You'll Never Guess Which Presidential Candidate Is Running on Tax Simplification and Deregulation?

This candidate promises to "take a hard look at licensing requirements from state to state" and simplify small-business taxes.


Phil W Shirley/Flickr

Guess which presidential candidate, while campaigning in New Hampshire last week, said this?

"I want to be the small business president. (Small businesses) represent American ingenuity and hard work. But we're slipping. A recent global study showed that where we used to be one or two in the world in creating small businesses, we're now 46. It should not take longer to start a business in the United States than it takes to start one in France!"

The candidate continued, "I want to do everything I can to help make it easier for people to start businesses, cut that red tape … and really take a hard look at licensing requirements from state to state. There ought to be a sensible way to harmonize those, so that it's not so difficult in some states to start a businesses and much easier in the state next door to start the very same business."

After calling for less regulation of business formation and licensing, this presidential candidate went on to call for tax simplification. "You know, the businesses with one to five employees spend an average of 150 hours and $1,100 per employee to do their federal taxes. There's got to be a way to simplify all of that," this presidential candidate said.

Was it Jeb Bush? Donald Trump? Ben Carson? Ted Cruz? Chris Christie? Carly Fiorina? Rand Paul? Marco Rubio? Bobby Jindal?

Nope. The presidential candidate campaigning on a message of deregulation and tax simplification was none other than the former senator from New York, secretary of state, and first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton. If you can't believe it, go watch the video. The fun starts about 15 minutes in.

If Clinton is already making these sorts of centrist, free-market oriented appeals during a Democratic primary and caucus contest dominated by left-leaning activists, imagine how she'll pivot to the center in a general election campaign. She wouldn't be the first Clinton to take the middle path to the White House. Bill Clinton was elected in 1992 in part by promising a middle class tax cut and the end of "welfare as we know it." Clinton flew back to Arkansas mid-campaign to affirm his support for the execution, by lethal injection, of a brain-damaged black death-row inmate named Ricky Ray Rector.

Not that anyone favoring deregulation or tax simplification should get hopes up too high for a Hillary Clinton presidency. She opposes a repeal of ObamaCare, and her proposal to increase capital gains taxes would add complexity to an already complex tax code.

One of the challenges for voters in assessing a Clinton candidacy is that it is hard to know when, or whether, to believe her. Sometimes she gives mixed signals. On October 25, campaigning in Iowa, she said she's "proposed tough actions to end the abuses by the big banks …We are going to stop Wall Street hurting main street." This, from a candidate who, with her husband, was paid a total of $875,000 for four speeches to Goldman Sachs in 2013.

At the same New Hampshire event where Clinton spoke of deregulation and tax simplification, she also reached out rhetorically across the partisan divide. "I'm looking for us to find common ground," Clinton said. "We're all on the same team. At the end of the election, we're not Republicans or Democrats, or whatever else we might call ourselves, we're Americans." This, from the same woman who in a recent Democratic presidential debate listed "Republicans" along with "Iranians" as enemies she was proud to have.

Back in 1992 Bill Clinton used to say that with him and Hillary in the White House, Americans would get two for the price of one. That understates it. With Bill Clinton alone you got the one who ran on a middle-class tax cut and the one who abandoned it after the election; the one who ran on welfare reform and the one who vetoed it twice before signing it. With Hillary Clinton you get the one who supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the one who opposed it; the one who opposed gay marriage and the one who supports it; the one who is proud to have Republicans as enemies and the one who says "we're all on the same team." You get the Hillary Clinton who favors deregulation and tax simplification and the one who favors more regulation and additional tax complexity. It's more like "four for the price of two." Maybe the next televised presidential debate could be between the four of them, or just between Hillary and herself.

Of the various possible Clintons who might wind up in the White House, the deregulating, tax-simplifying one is one for which I am rooting. Keep an eye out for her on the campaign trail.