Much of the talk about Hillary Clinton's positions in the campaign has been about whether she has "moved to the left." For example, here is an article from NPR on March 31 titled "Has Bernie Sanders Moved Hillary Clinton To The Left?" Sometimes in these discussions the word "liberal" is used as a synonym for "left," as in this article from the Washington Post in April ("Sanders wasn’t the only force pushing her to the left. Democrats, in general, have become much more willing to embrace liberal policies over the past couple of decades.")
In this context, what does it mean to be "further left" or "more liberal"? As far as I can see, the terms refer to very little more than merely the blind faith that more government spending, mandates and rules can cure all the perceived unfairness and injustice in the world without any negative consequences to speak of. And since there are no negative consequences, why are we wasting our time worrying about things like budgets, deficits, debt, or crowding out of private activity?
And thus Hillary's campaign has consisted of gradually going along with every big new idea for more spending coming out of the Sanders/Warren wing of the party, with not a moment's worth of discussion of costs or limits:
- Elizabeth and Bernie say that Social Security should be expanded? OK, I'll get on board with that.
- Free college? Why not?
- A student loan forgiveness program? Hey, what's a trillion or so dollars?
- Minimum wage? Maybe we should be a little modest and only go to $12 for now. No, forget about that, make it $15.
- A new blowout government "stimulus" program to create millions of new jobs? Hey, all wealth comes from the government spending the free money, right?
Now here's the problem: As soon as one concedes that the government has a legitimate role in providing a so-called "safety net," there immediately will be a line that needs to be drawn between those that get the handouts and those that pay for them. And there will be pressure from all those not getting the handouts to get in on them. So, what's the basis on which the line gets drawn? Have you ever heard anyone on the Left, any liberal or self-described "progressive," ever so much as considering the need for a line or a limit, or a reasoned basis on which such a line should be drawn?
If you think that the Sanders and Warren (and now Clinton) proposals constitute the high bid on potential government blowout spending, then perhaps you haven't seen the new manifesto that came out from the Black Lives Matter movement a few days ago. It's called "A Vision for Black Lives." Here is a link. A short summary is: We'll see Sanders and Warren, and raise them several trillion more! For starters, there are healthcare demands and education demands to make Sanders and Warren look ridiculously cheap by comparison. For example:
Real, meaningful and equitable universal healthcare that guarantees: proximity to nearby comprehensive health centers, culturally competent services for all people, specific services for queer, gender nonconforming, and trans people, full bodily autonomy, full reproductive services, mental health services, paid parental leave, and comprehensive quality child and elder care.
Or this on education:
[A] free education for all, special protections for queer and trans students, wrap around services, social workers, free health services (including reproductive body autonomy), a curriculum that acknowledges and addresses students’ material and cultural needs, physical activity and recreation, high quality food, free daycare, and freedom from unwarranted search, seizure or arrest.
Hey, we're just getting started. How about "universal" jobs programs:
Federal and state job programs that specifically target the most economically marginalized Black people, and compensation for those involved in the care economy. Job programs must provide a living wage and encourage support for local workers centers, unions, and Black-owned businesses which are accountable to the community.
Oh, and did I mention "reparations"? They don't give us any numbers. Will $1 trillion do? How about ten? A hundred? And then plenty more on environmental regulation (ban fossil fuels!), "economic justice," and more.
So Hillary, are you on board with all of this? Or is there a limit somewhere? If there is a limit, can you kindly enlighten us on how to find it?
Meanwhile, how's it going with the trillion or so per year of current government spending supposedly designed to combat poverty? I think that's what the BLM manifesto characterizes as the "War on Black People." Somehow government spending in the real world not only doesn't cure the problem, but makes it worse.