At Newsmax: “Candidates Need a Positive Economic Agenda”

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Last week President Barack Obama chastised right-wing talk radio for brainwashing people in “cars and bars and VFW halls all across the country” into believing that the economy isn’t zipping along the way he and his spokespeople claim it is.

Then, as if on cue, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics released a pitiful employment report showing the smallest monthly job increase, 38,000, since 2010. Nearly 95,000,000 Americans have now vanished from the workforce.

So contra the president’s claims, there are very real reasons why Americans, in cars, bars and VFW halls are anxious about the economy. Pity then that the candidates seeking to succeed him, instead of appealing to voters’ better angels and offering prosperity-driving free market policies, are continuing Obama’s work of dividing up the nation and clinging to economic ideas that have been proven impractical elsewhere.

Hillary Clinton, who declared early in this election that she’s proud to call the Republican Party her “enemy,” appears to have weathered the challenge of socialist Senator Bernie Sanders. But he’s pushed both the ever-pliable Clinton and the Democratic Party to embrace a slate of terrible positions.

Chief amount these is that America’s economic angst is the fault of “the wealthy” and the only way forward is to punish the fat cats accordingly. Hence the promise of trillion dollar tax hikes designed to make the wealthy pay their “fair share” via a slew of new fees including a tax on capital gains and a raise in the estate tax.

This is a recipe for more jobs report like May’s.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate has a surprising amount of common ground with Clinton and Sanders on economics – all three have expressed hostility towards free trade, for example. He’s also leading voters to believe that the blame for America’s economic problems can be laid at the feet of their fellow citizens. Though in Trump’s telling the bad guys are not the rich but rather immigrants, a tick that is leading the GOP into reverse racial identity politics that will guarantee it becomes principally the party of white men.

Republicans, looking to prove their conservative bona fides, love to quote Ronald Reagan.

Though you don’t often hear them cite one of the Great Communicator’s last public speeches, from the 1992 Republican National Convention.

In it he told the crowd gathered in Houston that “whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts.”

Twenty-four years later Americans have well-founded worries.

The labor market is a shell of its pre-recession self; both wages and the middle class have withered.

The great tragedy of 2016 is that amidst this turmoil, America’s next president will likely reach the White House by appealing to their countrymen’s worst fears rather than their best hopes.

Originally published at Newsmax on June 10, 2016.

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