George McGovern, who was crushed by Richard Nixon in a landslide in 1972, has gone down in history as one of our most feckless Presidential candidates. McGovern ran on a far-left platform that included a proposal that at the time was deemed risible–the “demogrant.” The demogrant program was simple: the federal government would write a check for $1,000 to every American. In 1972, that idea was so widely ridiculed as over-the-top pandering, as well as economically pointless–even Hubert Humphrey savaged it–that McGovern quietly abandoned the idea.
But the demogrant has returned! Today, Hillary Clinton unveiled her own demogrant proposal: every newborn American baby will get a birthday present from the federal government in the form of a $5,000 check. Buying votes, I guess, is something that never goes out of style.
It occurred to Scott that Hillary’s proposal is basically a demogrant, adjusted for inflation. Out of curiosity, he went here and did the math. The result was striking. McGovern’s $1,000 in 1972 was worth, in 2006 dollars, $4808.90. Add a few bucks for 2007, and Hillary’s baby present is a dead ringer for the demogrant proposal that was laughed off the stage in 1972!
It will be interesting to see whether the votes of today’s voters are any easier to buy than they were 35 years ago.
PAUL adds: If Hillary will make her plan retroactive to 1972, she can have my vote.
SCOTT adds: McGovern’s demogrant proposal provided the McGovern campaign’s version of a guaranteed annual income plan, while Ms. Hillary’s demogrant idea is a one time per child dispensation in the guise of a “baby bond.” She apparently first sketched it out in her 2006 speech to the Democratic Leadership Council unveiling the DLC’s American Dream Initiative. In that speech she proposed “providing a baby bond to each of the 4 million children born in America every year, a $500 savings bond at birth and again at age 10.” Today she ups the ante considerably a la George McGovern in connection with her own presidential campaign.
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