Clinton Comes Out As a Deficit Hawk. This Is Not Good

One of the things the left, along with the kinda-left, is trying to figure out is whether Clinton is a neo-liberal at heart, or if she’s going to let her Inner Liberal bloom. Max Sawicky makes a very good point about Clinton’s campaign kickoff speech (boldface mine):

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.

Any Democratic candidate who does not see the need in the current economy to engage in deficit spending either doesn’t understand what is needed or is too cowardly to fight for the right policy. Male* employment figures are still circling around the bowl. Keep in mind, the people who are still getting hit the hardest in this downturn are minority men, which should put some of the recent bold rhetoric on race in context: money talks, and, well, cost-free talk walks. As Sawikcy puts it, “I may be some kind of radical crackpot, but the points I make do not rely on any sort of radical economics.”

Something to consider in the ‘Who is the real Hillary’ discussions.

*Expectations of women and work are still more variable than men: men, aged 25 – 54, are expected to work, so lack of employment is almost entirely involuntary.

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