This Sunday, Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her candidacy for president of the United States. This should surprise exactly nobody. The “prolonged prologue” to her second presidential bid, The New York Times drolly noted, has reached its “suspenseless conclusion.”
By all accounts, Clinton’s rollout is expected to be a tightly choreographed sequence of events. First a series of promotional messages on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. Then meet-and-greets with small crowds in Iowa and New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Clinton will gradually grow her campaign staff, which is headquartered in Brooklyn and is expected to raise and spend upwards of $2 billion during the election.
In this first phase, Clinton will be cautiously testing her early campaign themes, which will focus on reviving the economic fortunes of the middle class and her status as a trailblazer for women. As campaign subjects go, Clinton could do a lot worse (remember the Red Phone ads?). Nonetheless, the rollout already carries the stilted air of an overproduced commercial—not a vigorous campaign. The Nation has consistently called for a contested primary in order to engage the full range of urgent issues before the American public. Candidate Clinton should be pressed hard on the issues by rivals, the media and voters. Towards that end, we polled editors and contributors and compiled the following first draft of questions that Hillary Clinton should answer promptly and with candor.
Jobs: Overall, the jobless rate is nearly back to what it was before the recession began. But if we dig deeper, the recovery looks remarkably uneven. Unemployment among black Americans—11 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014—remains higher than the overall rate at the peak of the recession and well above the rate among black Americans before the recession began. Similar disparities exist between cities and states. Progressive economists have called for new, targeted public investment in job creation, to get us to full employment. What public investments will you demand so that all of America recovers from the 2007 crash? Can there be a second stimulus for the people and communities left behind? (Kai Wright)
Inequality: A key question all candidates should address is how can we boost hourly wages for the large majority of American workers who have seen their pay stagnate even as the economy grew over the past three-and-a-half decades. This crisis is at the root of nearly every troubling economic trend with us today—rising income inequality, persistent poverty, failure to boost economic mobility, and increasingly anemic recoveries following economic downturns. There is no one silver policy bullet that would get wage growth in gear. It will take an intentional reorientation of policy across the spectrum, including tax and budget policies, regulations, trade and macroeconomic policy. In this mix, where does Hillary Clinton see labor reforms like strengthening workers’ ability to bargain collectively and paid family sick leave? How would she work with Congress to pass such measures? (Josh Bivens, Economic Policy Institute)