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Clinton Being Clinton

Nov 25, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 11 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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If you’re looking for a clue to what a Hillary Clinton administration might get up to, check out her husband’s speech at the annual meeting of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. His idea du jour is to jump-start the economy by depositing all bank fines into an infrastructure fund, so we can put the money to work fixing our supposedly moribund roads and bridges.

Clinton

This combines two tired Democratic tropes: that infrastructure spending is an economic panacea and that it’s perfectly reasonable to contemplate how an administration might spend billions of dollars without bothering Congress to appropriate the money.

There are lots of lessons to be learned from the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus program (such as that most spending gets done for baldly political purposes and that the folks currently in power will wildly overpromise when necessary), but the relevant ones here are that there is no such thing as a shovel-ready project and that infrastructure construction tends to be very capital intensive, leading to relatively few jobs created per dollar spent.

But despite the lackluster economic impact of the 2009 spending bill, Democrats continue to act as if we’re a few new bridges away from economic nirvana. And while Democrats may be upset that Congress won’t let them spend as much money as they want to, the gang currently in power has yet to stoop (at least not wholeheartedly) to subverting democracy.

Bill Clinton’s “helpful” suggestion comes on the heels of a high-profile piece in the New Republic suggesting that the leftward tilt of the Democratic party the last few years has passed Hillary by, and that she is in danger of being outflanked to her left for the nomination—again—by someone like Elizabeth Warren.

It’s moves like this that show the advantage of having a political husband like Bill. If the idea proves to be a hit with the nomenklatura of the Democratic party, she can easily make it her own and run with it. If it sinks, the idea is chalked up to “Bill being Bill.” No doubt the former president’s going to have a lot more ideas of this ilk to share with us in the next couple of years.

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