It’s Still ‘The Economy, Stupid’

Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husban
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Bill Clinton was right. It’s the economy, stupid!

Wouldn’t you think he’d have told his wife?

It looks to me like he didn’t, because Hillary Clinton, the soon-to-be Democratic candidate for president, is making proposals that will triple down on all the bad things that have happened to our economy in the last decade.

Or maybe Bill told her and she didn’t quite understand. Or, worse, she just didn’t care.

But I care. So let’s do some math to help her get it. (If it’s hard, ask an eighth-grader for help.)

Pencils ready?

Write down $500 billion. That was our deficit last year.

Now, divide by two. The result – $250 billion – is how much more we should have paid in income taxes, because income taxes provide half our revenue.

Now … where can we find $250 billion? One way is to raise taxes. The other – and I vote for this one – is to create more people who pay them.

Back to the math. The average American makes $50,000 a year and pays 25 percent – $12,500 – in income taxes. Divide 250 billion by 12,500 and you get 20 million – the number of people we need to put in new jobs in one year to cover our nut.

We’re almost done. Divide 20 million by 12, the number of months in a year, and the result – 1.67 million – is the number of new jobs we need to add every month to overcome half the deficit.

That’s right … 1.67 million new jobs a month.

So you tell me … Why was everyone dancing in the streets when we added 242,000 jobs last month? And why did the usual gang of pundits say that number exceeded expectations?

I can’t even begin to understand how the press can just regurgitate numbers without diving into them and figuring out what they mean.

Talk about aiming low! Those “expectations” were about one-and-a-half million new full-time jobs short of what we really needed. In fact, they came up even shorter, because only 29,000 of those new jobs were full-time. And since 242,000 or 29,000 or whatever number you come up with was way short of the 1.67 million we need each month, it just increased the number we’ll need going forward to hit 20 million at the end of the year.

So turn out the lights. The party’s over. All we really did last month was move another rung down the ladder to insolvency. We can’t celebrate “meeting expectations” until our expectations are what we need, because if we can’t hit the number of new jobs we actually need each month, we’ll be stuck with a choice: Raise taxes to pay for our programs, or cut the programs.

But it’s not really a choice, because raising taxes slows the economy, which leads to a slower GDP, which leads to fewer jobs, which means less income for the government, which means raising taxes again to pay for programs. It’s a downward spiral, though Clinton seems to believe it has no bottom, because she wants to raise taxes and create more programs.

Make less, spend more. Don’t try this at home.

Please understand … This is not the rant of an uncaring capitalist. We’re Americans, and we agree on most things: We want our country to be safe; we want our children to be safe; we want the freedom to speak our minds and to worship as we please. And we’re a caring people. We want to lend a hand to the less fortunate: the poor, the sick, the disabled, the disadvantaged.

But we will fail miserably at all our endeavors if we can’t get our economy under control.

Clinton’s solution is to identify what’s wrong, create a huge bureaucratic program and throw lots of money at it. We just can’t do that until we create more jobs to grow our economy, and the only way to do that is to cut taxes and spending.

Cutting taxes creates a multiplier effect. It increases productivity, which leads to new jobs, which provides more people who pay income taxes.

We need to cut spending, too, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care. It just forces us to be more judicious in how we spend. We don’t have to cut programs. Just cut the waste.

Most importantly, we have to stop jabbering about how 242,000 new jobs per month is great news. Because it isn’t. It’s like running 10 feet and saying you won the marathon.

The Republican candidates have yet to present some solid ideas for how to do this, but – unlike Clinton – at least they understand that raising taxes is not the solution.

With November in our sights, we have to consider which presidential candidate best understands the problems we’re facing and has the best ideas for how to solve them. The Clinton plan to increase taxes and spending is a lot like my new weight-loss solution: Uncle Ed’s Cheeseburger-and-Fries Diet.

It doesn’t work. And it isn’t good for what ails us.



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