A paper from the Center for American Progress may be an outline for Hillary Clinton’s future economic plan if and when she begins her 2016 presidential campaign. Even though she has still not announced an official run, the connection between Clinton and the members of the Center for American Progress make the paper, “Report of the Commission on Inclusive Prosperity,” look like advisory one for her campaign.
Why does this look like Clinton’s plan?
The think tank which produce the paper was founded by John Podesta, who will chair Clinton’s potential campaign. The Center for American Progress’s president, Neera Tanden, was the policy director of Clinton’s last presidential campaign, and the whole think tank is made up of veterans of the Bill Clinton and Obama administrations: Lawrence Summers, who ran the Treasury Department under Bill Clinton and the National Economic Council under Obama, is a co-chair. The other co-chair is Ed Balls, the U.K. Labour Party’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, who will potential run the U.K.’s economic policy if Labour wins the next election — making this look more like a plan for Clinton.
To top it off, Clinton showed that she had economic policy on the mind Friday when she tweeted, “Attacking financial reform is risky and wrong. Better for Congress to focus on jobs and wages for middle class families.”
What’s the plan?
In general, the plan is attempt to save the middle class, as Clinton’s tweet pointed to, but the paper wide-ranging and comprehensive. More specific suggestions include closing corporate tax and inheritance tax loopholes, more infrastructure spending, more Federal Housing Administration subsidies for riskier loans, improved education, and comprehensive immigration reform.
The document calls for higher wages and a charge to close the ever-widening wealth gap between the rich and poor. It proposes tax cuts for the middle class and fewer tax breaks for executives. The plan seems to, unsurprisingly, call attention to areas that people find weak for Obama right now, promising to be hard on Wall Street, suggesting requirements for banks to borrow less, and really help middle class workers. Vox noted that the “report is especially striking for its endorsement of labor market regulations not normally associated with the Summers wing of Democratic thinking.”
The paper reinforces the importance of unions and suggests regulatory changes that would make union-organizing easier. It continues the trend of being pro-workers, by proposing better tax treatment for worker-owned firms and even some relief for corporate founders whose companies will become worker-owned when they retire or die.
Is this a plan people will get behind?
Jared Bernstein, a former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, told PBS that the report built a feeling that already exists in the Democratic part — exacerbated by the 2014 midterms — that the middle class needs more than just economic growth to combat the stagnation it’s been seeing.
“I don’t think the 2014 midterms were some sort of fluke. If you don’t give people a reason to get up and go vote for you, I’d expect them to sit down and stay home or vote for somebody else,” he said. “So you can’t assume based on demographics or race or income class that the electorate is going to support you. … You have to do precisely the kind of policy work that this group is offering us.”
The report makes the case that the wage stagnation we’ve been seeing can indeed be reversed. “We should not be fatalistic,” Tanden said to the New York Times.“There are things we can do. They may be hard things. But there being hard things you can do is very different from there being nothing to do.”
The middle class, the report argues, can be saved. That’s the kind of optimistic rhetoric that sounds good coming from a presidential candidate.