WASHINGTON -- The two-year battle for the presidency, which officially begins today, got an early start last week when Hillary Clinton gave us a dumbfounding lesson in Democratic economics, saying that businesses do not create jobs.
It was a fiery political statement that betrayed a depth of economic ignorance that will haunt her likely presidential candidacy throughout the entire 2015-16 election cycle.
"Don't let anybody tell you that it's corporations and businesses that create jobs," Clinton flatly declared at a recent political rally in Boston. "You know that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly," said the former secretary of state, who has experienced economic failure firsthand.
Remember Bill and Hillary Clinton's Whitewater real estate investment disaster, which turned into an immense scandal of financial corruption and backroom cover-up?
Clinton later said she misspoke, adding that what she told Democrats in the People's Republic of Massachusetts was a "short-handed" version of her real economic views.
Still, her abysmally stupid remarks were widely seen as a gaffe that her apologists said will soon be forgotten as her campaign for the White House gets fully underway.
But there is reason to believe that what she said was a revealing, unguarded look into the muddled mind of a liberal ideologue who thinks, like Barack Obama, that real job creation actually begins and ends with big government telling us how to run our economy and our businesses.
And her economic observation about where jobs come from sounded vaguely similar to one of Obama's famous gaffes in his 2012 re-election campaign when he said, "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
Somebody like President Obama who, to this day, still thinks his impotent policies have created many jobs and pulled the economy out of the 2008 recession.
Clinton apparently believes Obama's delusions, too. That $1 trillion in infrastructure spending to repair roads and bridges, and enlarge local, state and federal budgets, rescued the economy and put people back to work.
But his program failed "rather spectacularly," to use Hillary's words. Governments were given a lot money to spend in the hope that the money would "trickle down" to middle- and low-income Americans, the people Democrats say they most want to help.
Instead, it is widely acknowledged by economists and others that this has been the longest economic recovery since the Great Depression.
In previous decades, the average recovery period took about two years. Six years into Obama's presidency, we're still struggling in a so-so recovery.
Obama lives in his own little world of denial, saying the economy is better than ever, and apparently Clinton thinks so, too.
But the dark underbelly of the Obama economy tells a different story. Middle- to lower-income Americans are still tightening their belts. Good-paying full-time jobs are hard to find, especially among young adults just out of college. Income growth has slowed, and consumers are spending less, the Commerce Department says.
Equally disturbing, the labor force continues to shrink, as discouraged, long-term unemployed workers drop out of the work force. The payroll-to-population ratio is at 44 percent, says the Gallup Poll.
Gallup's daily survey that asks people how they're doing reveals a still-distressed economy: 41 percent say they're "struggling," while another 9 percent say they're "suffering" or under "stress."
Gallup's surveys put the real unemployment rate at 6.3 percent, and the underemployed -- people who need a full-time job but can't find one -- at nearly 15 percent.
The National Association of Realtors said this week that the share of first-time homebuyers has fallen to its lowest rate (33 percent) in 27 years.
In his Washington Post "Wonkblog," economic analyst Matt O'Brien writes that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has become much more pessimistic about the economy -- "revising its estimate of potential economic activity down in each of the past seven years."
But if anyone thinks Hillary Clinton knows how to lift the underperforming U.S. economy out of its lethargy, they'd better think again. Her knowledge of economics is close to zero.
Her latest blunder "highlighted a problem that has plagued Clinton in the past: overshooting in her language when she is outside her immediate comfort zone," says Politico reporter Maggie Haberman.
Moreover, Clinton is a huge fan of ultra-leftist, anti-free market Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whose idea of economic policy is going after big business and the banks with more government regulation, higher tax rates, bigger stimulus spending bills, and raising the minimum wage on small businesses.
Will Hillary also champion higher taxes on business at a time when the economy remains anemic? She hinted just that at a rally last week in New York where she said, "To make America great, we need to do our part and pay our fair share." And you know what that means.
If there's one thing this economy doesn't need, it's higher job-killing taxes on business. "What we need is a critique of Keynesian economics," says The Wall Street Journal's Jason Riley.
"That's what we've been experiencing. Government spending as a stimulus. How is that going for us? The slowest recovery in a generation or two. That's what I would like (to) hear her defense of," Riley told Fox News.
One job-creating idea you won't hear Hillary defend is how her husband signed a bill the GOP sent him in his second term to cut the capital gains tax on investors. New investment in businesses soared, the economy grew, and the jobless rate plunged to less than 4 percent.
But you won't hear a discouraging word from her about Obamanomics, either, which suggests she still thinks it's working just fine.