“For a presidential campaign that has started so early, it’s striking how little most of the candidates want to engage with major issues of the day, let alone the future.” – Thomas Friedman, “Hillary, Jeb, Facebook and Disorder,” The New York Times, May 20, 2015
No kidding, Tom.
It was a simple project, or so it seemed. For this morning’s blog post, I would look up the positions of the eight officially committed presidential contenders, see what they had to say on jobs, and then analyze, compare, and critique it.
It didn't work out that way.
I used the New York Times’s quick summary of who has actually declared themselves in – it’s at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/us/elections/2016-presidential-candidates.html?ref=politics, and is updated with each new candidate – and went down the list, starting with Ted Cruz. His website was easy to find, and among his clearly accessible list of issues was “Jobs & Opportunity.” He only had one paragraph on what he wanted to do with American employment, but his bullet points on his related efforts in the U.S. Senate and elsewhere printed out to three pages. I wasn't too impressed – on jobs he advocates little other than ending “Obamacare, an overreaching federal government, and out of control spending,” and then just waiting, I guess – but expected to have eight printouts to compare.
I did not.
The next name was Rand Paul, who seems to have cultivated an image like that of his father Ron’s – outspoken and full of ideas, not to mention libertarian. I knew the last one was nonsense – he fails the most basic requirement for being a libertarian in 2015, favoring marijuana legalization – but his website put the first and probably the second in doubt as well. He had issues, in fact 18 of them, but most were routine Republican qualifiers, such as “Israel,” “Second Amendment,” and “Sanctity of Life,” the last referring, of course, to zygotes and not to victims of our bombs or questionably condemned criminals. He had nothing at all under jobs or the economy – I know because I looked, thinking I had missed something, four times.
On to Marco Rubio, the Republican given the best chance in sportsbook.ag of the six declared ones to win the election. He had only four issues on his website, two on foreign policy, one a pledge to never raise taxes (George H. W. Bush, are you laughing?), and one stating that marriage laws belonged to the states. Perhaps he considers these four things the most important for Americans, but more likely two would scrape to make the top ten and the others would not be close. Strangely, he did mention the economy – on his “Rubio Doctrine” where he said that we should physically prevent other countries from impeding commerce. As for the needs of the people in Cleveland, San Antonio, and Miami… well, not this time.
Next was Ben Carson. I read his book and was impressed by his level of thinking, and maybe had showed that in his list of 10 issues, but once more the economy wasn't there. Don’t we know that his stated need to “protect the Second Amendment” (from what efforts in progress?) sets him aside from no candidate in his party? His staff must think we don’t, and again, they give us nary a clue as to how he might reduce our shortage of 17.9 million jobs.
So you’re disappointed in Carson? Try Carly Fiorina! An examination of her official website, her online face to the electorate, showed – get this – no views on issues at all! Why, Carly, when your poll numbers belong under a microscope, can’t you commit yourself on anything? Your illustrious corporate career must have given you some ideas, so why won’t you share them? Are you sitting on your lead?
Then on to Mike Huckabee, who has been committal enough to engender more controversy for what he thinks than any of the five above. His site includes 13 issues, including the usual suspects of “Israel” and “2nd Amendment,” and also “Values,” but nothing on either employment or our economy – “Tax Reform, advocating a flat-rate “Fair Tax,” and “Spending & Debt,” devoted to other issues, don’t qualify.
Over to the Democratic side, where Hillary Clinton, as expected and consistent with her past non-statements, has nothing to say. Her site is completely devoid of issues. At least she, with sportsbook.ag odds of just under 50% to win the whole thing as it is, has reason to keep her cards close to her chest – for now.
The eighth candidate, Bernie Sanders, did what I thought every candidate should have done. On his site he has a listing of “12 Steps Forward,” no fewer than six of which address American employment. Four I can’t agree with at all, specifically “growing the trade union movement” as if that will create jobs, “raising the minimum wage” on the basis that every position should independently and comfortably support at least the person filling it, “pay equity for women workers” based on results instead of laws, and protectionist “trade policies that benefit American workers.” Of the other two I don’t care much about “creating worker co-ops” – let organizations that want to do that go right ahead – but the last I have been calling for, “rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.” Sanders calls for “a massive jobs program rebuilding our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges,” and I don’t see why others don’t openly support the same; the work must be done somehow, and conservatives, with their generally greater business investments, will be damaged at least as much as liberals if the United States continues to deteriorate in this way.
Will the remaining expected candidates do better? Will the second through seventh people above, if they are not doing well in the campaign, commit themselves more? Will Sanders or someone else put the jobs issue in his rivals’ faces by stating that he has a plan while others do not? I hope so, but I’m sure not betting the baby shoe money.
“A recent study by the Oxford Martin School concluded that 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at high risk of being taken by smart machines and software in the next two decades” – Friedman again, as above. And that doesn’t even include those lost to foreign workers. Let’s work on this one, candidates.