What would a Hillary Clinton presidency look like?

With the election outlook all but certain, the questions that immediately bubble up are manifold. But there are several that are critical and they deserve our thoughts now.


How will Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE’s election impact the economy?Which issues will she prioritize?How will Congress react?What will her stance be on national security and international relations?

Impact on the economy. The stock market is usually a pretty good index of where the economy will be in the next six to nine months and the message has been quite clear: It’s steady as she goes.

For starters, the betting is that Republicans will retain control of the House of Representatives and this will provide an effective restraint on any legislation of substance. While there is nascent talk of recession, it is just that — nascent.


For the most, part the expectations are that the U.S. economy will continue its slow-growth trajectory, the Federal Reserve will have to restrain its urge to raise interest rates given the recent drift up in unemployment, employers will moderate hiring and inflation will remain below the 2 person threshold that has historically mesmerized the Fed.

The markets and the economy will immediately start tracking the Clinton policy initiatives and on this level, Clinton’s history is also a clear indicator. She will be cautious when it comes to anything that might disturb Wall Street. Despite all the election rhetoric about income inequality, issues that will roil the elites like tax reform will not be the first moves.

It will not ruffle the waters to advocate for equal pay, early childhood education, job training, support for environmental issues or immigration reform, however. They may not go anywhere in a Republican House but they look progressive.

Clinton’s priorities. The guide to this is embedded in the leaked Wikileaks emails and summaries of her Wall Street speeches. She will formulate her legislative approach in much the way the President Obama did, with an eye toward “sensible compromise” with overtures to trade progressive initiatives for conservative goals.

She has made it clear that higher taxes will be traded for entitlement reform. Since she is confronted with all the faults of Obama’s messy healthcare program, it will be relatively easy for her to propose “affordable fixes” that will please conservatives and may actually improve coverage.

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There is no question but that Clinton’s husband, former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonWill the ‘law and order’ president pardon Roger Stone? Five ways America would take a hard left under Joe Biden The sad spectacle of Trump’s enablers MORE, was telegraphing this approach when he slammed the insurance costs for small businesses.

How Congress will react. Reading the tea leaves regarding congressional reaction depends entirely on which part of Congress is being assessed. The Senate will shift to Democratic control, but anyone who believes that it will mean liberal reform must live in a state where marijuana is legal.

There will be a Supreme Court nominee put forth whose vetting will clearly indicate to insiders that Roe v. Wade is strongly supported, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is targeted to be overturned and the heavy slant toward corporate rights over individual rights will only be modestly impeded.

The Senate will become an incubator for legislative proposals on tax reform, campaign finance reform, fiscal stimulus initiatives, regulatory reform, wedge issue reforms (LBGT rights, abortion issues, affirmative action, voting rights and criminal justice reform); Clinton will lead on energy issues, education and the environment.

The Senate’s bipartisan immigration proposals will be dusted off and set back on the table. The Senate will become the source of markers for the House and the House’s countermeasures will set the stage for negotiating outcomes.

The process will be tedious, but there will be progress that will bother everyone.

National security and international relations. Since the president has a relatively free hand in pursuing national security issues and foreign affairs, it is on this stage that Clinton’s initiatives will come immediately to the fore.

Her approach to national security will be characterized by internet countermeasures taken against Russian interference. We won’t see it but she has seen the damage it can do in her own election and the potential for future damage to the U.S. election system.

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryThe Memo: Trump’s troubles deepen as voters see country on wrong path The continuous whipsawing of climate change policy Budowsky: United Democrats and Biden’s New Deal MORE may well stay on and he will be dispatched to Israel for some hard bargaining, since Obama gave away $3.8 billion a year for 10 years in subsidies to Israel without getting anything in return. There will be movement toward a two-state solution.

She will establish a no-fly zone in Iraq and have it policed by American military aircraft and there will be friction with Russia. She will honor her pledge not to put occupational forces into the Middle East; however, there will be American “advisers” everywhere.

Most likely, her first trip abroad will be to Asia to reinforce alliances, meet with Chinese leaders and attempt to mount pressure on North Korea and press for solutions to friction in the South China Sea.

There will be a slow twist that goes on as she pivots from opposition to international trade deals to finding a way to support them with more domestic subsidies for displaced workers. Most likely, the initial moves on trade will be made in our hemisphere. The status of Cuba and Venezuela will provide the perfect opportunity to jigger with trade terms.

She will press behind the scenes to blunt or reverse the Brexit initiative and press for further economic integration while bobbing and weaving on the question of displaced immigrants.

Conclusions. If all of this sounds mundane, it what you get when you elect an establishment politician. Be assured that the first 100 days will be full of sound and fury, but as soon as the public reassumes its normal somnambulance, the script will be business as usual.

The above conjecture may or may not be prescient, but it probably is close enough to elicit concern that the planks of the Democratic Party will only be pushed if the pressure comes from somewhere other than the Oval Office.

On this you can be sure: Once the election is behind, Hillary Clinton will revert to form, and her form has a 30-year history.

Russell is managing director of Cove Hill Advisory Services.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.