At a time when she is reeling from multiple scandals, the foreign policy debacles she helped create and a political talent deficit, Hillary Clinton got two more pieces of bad news. Since she is firmly adhering to the White House, running for essentially a third Obama term, she will have to bear the burden of not only the president’s foreign policy but also his domestic track record.
The Post reports: “The U.S. economy ground nearly to a halt in the first three months of the year, according to government data released Wednesday morning, as exports plunged and severe winter weather helped keep consumers indoors. The gross domestic product grew between January and March at an annualized rate of 0.2 percent, the U.S. Commerce Department said, adding to the picture of an economy braking sharply after accelerating for much of last year. The pace fell well shy of the 1 percent mark anticipated by analysts and marked the weakest quarter in a year.” This is symptomatic of the puniest economic recovery in memory, one in which the economy has never truly taken off. Clinton has few ideas to juice economic growth because her view of the United States is so government-centric. President Obama has ladled on a host of regulations (including Environmental Protection Agency regulations, Obamacare and Dodd-Frank), is only now getting to a significant new free-trade deal (about which Clinton sounds unenthusiastic) and nixed tax reform that doesn’t include a tax hike. It is no wonder the economy is anemic.
The second data point today comes from Gallup poll: “Americans are considerably less likely now than they were in 2008 and years prior to identify themselves as middle class or upper-middle class, while the percentage putting themselves in the working or lower class has risen. Currently, 51% of Americans say they are middle class or upper-middle class, while 48% say they are lower class or working class. In multiple surveys conducted from 2000 through 2008, an average of more than 60% of Americans identified as middle or upper-middle class.”
In short, under this president the middle class got walloped. Is this a record Clinton is proud of and wants to run on? Those Republicans running on a message of upward mobility (Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio) have a searing indictment of the Obama years’ effect on wage stagnation, inequality and upward mobility. To the extent they and others can recognize what most Americans know — the middle class is getting “squeezed”– and put forth an agenda to remedy it, they will have a leg up on Clinton, who must simultaneously admit the middle class is getting crushed and then refuse to chart a different course from Obama.
The numbers make it even more critical for Republicans to understand and direct policy solutions to real people. You want a 17 percent flat tax? You’re clobbering the middle class. You want to pander to the anti-immigrant types and oppose efforts to grab high-skilled workers who, in turn, create more jobs? You’re sticking it to workers. You want to get rid of Obamacare with no alternative? Explain that to the family with four kids.
And let’s not forget that while the middle class was struggling, Clinton was essentially selling access and making millions from speeches she and her husband gave to Wall Street high-rollers. She used her status as wife of an ex-president and a potential future president to get rich. Aside from the legality, it is the behavior that makes ordinary hard-working people detest government elites.
In short, Clinton has some real challenges, but Republicans have to make the most of the opportunity. Didn’t someone once say an economic crisis is a terrible thing to waste?
[by Jennifer Rubin, writing for The Washington Post]
As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by
NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis