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March 30th, 2017

Insight

Trump Doesn't Threaten Obama's Legacy --- Clinton Does

Larry Elder

By Larry Elder

Published August 11, 2016

It's an article of faith that President Barack Obama needs Hillary Clinton to win to "preserve his legacy."

On the contrary, a Clinton election, essentially a third term for Barack Obama, would produce results no better — and likely worse — than that of her two-term predecessor. Obama's legacy is already here — the worst economic recovery since 1949. The last quarter clocked in at 1.2 percent gross domestic product growth. That's pathetic.

Obama is the first president ever to preside over an economic recovery without a single year coming in at 3 percent GDP. And time has run out.

Why would four years under Clinton be no better — and likely worse — than under Obama? Simple. Throughout the campaign — even after securing the nomination — she's offered no criticism, whether major or minor, about Obama's economic agenda that is responsible for the poor recovery. Indeed, Clinton says, "I don't think (President Obama) gets the credit he deserves for saving our economy." How did Obama "save" our economy?

His crowning domestic achievement, of course, is Obamacare, which, among other promises, was supposed to give each household a health care savings of $2,500 per year. It hasn't. Yes, the rise in premiums slowed down at first — a function not of Obamacare but of the poor economy. Copayments are now going up, as are deductibles and premiums.

During one of the Democratic debates, Clinton actually referred to these increases as "glitches" that she intended to repair when she takes over.

Like Sanders, Clinton pushes a so-called "public option." This is merely a fancy term for Obamacare's ultimate objective — Medicare for all. Four more years of Clinton will take America closer to that objective, if not all the way there. The additional taxes Americans pay is merely white noise to people like Clinton. After all, if "health care is a right," who cares how much it costs? But these measures will impose additional restraint on the American economy, producing tepid job creation and GDP growth results.

Now assume Trump wins. He attempts to unwind or at least ratchet back Obamacare. Somebody in West Cupcake is worse off, her story heavily profiled on cable news. Blame Trump.

Trump would be the most protectionist Republican president this side of Herbert Hoover. And we know how that played out. Yes, the great President Ronald Reagan was all too often protectionist, as well. He famously restricted Japanese motorcycles to protect Harley Davidson. Reagan imposed "voluntary" import quotas on Japanese cars. That cost the American consumers as much as an additional $2,000 per Japanese import. Meanwhile, the domestic automakers followed suit and jacked up their prices, too. In 1984, according to the Heritage Foundation, Americans paid an additional $5 billion in that year alone over what they would have paid for cars — foreign and domestic — without the quotas.

Assume Trump is serious about his anti-free-trade rhetoric — and succeeds in imposing tariffs and other trade barriers. When the "returned jobs" do not materialize — and the think tanks tabulate how much more American consumers are then paying for foreign goods — blame Trump.

This brings us to the Iran deal. The Obama administration likes to say that opponents were wrong, that the deal has, in fact, stopped Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Has it? Iran certainly has not turned away from continuing to export terrorism. After the January release of four American hostages — coinciding with a payment of $400 million in cash — Iran kidnapped two more Americans. They continue to test long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, in apparent violation of UN resolutions. And Iran still funds and supports terror organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.

When — and it is likely just a question of when — Iran uses its newfound status as a nuclear power to threaten and intimidate neighbors, keepers of Obama's legacy can blame Trump. After all, Trump engaged in belligerency, they will argue. Sans Trump, they will say, Iran would likely have continued down their path toward entering the global community of peaceful nations.

Were Hillary Clinton to win, the economy will continue to underperform, and the Iran deal will be exposed as a sham that did nothing to deter that country. There goes Obama's "legacy."

But if Trump were to win, blame Trump.

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Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host.

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