Political Hay

It’s That Bad

Counting the costs of a Hillary presidency.

By 10.5.07

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Hillary Clinton is the undisputed Democratic frontrunner. She appears to have put to rest concerns of the Democratic base that she is too divisive, not electable and excessively hawkish on the Iraq war.

Through a combination of weak opponents and skillful political positioning she has established a commanding lead. In doing so she has soothed the far left without damaging her general election prospects. Averting a promised troop withdrawal by the end of her first term and declining to replicate the Rube Goldbergian aspects of her health plan, she seems poised to pivot to the center in her race against a Republican challenger.

It is worth reminding ourselves what a Hillary presidency would look like and whether it might not be "so bad." After all, it's not like Dennis Kucinich is going to president, right? Not so fast.

Let us start with the Supreme Court. Six justices will be over the age of 70 in the next president's term. Hillary will most certainly take great care in find Ruth Bader Ginsburg clones to fill the vacancies. Partial-birth abortion ban? Likely gone. Second Amendment individual right to own a handgun? Not a chance. Presidential wartime authority? Greatly limited. Go down the list of each conservative legal victory over the last ten to twenty years, whether it is on free speech or religion or racial preferences. Reversed. And it will take a lifetime -- perhaps six lifetimes -- to restore the proper role of the judiciary.

Let's move on to taxes. The Bush tax cuts -- marginal rate reductions, capital gains reductions, and death tax elimination -- will be a thing of the past. Moreover, given her ambitious spending plans, the revenue "generated" from the tax increases (especially in the event of one whopping recession) won't be enough. (Paying for all those $5,000 baby bonds won't be cheap.) A prime target will be the payroll tax and specifically lifting that $95,000 cap. Then there are hedge fund and cigarette and gas taxes.

And what about HillaryCare? Won't "Harry and Louise" get to keep their health insurance? Well, not if the Hillary HealthCare police find their current insurance plan lacking. If either of them still have jobs they may have to provide "proof of insurance." However, the good news is that they won't be penalized for any medical conditions, so diseases from smoking (if you can afford the cigarette taxes), drinking, and obesity won't result in higher premiums.

The list goes on -- protectionism, racial preferences, union elections without secret ballots. All will be back in fashion and with the help of a likely Democratic congressional majority (maybe even a filibuster-proof Senate) all can become reality.

Then there is foreign policy and the war on terror. Will the Patriot Act survive? Will we have to choose between returning enemy detainees or giving them due process (and access to classified materials to mount their defense)?

So it is not just on foreign policy or terror policy that Hillary take us on a sharp turn to the left. It is on a raft of domestic issues on which Democrats (when we were all fixed on Iraq policy) lurched to the left. With no conservative congressional majority to stop her, Hillary's most ardent "nanny state" impulses will be unchecked.

So "electability" then is not an abstract consideration for GOP primary voters. It is the very real concern that a faulty choice -- an inferior candidate or poor campaigner -- will be incapable of withstanding the Hillary (oh, and Bill is coming too, of course) juggernaut. When conservatives think of sitting home or voting for a third party contender, perhaps they should consider the damage to the country when "Madame President" becomes part of our lexicon.

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