Trump + Sanders = Bloomberg For President

blmbrgThe Trump and Sanders landslide victory in the New Hampshire primary — Trump winning with a decisive 35% plurality, Sanders by a towering 60% majority — well could pave the way, next month, for former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg to enter the presidential race as a third party candidate.

If he enters Bloomberg will prove formidable indeed. He could win.

In 1992 H. Ross Perot, on a third party line, initially led both incumbent president George H.W. Bush and Democratic nominee Bill Clinton. Perot proved rather too headstrong, too thin-skinned, and unwilling to spend on the scale requisite for victory, dropping out, then reentering, but never regaining his lead. Bloomberg is not handicapped by Perot’s political foibles. A third party victory is viable.

I have written much here in praise and criticism both of Trump and Sanders. I have praised both of their personal charms, which are vivid. I, more pertinently, have praised their admirable focus on the economic distress of the electorate.

We have been marooned in a 15-year-long economic quagmire that I call the Little Dark Age. We want out. Both Trump and Sanders present with consistency on, and as the embodiment of, their respective worldviews.

I also severely have criticized their proposed plans to restore equitable prosperity.

The Tax Foundation has assessed Donald Trump’s tax plan as a $10 trillion deficit bomb. Trump also has criticized the Fed for not raising interest rates, in the next breath saying that doing so would cause a “recession-slash-depression.” His proposed tariffs surely would cause not merely another Great Depression but, in Trumpian terms, “The Greatest! Depression! Ever!” (No, thanks Donald!)

The Tax Foundation has assessed Bernie Sanders’s tax plan as a $10 trillion tax increase (admittedly without offsets for savings, outside the tax system, on health insurance premiums) that would provide a severe tax increase on median families. Its assessment is that Sanders’s shot of Democratic Socialism would collapse, over ten years, the American economy by 10%, turning our “Little Dark Age” into an even “Longer and Darker Age.” (No, thanks Bernie!)

As the great H.L. Mencken observed in A Little Book in C major: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Let’s hope not.

Bloomberg has indicated that he will decide whether to enter the presidential race in March. That strongly implies a reticence about running should Hillary Clinton gain the Democratic nomination and appear viable. Bloomberg only is likely to declare if he believes he can win. He won’t run as a Ralph Nader “spoiler” figure. Nader’s third party candidacy in 2000 received 97,420 votes in Florida, which Al Gore lost to George W. Bush by 537 votes, thereby costing Gore the presidency.

How could Bloomberg win? As Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh once said, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” Bloomberg has the mother lode of mother’s milk.

Forbes scores Michael Bloomberg with a net worth of $38.6 billion. Forbes scores Trump at $4.5 billion. Bloomberg’s ability and willingness to self-fund at the three-comma level are indisputable.

I already have pointed out that Trump is likely to be bluffing about his willingness to spend. He blustered that he would spend a billion dollars. Then $100 million. He has spent around $10 million. Or a lot less.

As Nicholas Confessore and Sarah Cohen of the New York Times recently pointed out, in Donald Trump’s Campaign, Billed as Self-Funded, Risks Little of His Personal Fortune points out:

“Mr. Trump’s campaign spent just $12.4 million in 2015, according to disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission, millions less than any of his leading rivals for the Republican nomination. More than half of Mr. Trump’s total spending was covered by checks from his supporters, who have thronged to his stump speeches and bought millions of dollars’ worth of “Make America Great Again” hats and T-shirts.

There are signs that Mr. Trump has begun to invest more significantly in a traditional political apparatus. His campaign’s payments to companies not affiliated with the Trump Organization doubled between August and November. As of the end of December, Mr. Trump had spent almost as much on field staff ($2 million) as on promotional merchandise and marketing ($2.5 million).

$2 million? Trump change!

Whereas there is every reason to believe that Bloomberg would spend a billion — or more — from his personal fortune to propel a campaign. (And barely feel it.) Bloomberg has an ocean of such mother’s milk and a demonstrated willingness to spend it. He spent, according to the New York Times, $102 Million to win his third term as New York City mayor. Bloomberg has shown himself serious in a way that Trump has not.

Of course, why should Trump spend his own money when he was getting a free ride from the mainstream media? Because, among other reasons, the mainstream media is certain to turn against Trump if he gets the Republican nomination. As that great cultural critic Don Henley once wrote about TV news, “We love to cut you down to size, We love dirty laundry.”

Trump has said about Michael Bloomberg, “I hope he jumps in.” There’s every reason to believe Trump means it. A fine jeu d’esprit, a childlike playfulness of spirit, is one of Trump’s most winning personal qualities. It’s refreshing in a politics that is suffused with so much deadly earnestness.

Still. One doesn’t give a child a loaded gun to play with. If only Trump had the policy chops to back up his promises to make America great again, rather than toying, rhetorically, with a litany of debt-and-depression inducing nostrums, what a candidate, and president, he would make.

Electing such a delightfully childlike one president, however, would be playing political Russian roulette. Seriously?

March is not yet upon us. Neither Trump nor Sanders have their party’s nomination sewed up. That said, even if Hillary remains the presumptive nominee her viability is questionable.

The post-New Hampshire media about Hillary Clinton has been pretty dire. The Washington Post: “Sanders embarrasses Clinton in New Hampshire.” The New York Times: “After New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton Struggles to Find Her Footing.” The Boston Globe: How Bernie Sanders made Hillary Clinton look old. “Newsday: Hillary Clinton is in trouble.The Daily Beast: Did Bernie Just Poison Hillary 2016?

This may be overdone. We in the media love to dramatize and to overdramatize. Still, if Clinton continues to flounder it may remove Bloomberg’s chief inhibition from running.

As for the GOP, presumably, now that the train-running Jeb Bush is out of contention, its nominee is not a major factor in Bloomberg’s calculus. Meanwhile, just to peek, Cruz’s rivals, other than Trump, reportedly spent over $30 million in advertising in New Hampshire while Cruz reportedly spent a relative pittance.

Cruz’s remaining rivals may be running into the vastly more expensive bakers’ dozen March 1 races … with even more to follow later that month … without much dough. Cruz, on the other hand, and the Superpacs that support him, reportedly are flush.

Cruz possesses the means to contend. If Trump continues to play the cheapskate Cruz well may emerge as the frontrunner as the sun sets on March 1 and the presumptive nominee by April 1.

Mayor Bloomberg, while economically pretty conservative, is too socially liberal to gain my personal support. That said he fits the profile of American voter sentiment pretty well. According to an analysis by the Gallup Organization published last May:

Thirty-one percent of Americans describe their views on social issues as generally liberal, matching the percentage who identify as social conservatives for the first time in Gallup records dating back to 1999. … Americans … still by a wide margin, 39% to 19%, describe their views on economic issues as conservative rather than liberal.

However socially liberal, Bloomberg gets prosperity. Under the regime he established in New York City that city’s aggregate property values surpassed $1 trillion, making it, according to one expert, the most valuable city in America.

Impressive wealth creation. Impressive credentials. And for the general election: “It’s the economy, stupid!”

As I previously have noted Cruz has the most solid prosperity plan — with his flat tax and the gold standard — of any of the current contenders. Bewilderingly enough, Cruz is not seriously campaigning on that.

At least Donald Trump is talking about making America rich again. So would Michael Bloomberg but with the track record and, presumably, a smart plan rather than carnival barking to back it up.

Let’s indulge in a momentary dream. If the GOP nominates Cruz and Bloomberg comes in, dueling credible prosperity prescriptions are likely to put an end to the Democratic nominee, whoever he, or she, may be.

The Progressive infatuation with “democratic socialism” might end up pushing the Democratic Party into its very own “Little Dark Age” for a generation or more. Better them than us.

Trump + Sanders = Michael Bloomberg for president.

Michael Bloomberg will let us know next month.

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