With serious questions about economic and foreign policy looming, the presidential campaign this year has often been about other matters. But we will soon face the policy consequences of this election.
The Wall Street Journal summarizes Hillary Clinton's policies (it will give Donald Trump's a similar examination over the next two days). Here are what I see as the most relevant points:
Start with Mrs. Clinton because the costs of her Presidency are easier to see in advance. To wit, she would continue President Obama’s progressive march to a French-style welfare and regulatory state. On nearly every domestic issue, she has embraced Mr. Obama’s agenda and moved left from there.
She wants higher taxes, more spending on entitlements that are already unaffordable, more subsidies and price controls in ObamaCare, more regulations on businesses of all kinds, more limits on political speech, more enforcement of liberal cultural values on schools and churches.
The greatest cost of this would be more lost years of slow economic growth. The U.S. economy hasn’t grown by 3% in any year since 2005, and the explanation from Mrs. Clinton’s economic advisers is that America can’t grow faster and inequality is a bigger problem in any case. More income redistribution is their patent medicine.
But won't there be more comity in Washington than we've seen in the last eight acrimonious years?
Some Republicans say Mrs. Clinton would be more willing to negotiate with them than Mr. Obama has been. That’s a low bar, and during the 2016 campaign she hasn’t thrown a single policy olive branch to Republicans. None. Her current agenda may reflect her real beliefs going back to her activist days before the failure of HillaryCare caused her to adopt some New Democratic coloration. In 2017 she would also have Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders pulling her to the left.
Mrs. Clinton, according to the editors of the Journal, appears to have an advantage over Mr. Trump in one area:
Mrs. Clinton’s clearest advantage over Mr. Trump is on foreign policy, where she has shown more respect for America’s role in maintaining global order. She has sometimes shown more hawkish instincts than Mr. Obama, but then she also embraced his worst mistakes: the reset with Russia that badly misjudged Vladimir Putin, the nuclear deal with Iran, the withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, and the abandonment of Libya after Europe and the U.S. toppled Moammar Gadhafi.
Even if she wants to revive U.S. leadership abroad, however, there is the question of means. Her entitlement expansions and higher taxes would squeeze the economic growth and budget space needed to finance more defense spending. This is Western Europe on the installment plan.