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A Critique of the Clinton Economic Plan – Part 1 – 'An economy that works for everyone'

A Critique  of the Clinton Economic Plan – Part 1 – 'An economy that works for everyone'

This is a four part analysis of some sections of Hillary Clinton’s economic plan. Since the plan on her web site consists of basic planks and little in the way of funding estimates, we will evaluate according to economic philosophies and precepts. Each plank is copied in full and then critiqued. 

The first group is called “An economy that works for everyone.

 

A 100-days jobs plan: Break through Washington gridlock to make the boldest investment in good-paying jobs since World War II. Hillary will fight to pass a plan in her first 100 days in office to invest in infrastructure, manufacturing, research and technology, clean energy, and small businesses. She will strengthen trade enforcement, and she’ll say no to trade deals like TPP that don’t meet a high enough bar of creating good-paying jobs.

OK, let’s spend money like it’s going out of style. She likely won’t be able to pass it through this Republican Congress, but if she ever gets a Democratic Congress, it will be wild. Sources say $300 Billion will be invested in infrastructure alone, with little additional revenue to offset the expenditures.

But let’s take a look. Any money she spends is added to the debt. Her tax raise (as mentioned below) will not pay for it, not even close, and if it did she would have a net loss of jobs since she would be taking productivity away from the profit motivated private sector and using it in the profit averse public sector.  If she wants to create jobs, she would be much better off finding a way to inject $300 Billion into private industry, since the jobs she created would be perpetual and not temporary.

One can cite the Keynesian multiplier effect, and say millions of jobs will be created but that isn’t really true.  The Keynesian multiplier effect was a really outstanding strategy in the 1930’s and had great impact then.  It still applies and still works, but the markets are more sophisticated now. We know that moving money from the private sector where it is efficiently and productively managed to make a profit (15% ROI or more), to the public sector where it is inefficiently managed, without a profit motive (ROI effectvely 0% or negative), is a massive loss. That profit factor is huge, and the markets know it. 

Rough calculations say this money could hire 1.5 million people for four years. However, jobs created here are at the expense of the national debt and offset by private sector jobs killed by the raised taxes (see below). The government is notoriously bad at creating jobs that last. 

 

Make debt free college available to all Americans. Hillary will make college debt-free, and she’ll provide relief for Americans with existing debt by allowing them to refinance their student loans.

Wow! Straight from the Bernie Sanders campaign. Any idea how much this will cost? Let’s rough it out – about 18 million current students, and tuition average at $24,000 per year (not including housing and extras) appears to be $432 Billion per year. One could say this will be a lot less because not every student will need it. 

But I disagree. Whatever you subsidize you get more of. This will end up much bigger, like every entitlement in U.S. history. And of course tuition will go up, because socialist projects always cause prices to rise (why would colleges lower prices if students are guaranteed to be able to afford it?). To meet the obligations of this nightmare you will need half a trillion dollars per year and accommodate a heavy growth rate, especially if illegal immigration remains out of control.

Current student loan debt in the U.S. totals about $1.4 Trillion. This is a huge pile of money to screw with. Remember what happened with the 2008 mortgage crisis? Remember Wall Street is much smarter than Washington. If Washington inadvertently creates a loophole, Wall Street will quickly jump through it (like this)and we will have yet another massive meltdown.

This is not a fair situation for students, the governments granting of easy and guaranteed student loans has pushed tuition costs through the roof and trapped graduates into a massive debt.  Some solution has to be found, but Hillary’s solution is a nightmare. 

The areas of major damage are 1) that it will devalue public educational institutions. Since anyone can get in, the classes will have to be taught at a lower level and the caliber of education will go down.  2) Like with any socialist plan, the costs are astronomical and will go up for providing an ever decreasing quality of education.

 

Rewrite the rules so that more companies share profits with employees—and fewer ship profits and jobs overseas. Hillary will reward companies that share profits and invest in their workers, and she will raise the minimum wage to a living wage. She will crack down on companies that shift profits overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes, and she’ll make companies that export jobs give back the tax breaks they’ve received in America. She will defend existing Wall Street reform and push for new measures to strengthen it.

Many problems with this. Businesses are smarter than Washington, and will make decisions accordingly. 1)  If she puts a burden on companies, the only certain result will be fewer jobs as employees become more expensive. The bottom line is companies have to be profitable to function and expand, employee compensation has to be in line with this. 2) If she puts a burden on companies moving overseas, she will have to put a tariff on foreign companies importing goods, otherwise she will destroy American manufacturing. This is just protectionism at its finest.  

I predict she will collect no additional taxes from this measure (again, businesses are smarter than Washington).

I’m still baffled as to why the minimum wage must be a living wage for a family of four. This will force more people out of the work force, especially teens trying to enter the market. This will subtract from Hillary’s “millions” of jobs she intends to create.

 

Make certain that corporations, the wealthy, and Wall Street pay their fair share. Hillary will pay for her economic priorities and avoid adding to the national debt by ensuring the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations pay their fair share. For example, she’ll fight for the Buffett Rule, close the carried interest loophole, and impose a new surcharge on multi-millionaires and billionaires.

According to the New York Times, raising the total tax burden for the top 1% to, say, 40 percent would generate about $157 billion in revenue the first year. Increasing it to 45 percent brings in a whopping $276 billion.

It’s a nice chunk of change, but it doesn’t come close to covering the current deficit (about $600 Billion). And it doesn’t come close to paying for the added expenditures Hillary intends to make on infrastructure and for free college education for all.

The problem is now you have taken money from the people who hire other people. Plus you have taken the money from banks that could have been loaned out for more productive projects.

 

Enact policies that meet the challenges families face in the 21st-century economy. Hillary will make it possible for parents to succeed at work and at home by updating outdated laws so they match how families work today. She will fight for equal pay and guarantee paid leave, two changes that are long overdue. And she will provide relief from the rising costs of necessities like child care and housing, while taking steps to provide Americans with greater retirement and health care security.

These lofty goals will put a burden on larger companies, but are really undoable for small businesses. The enforcement off equal pay laws will be a legal and administrative nightmare and will likely interfere with promotion based on merit. 

The U.S. civil service, which may be Hillary’s prototype for implementing equal pay laws, is set up in “GS” ratings, which promote as much on longevity as it does capability. In my time in the intelligence community, which had more latitude than most government agencies, it was often the case that 30 year veterans were “retired in place” at a high managerial level. 

Private companies cannot afford this. Larger companies forced into a rigid system just to monitor equal pay laws will be at a disadvantage.

Hillary wants to give away child care and housing, and greater retirement and health care security. This socialist bent cannot be successful, but I can see the combination costing trillions of dollars. Fortunately for the short term it will not get past a Republican Congress.

 

Summary: In short, if she gets her way in every detail, her ideas from this section will be spending roughly $800 billion per year and taking in only an additional $300 Billion in new tax revenue. The $300 Billion in taxes and the raise minimum wage will offset much, perhaps most, of the gains in employment.

Most of this will fail to pass Congress without a major Democratic takeover, so we may be safe from total ruin for the short term. However the “equal pay” provisions will be a stick to wield in 2018 Congressional elections, so they may indeed pass.

These are a continuation of Obama’s policies, combined with the rhetoric of Bernie Sanders. In my view they are socialist in nature and will cause great damage in the long run. Hopefully my predictions will be moot and Hillary will not become president.

 

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