Over the past four weeks, we have added five new official 2016 hopefuls. Democrat Jim Webb joined four others, and Republicans Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, and Donald Trump threw their hats into this ring already containing ten from their party. So what do they have to say about American employment?
Last on the list is Jindal. If he has a website at all, I couldn’t find it in ten minutes of searching. No online presence, no posted views on issues, nothing. In Choosing a Lasting Career, I called him “charismatic,” and said he or Rubio had the best chances in the election that was then over three years away, but he isn’t looking good at all now. If you disagree, you can go to sportsbook.ag and get 100 to 1 odds on him winning.
Next worst is Trump, who has done remarkably well at getting attention. I suppose his clown act is healthy, since it’s stirring people up in these noncommittal times, and he’s not, as some observers say, damaging his party, since his views are his own. He is, however, doing great injury to Donald Trump, and his odds against of 50 to 1 may be the worst ever for someone polling second among Republicans. He, not exactly surprisingly, has a splendidly bombastic website, but among the scraps on his standpoints are nothing at all on jobs – even inferentially.
In the middle is Bush. Since he is surveying ahead of Trump, and his odds of 3.6 to 1 against are the shortest of anyone except Hillary Clinton, it’s not surprising that he has little to say. His main idea on employment, which he seems to consider important as he intelligently mentions the 6.5 million Americans working part-time for economic reasons (wanting a full-time position but not finding one), is that it should improve quite nicely when, under him, the national economy grows the same 4% per year he achieved in Florida. In implementing such a spectacular result, the devil is not only in the details, but in the broad outline – we have no idea how he could get us there. At least, though, Jeb gets credit for saying something.
Second best is Webb. He’s been positioning himself as an unusual Democrat, and what he says about employment is no exception – he may be the only one of the five in favor of lower corporate taxes (after removing “loopholes,” but still), and he wants to “examine shifting our tax policies away from income and more toward consumption.“ He also, along with others in his party but sadly none yet from the other, advocates a large infrastructure and jobs project. Good, workable positions, and as more and more people leave the workforce the income tax indeed becomes less and less effective, even though sales taxes are regressive. His odds match Jindal’s 100 to 1, but he’s probably better prepared to discuss jobs than many given better chances.
The most robust set of views on American work among this set comes from Chris Christie. On his website, he stands for eliminating payroll taxes on those under 25 and over 62, repealing the 30-hour minimum for Obamacare requirement, giving tax credits for research and development, and lowering corporate tax rates. I don’t recall seeing the first idea before. The others, though not large, are specific, and at least the R&D one is constructive. We can debate about whether Christie’s measures would help the permanent jobs crisis enough, but we cannot argue over whether he has something to say. His odds of 35 to 1 against place him fifth among Republicans, behind Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, and Ben Carson.
So how are we doing? We have no fewer than 19 declared candidates, with two others, Republicans Walker and John Kasich, marked as Probably in the New York Times’s inventory listing. Those with the most to say so far are Democrats Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, and now Webb, and Republicans Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Ted Cruz as well as Christie. That would make enough for a good race right there. I hope that, as the contest wears on, our contenders more consistently implement the first paragraph on Webb’s site: “Courageous leaders don’t follow the money. They lead, they take risks, they propose new directions, and in time the people will follow.” Unfortunately, I’m not holding my breath.