Hillary Clinton announced in May that she wanted to be "a small-business president."
She would "cut the red tape," that's tying down America's entrepreneurs and small-business owners, she declared.
Commenting on what she discovered on her nationwide "listening tour," taking note particularly of what small-business owners said, Mrs. Clinton delivered a concise summation of what she had learned: "All they need are policies that help them get ahead instead of holding them back."
Two months later in Manhattan, on July 13 at the New School, a self-defined "progressive university" in Greenwich Village, Hillary Clinton laid out her vision for a "growth and fairness economy" in a wide-ranging economic policy speech that called for a barrage of new red tape and federal mandates that was the opposite of her economic prescription of untangling small-business owners and entrepreneurs from the burdens of excessive government directives and encumbrances.
Hillary began her New School speech by saying that "most Americans that I have spoken with" believe the economy is "stacked for those at the top."
The result, she said, is an economy that's too free of federal rules and too populated with undertaxed top income earners.
"For 35 years," i.e., starting with the Reagan presidency, "Republicans have argued that if we give more wealth to those at the top by cutting their taxes and letting big corporations write their own rules, it will trickle down to everyone else," said Mrs. Clinton. "Yet every time they have a chance to try that approach, it explodes the national debt, concentrates wealth even more and does practically nothing to help hard-working Americans."
On the topic of accomplishing things "to help hard-working Americans," Hillary Clinton left off the part about falling inflation during the Reagan presidency, dropping from 11.3 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively, in 1979 and 1980 (25 percent in two years) -- double-digit price hikes that were robbing "hard-working Americans" of their purchasing power -- to an inflation rate of 4.2 percent at the end of the Reagan presidency in 1988.
Also missing from Hillary's analysis of "trickle down" economics was the fact that millions of Americans moved from joblessness to work during Reaganomics, with unemployment decreasing from 7.4 percent when Reagan was elected to 5.4 percent at the conclusion of his presidency.
These economic successes with simultaneous increases in job creation and decreases in inflation particularly benefited those at the bottom who could least afford double-digit price increases, as well as those who moved from poverty and joblessness to work and paychecks.
In direct contrast to the policies that fundamentally improved economic conditions in the 1980s, Mrs. Clinton made clear in her New School speech that the foundation of job creation, business growth and economic fairness during her presidency would be rooted in mandates for paid family leave, higher minimum wages, and paid sick leave, in addition to new federal oversight of equal pay for equal work, government subsidized affordable childcare, expansion of unions, increases in workers' bargaining power, new federal rules on overtime pay, lower out-of-pocket health care costs for employees, new federal programs to expand profit sharing, higher income tax rates on top earners, and a new federal "crack down on bosses who exploit employees by mis-classifying them as contractors," and on and on.
In short, Mrs. Clinton's prescription for an economic recovery and fairness calls for less free enterprise and more central control, exactly the opposite of what works.
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics and the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, a columnist with the Pittsburgh-Tribune-Review, and the co-owner of Amel's Restaurant in Pittsburgh.
Ralph R. Reiland