George W. Bush is Herbert Hoover. Or so Hillary Clinton and her Democratic cronies want you to think. "(The Republicans) have the most wrongheaded economic policies that we've seen since Herbert Hoover," Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.) sneered to a group of rabid Connecticut Democrats at the Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner on April 28.
Hillary must not remember Jimmy Carter's wonderful economic tenure during the late 1970s. She must also have forgotten that Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency watched the Great Depression remain Great for eight years.
But for the sake of argument, let us assume that Herbert Hoover's economic policy was indeed the worst of any president in the 20th century. He presided over the stock market collapse of October 1929. He could do nothing to reverse the downward spiral of the American economy. Billions of dollars disappeared, and unemployment skyrocketed. Poverty swept the nation.
Fair enough. But there's a small problem for Hillary -- Hoover's economic policy virtually mirrors her own. Hillary can try to link President Bush to President Hoover by pointing to the fact that both are Republicans, but the truth is that Hoover was an ardent Keynesian, and it was his insistence on federal solutions to the Depression that drove the economy into the ground.
Hoover's main focus immediately following the stock market crash was on the worker. "Refusing to accept the 'natural' economic cycle in which a market crash was followed by cuts in business investment, production and wages," the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Museum website explains, "Hoover summoned industrialists to the White House on Nov. 21, part of a round robin of conferences with business, labor and farm leaders, and secured a promise to hold the line on wages." Of course, employers could not afford to both maintain wages at current levels and continue to employ as many workers as before. The result was a dramatic increase in layoffs.
Yet Hillary advocates the same wage policy as Hoover. On Oct. 24, 1999, Hillary told a crowd in Queens, N.Y.: "If you study (minimum wage), you can clearly see it will not hurt the economy, it will not increase unemployment. There are those who have opposed an increase in the minimum wage, arguing that it will cost jobs, and there are some people who say we need more studies. They are wrong." If Hillary believes that jacking up the minimum wage is a way to stimulate the economy, then why does she bash Hoover?
In the spring of 1930, Hoover decided that the United States needed to prevent job loss by raising tariffs, so the infamous Smoot-Hawley Tariff was signed into law. It crippled world trade. Unemployment jumped from 5 million in 1930 to over 11 million in 1931.
Yet Hillary voted against giving President Bush trade promotion authority in August 2002. Trade promotion authority allows the president to negotiate trade agreements that lower tariffs; the trade agreements are then voted on as a package in an up-or-down congressional vote. If Hillary believes that protectionism is a good way to help the economy, then why does she blast Hoover?
After his other policy measures failed to revive the ailing economy, Herbert Hoover turned to tax increases. In June 1932, Hoover raised the income tax rate from 24 percent to 48 percent. "We cannot maintain public confidence nor stability of the federal government without undertaking some temporary tax increases," he rationalized. These tax hikes sent the economy into an even more dramatic nosedive.
Yet every time that President Bush calls for tax cuts, Hillary opposes him. After the 2001 round of Bush tax cuts went through, Hillary lobbied for delaying the cuts based on the recession, in effect re-raising taxes. "Given where we are now with the recession, with the war on terrorism, I just don't think it's in our best interest to go forward with the tax cuts," she asserted on "Meet the Press" on Dec. 9, 2001. If Hillary believes that raising taxes during a recession is the needed remedy for economic woes, then why does she knock Hoover?
Hillary and the Democrats blast Hoover because he was a Republican. But Hoover, like FDR and like Hillary Clinton, was a big-government economic policy-maker. As economist Thomas Sowell of Stanford University's Hoover Institution explains in his book, "Basic Economics," "Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt both tried to use the powers of the federal government to restore the economy." The Hoover economic ideology of yesterday is almost identical to the Hillary economic ideology of today.
George W. Bush isn't Herbert Hoover, but Hillary Clinton might be.