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Opinion: Don’t Let Economy Get Trumped In Presidential Race

Operation Wetback, the Dwight Eisenhower program which rounded up immigrants and in some cases U.S. citizens of Hispanic heritage and dropped them off in remote areas of Mexico, is a blight on the history of our country. Yet last night at the Republican debate, one of the candidates, Donald Trump, put it forward as a model for America's immigration policy.

The fact that this was even suggested speaks volumes about where conservatives are on Immigration, not sure any more analysis on this is necessary. Having said that, we would all do much better to pay attention to the the disastrous economic policies discussed last night.

Let's be clear. For Americans and Hispanics in particular, things have gotten better. Looking at unemployment, poverty rates, and median household incomes, there is clear evidence that Hispanics benefit far more under progressive economic policies than they do under conservative ones.

Under George H.W. Bush, the unemployment rate among Hispanics jumped from 8.6% to 11.3%. Conversely the next president, Democrat Bill Clinton, created millions of new jobs, lowering the Hispanic unemployment rate to 5.8%. George W. Bush decimated the economic gains made during the 90's and the Hispanic unemployment rate jumped up to 10.1%. President Barack Obama has cut Hispanic unemployment nearly in half, dropping it from 13.1% at its height during the Great Recession to 6.3% today.

In just the past twelve months employment for Latinos has increased faster than all other groups in America. According to the Department of Labor, Hispanic job growth has increased by 5% compared with 3.8 percent for African Americans and 1.4 percent for whites.

Additionally, the drop in the poverty rate and the increase in median household income among Hispanics are also trending in the right direction. The Hispanic poverty rate has dropped and contributed to the first overall decline in the nation's poverty rate since 2006. Additionally the median household income of Hispanics has also increased by 3.5% to $40,963, the first annual increase since 2000, according to the Census Bureau.

Are things perfect? No, they are not. We must continue to build off progress already made. Which is why it is critically important that people tune out celebrity, flash-in-the-pan candidates and start paying attention to the fantastical, misguided conservative economic policies being presented to America. Even a cursory examination of these plans reveals a return to the failed policies of the past.

Matt Yglesias over at Vox puts it best: "There is at least one thing that all the Republicans running for president agree on: Americans are paying more taxes than they should, and this is especially true of the richest Americans. This worldview, grounded in both economics and moral philosophy, has led them to embrace tax policy proposals that would deliver far more money to the least needy than they would to those facing the most financial distress."

A good example of this is Marco Rubio's tax plan which gives far more to the wealthy one percent then it does to the middle class, increases our national debt and would most likely lead to cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

The non-partisan Tax Foundation found that under Rubio's plan, after-tax income growth for the top 1 percent of earners far outpaces income gains for middle-income workers. Rubio's tax plan could also add up to $6 trillion to the national debt over ten years in addition to projected debt accumulation under current law. In fact Rubio's reform proposal is one of the most expensive Republican tax plans.

Politifact noted that these types of plans "would cut taxes for households making around $3 million a year by almost $240,000, which is way more than three times the earnings of a typical family."

According to the New York Times, the only way conservatives could ever pay for such large tax cuts would be by slashing big spending programs, namely, Medicare and Social Security programs that help Hispanics and all Americans. Given historical economic data we know exactly where this type of economic policy leads: recession and unemployment for Hispanics.

Hispanics have been a big part of America's economic recovery, and our community prospers the more we tune out the rhetoric of demagogues and pay close attention to the policy debates which have direct consequences for our families.

While conservatives provide some sensationalist soundbites, they do not offer much in the way of solutions that would create an economy that works for everyone. We would all do better talking less about those and more about issues like the economy which are so critical to all Americans.

When looking at the data, it is clear pro-growth, pro-jobs economic policies provide jobs and economic growth, conservatives create recessions and unemployment. Things are getting better. Can we really afford to go back to the failed economic policies of the past?