Paul Krugman: Why the Future Lies in the Hands of Suburban Women

With poll-based models put ting Hillary Clinton's odds of winning the election at nearly 90 percent earlier in the week, it is still no time to gloat, Paul Krugman cautions in Friday's column.

But if she does win, what then? is the question he devotes the rest of his piece to. What will the first female U.S. president really be able to accomplish?

The answer is not nearly enough if Democrats don't at least also retake the Senate. The evidence of the destruction Republican obstruction can wreak is all around us now.

This is not to say that averting the catastophe of a Trump presidency is not cause to celebrate. One bonus to it, besides depriving orange Hitler of his prize, is that "it would also block the radical tax-cutting, privatizing agenda that Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, has made clear he will steamroll through if Mr. Trump somehow wins," Krugman points out. Still, not much good could be done. Unless, Krugman writes:

Things will be quite different if Democrats retake the Senate. Poll-based models give this outcome only around a 50-50 chance, but people betting on the election give it much better odds, two or three to one.

Now, even a Democratic Senate wouldn’t enable Mrs. Clinton to pass legislation in the face of an implacably obstructionist Republican majority in the House. It would, however, allow her to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia.

Doing that would have huge consequences, for environmental policy in particular. In his final years in office, President Obama has made a major environmental push using his regulatory powers, for example by sharply tightening emission standards for heavy trucks.

But the most important piece of his push — the Clean Power Plan, which would greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants — is currently on hold, thanks to a stay imposed by the Supreme Court. Democratic capture of the Senate would remove this roadblock.

But the sobering fact is that all of Obama's significant achievements occurred in just that two years when Democrats controlled both houses. In the last few days, Krugman says a kernel of a chance of flipping the House has presented itself, "especially if suburban women desert a G.O.P. that has turned into the gropers-owned party." 

Maybe the so-called soccer moms would be more persuaded if they actually read Clinton's agenda, which includes providing a much better safety net for the very poor and children and calls for family-friendly things like parental leave. She's even sensibly found a way to pay for them, raising taxes on the very rich. Such measures would reduce inequality.

Clinton would be Obama 2.0, and for Krugman, that is not a bad thing.

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