I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president. She’s a liar.
But I can’t vote for Donald Trump. He lies almost as often.
Trump denies he ever said things, claiming he never used terms like “fat pig” to describe women, that he never was open to using nuclear weapons against ISIS, that he never mocked Jon Stewart for changing his name. Smears big and small — Trump just denies he said them.
He’s also a bully. He intimidates weaker people by suing them. In business deals, he refuses to pay some of what he owes and then tells creditors: Go ahead and sue me! Creditors often take partial payment because they can’t afford to fight Trump in court.
Trump even filed a $5 million lawsuit against a Miss USA contestant who criticized his pageant. She can’t afford to pay defense lawyers, so she has to shut up.
Trump’s supporters are convinced he’ll shake up the system, but they ignore the evidence that Trump is just one more manipulative member of the rich political class. Plenty of photos show Trump proudly golfing alongside George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and other political insiders whom he now mocks.
But all that matters less than the policies he proposes — it’s the policies that will hurt us.
Trump’s tariffs, sold as protecting the American little guy, actually help big businesses by protecting them from overseas competition. Then they can jack up prices, making life harder for poor American customers.
The Obama administration tried tariffs on tires from China like the 45 percent ones Trump wants to impose, and the results were higher prices — Americans had to spend about $1 billion more to buy tires. Favored (usually unionized) businesses got protection from competition, but other businesses died or never started because imported supplies were suddenly much more expensive.
Of course, we don’t really know what Trump’s positions are. He’s for gun control, then against it. He was against the minimum wage but now wants to raise it.
Hillary Clinton flip-flops, too. She was for trade pacts, but she’s now against them; against gay marriage, now for it; for the Iraq war, now against it.
Clinton lies even more than Trump. She lies about her emails, running from sniper fire, making $100,000 from a $1,000 investment in cattle futures, etc. This column doesn’t have room for all her lies.
But with Clinton, too, it’s not the lies that will do the most damage, it’s the policies she’ll push — higher taxes, involvement in more foreign wars, endless regulation that will stop innovation.
Most of the time, the danger isn’t politicians’ personal corruption. The real cost to our prosperity and freedom comes from what the politicians do legally.
Though President Barack Obama is a paragon of honesty compared with Trump and Clinton, he has done sleazy things, like secretly sending $400 million in cash to Iran and lying to people about details of Obamacare.
But even when he tells us the truth, Obama does plenty of damage.
His FCC has imposed new rules that will stifle internet innovation. His overtime rules will limit employer flexibility and stunt job growth. Obama’s “stimulus” spending diverted trillions of dollars from better investments the marketplace would have chosen. His limits on internships hurt business and deprive young people of opportunities. His doubling of our debt will burden us forever.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may be more corrupt than Obama, but it’s not the corruption that hurts us most. It’s the political culture of buying votes by spending taxpayers’ money on special interests. That culture grows when government spends $4 trillion every year and makes so many rules that any almost regulator can crush a disfavored industry or help a favored one.
As the old joke goes, it’s not the corruption that matters. “The real crime is what’s legal.” How do we improve a system like that?
Here’s one solution: Shrink government — limit its power. Then there will be less reason for politicians’ cronies to bribe them, for politicians to lie about it and for all of us to fear the State.
The smaller government is, the less we need to fear the bad things it will do.