In Swing States, Clinton to Rip Trump on Economy

In Swing States, Clinton to Rip Trump on Economy
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Hillary Clinton believes Donald Trump, if elected president, would be a disaster for the U.S. economy.

As with her recently withering takedowns of Trump over foreign policy, Clinton hopes detailed dissections of her opponent’s economic ideas will enliven Democratic voters and help mobilize turnout in key battleground states this fall.

Speaking in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday and in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, the former secretary of state will wield domestic policy as a political weapon, arguing that the presumptive Republican nominee is either unaware of the “incoherent” nature of his economic proposals, or willfully disingenuous when he tells low- and middle-income voters that his tax proposals are crafted to benefit them.

Clinton will use the Republican nominee’s own words, as well as assessments from outside analysts, to compare her economic vision with Trump’s in states where the rivals are neck-and-neck based on RealClearPolitics poll averages. The Democratic nominee is outpacing Trump in state-staff organization and general-election advertising in Ohio and North Carolina, among other contested states important to the Electoral College outcome. She recently began airing soft-focus biographical ads in eight battleground states, describing her advocacy for children.

The presumptive Democratic nominee has argued for weeks that Trump is too erratic, divisive and ill-informed to lead the country as commander-in-chief. 

“Everything that applies to Trump about national security is equally true when it comes to the economy,” Jake Sullivan, senior adviser to the Clinton campaign, said in a statement before the candidate delivered her speech.

“If we were to put Donald Trump behind the wheel of the American economy, he would very likely drive us off a cliff and working families would bear the brunt of the impact in terms of lost jobs, lost savings, and lost livelihoods,” Sullivan said, describing Clinton’s arguments.

“That's the natural conclusion you reach when you look at Trump's policy proposals, his rash and reckless temperament, and his record in the private sector of doing harm to working families and small businesses,” he added. 

To underscore this point, the campaign released a new website — dubbed ArtOfTheSteal.biz — and web video early Tuesday spotlighting what it called “Donald Trump’s real business record.”

Clinton foreshadowed Tuesday’s speech during an interview with USA Today last week, saying that Trump wants to lower the tax rate for hedge fund and private equity managers while backing $3 trillion in tax relief for millionaires and billionaires over 10 years.

The former New York senator -- mindful that no Democratic nominee since 1960 has become president without winning Ohio -- will try to paint Trump as hopelessly retro in everything from tax cuts for the wealthy to trickle-down benefits for rank-and-file workers.

“When Donald Trump says let's make America great again, that is code for let's take America backward,” Clinton said earlier this month.

On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren continued their verbal taunts and criticisms of Trump during separate appearances.

Clinton hopes that when examining the economy and job creation – issues Americans rank as most important for the next president – voters will find Trump’s words and ideas risky, poorly conceived, and deceptively marketed by the tweet-trending New York businessman.

The chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, Matthew Borges, recently described the downsides for Trump. “We may have picked the one person who might actually be able to lose to Hilary Clinton,” he said during an event hosted by a local Chamber of Commerce. “Unfortunately, [Democrats] picked the one person who might actually be able to lose to Donald Trump. So we’ll have a very interesting sort of race to the bottom.”

Clinton leads Trump in national polls, but trails him by a percentage point in North Carolina, according to the RCP averages. Clinton is 1.4 percentage points ahead of Trump in Ohio, which has 18 Electoral College votes in play.

“An Achilles’ heel for Trump since he’s announced [his candidacy] has been that he’s the focus of news coverage every day,” said Dan Birdsong, lecturer in political science at the University of Dayton.

“You can take apart what he says. Is he disingenuous? A flip-flopper? What is he? It becomes a weapon against him because he’s said so much,” he told RCP.

Some economic analysts agree with Clinton’s assessment that Trump’s ideas would hurt the country. According to a Moody’s Analytics breakdown of the businessman’s economic proposals, some of which are not well defined by the candidate, unemployment would rise, the federal debt and deficits would increase, and the U.S. economy would weaken in comparison with current projections.

The Clinton campaign touts the analysis, which was recently released by Mark Zandi, who advised presidential candidate John McCain in 2008, and co-written by a Moody’s team of economists. “Those who would benefit most from Mr. Trump’s economic proposals are high-income households … and the job losses resulting from his other policies would likely hit lower- and middle-income households the hardest,” the report predicts.

Clinton hopes to explain that disparity to Democrats as well as to the undecided battleground voters who may lean towards Trump. Alarming middle-class voters as a technique to encourage them to turn out may prove as useful in 2016 as trying to inspire them. “I think it will come down to the mobilization of the base,” Birdsong said of the 2016 race.

Both Clinton and Trump suffer from low poll numbers when it comes to trustworthiness, and arguing that Trump is being deceptive about his tax proposals is a way for Clinton to try to push his numbers down, even if her own poll standing does not improve.

“Mr. Trump’s economic proposals will result in larger federal government deficits and a heavier debt load,” the Moody’s report stated. “His personal and corporate tax cuts are massive, and his proposals to expand spending on veterans and the military are significant. Given his stated opposition to changing entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, this mix of much lower tax revenues and few cuts in spending can only be financed by substantially more government borrowing.”

The Moody’s authors believe Trump’s proposals, if enacted, would make the economy “significantly weaker,” in part through a lengthy recession.

“By the end of his presidency, there are close to 3.5 million fewer jobs and the unemployment rate rises to as high as 7%, compared with below 5% today.” The authors predict stagnant after-inflation incomes, and declining stock and housing prices.

Clinton is expected to continue the economic assault on Trump Wednesday at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds Exposition Center in Raleigh, adding a heavier presentation of her own vision and ideas for the economy.

Last week, after speaking in Cleveland, the former first lady said she would not hesitate to use executive authority, if elected, to restrict hedge fund managers from exploiting the so-called “carried interest loophole” in tax law. The Democratic candidate expects to unveil a detailed tax reform plan in the coming weeks.

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com.  Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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