Hillary an American Dream Denier
On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton begins with her own family’s past — her factory-worker grandfather and her father’s rise to become a small-business owner.
In New Hampshire last week, she vowed to rebuild the “ladders of opportunity” that she claims have disappeared. It’s rousing political rhetoric. Problem is, it’s not true.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, economic mobility is every bit as good now as it was in 1950. That’s what the data show, and even left-leaning think tanks such as the Brookings Institution and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality agree.
However, the ability of children today to leapfrog out of poverty and do better than their parents is threatened by the very proposals that Clinton and President Obama are pushing.
Brookings’ Ron Haskins testified to Congress in October that children of poor parents are still just as likely to escape poverty now as at any time in the last 70 years. Intergenerational mobility has been steady for decades.
Children born to parents in the bottom fifth in income have a 57% chance of breaking into the middle class, and 4% even make it into the top fifth. Higher would be even better, but there’s no dramatic decline here.
Ron Chetty and co-authors from the Stanford Center also challenge “the growing public perception” that children face worse odds now. Chetty looked at children born in the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and concluded that mobility has “remained stable over the second half of the 20th century in the United States.”
The direction isn’t always up, of course. Some 60% of children born to parents in the top fifth in earnings never make it to those heights as adults. That’s how a free economy works.
These are not political talking points, but research from liberal think tanks. The lineup of Republican presidential contenders is living proof that mobility still exists in America. These candidates never overlook an opportunity to tell voters about their own dramatic rises:
Sen. Marco Rubio always says, “My parents came to America from Cuba in 1956 and earned their way to the middle class working humble jobs — my father as a bartender in hotels and my mom as a maid, cashier and retail clerk.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich tells us his father was a mailman, and Carly Fiorina emphasizes in every speech her story, “from secretary to CEO.”
Dr. Ben Carson grew up poor in Detroit, raised by a single mother who hadn’t gone beyond third grade. His view on mobility is that it’s a matter of individuals striving, not government redistributing. Carson told the crowd at last week’s CNBC debate that government should get “out of our lives, and let people rise and fall based on how good they are.”
That’s not what you hear from the Democratic Party. Since 2008, President Obama has consistently claimed the “ladders of opportunity” are falling down. Sadly, his destructive policies threaten to make that lie a reality.
For decades, and despite the loss of manufacturing jobs, mobility numbers have held steady because women and minorities have made gains in the workplace. But under Obama those gains are stalling.
African-American unemployment is almost twice as high as the national average. Nationwide, only half of male African-American high school students graduate on time. Tax hikes on investors and big government programs such as ObamaCare slow growth and depress hiring.
Already, Obamanomics has pushed labor force participation — the share of Americans who actually have a job — to the lowest since Jimmy Carter. You can’t get ahead if you don’t have a job.
Two-percent economic growth — the new norm under this president — cannot sustain the level of economic mobility that we call the American dream. Now Hillary Clinton is offering Obamanomics on steroids — including a near-doubling of the top tax rate on some investment income, continuing job-killing ObamaCare and standing by teachers unions that tolerate failing schools.
It’s these policies that threaten to kick the ladder out from under our kids.