Three weeks ago I published a post on the views of first eight declared 2016 candidates on American employment. I was seriously discouraged, not so much about the ideas they offered, but on how many of them – Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Hillary Clinton – had absolutely nothing to say. It stunned me that they, especially the Republicans, did not try to distinguish themselves from others on this national problem. Not all are frontrunners with positions to protect, so it seems insufficient for them to opine only about the Second Amendment, abortion, and “family values,” whatever that last one really is, if their opponents are doing the same.
Since then, the flurry of further declarations has continued, with six more putting their hats in the ring. Are they any more forthcoming on jobs than the previous batch? This time, I will start with those giving the least information.
At the bottom of the new list is Republican George Pataki, with nothing on his website about issues at all. He’s presumably paying people lots of money to manage his campaign, and they must think his best chance to win is by being silent. They must also think he’s going to get his support going later, since he doesn’t have much now – if you think he will be the one elected, you can collect at 100 to 1 by betting on him at sportsbook.ag.
Next least is Lindsey Graham. He has a little about what he would do, but it’s almost all about the military, and “security through strength.” That isn’t quite the same as what other Republicans have posted, but nothing on his site tells us what that would mean for jobs, the economy, or anything domestic at all. He’s also available at 100 to 1.
Lincoln Chafee, a Democrat, is also lacking on plans of any kind, but mentions “beneficial social programs.” It might be interesting to know to what new or existing programs he is referring, and how and why they are good, but he’s noncommittal too. If you think he’ll win a year from November, you can get even better odds on him than on Pataki and Graham – 150 to 1.
With Republican Rick Perry we cross over into candidates with something to say on American jobs. It isn’t much, but he offers that “we need to grow the economy, so that every American can find work, and that those who already have work can earn more.” If taken as having substance, that means that he is concerned with not only how many jobs are out there but how much they pay, and at least has a general idea on how to help those things. The only specific source he names is North American energy reserves: “You develop that, you drive down the costs of electricity, tie that in with the lowering of the corporate tax rate… and you will have a renaissance in manufacturing in this country like we’ve never seen before.” Hardly comprehensive, but much more right there than at least seven of his nine avowed nomination rivals. His odds are shorter, at 60 to 1.
Rick Santorum, another Republican, also has something on employment. He pays attention to the need for more jobs, with a section under “Rick on the Issues” titled “Fight for the American Worker.” He refers to a “Santorum economic plan,” with “a fairer and flatter tax code that will treat everyone equally under tax law.” There are certainly problems with that, especially if its effect would be regressive (whatever we need now, it is not vastly lower taxes on those with the most money and highest incomes), but as with Perry he’s coming from somewhere, which can be the beginning of a constructive debate. A bet on Santorum would now pay 80 to 1.
The new candidate with the most to say about American jobs is Democrat Martin O’Malley. We can see, maybe and I wish, why the oddsmakers have his chances better than any of the five above at 50 to 1. He mentions a series of relevant issues he values, in particular expanding equality of opportunity (“making access to safe and affordable childcare and pre-K universal, and college debt-free for all. We should also modernize high school, empowering every student to graduate with a year of college credit, an apprenticeship, or a certificate or credential for a high-pay, high-skill job”), strengthening cities and communities (“historic investments in infrastructure and mass-transit”), and creating more employment in renewable energy. I have concerns about what he calls doing “more to make sure that women are treated fairly and compensated equally in the workplace,” and don’t like his opposition to Obama’s trade bill or advocacy of a $15 per hour minimum wage, but if every candidate were as willing to commit, a fine debate on our employment situation could emerge.
So with 14 candidates in, the standouts on the jobs crisis are Santorum, Perry, and Ted Cruz on the Republican side, and O’Malley and Bernie Sanders among the Democrats. The New York Times names six more people likely to run, including heavy hitters Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, which would make 20 in the field, surely the most since I started following presidential politics in 1968. I’m hoping for more from them on jobs – and, whether you know it or not, you are as well.