Election 2016

Can Clinton or Trump or ANYONE Actually Grow the U.S. Economy?

Definitely the Democrat or the Republican, who are locked in a 20th-century model of an expansive, all-encompassing state.

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David Deeble, Twitter

Earlier this year, economist Robert Gordon published his magisterial treatise, The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War, which charted a dire course for the United States in the 21st century. Gordon essentially argued that economic growth, which is essential to rising standards of living, was slowing for all sorts of reasons: the ageing of the population and a reduction in birth rates, a decline in technical innovation, the end of private-sector unions, increased global competition, and on and on. However well-intentioned, his policy prescriptions at the end of the book —more taxes and regulation to distribute income gains more broadly and an activist government when it comes to ensuring all sorts of outcomes—are unlikely to do anything else than carve up smaller pieces of a shrinking or steady-state pie.

But Gordon is certainly right to call attention to long-term declines in economic growth. In The New York Times, he writes:

Perhaps it's the country's dismal economic growth rate [that rankles Americans]: From 1947 to 2007, the economy grew at 3.4 percent per year. But over the last four years, gross domestic product expanded at only a sluggish 2.0 percent. In 2016, G.D.P. has barely reached 1 percent growth.

Voter unease reflects more than the impact of wage stagnation. Globalization and automation have hollowed out manufacturing, eliminating millions of middle-income blue-collar jobs. Roughly six million workers who want full-time jobs hold part-time positions that lack employer-paid medical insurance and force them to juggle irregular schedules. An "atomization" of the workplace has led to the increased use of temporary and on-call workers like Uber drivers and episodic forms of employment that don't offer traditional benefits. Medical insurance with high deductibles and co-payments threatens families with unpredictable financial setbacks in case of a medical emergency.

Boosting productivity and, with it, economic growth, is the main task before the presidential candidates. Indeed, Donald Trump's speech today in Detroit is an attempt to answer the issue of slow-to-no-growth. That it will be an extended attack on Hillary Clinton for real and imagined crimes is not particularly heartening, especially since Trump and the Republican Party are slipping into a neo-protectionist mode that is virtually identical to that of Clinton and the Democrats. Both parties are declaring a pox on free trade and free movement of people, goods, and services across international borders. To the extent that the Dems are friendlier to immigrants already in the United States, they are also dedicated to expanding the welfare-warfare state by expanding major entitlement programs and projecting American military power around the globe.

Neither major party or its candidate seems capable of recognizing that we are no longer living in a Bismarckian world, where rising birth rates and populations made it possible to create and expand entitlements with relative ease while also flexing military might as a way of getting access to the resources and markets you wanted. Indeed, economist Gordon can't look to a future that operates differently than the past and as a result, his basic prescription is to double and triple down on 20th-century policies:

Policy changes can help: Imposing higher taxes on the superrich and eliminating tax loopholes and deductions that primarily benefit higher-income taxpayers would make some headway both against rising inequality and flagging tax revenue. Minimum wage increases directly attack inequality, because the wage boost to those who retain their low-income jobs substantially exceeds the extent of any resulting job losses.

The tax revenues from a superrich tax surcharge and from loophole-busting tax reform would provide the funds for a huge program of investment following the example of the Interstate Highway System, which is generally regarded as a prime source of robust productivity growth in the 1960s. Mrs. Clinton's proposals thus far include substantial infrastructure spending, and this is an area, along with tax reform, where she has the potential to gain bipartisan approval.

Gordon ultimately doesn't even believe in economic growth but rather more effective sharing of a smaller pie. He invokes Australia, Canada, and "the Nordic countries" in which he says "insecurity is less acute because government institutions are more robust."

If this is the best we can do, put a fork in us. The road to economic growth isn't paved with new Interstate projects, especially if the projects aren't actually creating anything new and useful but merely repairing and maintaining old infrastructure. I'll note, too, that Donald Trump has called for double the infrastructure spending that Clinton has demanded; neither has bothered to suggest serious ways to pay for it all. Although federal spending is already at a historically high level as a percentage of GDP, both candidates propose hiking it further still. Trump would take it from 22 percent of GDP to 22.5 percent while Clinton would jack it even more, to 22.7 percent.

In the 20th century, this mentality used to be called rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Perhaps we need a different metaphor in the 21st century so that we understand preserving past ideals of government and society are not a recipe for a productive, attractive future but rather an acknowledgement of defeat or at least surrender. We need a different operating system, one that doesn't choke off economic growth via swelling government debt, which correlates strongly with reduced gains for decades. And we need to recognize, contra Gordon and other pessimists, that there are many improvements that economics doesn't really account for, including 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and greater longevity.

There is no reason to believe that either Clinton or Trump has a vision to right-size government in the 21st century. Like Gordon, they are backward-looking and stuck in a nostalgia that pretends to present itself as wisdom. They are either hostile to the sharing economy or completely ignorant of it; they have little sense of what it means to drive a car, much less work and live as a regular person born after the baby boom. And yet the next president will be either Clinton or Trump. That's regrettable, for sure, but it's up to us to make sure that 2016 is the last election of the long 20th century, whose model of top-down, ever-expansive government has worn out whatever usefulness it might once have provided.

NEXT: Gary Johnson Sees Massive Spike in Online Interest

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  1. more taxes and regulation to distribute income gains more broadly

    How is a flatter distribution supposed to create more to distribute?

    1. Through the magic of feelz?

    2. It isn’t. It is the Americans are just supposed to accept less from now on argument.

    3. Supposedly, when poor people spend money it creates more stimulus than when rich people spend it.
      This is what the current crop of neo-Keynesians actually believe.

      1. I think the argument is that the poor spend a higher a fraction of their income relative to the rich, who tend to save more. And of course the rich save money by burying it in the fields, or perhaps sealing it in a glass container so they can look at it and be reminded of how rich they are.

        1. Everyone knows that investment bonds are like magic. That money is sealed in a giant vault where money fairies make it grow. It doesn’t actually get lent out to people to spend on capital goods or operating costs for real businesses.

          1. true. in all fairness tho thse days it goes to servicing bank debt

            1. So basically it is getting collected by elderly retirees in their pension checks.

        2. the rich, who tend to save more

          This is known as “capital formation” and is necessary for any economic growth whatsoever.

          1. It strikes me that a key question might be… Why doesn’t Anyone teach that to the kids in middle or high school?
            The answers may be obvious, but until those practices change, there won’t be any change in what politicians promise and what the electorate thinks it wants!

        3. The funny thing is that the consumption patterns of “the poor” favor goods made by unskilled laborers in arduous conditions.

          The consumption patterns of “the rich” favor goods made by skilled laborers and engineers, being paid handsome wages, who themselves live decidedly first-world, middle-class lifestyles.

          Now, neither is any reason to tilt the income distribution one way or the other with the hands of government. But the claim to want a middle-class lifestyle for more people does not match with the goal of flattening of the income distribution. If nobody can afford to buy a Mercedes-Benz, then there will be no Mercedes-Benz wages, either.

        4. And of course the rich save money by burying it in the fields, or perhaps sealing it in a glass container so they can look at it and be reminded of how rich they are.

          I have it on good authority that rich people build giant vaults and hoard their wealth there in the form of gold coins that they can swim around in.

          1. That’s what I do, but I juat roll around on top of it.

    4. How is a flatter distribution supposed to create more to distribute?

      I was thinking the same thing. Sounds like Gordon’s just another lefty ignoramus claiming to be an economist to give his calls for “MOAR INCUME REDISTRIBUESHUN” an air of respectability. Krugabe’s getting up there in age, maybe this guy’s looking to replace him once he retires.

      1. I have yet to hear any reason at all why income or wealth inequality is, by itself, a bad thing.

        It certainly can be a symptom of a corrupt system favoring certain privileged individuals.

        1. There will always be rich or poor, even in the lefts favorite systems of socialism and communism, there were rich and poor. But, in those systems the poor had a worse quality of life than our poor, so, while capitalism has its issues, it still provides the best quality of life out of the 3.

      2. I wholeheartedly oppose income redistribution on the fact that the people who actually worked for the company, made the company that money that is being sucked away by the government, are now having to share that with people who didn’t make that money. The rich are taking from their employees, and then the government wants to take from them and give it to people who they do not employ. Seems wrong. I think lowering the cost of living, or trying to get companies to pay their employees better, is the way to go. Minimum wage is not the way to achieve that, it just raises the poverty level, and costs several jobs. Fast food, retail, cannot absorb those increased expenses without raising prices, because they do not have high profit margins,

        The companies that could are the ones sending their jobs overseas to save labor costs, and abusing immigration policies to get cheaper labor here, all the whole rolling in billions of dollars of profit a year. Minimum wage wouldn’t even effect these companies, and these companies give big money to politicians.

        Also, raising taxes does nothing in the rich, because they just add more deductions so they do not really pay an increase. The poor get paid to file taxes (if they have kids) and the rest of the poor or low income families do not even pay taxes. I am tired of this crispy tax system, either we all pay taxes, or we do not. Get rid of deductions, etc, or great rid of the tax system.

        1. Uhh, no. The rich subsidize 40% of entire core-middle-class ($40-100k)
          Here’s the IRS data, so you can start posting the truth … and start paying YOUR fair share which is (on average) a 55% tax increase!

          https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/13in11si.xls

          Far right columns. Average tax rates

          President’s $50,000 secretary @ 8.3%
          Core middle class ($40-100K) @ 8.8%
          Millionaires/billionaires @ 28%

          Now “fair share” of taxes, also core middle class, all in $billion

          ALL REPORTED INCOME = $8,426B
          $40,000 to $49,999…..$422
          $50,000 to $74,999…..1,111
          $75,000 to $99,999…..1,067
          TOTAL………………2,601….30.9% of personal income)

          ALL PERSONAL INCOME TAX PAID $1,218
          $40,000 to $49,999….31 billion
          $50,000 to $74,999….95
          $75,000 to $99,999….102
          TOTAL…………….294….(18.8% of personal income taxes)

          18.8%/30.9% = 60.8%. the ENTIRE core middle class pays only 61% of their own share of taxes. Who subsidizes the other 39%, Venezuelans?

          Now divide the other way. 32.3/20.9 = 155% – 100% = 55%. The ENTIRE core middle class must pay an income tax increase of 55% …. JUST TO PAY ITS OWN WAY!

          All on reported income. Biggest exemptions also target the middle class, which takes the subsidy over 50%

          Simple math. Original IRS data. Indisputable.
          Any questions?

  2. Policy changes can help: Imposing higher taxes on the superrich and eliminating tax loopholes and deductions that primarily benefit higher-income taxpayers would make some headway both against rising inequality and flagging tax revenue. Minimum wage increases directly attack inequality, because the wage boost to those who retain their low-income jobs substantially exceeds the extent of any resulting job losses.

    Not much in there discussing improving the economy at all, just more SJW pandering and lingo, and a very unsupported assertion.

    1. Wouldn’t any job losses increase inequality by increasing the number of people at the very bottom, without affecting the number at the top?

      Or is inequality now measured by inequities between people in the second and third quintiles from the bottom?

      1. Great point. Also, how much would a wage have to increase in order for it to allow the wage boost to “substantially exceed the extent of any resulting job losses” and, frankly, what the fuck does that even mean?

        1. It only maybe makes sense when looking at the aggregate effects. Which is another way of saying “Suck it up and be happy for the guy over there” to anyone who ends up losing their job.

    2. the wage boost to those who retain their low-income jobs substantially exceeds the extent of any resulting job losses.

      Well shit, why didn’t you tell us that before? We could have all been reaping the benefits of a $1,000,000/hr minimum wage by now if you hadn’t been sitting on this important info!

      1. But only on person in a hundred thousand would have a job at all, so all those millionaires would have to be taxed at 99.999 % to pay for everyone else’s welfare..

  3. FDR thought America had reached peak development. Jimmy Carter banged the same drum.

    The idea that any economist thinks the solution is wealth redistribution to ease anxiety isn’t really surprising, but it is distressing regardless.

  4. “Can Clinton or Trump or ANYONE Actually Grow the U.S. Economy?”

    Maybe…

    http://freebeacon.com/issues/r…..n-in-2014/

  5. Boosting productivity and, with it, economic growth, is the main task before the presidential candidates.

    NONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONO.

    The president and congress cannot boost economic growth or productivity. Only the market can do that. The president and Congress and make the conditions better or worse for potential boosting but they CANNOT do the boosting.

    STOP WITH THIS ALREADY.

    1. Government can boost by repealing legislation and regulation that strangles the market.

      But that isn’t going to happen. That isn’t “doing something.” No.

      Besides that, liberty creates inequality. And as we all know, it is better to be equally poor than unequally rich.

      1. Government can boost by repealing legislation and regulation that strangles the market

        That just creates conditions more suitable for boosting, it doesn’t do the boosting. That’s my point. We need to stop acting as if it’s the government that “creates jobs” or “boosts the economy”. All of that is complete garbage.

        The only thing the government can do for the economy is get the fuck out of the way or further impede it’s growth.

        1. Nah, removing barriers will boost the economy, and many of those barriers are government regulations.

          1. Pink,

            I think you and Tman are arguing the same point.

            If you break it down further, then Tman’s description is more accurate, where the governmental structure can determine the conditions for the economy/society.

          2. Removing barriers will not boost the economy by itself; that is, removing barriers is necessary but not sufficient. It’s only businesses that can actually “boost” the economy.

        2. Let me be clearer. Many of the regulations are on proven, actual producers. The idea that freeing their time up to do more producing will not also have the effect of making them more productive, is a bit far fetched.

          1. I think you guys are just arguing over whether repealing existing regulations is an active or passive response.

            1. I would count ending a policy that hamstrings growth as a move toward growing the economy.

            2. My point is that we need to stop acting as if electing the right people will be the answer to a flagging economy.

              Neither party does a very good job of promoting free markets and deregulation, and both will eagerly embrace protectionism if it guarantees re-election.

              The sooner we stop with the idea that electing people to “save the economy” is a realistic option the better.

              1. The sooner we stop with the idea that electing people to “save the economy” is a realistic option the better.

                Unfortunately, most people think the government runs the economy. They don’t understand spontaneous order and risk taking. They just assume that businesses get rich at the expense of everyone else, and government should make things fair. They don’t understand that all government can do is use coercion and violence, and that doesn’t promote anything. They don’t understand that inequality is a natural byproduct of economic growth. So they want economic growth without inequality, and that just doesn’t happen.

          2. Most regulation exists to make new entry into the market prohibitively expensive. Existing producers petition the government to mandate what they already do. It doesn’t affect them, but it prevents competition.

            1. “Most regulation exists to make new entry into the market prohibitively expensive.”

              No, that’s just an insidious side effect.

              1. “prohibitively expensive” is not always an side effect, but I agree that some are.

                It is no accident that many regulations were written by lobbyists, or ‘industry experts’.

    2. Yep. Government can only continue to stifle growth or stop.

      Fixing the tax code and getting our regulators under control would be goo starts.

  6. Nick, you left a “not” out of the heading for this article.

    1. Just like Hillary did the other day… and got cheered for it.

  7. The only thing government can do to grow the economy is get the fuck out of the way.

    And that isn’t going to happen, especially since the majority of the population is comprised of economic ignoramuses who demand that government “do something.”

    We’re fucked.

  8. No.

    1) The economy is a complex self-organizing organism that cannot be controlled by anyone. All they can do is damage it in different ways.

    2) The President have very little power to affect anything about the economy since Congress controls the purse strings. All the executive can do is write EOs to direct regulatory agencies, which basically means fucking things up every so slightly at the corners. The President doesn’t even control the Fed. I suppose the President could frown pointedly at Janet Yellen if she recommends raising interest rates, but that’s about it.

    1. The best thing a president can do (and the strongest argument for electing a libertarian president even though he/she will not have any libertarians in Congress) is veto, veto, veto, veto.

  9. Ah yes, infrastructure spending. How exactly is that supposed to lead to more economic growth? Even if our highway system is getting old, it hardly seems to be an impediment to transporting goods and people over vast distances. The taxes used to pay for it would only make transportation more expensive.

    1. And when they do spend on infrastructure, it always seems to be on the wrong stuff, like paving the same roads over and over again.
      Haven’t we had huge amounts of infrastructure stimulus spending in recent years? And yet we still hear about our crumbling infrastructure. Maybe instead of paving highly visible highways again, they should have fixed some more bridges. Or maybe they are just full of shit.

  10. Can Trump or Clinton or any politician grow the economy?

    Yes, in the same way that I can grow the trees in my yard by leaving them the hell alone.

  11. Well we could ensure America has the only remaining industrial capacity…..

    1. So WW3 ?

      1. just sayin’….

  12. Cut spending, cut taxes, cut regulations.

    1. I’d be happy with a plan that cut spending 5-10% a year which is as doable as Harley Quinn.

      1. And just as crazy right?

  13. I can grow the economy, but you gotta ask nicely.

    And by ask I mean make me emperor of the US.

  14. Yes, either one of them could. It is not hard. Just do something about the regulatory state. You don’t even have to do a lot. When you consider how much economic activity is being strangled or driven underground by the regulatory state, it would take very little reform to get the economy growing in a big way. Forget crony trade deals and immigration or even tax reform. What is killing the economy is regulation. Kill off even a small part of the regulation and the economy will explode with pent up growth.

    1. Just do something about the regulatory state.

      Which the President can do without Congress, since those are executive agencies that can adopt or change (or repeal) regulations without Congress. The President has the legal authority to vaporize a huge percentage of federal regulations with a stroke of the pen.

      1. It is not quite that simple. Some regulations are mandated by Congress. There is also a process under the APA for both creating and revoking regulations. That said, it is not that difficult.

      2. The President has the legal authority to vaporize a huge percentage

        While I think the President has a lot of latitude, and I think with a good slate of appointees under him he can do a lot, the Congress has set up a lot of barriers and ratchets to impede a President from slashing “too much”. It would ultimately take a cooperative Congress to “vaporize a huge percentage of federal regulations”. Like, the sort of Congresses that Obama has had, except with a bias towards less regulation instead of more.

      3. The President has the legal authority to vaporize a huge percentage of federal regulations with a stroke of the pen.

        He does not, really. There are laws in place to make it difficult to amend/repeal regulations because government policy continuity/predictability is considered more important than short-term political considerations.

        Also, I think you are underestimating bureaucratic inertia in getting things changed. Presidents aren’t all-powerful tyrants over the bureaucratic state (and they shouldn’t be). While the upper echelons of the bureaucracy are politically loyal to the president and will carry out his/her policy preferences to the extent possible, they still have to deal with the staff.

        1. Presidents aren’t all-powerful tyrants over the bureaucratic state (and they shouldn’t be).

          I agree with the first part (cf. Pendleton Act etc.) but the parenthetical is debatable.

          In terms of the “styles” of Presidency: a Madisonian would agree wholeheartedly, while a Jacksonian would disagree vehemently; I’d think a Jeffersonian would be inclined against it, while a Hamiltonian would be inclined toward it.

          I don’t see the civil service being insulated from the President as an inherently good thing. Yes, it keeps them from being influenced politically; yet, they already have their own politics and the President is less able to do anything about it (or alternately can use it to his advantage covertly, if so inclined).

  15. Hillary told me that massively higher taxes and spending were the way to go during every commercial break last weekend.

  16. If you think of “economic growth” as a product, then increasing the supply of that product is fairly straightforward – make it cheaper to produce. That means making the raw inputs for economic growth – energy, human capital, raw natural resources, transportation, information, etc. – less expensive. Every now and then the government might get lucky and pick the right thing to subsidize to achieve those ends, but the surest and cheapest way is to lower taxes and regulations.

  17. Imposing higher taxes on the superrich and eliminating tax loopholes and deductions that primarily benefit higher-income taxpayers would make some headway both against rising inequality and flagging tax revenue.

    And would also burden capital generation and reduce the supply of capital for investment. Yeah, that’s how you grow an economy, alright.

  18. A short man with a giant head’s critique of Donald Trump’s economic plan:

    Donald Trump Comes Up With Worst Possible Set of Economic Ideas

    GOOD IDEAS

    End the carried-interest loophole that allows hedge fund and private equity managers to pay lower taxes.
    BAD IDEAS

    He will repeal the estate tax, which only targets a tiny handful of the ultra-wealthy.
    He will cut the corporate tax rate by more than half, to 15%.
    He will revive the Keystone pipeline and trash the Paris climate agreement.
    He will repeal Dodd-Frank, the post-crisis set of (fairly tepid) regulations, and “he will not propose any new financial regulations until the economy shows ‘significant growth.'” Deregulation, which led directly to the financial crisis, is back!
    “Trump is expected to say that civil servants whose focus is job-killing regulation should be replaced with experts who would help create jobs.” (???). Bad things should be good things!

    1. I think they got their titles reversed.

      1. I am a big fan of the bad ideas. Especially repealing the estate tax.

        1. Never quite understood why the govt thought they deserve another bite at the apple when someone dies, other than that the person’s dead now so it must be free money to take

        2. Yesterday, I was on the site of a group that gallfully* called itself the “Meritocracy Party”. They have as a “non-negotiable” position, the confiscation of all assets over $1,000,000/heir of anyone who dies. So their philosophy is, “rise by merit, but everything you have and produce is still only on loan from the collective.”

          * A perfectly cromulant word.

    2. “In other news, it was reported today that the number of billionaires grew last year, thanks in large part to children inheriting great wealth.”

      I am not sure how that is supposed to work.

      That entire article is based on completely false premises. Economic ignorance writ large.

      1. I laughed at that one as well.

        Maybe there was a big run of dead guys with a $4 billion net worth and exactly four kids.

      2. “In other news, it was reported today that the number of billionaires grew last year, thanks in large part to children inheriting great wealth.”

        I am not sure how that is supposed to work.

        Imagine only one multi-billionaire on earth, She has three children. She dies. How many billionaires are there?

        That entire article is based on completely false premises. Economic ignorance writ large.

        Imagine only one multi-billionaire on earth, She has three children. She dies. How many billionaires are there?

        1. Depends, what does the will say?

          1. There are always heirs. I used children to dumb it down. 🙂

      3. Even if that’s completely true, so the fuck what? Did those billionaires take anything that wasn’t theirs to begin with?

        And, the estate tax does currently exist, but apparently hasn’t solved the “problem” that these assholes want to solve with it.

    3. Let’s just follow Gary’s address and adopt the Fair Tax! The rich subsidize nearly half the income tax for the entire middle class, and consume a tiny portion of their income. So let’s tax them at a lower rate on fewer dollars!

      Oh wait. What happens to the massive middle-class subsidy?
      Shit. Libertarians are just as clueless as the other tribes.

      “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
      (Orwell’s 1984 society under total mind control. He was off on only the year)

      1. So you think it’s libertarian to have the so called rich subsidize the middle class? Bully! Picking on me! *chortle* *fart*

        1. So you think it’s libertarian to have the so called rich subsidize the middle class?

          Ummm, no. I merely destroyed the flat tax.

      2. You are more unhinged than usual today.

        1. Got one!

          Certified Public Asshat
          You are more unhinged than usual today.

          Get a calculator, asshat. (YOUR label)

          IRS Income Tax data

          Far right columns. Average tax rates

          President’s $50,000 secretary @ 8.3%
          Core middle class ($40-100K) @ 8.8%
          Millionaires/billionaires @ 28%

          Most Americans believe a $50,000 teacher pays a higher rate than millionaires. Libertarians clueless

          Now “fair share” of taxes, also core middle class, all in $billion

          REPORTED INCOME = $8,426B
          $40,000 to $49,999…..$422
          $50,000 to $74,999…..1,111
          $75,000 to $99,999…..1,067
          TOTAL………………2,601….30.9% of personal income)

          INCOME TAX PAID $1,218
          $40,000 to $49,999….31 billion
          $50,000 to $74,999….95
          $75,000 to $99,999….102
          TOTAL…………….294….(18.8% of personal income taxes)

          18.8%/30.9% = 60.8%. the ENTIRE core middle class pays only 61% of their own share of taxes. Who subsidizes the other 34%, Venezuelans?

          Now divide the other way. 32.3/20.9 = 155% – 100% = 55%. The ENTIRE core middle class must pay an income tax increase of 55% …. JUST TO PAY ITS OWN WAY!

          All on reported income. Biggest exemptions also target the middle class, which takes the subsidy over 50%

          Simple math. Original IRS data. Indisputable.

          What happens to MASSIVE middle-class subsidy if progressive rates are repealed with ANY flat tax?

          Repeat: Libertarians are just as clueless as the other tribes.

  19. Government can grow the economy by leaving it the fuck alone. Is there any chance they will do that? None.

    1. Is there anything more totally useless than that?

      Is there any chance they will do that? None.

      It takes more than slogans and nobody’s even trying.

  20. REAL growth only occurs by technological and know-how the make more from the same resources. That’s it. The government can fund it, or it can be funded from private capital. The major difference is WHOSE VALUE JUDGEMENTS DECIDE. And once Force is used (by the government to fund) then all sorts of pricing issues and distribution issues arise. Also, the government doesn’t respond to market signals, so it will continue to invest in dead ends. So, we can get smarter and more productive freely, or we can get a little smarter at the sacrifice of something else and screw up the function of equity, price, and distribution via fascism.

    It sure is a coin flip.

  21. No, Trump cant grow the economy. He knows that.

    He is giving a speech right now saying that under his administration it will grow, and if he does what he says, it will. It will skyrocket. His plan is to get the hell out of the way and let us grow the economy. That seems like a plan that would resonate around here.

    1. Will he grow it like he grew the Trump Taj Mahal?

    2. His plan is to get the hell out of the way and let us grow the economy.

      Unless I see video evidence of him saying this I’m not gonna just take your word for it, sorry. I’ve seen way too many unsupported assertions trotted out as facts to fall for that shit.

      1. Trump supporters simply hallucinate an image on top of him that conforms to their wishes. In complete contradiction to anything that actually emerges from his mouth.

    3. Bullshit.

      Trump’s economic “plan” is to spend twice as much as Hillary Clinton on infrastructure projects.
      While simultaneously forcing US companies to relocate back the US, because he hates trade.

    4. Protectionist trade policies don’t sound like “getting the hell out of the way” to me.

  22. my best friend’s mom makes $74 an hour on the computer . She has been without work for five months but last month her payment was $19746 just working on the computer for a few hours. find more information …
    ?????????? http://www.factoryofincome.com

    1. Well I hope the Democrats win and take 80% of her income.

    2. Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on!

  23. my best friend’s mom makes $74 an hour on the computer . She has been without work for five months but last month her payment was $19746 just working on the computer for a few hours. find more information …
    ?????????? http://www.factoryofincome.com

  24. “Policy changes can help: Imposing higher taxes on the superrich and eliminating tax loopholes and deductions that primarily benefit higher-income taxpayers would make some headway both against rising inequality and flagging tax revenue”

    Flagging tax revenue…
    http://www.washingtonexaminer……le/2598764

    1. Heh, great link…I guess he was thinking per capita, or maybe he was talking past his audience, couldn’t be his world view affecting his research and policy prescriptions???

  25. Can Clinton or Trump or ANYONE Actually Grow the U.S. Economy?

    Well, yeah. 324 million people can do quite a bit. What the government can do is quite simple – GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!

    This isn’t a new message. I remember, even when I was a kid, all the talk about how we needed to downsize our expectations even back in the 1970s. Strangely, the government got just a little out of the way and the economy took off.

  26. Presidents have, at most, indirect effects on the economy; while the bureaucracy which is most answerable to the President can promulgate rules, those rules have to be in line with duly-passed laws.

    Congress — the branch responsible for taxing and spending policy — arguably has more influence on the economy.

    Monetary policy, which is vastly more important than anything the President or Congress does, is not even directly controlled by the government anymore but by the public/private partnership in corruption known as the Federal Reserve System.

    1. Congress — the branch responsible for taxing and spending policy

      Not in quite awhile, actually.

      1. According to some piece of paper…

        I know they’ve largely abrogated their duties to the bureaucracy which is easy to demonize to the sheep back home.

      2. They are still responsible for it. They are just doing a lazy job taking care of their responsibilities.

  27. OT:

    Don’t know about y’all, but I am finding that I really like LCD Soundsystem. Anyone with me?

    1. I approve this message. Got to see them once in concert.

      1. I’m jealous. I only heard of them when I saw them on cable tv on one of those concert festival things. They were playing “Dance Yrself Clean.” Took me a while to figure out who they were. Since then I bought my first cd in years, and plan to buy more. Great band.

    2. no.

      1. Like I care about what some body builder in a hockey mask thinks. Revolvers don’t need scopes. Stick it.

  28. “more taxes and regulation to distribute income gains more broadly and an activist government when it comes to ensuring all sorts of outcomes”

    this has been tried is is the status quo. It is failing miserably. It’s not even rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s recommending that the Titanic hit another iceberg in hopes that will fix the hole.

  29. So this excuses the libertarian establishment having no fucking clue what to do about taxes and/or the economy? Or healthcare? If we just squeeze enough free-market soundbites into one sentence then prosperity will erupt like a volcano!!!

    The rich pay half the entire income tax burden of the middle-class but … somehow … flat taxes are the answer. It’s easy to bitch about progressive tax rates, but the math is a little tougher. The rich also consume a tiny portion of their income, so let’s have a Fair Tax collect a lower tax rate on fewer dollars. Punish consumption instead of investment, and make every progressive’s wildest dreams come true.

    It ain’t just progs and birthers eager to be brainwashed …. and you just keep shaking your fist into the wind, Nick.

    1. Fuck you, cut spending.

      1. Zeb|
        Fuck you, cut spending.

        Says the bellowing blowhard.
        How much? Where? And how? (needs a majority of both Congress and voters)

        Libertarians have been drinking the Kool-Aid of slogans and buzzwords for years.
        Starting with the Paulista Cult. “Repeal the income tax and run the entire government on a quarter-trillion dollars less than FICA taxes alone”

        Fuck you, cut spending

        Brilliant!

        1. So what’s your plan?

          What do you think can be done?

          1. **crickets**

              1. Now now, let’s not start with all that already. I just about to comment on your post below, which I thought was at least civil, productive and helps to move the discussion in a better direction. One centered around things like incentives and default settings. I have yet to be convinced that consumption is a thing to concerned about encouraging so much as savings and production are. These last two items require a certain amount of discipline and work to achieve and are prerequisites to the consumption side of the equation. And while our desires may be unlimited our means of achieving them are not., Most adults and even most voters pretty much understand this truth at a very basic level in their day to day lives. Political incentives by virtue of human nature have always and will always be very different. And an Income tax just has far too many ways it can be exploited by the types of people attracted to politics. With a sales tax everyone knows exactly what the true cost of government is, which makes it much harder thing to hide from or sell to the voting public.

                1. Why should government punish or reward either investment or consumption?

                  With a sales tax everyone knows exactly what the true cost of government is, which makes it much harder thing to hide from or sell to the voting public.

                  How does a 30% sales tax tell me anything about the size of government? And how hard would it be to enact a massive tax cut for only the rich with a massive tax INCREASE on the middle class?.

                  The latest data on spending as a share of income published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Show that lower-income households spend more than they earn?presumably aided by tax credits and other cash transfers, gifts from family members and friends, and borrowing (see chart). People earning over $150,000 spend only half of their income (and the share continues to fall as incomes rise, although it’s not shown in the summary statistics). Compared with a broad-based income tax, the proposal effectively allows a 50% deduction for the average high-income household. Because it is also a flat rate tax, it would be especially regressive

                  Forbes

          2. TWO flat taxes, equal low rates, on both income and consumption. (punish NEITHER investment nor consumption)
            Let each state construct its own federalism, what they want to run. Or combine to run, say, food stampts/ At first.
            Evey 5-10 years, voters go out for bids on every such program, forcing state and federal to compete for power (and the revenue). From the supposedly obsolete libertarianism 1.0, over 30 years ago.

            Block grants to states are typical rightwing bullshit. States refused it over 30 years ago (Reagan’s New Federalism)

            http://libertyissues.com/federalism.htm

            There’s more but not quite a final draft to sell. Bottom line: Anyone who expects politicians to control government, ever, without first restructuring it, is doing drugs.

  30. The road to economic growth isn’t paved with new Interstate projects

    If you have a controlling interest in a well-connected engineering firm it does.

  31. RE: Can Clinton or Trump or ANYONE Actually Grow the U.S. Economy?
    Definitely the Democrat or the Republican, who are locked in a 20th-century model of an expansive, all-encompassing state.

    Let us not worry about the economy. Both candidates, as of this writing, has wisely avoided such important issues as Social Security, Medicare, Medicad, bloated bureaucracies, troops overseas, etc and have concentrated on their sterling personalities to get elected. The economy should not grow, because, as we all know, the way to crush an evil capitalist society is to let The State continue to waste money on wars, entitlements, place more taxes, red tape, rules, regulations, etc on the nefarious producing class. Instead of asking if anyone can actually make the notorious capitalist based US economy grow, wouldn’t it be wiser to ask what we can all do to eliminate this foul bourgeois society from the history books and how to we can all work wisely and diligently to a workers paradise?

  32. Am I the only Sap who recognized the photo of L. Brezhnev?

    and why, FFS, is it there?

  33. Weird how I didn’t see “Obamacare” or even “Affordable Care Act” once anywhere in this entire article.

    Oh right, I almost forgot there for a moment that Gillespie worships Mofo like his own personal Jesus.

  34. In a country where Trump is the candidate of one majority party and Clinton is the other (barely squashing the economic illiterate Bernie Sanders), what are the odds of an intelligent conversation about economic growth suddenly bubbling up?

    As much as I like Gillespie singing Annie’s “The Sun Will Come Out,” he misses the point. In a free market economy, expectations–positive or negative–have a profound impact. Put simply, if enough people reach the conclusion we are most certainly fucked… that goes a long way to ensuring we are most certainly fucked. The insane political season underscores the reality that America is a nation of economic idiots who are increasingly angry idiots. No one is carrying this election on the free trade banner… despite the fact that free trade is better for economic growth than protectionism. Trump is a crony capitalism poster child. Clinton is deeply committed to wealth creation… for herself.

    Yes, America has always been a noisy, messy, kick-one-another-in-the-nads place, but I’m not sure 3D printing is going to pull Uncle Sam’s bacon out of the fire. The cumulative weight of shitty decisions, unhinged spending, and kicking the can down the road will eventually grind the U.S. economy to a halt. And when the teat runs dry, the body politic will make the current political campaign nonsense look like a 2nd graders nativity play.

    1. And if we squeeze enough “free market” buzzwords and slogans into a comment, then we can ALL sing along with “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”

      Too bad there are NO libertarian policy proposals to do … anything at all.
      “Git gummint out” is no policy. And too extreme than even Ayn Rand.

      1. Uh, no. There are a host of libertarian policies that could be implemented in some alternate universe where libertarians are elected. Reduce military spending. End the war on drugs. Incarcerate far fewer people. De-militarize police forces. Facilitate school vouchers. Increase immigration. Lower competitive barriers to entry. Engage in free trade. Eliminate crop subsidies. Eliminate ethanol subsidies. Simplify the tax system. Hey, I’m only a casual reader of Reason and could go on for paragraphs.

        You can certainly argue that these are bad policies… but that’s different than saying “NO libertarian policies.” And all of these policies would have economic impacts. The money we don’t spend building fighter jets could be used elsewhere, and likely would.

        1. You don’t know what a policy is. It placed my detailed response here (???):
          https://reason.com/blog/2016/08…..nt_6326142

      2. Too bad there are NO libertarian policy proposals to do … anything at all.

        There are plenty of libertarian policy proposals; your ignorance of them doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

        1. Name one. I’ll keep laughing for now.

  35. my best friend’s mom makes $74 an hour on the computer . She has been withou t work for five months
    but last month her payment was $19746 just working on the computer for a few hours. find more information …

    ?????? http://home.incomehints.org

  36. Of course there’s been more spending on RoADz!! The efficiency is horrid. Unlike the market, gov’t doesn’t have to worry about efficiency or effectiveness. That’s why road construction uses the same bullshit process so the roads wear fast and need frequent maintenance. Road bureaucracies are opposed to using “rubberized roads” because they outperform conventional construction, and make the roads last far longer with minimal maintenance.

    Their concern is bigger budgets, resulting in more expensive and less effective infrastructure. The state’s control much of their budgets and all suffer the same phenomena, and crisis. The “crumbling infrastructure” is a result of the gov’t. Just like everything else they touch winds up in crisis or chaos. Education, monetary system, defense, healthcare, and even businesses they subsidise. Whereas the market shows itself capable of handling complex things more efficiently, for less money. If the person that paved your driveway, or your mall parking lot did a shit job, you nor others would hire them, probably resulting in them going out of business. The gov’t doesn’t have to worry about pleasing their “customers”. They can extort through the barrel of a gun, get all the funds they need and are shielded from competition because they prohibit it.

  37. Globalization and automation have hollowed out manufacturing, eliminating millions of middle-income blue-collar jobs.

    So? That isn’t responsible for slow economic growth; quite the opposite: outsourcing low-end jobs and automation lead to faster growth and higher incomes. What is responsible for slow economic growth is taxes and regulations.

    And while presidents can’t “grow” the economy, they have certainly lots of ways of wrecking it. I’m sure Hillary will try her very best.

  38. Minimum wage increases directly attack inequality, because the wage boost to those who retain their low-income jobs substantially exceeds the extent of any resulting job losses.

    Low wage jobs overwhelmingly have short lengths of employment regardless of minimum wage laws, so few people ever “retain” those jobs. What happens when you raise minimum wages is that the jobs seem to stay around, but they will soon be filled with people who actually are worth the new minimum wage. This will cause some people to drop out of the workforce, and it will simply raise the salaries for everybody else, as minimum wage jobs are now competing for a different pool of workers. In the end, this does nothing to “attack inequality”.

    1. Low wage jobs overwhelmingly have short lengths of employment regardless of minimum wage laws, so few people ever “retain” those jobs.

      What about here, in America?

      What happens when you raise minimum wages is that the jobs seem to stay around,

      What about here, in America?

      but they will soon be filled with people who actually are worth the new minimum wage.

      But they’re unemployed now?

  39. Too bad there are NO libertarian policy proposals to do … anything at all.
    “Git gummint out” is no policy. And too extreme than even Ayn Rand.

    Uh, no. There are a host of libertarian policies that could be implemented in some alternate universe where libertarians are elected

    Uh, name one
    Repeat: “Git gummint out” is not a policy and too extreme for Ayn Rand.

    Hey, I’m only a casual reader of Reason and could go on for paragraphs.

    I’ve read Reason since maybe year two. Have yet to see one. You don’t know what a policy is.
    Name a specific tax policy which is not as crazy as Ron Paul’s.. Or the Fair Tax.
    Healthcare? But not the wacky Medicare vouchers (wrong market)
    How would you describe a policy to voters?

    in some alternate universe where libertarians are elected

    Proves my point. You don’t give a shit about getting elected and achieving anything. So you don’t see what we need today, what Gary needs now..

    Just anti-gummint slogans and buzzwords. Nothing pro-liberty. Nearly a half century and that’s all we’ve got. Probably why the libertarian brand is rejected by 91% of libertarians (per Cato)

    What would we do better. And how?

  40. “…govt. has worn our whatever usefulness…”?? Govt. has never been “useful”, never been “of, by, or for” the people, as the tyrant Lincoln claimed. This is not an American phenomena. It is inherent in all social systems based on violence.

    Therefore, it, or its frontman/woman, cannot grow the economy. The economy grows from voluntary actions taken freely. The more freedom, the more growth. Govt. only gets in the way of freedom.

    All the reasons given for slow growth were symptoms of govt. interference.

  41. Minimum wage increases directly attack inequality, because the wage boost to those who retain their low-income jobs substantially exceeds the extent of any resulting job losses.

    Even where true, the ones losing their jobs are young black males. Obama has destroyed many of them. But they’re only black, right?

    But most “studies” are when minimum wage increases in a state or city. We don’t know about resulting job losses in other cities or states. Everyone thinks of fast food and retailing. We don’t think of minimum, wage jobs in “manufacturing” because they’re assembly.

  42. Ella . you think Victoria `s storry is astonishing… on saturday I bought themselves a Car after bringing in $7899 this – 5 weeks past and-more than, 10-k last munth . it’s by-far the best-job I have ever had . I began this 8-months ago and almost straight away started to earn minimum $77
    ?????????? http://www.factoryofincome.com

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