Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Clinton and Sanders on economic inequality

Bob Lord (Blog for Arizona) has been writing about income inequality for a long time. We should expect that he viewed last night's debate from that perspective. Sure enough, he says he detected a key difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

... I did notice one very clear and critical difference between Clinton and Sanders in their framing of the issue of inequality. You had to listen carefully. A lot of what they said sounded the same. Their subtext, however, was radically different.

Sanders spoke, as he always does, as a Democratic Socialist. Essentially, that means he wants to address our extreme inequality through policies that will compress — bringing the bottom up and the top (the billionaires) down.

Clinton’s framing, by contrast, was all about equality of opportunity. She may have thrown in a line here or there about "fairer" tax policy, but those were throwaways. The thrust of her message was that every one should have the chance to succeed the way she and Bill have.

Essentially, Clinton wants to create an America in which all Americans make it into the top 1%.

But you only can fit 1% of the country into the top 1%. I’ve given that a lot of thought and I’m very confident that’s the case. ... Which of course means that 99% can’t be in the top 1%.

There is another group that promotes equality of opportunity: wealthy families who fund mostly Republican PACs. Here is a quote from my blog on the NY Times report on those families (emphasis added).

... regardless of industry, the families investing the most in presidential politics overwhelmingly lean right, contributing tens of millions of dollars to support Republican candidates who have pledged to pare regulations; cut taxes on income, capital gains and inheritances; and shrink entitlement programs. While such measures would help protect their own wealth, the donors describe their embrace of them more broadly, as the surest means of promoting economic growth and preserving a system that would allow others to prosper, too.

And Lord concludes:

... Sanders is grounded in reality. Clinton is selling snake oil.

Last night Clinton did lay claim to being a progressive. But is she willing to use government policy to correct the same conditions that produced the crash of '29 and the ensuing great depression?

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