Barack Obama is the most “Progressive” of recent, and perhaps of all, American presidents. Indeed he is the only recent Democratic president rightly characterized as “Progressive” rather than just liberal.
But with massive increases in government debt and food stamp use, declines in labor force participation, the impending insolvency of the Social Security Disability Fund, relentless unemployment among African-Americans and deteriorating race relations, and by far the worst economic “recovery” in modern American history, one has to ask (in the sarcastic style of my Jewish grandma), “This is progress?!?”
It’s not just that things aren’t going well. It’s that they’re going particularly badly for those whom Progressives claim to care about most (the poor, minorities, the “working class”) while the rich get richer (in itself not a bad thing) and large companies succeed while small companies struggle and new business formation stagnates — a terrible situation in an economy that relies on small and new companies for job growth.
Conservatives have long fretted over Democrats controlling the political lexicon, causing words to mean — Humpty Dumpty style — what liberals say they mean, but we have consistently failed in changing the literal terms of the debate.
Following on Barack Obama’s dismal performance, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and campaign offer the best opportunity in memory for Americans to reconsider the true meaning of the most fundamental word in the left’s rhetorical arsenal: Progressive.
Mrs. Clinton has yet to propose a truly new idea. Each of her few policy positions are regurgitations of populist pabulum that offer nothing innovative, nothing for Americans to get excited about, no hope to improve the lives of people anywhere on the income spectrum, and no future for our nation. In short, she is a perfect Progressive.
Hillary’s biggest “new” idea is to massively increase the capital gains tax rates and holding period for those Americans in the top income bracket — couples earning over $464,850 per year and individuals earning over $413,200 — creating six tax brackets with holding periods up to six years and confiscatory rates up to a jaw-dropping 43.8 percent.
Bloomberg and even the New York Times have trashed the plan as doing nothing more than making the tax code more complicated while not furthering Hillary’s stated goal of causing corporations and investors to become less short-term focused.
Beyond the feckless political pandering — can you smell Hillary’s fear of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren? — and economic idiocy of the plan, it’s remarkable that the wife of the man whose vaunted federal budget surplus occurred due to cutting the capital gains tax rate would so aggressively champion the opposite policy.
Other Clintonian “progress” includes pandering to black voters about “voter suppression” through Voter ID laws even though a recent poll shows that more than three-quarters of Americans, including 58 percent of Democrats, continue to support having to show photo ID before voting. (Data are mixed about the actual impact of the laws on turnout among blacks and other voting groups.)
Of course if you pander to blacks, you have to pander to women as well. Hillary does that in the most predictable fashion, tweeting out the threadbare but mythical “outrage of so many women still earning less than men on the job.”
Hillary is also calling for the installation of half a billion new solar panels in the United States. No matter your view on the merits of solar power (you can count me among the skeptics regarding its value for utility-scale power generation), if this is what counts as innovative policy Mrs. Clinton must have a truly stunted imagination.
In a politically boneheaded statement given Clinton’s need for Silicon Valley’s checkbooks and millennials’ votes, she whines about “the on-demand or so-called ‘gig economy’… raising hard questions about workplace protections.” Actually, Hillary, it doesn’t raise any such hard questions and your union-driven crocodile tears don’t mask the anti-progress nature of your complaints.
Her comment related particularly to ride-sharing service Uber, which received another thinly veiled threat from Clinton: “I’ll crack down on bosses who exploit employees by mischaracterizing them as contractors…” No, Hillary, it’s fairly simple: I own a car. I want to give someone a ride to make a few extra bucks. I don’t need your “protection” and I’m not — and don’t want to be — an employee.
Hillary might offer us even more “progress” if she would answer more questions. But she’s a political greased pig, refusing to take a position on issues ranging from the Keystone XL pipeline, the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade treaty, and repealing Obamacare’s medical device tax.
When Hillary Clinton deigns to answer a question, or during one of her remarkably robotic and somnolent teleprompter speeches, she offers hackneyed and harmful policy prescriptions that, even if you’re of a moderately liberal mindset, must strike you as utterly uninspiring and representing anything but “progress.” In trying to be everything to everybody, she’s turning into nothing for anybody.
Soul-crushing big-government policies are, to coin a phrase, failed policies of the past. What’s really new — in the sense that it was abandoned long ago by American politicians of both major parties — is freedom. Freedom-based policies derive from trusting (as Progressives manifestly do not) that Americans are, can be, and prefer to be self-reliant and smart enough to make important and often difficult choices about our own lives and businesses without being nudged, much less shoved, by the Nanny State. More freedom… that would be real progress.
So why do conservatives, who are proposing creative, cost-saving, and freedom-enhancing solutions to a wide range of vexing public policy issues from poverty to education to health care to transportation funding, allow the regressive, bossy, mindless and uncreative left to maintain the mantle of “progressive”? I wish I knew.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign gives Republican candidates an opportunity to ask voters a simple question: If “Progressives” are lying about the very name of their movement, what else are they lying about? The answer, of course, is “nearly everything.”