Monday, August 15, 2016

Hillary Clinton and the risks of incrementalism

Scott Eric Kaufmann reads Paul Krugman's latest New York Times column as not only a warning against cautious incrementalism as a strategy for a Hillary Clinton Administration, but also as drawing a lesson from the failure of the first Clinton Administration's effort at comprehensive health insurance reform. (Krugman: Kaufmann: Wisdom, Courage and the Economy The time for liberal pundits to push Clinton’s economic policy to the left is now Salon 08/15/2016)

Krugman writes:

Is the modesty of the Clinton economic agenda too much of a good thing? Should accelerating U.S. economic growth be a bigger priority?

For while the U.S. has done reasonably well at recovering from the 2007-2009 financial crisis, longer-term economic growth is looking very disappointing. Some of this is just demography, as baby boomers retire and growth in the working-age population slows down. But there has also been a somewhat mysterious decline in labor force participation among prime-age adults and a sharp drop in productivity growth.

... I’d argue, in particular, for substantially more infrastructure spending than Mrs. Clinton is currently proposing, and more borrowing to pay for it.
Kaufmann notes:

Though Krugman never openly states it, the clear comparison is her failed attempt establish HillaryCare in the ’90s and President Obama’s successfully pushing ObamaCare into law through any and all means necessary.

Of course, Clinton has acquired quite a bit more political savvy during the intervening decades, so perhaps Krugman’s point is simply not to forget the lessons learned, but to remember what is known and knowable and what, at this point, simply isn’t ...
Another way to think about the political risks is that Republicans will continue their radical obstructionism on domestic policy when Clinton becomes President. The economy could weaken and go into another recession, which the Republicans and their media networks will cheerfully blame on Clinton and the Democrats. Clinton is also talking about setting up a protected zone in Syria, which would be a qualitative jump into a guaranteed disaster. Throw in a spectacular terrorist attack or two in the United States by Muslim extremists, and the next Trump could be in a strong position in 2020. And then there's the 2018 midterms, which will go to the Republicans by default if the Democratic National Committee doesn't make a drastic change in the practice of neglecting Congressional elections, we could be looking at four more years of domestic policy paralysis capped by a Republican resurgence in the 2020 Presidential election.

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