Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Real Difference Between a Trump and Clinton Presidency

Scott Sumner makes this important point:
When comparing Trump and Clinton, one also needs to keep in mind the role of Congress. Most experts think a President Trump would be likely to face a Congress that is at least partially controlled by the GOP. In contrast, Clinton seems likely to face a hostile Congress, which could impact her ability to get things done. Thus one might want to evaluate the Clinton proposals with an eye toward those things that can be done by executive fiat---especially in the regulatory area.
Sumner is also correct in framing Donald Trump  as someone that is far from a free market advocate:
Overall, the biggest difference between the Trump and Clinton websites is length. Trump’s plan is very short, and is silent on many areas of policy. I suppose the positive interpretation for me is that he plans a small government approach, and will enact far fewer new policies than Hillary Clinton. But another (more likely) interpretation is that he simply has not yet developed policies in a number of areas. During the campaign he has gone out of his way to avoid the sort of “small government” rhetoric that one typically associates with GOP candidates; rather he has emphasized a more active role for the Federal government in helping ordinary people. Indeed he often suggests that he will tell certain companies not to invest overseas---as if it’s the President’s job to make those decisions. So I see no reason to assume he would run a hands-off, Calvin Coolidge-style administration.
I expect either Clinton or Trump to run an activist administration. The big difference is that I have a pretty good idea what sort of policies Clinton would emphasize. She has a long career of policy activism, and is in the mainstream of the Democratic Party (which itself is shifting left.) Trump is much more of a wild card. At various times in his life he’s sounded like a Democrat. Even today many of his views on issues such as trade and foreign investment (and now the minimum wage) are at variance with the GOPs’ traditional free market approach. In my view almost anything is possible, including Trump deciding to play one party on Congress off the other, to get the sort of deals he thinks best. His current proposals need to be taken with more than a grain of salt.


  1. Trump's only virtues are
    1) He seems marginally less likely to start a war than Clinton.

    2) The media and neoconservative policy types hate him.

    On everything else, he seems more of the same.

  2. Assuming Trump isn't part of the political puppet show, what about Trump being disliked by both parties? Maybe nothing he proposes would be passed by either house.

    1. Good observation. Also, Hillary has already done "business" with many foreign governments selling secrets for cash to her "charitable" foundation. She is not likely to bite the hands that feed her by starting a war. The only difference between Hillary and the Donald is that Hillary's cronies will include foreign governments while Trumps will include real estate developers and construction companies.

    2. I never really thought of that. He could easily get himself in trouble with his mouth and have both parties working against him.

  3. If Hillary wins big, she is likely to take Congress with her. I think Trump is more likely to face a hostile Congress, even if the GOP keeps both houses. In either case, Obama has already set the modern precedent of rule by decree. I expect whomever wins will run with that precedent in a big way.

  4. Obama faced a hostile Congress. How has that turned out? The bigger difference is the media. They absolutely LOVE Hillary and despise Trump. Should the next president commit an impeachable offense (highly likely), which one is more likely to actually be impeached?

  5. Ron Paul recently made the exact same point during an interview given to a mainstream tv news show. That he actually preferred Clinton because Congress should remain republican and that deadlock should ensue. He also said that he felt Trump was an authoritarian that would steam roll congress.

  6. One other point: the news media will give a free pass to President Hillary on everything. Under a Trump Presidency they will "rediscover" their role of government watch dogs.

  7. Does anyone truly think that Hillary won't be able to pass any legislation because of a deadlocked congress? Ridiculous.