Monday, July 13, 2015

Hillary vs. the Neoliberals

Hillary Clinton's economic attitudes are to the left of both her husband's and Obama's and she is setting herself up to run well to Obama's left this time. Matt Yglesias offers handy three-point comparisons between Hillary and the neoliberals who have been so influential in the Democratic Party since 1992. Neoliberals, he says, have generally thought as follows:
  • The main way the government can impact the pre-tax distribution of income is by providing high-quality education to as many people as possible.
  • Financial markets should be regulated to guard against catastrophe, but also should take a leading role in driving investment decisions across the private sector.
  • To the extent that the education path fails to generate a satisfactory distribution of economic resources, progressive taxes should fund redistributive programs to produce a better outcome.
In contrast, Hillary believes in and plans to run on a platform like this:

  • The government should take an active role in writing economic rules that promote high wages, rather than relying on taxes and transfer payments.
  • Financial markets do a poor job of guiding private sector investment (she will frame this as a critique of short-term thinking).
  • Increasing educational attainment is an inadequate strategy for curbing inequality.

Since the Democratic Party has shifted to the left since 1992, with even old neoliberal lions like George Soros and Larry Summers calling for a more socialistic approach, this will only help Clinton in the primaries. What happens when she collides with a firmly conservative Republican in 2016 remains to be seen, but at least people will have a clear choice.

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