hell, we cannot take it anymore — the pitchforks are coming.

  45. It is time for a reexamination of economics, society, and the allocation of our nations wealth and resources for a world that is certain to have fewer jobs, and more wealth concentrated in the hands of the very few if we just dither along making incremental adjustments to the tax codes, while playing Washington politics. Hilary is no reformer, no populist, and no big thinker. And even if she were; she cannot make speeches and unlike her husband she has no charisma. Sadly, Hilary is a manager and a bureaucrat when we need a leader. She wants to be the first woman president, not for the good of the nation but for the good of Hilary.

  46. Hillary is a bureaucrat fore sure but a manager??? Of what?
    Her only experience in that capacity was as Secretary of State. Her supporters praise her work in that area as a good will ambassador and world traveler. I've heard no praise for her management capabilities at State.

  47. Yes addressing income inequality by theft is the solution. Not providing opportunity for those willing and able to achieve success. Typical progressive plan that just makes everyone poor.

  48. Opportunity costs money, for scholarships, job training programs, etc.
    But we can't have that, can we vulcanalex? It might require raising taxes.

  49. So far we have some 42 federal job training programs. Throwing more money at the problem isn't the solution.

  50. Compare those training programs with the number of H1b visas. When my job is taken by a cheap import where is my place? Guess what? - I already have a STEM degree; there is no training that will educate me into a young Indian male.

  51. My economics would have people label me conservative, but I am union now and remain a supporter of what unions could do if they chose to. I do not support unions in their current, deeply corrupt, self-indulgent form and so I have no choice but to support right to work legislation. Unions must earn the right to represent workers, not simply expect it because they showed up at the door. Entrenching this dinosaur for another couple of decades does not serve the worker, the economy or the country. The difference between US unions and the much talked about German unions is that in Germany the unions understand that the company must stay in business if the workers want paychecks. We are long past time for a re-boot of the century old union model, and it is vital that it happen and succeed.

  52. In Germany, the unions routinely have representation on corporate boards. Can you name any large American corporation with worker seats on the board? That just might have something to do with the frequently adversarial relationship between management and workers.

  53. Clinton is not the answer- she is part of the problem. The country is floundering and what do the two parties seem intent on offering up- yet another Clinton and Bush. These two individuals are the least likely to change anything. They are entrenched with the oligarchs who have led our country on a downward spiral.

    Both of these parties have been at the helm that has seen our country swing from the largest creditor to the largest debtor on earth. Nearly 1/3 of the children in the United States live in poverty-ranking us the worst in the developed world yet our special forces operate in 134 countries or in 70% of the countries around the world. This is not enough for the Democrat and Republican leaders as they push hard to ignite a conflict with Russia.

    Americans must acknowledge that the two parties have been an utter failure with the exception of one issue. They have seen to it that the United States has become an oligarchy. Entrenched interests are the only ones being served and this comes at the expense of the rest of us. The disappearing middle class is testimony to their efforts with trade treaties that do little else but ensure profits for corporations by crushing labor costs worldwide.

    The American government has been captured and both the Clintons and the Bush Family have supplied the rope. If there is to be any hope for Americans and frankly the rest of the world we must throw the war mongers out. Campaign finance reform embraced and maybe a real leader will win

  54. If clinton will simply announce that she isn't going to run for president, all will be well.

  55. The destruction of unions and the foolhardy rejection of unions by white working class people is at the heart of the decline in incomes. When 25 percent of the workforce belonged to unions, wages and salaries were far more generous and the gap between the incomes of the owners and managers of capital and the incomes of those who work for them was -- while always substantial as it always would be -- was far smaller than it is today and far closer to reality.

    If the people who needed unions would join them and vote out the people who destroy them then they would do themselves a lot of good. Are today's unions less than a bargain? Do they need to clean up their acts? Oh they sure do but as the old talking union song says, "If you want higher wages you got to talk to the folks in the shop with you, got to build you a union, got to make it strong..." Because in union there is economic strength to withstand the economic strength of the owners and managers who are not on the side of the working man and woman but without that union, that unity of economic interest, there are only victims.

  56. Not only the lack of security, but Clinton's refusal to be accountable to the government or follow the very rules she set down for others. We do not want a president who considers herself above the law. This issue, like the fundraising from oil-rich Mideast countries, isn't going to go away.

  57. "......But many Democrats continue to believe that if the party holds the White House in 2016, it will be better served by a harder-edged approach to leadership and negotiation..." Very well put NYT !

    This is where Barack Obama went wrong. He and his W-H refuse to accept this early leadership-blunder. A President must set the tone and have his priorities right from day one. Obama's tone in early 2009 was to (naively and with his legendary broad smiles) try to please or placate Republicans, hoping to be "rewarded" with GOP's cooperation in Congress.

    To make matters worse, Obama embarked and wasted huge political capital on a Healthcare legislation that could - like Immigration reform - have waited.

    The results are well known: Birth of the Tea Party and a stonewalling GOP. Exactly the opposite of Obama's wishful thinking about "post-partisan D.C."

  58. Maybe so! If not, at least it seems President Obama simply didn't understand that the old whilte guys who now control congress seem to hate African Americans nearly as much as they seem to hate women.

  59. If no journalist with access is going to ask Ms. Clinton to reassess the most lasting economic effects of the Pres. Clinton and then Senator Clinton era and we continue to pass up any critical national discussion, then we have zero chance of shifting the political paradigm of our two-party corporate cartel winner-take-all government. The President Clinton years vastly accelerated the slide in gainful U.S. employment in ways the preceding Reagan-Bush-Greenspan years could not. It was done by conning or cronying Big Labor into supporting trade deals like NAFTA that no GOP administration could get through. Global economic corporatism (shifting from public interest) in the name of global competition led to policy outcomes that have been macro and micro economically disastrous for the 99.9%. With the institutionalization of self-regulating financial services as FINRA attests, while de-regulating the national banks with their electronic trading (non-taxed) and rate-setting on rigged global capital markets while reducing the skin banks have to keep in the de-regulated game leaves a lot for Ms. Clinton to answer for.

    Getting Ms. Clinton to reflect on the failure to claw-back any of the billions of dollars in compensation taken by Pres. Clinton's Secretary of Treasury Robert Rubin along with the Sandy Weil-led bailed-out Citi Group cadre of executives would narrow some of the credibility gap opened by the udgments against Standard & Poor's last month.

  60. "Barring an unexpected economic boom over the next year and a half, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president will probably not base her campaign around being President Obama’s heir."

    I would reverse this. Our economic glass is half full, not half empty as this article projects. Barring an economic downturn the economy is going to look pretty darn good in 2016.
    - We have added over three (3) million jobs in the last 12 months.
    - The (U-3) unemployment rate is currently 5.5%, having declined 1.2% in the last 12 months. A year from now unemployment will be around 5%, maybe in the 4's.
    - The U-6 unemployment rate is declining and should be back in healthy single digits by 2016.
    - Wages are starting to rise as unemployment declines. Wage increases should accelerate this year as labor markets tighten further.

    Unless we get dragged down by Europe or the Fed raising interest rates too soon, the economy in 2016 is going to feel good to most people. Running away from this economic record would be as foolish as Al Gore running away from the Clinton economic record--and likely lead to similar results.

  61. Well said! Still, even though Hillary is too far to the right for my liking, it seems as if it's either her, or more of the same from ultra right wing republicans. If I had my "druthers" we'd have long ago rid ourselves of the arcanely heinous electoral college, and potentially have more than our current two parties, both of whom seem to be controlled by BigMoneyLobby.

    But that's a dream that I'll most probably never see, ergo, Hillary, who recklessly voted to invade Iraq, and ultimately further destabilized the Middle East, is all I've got. Still, when compared to today's republican party, she looks positively saintly.

  62. Nothing wrong in following good practices from predecessor.

  63. Good points, but I was hoping for a Hilary-free day...

  64. I recall an interview of Bill and Hillary in 1991 or so on 60 Minutes in which she said something to the effect, "Well if you don't support what we're proposing then you shouldn't vote for us..." It felt real, and it felt she wasn't taking our votes for granted.

    I can't imagine the crucible of being First Lady (to Bill, no less), then Senator, then Secretary of State and now high paid speaker hasn't resulted in some important change in her as a politician. We're talking 25 years of baggage, not all of it anyone would want to air again. If she could come out of all that and still optimistic and positive (and thus, I think, promoting more progressive economic and environmental policies), she'd have my vote.