By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
The primary “appeal” of Donald Trump’s candidacy, we are told, is that he is a businessman, not a politician, that he has created jobs, whereas Hillary Clinton is a “politician” who has never created a single job or met a payroll. Donald Trump is the outsider, the change agent, versus the insider, while Hillary Clinton is “the Establishment” because she has spent 30 years as a public servant.
Setting aside the fact that Trump is the worst caricature of a Businessman, who, records now show, has built up the fortune he inherited by exploiting others, by lying and cheating, and the fact that Hillary Clinton, while she has spent her life in public service working to better the lives of others, has only briefly (as a US Senator and in her campaign for the presidency been a politician, there is a difference between public service and politics, and between business and government.
Trump says that because he is such a brilliant businessman, he will be the best “jobs creator God ever made.” He promises to bring back the manufacturing jobs that were lost 20 years ago, and says he will restore jobs in the coal mines, oil rigs and steel mills. How? He says he will tear up trade agreements (that will only start a trade war as countries retaliate by imposing tariffs on American goods, which will damage our exports which has been rising); tax goods brought in by an American company (even if he could do that, it would only be passed on to consumers in higher prices), eliminate corporate taxes (the biggest, most profitable companies don’t pay any tax anyway, and no business pays the “nominal” 35% tax rate), reducing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, like Trump (who we find pays zero or less than the average janitor so one wonders why there is any compelling need to go to a flat tax of 15% which will harm middle class people the most), and finally, eliminate the estate tax which would produce a $4 billion windfall for the Trump kids (so they have a real investment in Daddy becoming president) if Trump is not actually lying about his wealth (which Forbes estimates is more like $3.7 billion than the $10 billion he boasts). Trump’s fantastical promise of 4% annual growth in GDP that he pulls out of thin air would likely only spur crippling inflation.
This is, as Hillary Clinton so eloquently put it, “Trumped Up Trickle Down”, the George W. Bush economy on steroids, and we saw how that played out. And just like Bush Economics turned the Bill Clinton budget surplus into massive deficit and the $1 trillion for war he put on a national credit card exploded the national debt, economists have said that Trump’s economic plan would add $5 trillion to the debt, cost 3.5 million jobs, and exacerbate income inequality (because once again, all the tax advantages would flow to the top) and very likely plunge the US into another recession,
Hillary Clinton’s economic policy has a lot to do with economic justice and sustainable economic growth: paid parental leave, raising the federal minimum wage to $15, eliminating college debt, clawing back tax incentives from companies that use “inversion” to avoid taxes, promoting the rise of clean energy industry which already is creating more jobs than fossil fuel industry, easing the way for small businesses and entrepreneurs, investing $275 billion in infrastructure and billions more for medical research such as to combat Alzheimer’s disease, promoting universal pre-K and affordable child care, requiring pay parity for women. And yes, she pays for it by eliminating tax dodges corporations use and raising taxes on the wealthiest, “because they have made all the gains in the economy. And I think it’s time that the wealthy and corporations paid their fair share to support this country. Broad-based, inclusive growth is what we need in America, not more advantages for people at the very top.”
To which Trump replied, “Typical politician. All talk, no action. Sounds good, doesn’t work.”
Not work? These are policies that actually will create jobs – as they did during Bill Clinton’s administration, when he created 22 million jobs, largely by unleashing the new Internet industry, when incomes across the board were created, and by Barack Obama who already has created 15 million, despite coming into office enduring the worst recession since the Great Recession, produced the longest string of jobs growth in history and the fastest increase in wages in years and the most rapid decrease in poverty since 1968 (Johnson’s Great Society).
Yes, a politician does create jobs by fostering the policies that promote jobs-creation, and literally hiring the private contractors who build the roads, bridges, airports, water and communications systems. But a public servant does even more.
Economists who analyzed Hillary Clinton’s proposals found that it would likely create 10 million jobs, and that means with the increased revenue because of fairer tax policies and getting the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share, the national debt would be reduced and prosperity would be more widely shared.
Hillary Clinton has spent her entire working life creating jobs. And if you look at what the State Department does – things like USAID – they are in the business of fostering economic development (jobs) around the world. During her tenure as Secretary of State, the US increased its exports by 30% and exports to China by 50%, and that contributed to the first increase in manufacturing jobs since the Clinton years. The Clinton Global Initiative which she served after leaving government, devised new methods of fostering public-private partnerships that have been applied by the Obama Administration in the Smart Cities program, Joining Forces (which promotes jobs for returning veterans and military families), in its Apprenticeship program, for example (I’m betting no one realizes these programs even exist), and would have done far, far more if the Republican Congress had not blocked legislation including the Infrastructure Bank and the American Jobs Program (it even has “jobs” in its name).
And there is a very great difference between being a businessman and a public servant. Donald Trump said it himself, to justify how “smart” he is to avoid paying taxes (which is probably why he is being audited):
He has said that he earned $650 million last year, but has boasted about paying zero taxes or avoiding paying taxes. “That makes me smart.”
“So if he’s paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health,” Clinton replied. (This doesn’t sway Trump’s supporters because they see not paying taxes as stiffing the government – sticking it to the Establishment – and though they pretend to salute the flag, it is the “Don’t Tread on Me” one.)
And if he stiffed workers by refusing to pay them and challenging them to bring him to court, and stiffed investors by declaring bankruptcies, and called himself the “King of Debt,” he says, “Which our country should do, too.”
His idea to bring down the national debt? Not pay the interest on the obligations – force creditors to take less. That’s called default and it would forever crash the “full faith and credit of the United States” and the world economy.
“My obligation right now is to do well for myself, my family, my employees, for my companies. And that’s what I do.”
Ah ha, that’s it in a nutshell: a for-profit charter school can simply close up shop and leave the kids on the street, a public school has to take everyone regardless of their intellectual or physical ability; a for-private hospital just shuts down. A public servant has to consider all constituencies, with competing interests, not just self-interest, has a broader responsibility beyond a “fiduciary” responsibility (which is why corporations should be prohibited from paying into any political campaign and the Supreme Court Citizens United decision is so counter to democracy), and a longer view beyond the next quarter.
And the icing on the cake for would-be Donald Trumps? Elimination of regulation, overturning financial controls like Dodd-Frank, the EPA – an open invitation for a bankster free-for-all that will make the Bush Financial Crash look like peanuts. And those blue-collar working stiffs who are the “core” Trump supporters, who somehow imagine that Trump will make them billionaires, too? They will find themselves bilked, just like the Trump University chumps.
Being the chief executive of the United States, the head of a government of millions of workers, serving the interests of more than 300 million citizens (not just those who vote for you), working with partners from around the country and around the world, managing your board of directors (the Congress), is not like being CEO of a business with a single purpose – to make money for its owners – but does require professional skill, experience, expertise.
You wouldn’t hire a real estate developer to perform brain surgery on you, pilot your airplane, or plead for your life in court, would you?
But regardless of Businessman or Public Servant, it comes down to the individual’s own character, personality, temperament, skill, background, values and vision. It’s not that government is inherently bad, bloated and inefficient, or that businesses are inherently more productive, efficient and honest (if that were true, so many wouldn’t go bankrupt or be overcharging government by three and four times), but the workers we encounter at the hotel or country club, the factory workers who actually assemble the cars, and the people who get hired for government, and most importantly, the individual politicians we elect to office. As easy as it is for Trump to hurl stereotypes, slogans or jingoisms, people are not widgets that are interchangeable by label or category.
Responding to the New York Times report that Trump took advantage of his business failures in the 1990s to claim a $915 million loss in 1995 – enough to shield him from federal taxes for 18 years – his campaign stated, “The incredible skills Mr. Trump has shown in building his business are the skills we need to rebuild this country.”
Heaven forbid a President Trump treat the country as he has his businesses, his workers, his contractors, his investors.
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