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The New Six Trillion Dollar Man?

By Ralph Benko

Excerpt from

Rep. John Delaney recently explained, in a The Washington Post op-ed, “Why I’m running for president.” Delaney is the first Democrat to publicly announce his 2020 presidential quest. As such, he received some media attention. More is due.

It is mighty early to go off to the 2020 races. Yet there are important immediate implications.

Delaney’s could be an important emergence. He is the new “Six Trillion Dollar Man.” Follow along.

Delaney, my Congressman (with whom I have met occasionally over the years and interviewed for this column), is far to the left of me on social issues. I am a full-spectrum archconservative. Being to my left is neither unique to him nor especially hard to be.

That said, he’s right in my sweet spot on general prosperity. And, as I may be the only dues-paying member of the AFL-CIO in the leadership of the conservative movement, I lean toward labor. So does Delaney.

My union affiliation is not conservative heresy. Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp were both union presidents.

Now, here is a shocking confession. I voted for Delaney, twice, casting my first vote for a Democratic Party candidate — for any office — in over 30 years. I trembled with fear at my heretical action. Yet lightning did not reduce me to ashes.

Why did God not strike me dead?

Delaney understands, as do few others in either party, the fact and the causes of the economic stagnation that is America’s most dire predicament. Stagnation is the real reason for our federal deficit, the real reason behind our crumbling roads, bridges, rail, subway systems, and airports. It also is the root cause of wage stagnation. Delaney gets this.

Even more important, Delaney is wired to create opportunity. His track record shows him a man who can take the decisive actions required to reverse stagnation and restore economic opportunity. He’s got the right stuff.

Don’t mistake Delaney’s suave for soft. He started up two companies and took them public. He was, at the time, the youngest CEO of a publicly traded company. He is the only former CEO of a publicly traded company serving in the House. Ernst and Young named him an Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004.

Fortune Magazine recently named Delaney one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” along with Pope Francis, Jeff Bezos, Angela Merkel, and Melinda Gates, among others. Remarkable recognition for a fairly junior Congressman and member of the minority conference.

You probably haven’t heard of Delaney. Let’s change that.

Delaney is rumored to be personally worth around $100 million. Coming from working class roots, he earned this fortune the old-fashioned way. His is a classic American Dream Horatio Alger story.

Delaney possesses what Teddy Roosevelt called “the money touch.” Generating abundance from nothing — no inherited advantages, no grubstake — displays this gift. He also told me how he rescued his second public company from the teeth of the 2008 Panic, a harrowing story.

Not to be overlooked, that second company, CapitalSource, was voted by Washingtonian Magazine’s readers as among the “Best Places to Work” in the capital area. Delaney has created opportunity for workers as well as riches for himself. Nice.

Delaney spoke to me of his commitment to create economic conditions that will allow workers to “earn a bigger piece of a bigger pie.” This fuses the classically Democratic commitment to policies of economic justice — making sure workers can earn a bigger piece — with the classically Republican commitment to policies of economic growth — growing the pie. A rare combo.

Prosperity and justice are not antithetical values. The American Dream is one of “prosperity and justice for all.”  America can be good — just — as well as great — prosperous. In fact, it has to be both or it stops being exceptional.

Can Delaney adapt his business instincts to the policy realm? I wrote about Delaney here, Happy Labor Day: How To Bring A Trillion Dollars, And Policy Sanity, Back To America, several years ago:

$1.4 trillion are “stranded” overseas.  Seventy-five Congresspeople, and growing, from both parties, respectfully led by freshman Representative John Delaney (D-Md), are advancing a plan to retrieve that money.

Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirkson once reportedly said, “A billion here, a billion therepretty soon, you’re talking real money.”  A trillion is a thousand billion.

A million million dollars.  $1.4 trillion is approximately seven times the value of the U.S. government’s gold held at the bullion depository inside Fort Knox.  … That’s … real money.

Will Congress do this?  Some Democrats consider it heretical.  Some Republicans are dragging their feet.

Yet it’s beginning to look like a real possibility.  The political implications of doing it are even bigger than the trillion, plus or minus, dollars at stake.

The idea of a tax rate reduction to repatriate profits now, several years later, has been adopted by the White House, by Congressional GOP leadership, and by the leading Supply-Side group, the Committee to Unleash Prosperity (Steve Forbes, Larry Kudlow, Art Laffer, and Steve Moore) of whose Supply Side Blog I serve as editor in chief.

Delaney was the key policy pioneer here. His ability to gather a bipartisan coalition of 75 Congressmen in support of repatriation implies an ability to herd political cats. Useful quality in a presidential aspirant.

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