Jim Webb Looking To Challenge Hillary Clinton In 2016
— Kedron Bardwell (@KedronBardwell) March 15, 2015
Former US Senator Jim Webb has been loudly exploring the option of running for president in 2016 appearing at numerous campaign-esque events such as a speech before the firefighters union as well as on ABC’s This Week yesterday where he discussed his prospects as a candidate and his vision for the country.
In the interview with ABC Webb said he was “truly exploring” a run for president and claimed that he was looking to see if there was enough support for his candidacy before formally deciding whether or not to run. He will continue “exploring” that support by traveling to South Carolina, Iowa, and New Hampshire.
On his website Webb plays up his military record both as a soldier in Vietnam and as a defense official including the Secretary of the Navy. Webb also positions himself as economic populist and in the ABC interview he asserted that the economic system has “become rigged against working people,” and that “the people at the very top have clearly moved away from everyone else in our society in the benefits they are receiving.”
The value of a Webb candidacy would be, in theory, that he could appeal to white working class voters both with his message and his background. That remains to be seen, though Webb will start out with less negatives than Hillary Clinton with that group. But the advantage will do little to even the odds in a contest between Webb and Clinton as Clinton will have a tremendous advantage both in resources and initial popularity within the party.
Beyond overcoming the Clinton Machine there is the legitimate question over what Webb’s policies are and how they will supposedly help workers, address inequality, and fix a rigged economic system. Web’s issue statement on “economic fairness” does not offer much change from traditional neoliberal pablum:
I would agree that we cannot tax ourselves into prosperity. But we do need to reconfigure the tax code so that our taxes fall in a fair way. It is possible to simplify the tax code, including reducing the corporate tax rate in exchange for eliminating numerous loopholes, and to examine shifting our tax policies away from income and more toward consumption. We did not even have a federal income tax in this country until 1913. The loopholes and exceptions that have evolved have made a mockery out of true economic fairness. I would never support raising taxes on ordinary earned income, whether it goes to a school teacher or a nurse or a doctor or a film star. But we need to find a better way.
Webb makes the point that executive compensation is a key driver of inequality and has increased considerably in recent decades. Whether closing “loopholes and exceptions” is enough to fund social programs for the working class if income taxes are frozen has yet to be proven. Most candidates, of both parties, claim they are in favor of closing special interest tax advantages – the devil is in the details.
Whether Webb is a serious candidate should become known in the coming months, 2016 is not so far away.