Both Hillary Clinton and her new running mate have been field testing some new catch phrases on the campaign trail this week. One of them is part of her effort to focus on job creation, twisting a Donald Trump slogan to claim that she’ll be the “You’re hired” president, rather than “you’re fired.”
It’s a subject of concern for many Americans and a smart target for her campaign. But we’ve heard this particular campaign promise from Secretary Clinton before and to say that the results were mixed would be charitable in the extreme. As the Washington Post reminds us this week, these are the same sorts of promises that Clinton made while campaigning to keep her Senate seat in New York State more than a decade ago.
Her argument that she would put more Americans to work has focused on her time in the Senate, when she took on the mission of creating jobs in chronically depressed Upstate New York. As her husband, former president Bill Clinton, put it recently, she became the region’s “de facto economic development officer.”
But nearly eight years after Clinton’s Senate exit, there is little evidence that her economic development programs had a substantial impact on upstate employment. Despite Clinton’s efforts, upstate job growth stagnated overall during her tenure, with manufacturing jobs plunging nearly 25 percent, according to jobs data.
Speaking as somebody who was living in that upstate New York economy through the entire period, I can tell you that even the Washington Post’s description of her efforts is a charitable one. Clinton talked a good game and proposed big ticket legislative action to boost jobs in the region, but then completely failed to attract any support to pass it. On the local level, she personally pushed a number of programs which she claimed would deliver those 200,000 jobs. Instead, during the year that she was running for reelection it was reported that upstate had actually lost another 34,800 jobs.
There was the effort to revitalize the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. That one completely stagnated. She promised to return commercial rail service to the southern tier region of upstate. It never happened. The outsourcing of manufacturing jobs by IBM, Kodak and others in various upstate cities (which developed as a result of her husband’s policies in the previous decade) not only continued, but accelerated. One of her signature efforts was the creation of a new program office called New Jobs for New York. After being put into place, the “program” wound up having two people on staff and a budget which wouldn’t have covered the donut bill for most large corporate offices.
We’ve seen this song and dance routine before. Clinton talks big about job creation when it’s time to round up some votes, but she has historically failed to deliver. That’s pretty much a description of every public effort she’s engaged in. But if you really want to elect her as president, you just go right ahead. I’m sure it will be different this time.