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“We Need a Businessman” (and we have 2 to pick from)

“We Need a Businessman” (and we have 2 to pick from)

I laugh whenever someone justifies supporting Donald Trump by saying “we need a businessman in the White House.” That’s like saying, “we need an army general as commander-in-chief.” (In fact, our best wartime presidents – Madison, Polk, Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR – had no military service.)

But let’s grant for a moment that business experience and acumen might be a valuable asset in a president at this moment in history. Trump has a bunch of it, and we can argue all day whether he is a great businessman, a lousy one, or just a lucky one (or, more likely, some combination of all three).

Believe it or not, Hillary Clinton has her own business background that should not be overlooked. In the 1980s and ’90s, she served on corporate boards (most famously at Wal-Mart) and by all accounts was an outspoken advocate for better pay, greater opportunities for women, protecting American workers (she was a staunch supporter of an early “Made in America” campaign at Wal-Mart), and environmentally sound business practices. And since that company grew substantially during her Board years (1986-1992), adding 230,000 jobs during her tenure, you cannot argue that she has never created a job.

Indeed, if you take the number of jobs created at Wal-Mart during her Board tenure to the number of jobs Donald Trump claims to have “created” over his entire career (“tens of thousand”), Hillary is way way way ahead on that score by over 200,000.

Clinton also served on the Board of Directors for the TCBY yogurt chain in the mid-eighties, when that Arkansa-based company began to grow from a fledgling start-up to its highpoint of some 50,000 employees. Again, you may not want to give her credit for every TCBY job ever created, but you certainly can’t ignore that she helped launch a business that grew exponentially during her watch.

In addition, if you want to give her any credit for The Clinton Foundation (and why not, since everyone castigates her for it?), that’s another 2,000 jobs she’s helped create. Plus, as a partner in the Rose Law Firm, she co-employed several dozen more attorneys and office workers.

By now I’m sure Clinton cynics are salivating to counter-argue that she personally didn’t create any jobs in those roles, or to list all the bad aspects of Wal-Mart, Rose and TCF. Well, guess what – The Trump Organization shares all those same failings: outsourcing to China, union busting, pay-for-play government dealings, and employing way too many lawyers. Many readers will also become rabid over comparing a CEO entrepreneur to a mere Board of Directors member. And I agree; they aren’t the same. But my greater point is that Clinton worked in the private sector at high levels of management, she helped launch new businesses, her companies did create lots of jobs, and she deserves as much credit for that as Mitt Romney or Jeb Bush or any other candidate who ever touted their business record.

To give Trump credit for his experience while whitewashing away Clinton’s business résumé is both factually inaccurate and manifestly unfair.

I don’t know which candidate would create more jobs as president. But I know what the scoreboard says to date:

Jobs created:
Donald Trump – upwards of  20,000 (with thousands of layoffs)
Hillary Clinton – upwards of 282,000 … give or take

As they say in poker, read ’em and weep!


Kevin Kelton is co-host of the More Perfect Union podcast and founder of the Facebook political debate group, Open Fire.

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