Ways to lose to Trump: Call him poor

The 2016 presidential candidates and their spouses hang out at a wedding.

The 2016 presidential candidates and their spouses at a wedding in 2005.

Who says Hillary Clinton isn’t the best candidate to address wealth inequality? Racists and bros, mostly—the rest of us know better. Here’s the presumptive Democratic nominee telling the New York Times that she’s open to considering Mark Cuban or another successful businessperson as her vice president:

“Businesspeople, especially successful businesspeople, who are really successful — as opposed to pretend successful — I think, have a lot to offer,” said Mrs. Clinton, whose campaign has begun taunting Mr. Trump with a #PoorDonald hashtag on Twitter, suggesting that he is not nearly as wealthy as he claims. Mr. Trump has cited an audit by the Internal Revenue Service as his reason for keeping his tax returns private.

Clinton supporters on Twitter have begun circulating the claim that Donald Trump is not a multi-billionaire, as he says, and that his net worth is actually less than $100 million. That would put him below the Clintons’ estimated worth of $110 million, nearly all of which they made after Bill became president. Surely, voters will flock to Hillary once they start thinking of her as the richer candidate.

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Terrify yourself with graphs and arguments that cannot be evaluated

The Gang of Six, a coalition of Democratic and Republican legislators who might do something and the economy will collapse or not

Remember when we gave the government a monopoly on force and authorized various representatives to collect and disburse resources on our behalf? It’s possible that was a mistake. Either that or it’s business as usual on the reeking shores of the Potomac, and the leaders of both parties are holding our national anxiety level hostage for whatever advantage they can derive without pushing us to real crisis. It’s difficult for the layperson to decide just how seriously to take our present negotiations over the debt ceiling. Economists agree that a default would wreak awful damage on the economy, except the markets haven’t really responded. Congress raises the limit pretty much every year, except for the last two weeks the President has been walking out of meetings and Eric Cantor has whined like a young lady who needs a nap. The GOP refuses to consider any revenue increases even as they accuse the President of intransigence, and Harry Reid is a wiener. So whom, to paraphrase the Joker, do you trust?

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Michele Bachmann: Just sayin’ stuff

The longer you look at her facial expression, the less it looks like a smile.

Yesterday, in our discussion of whether stupidity provides a natural barrier to participation in democratic politics, we linked to an article describing Michele Bachmann’s mildly disastrous appearance on Fox News Sunday. After lamenting that “one hundred percent of the private economy used to be private,” Bachmann alleged that federal interference in private industry is at an all-time high, and that the US government now controls “over 50% of the private economy.” Who knows what’s really going on in the nest of old newspapers and children’s drawings of Jesus that Representative Bachmann calls a head, but it appears that when she says “private economy” she means “domestic economy.” It also appears that when she uses the word “control”—as in, “the US government now has direct ownership or control over the health care industry,”—she means “regulates in some way.” Bachmann says a lot of things that sound terrifying when taken literally, and she backs them up with numbers. Here she is running down the same talking points on Face the Nation:


Scary, right? The federal government controls 51% of the economy, it owns half the mortgages in the country, 30% of doctors intend to leave the practice of medicine now that Obamacare has passed—all of these numbers describe an America in dire straits. Fortunately for us, they’re also made up. Bachmann’s tour of news show appearances to warn us about creeping socialism is built primarily on “facts” she got from chain emails or fabricated entirely, and while that sort of thing might fly on Fox News, CBS don’t play that. It turns out they have a whole staff of people whose job it is to find out whether the stuff people say on their television show is actually true, and Bachmann did not do so hot.

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Conventional wisdom watch: Is big government a Democrat thing?

Where are the eggs? Are there others like you? Keep smiling. I am going to waterboard the shit out of you.

The polite, well-dressed fellows at everyone’s favourite magazine, The Economist, have published a fairly terrifying article about the growth of government spending relative to GDPs. The beauty of reading a magazine written in another country—aside from how classy it looks in your browser history next to icanhascheezburger.com—is that when they say “government spending” they don’t just mean our government. It turns out that France, Germany, and especially the UK have indulged in massive spending sprees over the last few years, just like us. The governments of France and Britain are both spending over 50% of GDP, and the United States recently broke forty, prompting The Economist to declare, after clearing its throat and grimacing at the sound of its own voice, a new era of big government. That’s interesting and all, but the general movement toward Keynesian soft socialism is a trend of which we were already aware. What’s surprising is exactly when the United States started catching up to its European brethren.* Under George W. Bush, federal spending leapt from around 20% of GDP to 38%. Since 1992, the difference in spending-as-percentage-of-GDP between the US and Canada has decreased from fifteen points to a mere two, and we were damn near neck and neck the day Bush left office. Which is funny, because I don’t remember semiliterate mobs protesting the growth of government until roughly January 20, 2009. Perhaps that’s because of the steep jump in spending that occurred in 2008. Or maybe it’s because, like “family values,” “fiscally responsible” has become a trademarked slogan of the Republican Party, a truism that obtains only as much as we believe in it.

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