Clinton aims at middle class

Hillary Clinton tours Futuramic Tool & Engineering in Warren, Mich. on Thursday, before delivering an economic policy speech.
Hillary Clinton tours Futuramic Tool & Engineering in Warren, Mich. on Thursday, before delivering an economic policy speech. The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton chose the right setting Thursday to lay out her plan to grow the economy and create jobs.

She spoke in rust-belt Michigan at Futuramic Tool & Engineering – an auto parts supplier that remade itself into an aerospace company – to stress the kinds of advanced manufacturing jobs we need to help rebuild America’s middle class.

The plant is in Macomb County, the Detroit suburb that is home to the famous “Reagan Democrats” – blue-collar voters who likely hold the key to victory in battleground states that also include Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Clinton’s rebuttal Thursday to Donald Trump’s big economic policy speech Monday in Detroit showed the clear differences between the major party nominees in substance and detail.

Trump offers tax cuts – including repealing the estate tax – that will overwhelmingly benefit wealthy families and corporations, including his.

Clinton wants to impose a 4 percent surtax on income above $5 million, close loopholes so that millionaires don’t pay a lower tax rate than workers and expand the child care tax credit for working parents.

Trump warned of American decline and looked to the past with protectionist trade policies.

Clinton promoted a more can-do message and aimed at the future with a $275 billion infrastructure plan that she bills as the biggest since World War II, plus beefed-up job training and apprenticeships.

Given her record, Clinton is vulnerable on trade. So she promised to stop any deal that will kill jobs or lower wages, pledged to levy tariffs on unfair trading practices and made clear she opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In perhaps the best line of her speech, she said if U.S. Olympians were as fearful as Trump on trade, star gymnast Simone Biles and legendary swimmer Michael Phelps “would be cowering in the locker room afraid to come out to compete. Instead, they’re winning gold medals.”

She said there’s too much inequality and too little upward mobility, seeking to win over supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who put economic fairness at the center of his campaign.

While she didn’t unveil any big new proposals and many of her initiatives are straight out of the Democratic playbook, she made the case that she is the best equipped to make the economy work for everyone.

Yes, Clinton can be too wonky for her own good. But her policies offer a far better chance to boost the prospects of the vast majority of Americans than Trump’s.