A Tale Of Two Visions

In separate events on Thursday, Secretary Clinton and Speaker Boehner outlined two very different visions for America's future.

Hillary Clinton Argues For “Inclusive Prosperity,” John Boehner Ignores His Past

The Center for American Progress was honored today to host a dynamic panel of women leaders featuring Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Patty Murray, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro to discuss why women’s economic security matters for everyone. Clinton spoke forcefully about the need for workplace policies that work for women and families: “The number one thing we can do to make our economy grow is to tap into the full potential of women who want to be in the workforce,” she said.

Across town, Speaker John Boehner delivered his own remarks on what he termed “resetting America’s economic foundation.” But for all the talk about setting a new foundation for the future, the Speaker reminded us of somebody who can’t remember the past.

Secretary Clinton and Speaker Boehner outline two very different visions of America’s future: Clinton recognizes our changing society and seeks to expand economic prosperity for all Americans; Boehner offers platitudes while ignoring his long track record of hurting the middle class.

What Clinton Says: “Without equal pay, without flexibility or predictability at work, without access to quality affordable childcare, without the ability to take a day off if your child or aging parent gets sick, without paid family and medical leave, this woman is really on the brink.”

TRUTH. With women increasingly the primary breadwinner or co-breadwinner in their families, the workplace policies that exist today are simply from a bygone era. Clinton recognized that challenge and spoke about how 21st century policies would help women–and men. And this isn’t just about helping those at the top, as Clinton says, this is fundamentally about working-class people: “We talk about the glass ceiling? — These women don’t even have a secure floor under them.”

What Clinton Says: “The failure of our political leadership on the other side of the aisle to recognize the importance of making sure that people who work hard and play by the rules — that old description — have a chance to get into the middle class and certainly a chance to stay in the middle class.”

TRUTH. While incomes at the top continue to go up, working-class and middle-class families are being squeezed by stagnating wages and rising prices. Policies like those Clinton addressed in the panel, such as an increase in the minimum wage and policies for women and families, are a critical step to not only helping all citizens achieve economic security but also to really grow the economy and create jobs for everyone.

What Boehner Says: “Let’s fix the whole tax code. Make it pro-growth and pro-family. Bring down the rates for every American, clear out all the loopholes, allow people to do their taxes on two – yes, two – sheets of paper.”

What Boehner Does: The Speaker does not lay out any details of what kind of tax reform he supports, but a look at his support for the Ryan Budget plan is enough: it would raise taxes on middle class families by an average of $1,358 to pay for a $286,000 tax cut for millionaires. This isn’t just unfair—it’s a recipe for economic stagnation. A tax cut for the rich has no measurable effect on growth while a tax cut for everyone else actually does boost the economy.

What Boehner Says: “We have to solve our spending problem. For 53 of the last 60 years, we’ve spent more money than we’ve brought in…It is stealing from our kids and grandkids, robbing them of benefits they’ll never see and leaving them with burdens that are nearly impossible to repay.”

What Boehner Does: There are two sides to any budget deficit, spending and revenue, a reality Boehner has willfully ignored as Speaker. He famously refused a “Grand Bargain” with President Obama in 2011 that would have cut federal spending by $2.2 trillion because the President asked for $650 billion more in revenue and said in 2013 that the “the talk about raising revenue is over.”

And speaking of robbing kids, it’s worth noting that Boehner has refused bills that would help state and local governments halt teacher layoffs.

What Boehner Says: “We’ve gotten to a point in America where litigation has become a first resort instead of a last. The costs are staggering: Americans are spending more per person on litigation than just about any other country, and it’s not even close. Our liability costs are more than 2.5 times the average level of Eurozone economies. Not something to be proud of.”

What Boehner Does:The Speaker should first take his own advice on frivolous lawsuits before he begins offering policy prescriptions on litigation. After all, he led the charge this summer to win approval of a resolution authorizing him to sue the Obama Administration for waiving the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. The lawsuit is the definition of frivolous—not only is it likely to lose, but Boehner doesn’t even support the employer mandate he is suing to enforce!

What Clinton Says: “Congress is living in a evidence-free zone.” When it comes to Speaker Boehner, that’s the truth.

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