Prof. Dominick Armentano
Mid-term into the first Trump term would seem like a good time to re-examine the Wenzel theory that the election of Hillary Clinton would have been better for liberty than the election of Donald Trump.
1: There have been two appointments to the Supreme Court. Both of the Trump appointments and confirmations were reasonably conservative, especially from an economic perspective. Hillary would also have had 2 nominations and they would have been reasonably liberal. Edge to Trump but not by much.
2: Trump got a sweeping tax reduction plan passed, especially on the corporate side. Hillary would not have proposed any such reductions. Clear edge to Trump on this one.
3: There has been some reduction in growth-retarding regulation under Trump especially in health care and at the EPA. Hillary would not have supported any such reductions; indeed, she would have proposed increases. Edge to Trump.
4: Four, Trump has (so far) been anti-climate change and has supported no law that would increase costs on businesses or consumers from a global warming perspective. He has withdrawn the U.S. from the global climate change “agreements.” No way on earth that Hillary would have done any of this. Edge to Trump.
5: While Trump has talked “more antitrust enforcement” little of that has actually occurred in the first two years. Hillary would have appointed an assistant attorney general in Justice that probably would have begun investigations and started a wide range of antitrust activity, especially against the “new” monopolies like Amazon and Google. Again, edge to Trump.
6: Trump’s proposed budget increases for “defense” have been horrible from a liberty perspective. But would Hillary have proposed smaller increases? Possibly, but her record as Sec. of State leaves this issue in doubt. Slight edge to Hillary perhaps.
7: Trump’s foreign policy has been ambiguous. Clearly he has attempted to begin to reduce tensions with Russia and North Korea. (The Russian attempt has been swatted down by the Russian collusion investigation and Democrats). Doubtful whether Hillary would have done any of this. Edge to Trump. Trump has not started any new wars although there has, of course, been no termination of old ones. No clear edge to either Hillary or Trump here.
8: So called immigration policy is still a giant mess. Would a Clinton Administration have done any better? Doubtful. No clear winner here.
9: Tariffs are clearly the major Trump disaster. Tariffs are very dumb and make normal political relations with China almost impossible. Unlikely Hillary would have done any of this. Edge to Clinton.
10: This is the deal breaker: the mid-terms have put more liberal democrats in positions of power. I assume that THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED EVEN IF HILLARY HAD BEEN ELECTED. For example, the little socialist from Queens would be in the House regardless of who won in 2016 since her issues are income inequality, minimum wage, and immigration. Nothing that Hillary could have done would have persuaded her voters to NOT elect our little economist/socialist. Ditto for all of the other lefty Democrats that replaced Republicans.
BUT IT GETS WORSE. A reasonable case can be made for the fact that the Senate would also have flipped to the Democrats if Hillary had been elected. (Here in Florida, for instance, Bill Nelson would have easily won re-election with Hillary support). This would put all 3 branches of government (and a less conservative SC) in Democratic control. HOW, PRAY TELL, WOULD ANY OF THIS HAVE BEEN GOOD FOR LIBERTY? Clear edge to Trump here.
Do not misunderstand. Trump is an economic boob and can’t string two intelligent sentences together. He clearly has no principles that accord with liberty. But my quick subjective counter-factual analysis concludes that, on balance, he has been less harmful (so far) than Clinton would have been. What say you Bob Wenzel?
RW note: I will respond tomorrow.
Dominick T. Armentano is professor emeritus in economics at the University of Hartford in Connecticut and a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and an Associated Scholar of the Mises Institute.
The full discussion:
Hillary v. Trump: A Re-Examination of the Wenzel Theory
Trump is a Disaster: A Rejoinder To Prof. Dominick Armentano
Rejoinder To Wenzel On Trump v. Hillary
Trump v. Hillary and the Nirvana Standard