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October, 29th 2007

John Edwards' interesting economic plans

– Liz Mair

I say "interesting" with the greatest degree of irony. From the Concord Monitor:

John Edwards says if he's elected president, he'll institute a New Deal-like suite of programs to fight poverty and stem growing wealth disparity. To do it, he said, he'll ask many Americans to make sacrifices, like paying higher taxes.

Edwards, a former Democratic senator from North Carolina, says the federal government should underwrite universal pre-kindergarten, create matching savings accounts for low-income people, mandate a minimum wage of $9.50 and provide a million new Section 8 housing vouchers for the poor. He also pledged to start a government-funded public higher education program called "College for Everyone."

"It is central to what I want to do as president to do something about economic inequality. I do not believe it is okay for the United States of America to have 37 million people living in poverty," he said in a meeting with Monitor reporters and editors this week. "And I think we need, desperately need, a president who will say that to America and call on Americans to show their character."

At every stop, Edwards said, he tells voters he'll ask them to sacrifice. Asked to describe what he means, he described his plan for increases in capital gains taxes, saying taxes on "wealth income" should be in line with those on work income.

"I think if we want to fund the things that I think are important to share in prosperity, then people who have done well in this country, including me, have more of a responsibility to give back," he said. Later, he added: "There are no free meals."


Wow. There's plenty of scary and stupid stuff in here (scary: a minimum wage of $9.50 an hour will cause untold economic damage, with the principal "benefit" being that sixteen year-olds get paid much more than they do today, while wage inflation across the board increases as a result, meaning that a lot of poorer people currently in work, and earning above minimum wage probably lose their jobs, or we just see inflation enough that the minimum wage hike won't matter; stupid: thinking that increased government handouts coupled with taking more money from "The RichTM" will result in more genuine equality and upward mobility for the truly poor).

And one hopes that for this very reason, Edwards' ideas have no real currency, except among the fringe over at DailyKos and the like. Nonetheless, the fact that we're seeing this kind of policy platform come out of a reasonably major presidential candidate indicates that there is a market for this kind of thing (which should worry a lot of us). And it also indicates why a lot of people are capable of seeing Hillary Clinton as quite centrist. Although she's not, standing next to Edwards, she looks like a right-wing nutbag. That speaks volumes for how out-of-whack politics in America really is these days.

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