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Horn: John Kasich, Bernie Sanders present most viable options for NY’s economy

As each of the remaining presidential candidates has made their journey to the Syracuse area, there is no better time than the day of the New York primary to evaluate what they would do for our region’s business and economy.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton returned to her adopted home state earlier this month as the first candidate to visit this election season with her message of equal pay for men and women, “debt-free” college and creating jobs. The ideas may have resonated well with the modest crowd of about 600 supporters in a college town, but what stuck out most was her plan to “make manufacturing sexy” in an effort to appeal to millennials.

Her $10 billion “Make it in America” economic plan focuses on offering tax credits to emerging industries and punishing those who outsource. Her platform aims to curb the downward spiral cities like Syracuse faced when manufacturing departed. Accompanied by education and training initiatives in production-based fields, these are perhaps the most relevant pieces of Clinton’s economic policy.

Contrary to Clinton’s rhetoric, industry does not need to be “sexy” — it needs to be stable. New York industry seemed to be rocky during Clinton’s eight years as state senator, as many industries packed up and left the state. “Make it in America” also relies a great deal on punishing other parties and such action could drive businesses away just as easily as it could attract them.

Clinton’s billion-dollar proposal has several strong points and could be successful, but Syracuse voters should be mindful of a plan that ignores the fact that you attract more flies with honey than vinegar.

Bernie Sanders

Sanders was business as usual in visit after Clinton’s with an economic platform that had much to offer the receptive Syracuse crowd. All in all, he is perhaps the most thorough when it comes to his multiple plans for fiscal reform.

Sanders supports everything from breaking up Wall Street banks to revitalizing the rural economies that cover a broad stroke of the Onondaga County populace, so it may be hard for citizens to not find the economic boons Sanders promises attractive. The only catch would be the massive amounts of money — an estimated $2 to $3 trillion increase in yearly federal spending, according to The New York Times — needed to implement these policies.

The candidate claims that tax increases would be focused toward corporations and the United States “1 percent.” Whether he can accomplish this is unknown, but, if he could, Syracuse might find itself rising out of its current financial situation.

The bottom line is Sanders’ brand of democratic socialism has big dreams for raising the tide of the economy for the lower and middle class, but could only be successful if he finds a way to pay for it without alienating businesses and investors.

Ted Cruz

Cruz visited the Syracuse area on Friday and discussed initiatives that would affect local business, primarily centering on tax reduction and deregulation.

The crown jewel of Cruz’s economic platform that he touched on last week is a Simple Flat Tax that he claims would create nearly five million jobs and boost wages by 12 percent. The plan calls for the elimination of tax brackets, meaning individuals will pay one universal rate of 10 percent of their income and businesses will pay 16 percent. When the presidential hopeful calls the proposal simple, he means that taxes and income penalties for both individuals and businesses would be eradicated under his watch.

But even if his tax cuts create more U.S. businesses, how will those investors end up in Syracuse after so many have left in past years? Surely, these are questions that can’t be explained away by tax reductions alone.

Donald Trump

Trump arrived in Syracuse on Saturday to the welcome of supporters and the dismay of protesters. The speech was a typical Trump affair that featured much in the way of nationalism and promises of greatness, but little in the way of policy fixtures that voters crave.

Trump’s platform – if it could be called that – is quite vague on details, pushing for a reformed tax bracket for individuals as well as lower taxes for all businesses. Accompanied by hard negotiation with countries like China to reform trade policy, these proposals could conceivably help the U.S. economy.

Though the tax plan is plausible, it’s not exactly clear how it would benefit cities including Syracuse other than a small increase of income for individuals. Indeed, these tax breaks would do little good if there are no jobs to generate this income.

Trump has sparked a national discussion of strong-arming jobs back to the country, but how they will end up in Syracuse specifically is unknown. Unless voters think Trump’s force of will is enough to revitalize the central New York economy, voting for him is a roll of the dice.

John Kasich

When it comes to Kasich’s appearance at nearby Le Moyne College on Thursday and in Syracuse on Monday, what he didn’t say is more telling than what he did. The governor of Ohio drew a fairly large crowd at his initial stop for a candidate who is struggling in the polls, but his speech did little to comfort central New York voters who are interested in economic issues.

Kasich’s speech at Le Moyne focused mainly on foreign policy, which is important issue, but not particularly relevant to the many individuals in Syracuse who are worrying more about poverty than what the U.S. should do abroad.

His speech simply did not have much for the Syracuse crowd to latch onto in terms of economic recovery, but what he did say about the economy was primarily wagging his finger at New York for raising its minimum wage to $15 per hour, an idea he touched on during Monday’s talk. Other than that, Kasich’s policy seems to be focused on tax cuts and promises of smaller government.

As much as Kasich clings to his hard-earned success as governor, Ohio and New York are different states, and he will need more than a broad approach to appeal to upstate voters.

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After hearing what the candidates in Syracuse had to say, though Kasich is unfamiliar with New York territory, his proven record of revitalizing the Ohio economy makes him is the optimal choice on the Republican side. For Democrats, Sanders’ big dreams are worth the gamble rather than playing it safe with Clinton and her record of doing little for New York.

Hugo Benitez-Silva, an associate professor of economics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, explained that this is a national election focused on national issues and it’s difficult to extrapolate candidates’ plans for one geographical area.

“Candidates are not going to put a lot of focus on individual cities or regions,” said Benitez-Silva. “Presidential candidates set the tone for local governments if they are elected to office, but otherwise there are only certain overarching themes such as taxes that are directly applicable.”

Each candidate certainly has the potential to change New York for better and for worse. In a race that is constantly evolving, this is but a glimpse at the complicated issues that make up the modern political system. When New York citizens heads to the polls now and in the future, voters shouldn’t forget to consider the economic issues that matter most to the local community and state.

Theo Horn is a sophomore political science and public policy dual major. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at tahorn@syr.edu.

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