Hillary Clinton: American Dream Denier

by Betsy McCaughey | November 4, 2015 12:05 am

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton begins with her own family’s past — her factory-working 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” which she claims have disappeared. It’s rousing political rhetoric. Problem is, though, it’s not true. Contrary to conventional wisdom, economic mobility is still every bit as stable now as it was in 1950. That’s what the data shows — even left-leaning think tanks like Brookings Institution and the Stanford Institute on Poverty and Inequality agree.


But the ability of children today to leapfrog out of poverty to do better than their parents is threatened by the very proposals that President Obama and Clinton are pushing.

Ron Haskins of Brookings Institution 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 percent chance of breaking into the middle class, and 4 percent even make it into the top fifth in income. Higher would be even better, but there’s no dramatic decline here.

Ron Chetty and co-authors from the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality also challenge “the growing public perception” that children face worse odds now. Chetty looked at children born in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and concluded that mobility has “remained stable over the second half of the 20th century in the United States.”

Of course, the direction isn’t always up. Some 60 percent 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 line-up of GOP 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 R-Fla., 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. Carson’s 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 is not what you’re hearing from the Democratic Party. Since 2008 President Obama has consistently claimed that the “ladders of opportunity” in this country are falling down. Sadly, his destructive policies threaten to make that lie a reality.

For decades, mobility numbers have held steady, despite the loss of manufacturing jobs, because women and minorities have made gains in the workplace. But under President Obama those gains are stalling. African-American unemployment is almost twice as high as the national average. Nationwide, only half of African-American male 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 the presidency of Jimmy Carter. You can’t get ahead if you don’t have a job.

Two percent economic growth — the new norm under President Obama — cannot sustain the level of economic mobility we call the American dream. Now Hillary Clinton is offering Obamanomics on steroids — including nearly doubling the top tax rate on some investment income, continuing job-killing, Obamacare and standing by the teachers unions that tolerate failing schools.

It’s these policies that threaten to kick the ladder out from under our kids.

Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and author of “Government by Choice: Inventing the United States Constitution.”

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