Election 2016

The Worst Campaign Promises of 2016

It can be a good thing politicians often break their promises.

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Democrats trash businesses. But if businesses promised things the way politicians do, the owners would be jailed for fraud. It's not legal to promise more than you can deliver.

I don't suggest that prosecutors should go after politicians who lie. Voters can do that. Political speech should be free. But politicians' promises are routinely repulsive. I'm thankful that most of their promises will be broken.

For my TV show, I listed this presidential season's worst promises. Here are a few.

  • Donald Trump says he'll impose a 45 percent tariff on goods from China and 35 percent on any Ford car imports from Mexico.

This wins Trump votes because so many Americans believe that trade "takes away" American jobs. Trade does actually take away some. Some autoworkers lose work when plants move overseas. That's the "seen" loss. But the unseen benefit is that when trade is allowed, more Americans gain jobs. We get better and cheaper products, too.

The historical evidence is clear. When countries close borders, stagnation and poverty follow. When trade is allowed, there are winners and losers, but most people prosper. The gains are harder to see because they are spread throughout the economy, but they are very real nevertheless. The chance that President Donald Trump would start a trade war scares me a lot.

  • Bernie Sanders promises free college and Hillary Clinton offers "high-quality preschool."

But government has no money of its own. "Free" isn't free. Taxpayers and, later, other students pay tuition bloated by college loans. Taxpayers also pay for preschool that won't be "high quality"—or at least won't stay high quality. Oklahoma and Georgia already tried universal preschool. By third grade, student gains disappeared. Of course, the extra spending—that continued.

  • Sanders and Clinton also want the national minimum wage raised—Clinton to $12 and Sanders to $15.

Do people think that means Sanders is more generous than Clinton? If we could just pass a law and increase people's pay without harming businesses and making them less likely to hire in the first place, why not raise the minimum to $22? Or $83? Businesses pay according to value they get in return, like everyone else. No law can make you worth more to an employer. It just makes you more likely to get laid off. Or never hired.

  • All current Republican candidates promise to increase military spending. They always do.

Republicans say our military has been "gutted." But in inflation-adjusted dollars, we spend as much as we did during the Cold War. It's true that America has fewer planes and fewer ships than we once did. But we have better and deadlier planes and ships. America is going broke but still spends $600 billion on defense, more than the next seven nations combined. That's not "gutting" the military.

If we didn't intervene in so many foreign countries, we could focus on actual defense, rather than nation building. Since conservatives are the ones who say they want to spend less, here's a great place to start.

  • Donald Trump promises "a mandatory death sentence" to anyone who kills a police officer.

But the president cannot issue any criminal penalties. Does Trump care about the Constitution? Despite media hype about a "war on cops," the last few years have been the safest for cops—ever. It's terrible when anyone gets killed, but we do not have a violent crime crisis on our hands. And what about the poor guy whose house is raided by mistake—who thinks it's a home invasion and shoots in self-defense? Will he be executed, too?

Not every political promise was bad this year. Donald Trump was smart to change his mind and say America should admit more skilled immigrants. Bernie Sanders wants to "rethink" the war on drugs. Ted Cruz promises to eliminate the Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development and more.

If only there were more good promises to praise.

COPYRIGHT 2016 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.

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  1. It will be amusing to see the Trump supporter version of Obamaphone disillusionment.

    1. You mean when those manufacturing jerbs keep getting outsourced to robots?* Because our manufacturing output is doing fine even if the (shitty) jobs are decreasing.

      *Seriously to the Trumpettes around here, how is this any different than the “raise the minimum wage” morons who don’t realize those jobs are just going to be replaced by robots?

      1. Voters are irrational.

      2. You’re going to replace Steve Jobs with robots? What does he think about that?

        1. Not much. He dead.

          1. That robot will be easy to program then.

  2. The first indicator of an economic retard is to advocate for trade barriers. It’s sad so many people fall for it.

    1. Yes, free trade (even unilateral free trade) is a winner on both principled and utilitarian grounds.

      1. Yes, and open borders means this reasoning is also applied to trade in labor.

    2. I’d say the first indicator is falling for it.

    3. “The first indicator of an economic retard is to advocate for trade barriers. It’s sad so many people fall for it.”

      The offer of free shit is followed closely by ‘we’ll keep other people from competing with you!’
      The book “The Prize…” made it clear the author was sympathetic to those who had gone to work for the Newark government schools and presumed they’d never have to look for work elsewhere. The UAW bene bets by GM were based on the supposition that there would be no foreign competition.
      Tough.

    4. A better indicator is perhaps the use of the “retard”.

  3. “I don’t suggest that prosecutors should go after politicians who lie.”

    I do.

    1. Fraud? Impossible to prove.

    2. Well the problem is the prosecutors will also be politicians who lie.

    3. How do you prove it? All they have to do is say that they intended to do that impossible thing but were obstructed by the other side.

      1. All they have to do is say that they intended to do that impossible thing

        Indeed. Yet they *promise* to do it.

        “Oh, you know what I mean!”

  4. I was watching Lou Dobbs (yeah, my mistake) tonight talk with a guy and he was talking to a guy and complaining about free trade. And the guy seemed flabbergasted that a supposed economist can’t see the benefit of free trade.

  5. Ted Cruz promises to eliminate the Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development and more.

    Ted Cruz isn’t eliminating anything, even if elected. Congress establishes departments. The best Cruz could do is to not name a Secretary. But so what? The bureaucratic machine would continue to churn, waiting for the next president to come along.

    1. He could submit a budget with $0 in it for those departments. And he could veto any budget with money earmarked for them.

      He could also do the same thing with them that Obama did with the Border Patrol: earmark all their funds to something other than their stated purpose and effectively neuter them.

      1. Not to mention that, considering Bush willed DHS into existence with a friendly Congress, I would assume that Cruz could persuade plenty of people on both sides of the aisle to give him some rope as long as they were fairly certain he would hang himself with it.

    2. Actually I thought the president had fairly wide latitude in how to arrange the executive branch. So he could eliminate entire departmens and agencies by shifting their responsibilities to others. So your right that the bureaucratic machine would keep going since none of the functions that those dept’s currently perform would be eliminated, just moved elsewhere. Which is really more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic at this point, but still.

    3. I suspect Cruz wouldn’t eliminate them either, but it would be nice to see someone try.

      Why always talk about waste, fraud and abuse? How about starting by permanently laying off all government workers deemed “non-essential” during any of the last few government shutdowns. If they’re non-essential, we don’t need them, by definition.

      Then give the remaining government workers a 10 percent pay cut. They’ll get by.

      Then freeze federal hiring for 4 years — replacements only, no head count growth.

      There are ways to be much more serious about the budget than anyone has been since Jefferson.

      1. Even if he comprised and just scaled back their scope by abkut 50% in each department, it would reap huge dividends. Plus it would turn progtard smiles upside down. Which is never a bad fringe benefit.

  6. Stossel rightly points out Trump’s idiotic trade proposal but neglects to say that they don’t even go as far as Sanders’. He said he will end NAFTA, CAFTA, MFN status for China and will kill TPP before it gets going.

    He’s 10x the protectionist Trump is.

  7. with Bernie’s reckless, relentless optimism about socialism it’s nice to see him being willing to take the time to be cautious about narcotics. at this point who can evaluate the drug war’s success or failure?

    1. Yet, with the shorter Cuba experience — “When what you’re doing doesn’t work for 50 years, it’s time to try something new.”

      1. Nice to see Rubio lose Florida after trying to justify continuing the Cuba embargo.

    2. Apparently he’s in Spokane today. I was at my gym this morning, and somedumb minivan driving bitch was being run through her routine by the gym’s personal trainer. He mentioned Sanders being in town. Not realizing the insipid cow was a Bernie drone, I opined that things would be best if he had me on stage so I could explain to him and his idiot audience just how wrong they really are, and correct them. This did not make the aforementioned idiot sow happy. Then she started to reflexively bleat about Donald Trump is a racist and homophobe. Which was odd because we were in no way discussing Trump. She continued to work herself up, until the trainer diverted her routine to another part of the gym to defuse things.

      Later, after I saw her drive away in a 15 year old minivan, I realized the sort of brain dead idiot that pollutes our roads with those ruling roadblocks. It makes a lot of sense.

  8. “Donald Trump promises “a mandatory death sentence” to anyone who kills a police officer.”

    So what about when the officer kills someone?

    Benevolent gov’t and their standing armies can do no wrong. Trump also says he’ll force troops to commit unconstitutional acts. Yet so many aupport this guy. Look at the rallies, where he advocates violence against any in opposition to him. Does any of his supporters realize that they might be on the wrong end of the gun should they disobey and he sends in the military to squash any dissent?

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  13. Neither Sanders nor Clinton is more generous than the other when they promise to raise the minimum wage. Generosity involves freely giving your own money, not coercively requiring employers to give their money.

    1. Sanders is the greediest politician in American history. He wants to take 6 trillion dollars a year in other people’s money. As if 4 trillion a year wasn’t way too much already.

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  16. RE: The Worst Campaign Promises of 2016

    Which is worse?
    These assholes keeping their promises, or breaking their promises?

    1. It depends. Some f Cruz’s aren’t so bad. Some of them even good. Maybe next time around I’ll run on a platform of euthanizing all the progtards.

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