Hillary Clinton gave a lengthy economic policy speech Monday. A few things popped out at me when I gave it a read this morning:
1) As I have been saying in this blog, Clinton is not going to advocate repealing all the Bush tax cuts—as much as her GOP rivals would love her to—just the ones affecting wealthier Americans. "For middle-class Americans, I will extend the tax cuts including the child tax credit, the marriage penalty relief, and lower income tax rates than they currently pay," she said. Interestingly, Clinton made no mention of capital-gains taxes—the lower rates brought about by the 2003 tax cuts are also due to expire at the end of 2010—even though she had ample opportunity and specifically mentioned her support for making hedge fund managers pay higher taxes.
2) Clinton made mention of "stagnant wages," even though they've been growing at a brisk clip. Just one of many stats on the subject: Average hourly earnings are up 8.4 percent versus September 2005, the fastest pace of wage gains for any two-year period since 1990, according to First Trust Advisors. (Here's more on the myth of stagnant wages.)
3) Clinton announced a three-point plan to deal with the mortgage mess. None of it was particularly revolutionary, but at least she had a plan to deal with a problem on the minds of many Americans. Her GOP rivals have been all but silent on the topic.
4) There is an old joke that says the most frightening sentence in the English language is, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you." Well, read Clinton's speech—full of references to trustbusting Teddy Roosevelt, the space program, and the G.I. Bill—and you'll see that she's attempting to convince Americans that government is good, helpful, and in need of smart expansion. "The strength of our economy and the rise of the middle class were products of both a free market and good public policy," she said.
Republicans get their chance to respond at tonight's GOP presidential debate in Dearborn, Mich. It's hosted by CNBC and will focus—finally!—on economic policy.