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Among the presidential candidates, who would do the best job growing the economy?

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From the pages of In Business magazine.

Welcome to "Political Posturing," featuring opposing views on current issues important to Wisconsin's business community. In this column, Wisconsin Business Alliance Board President Brad Werntz and conservative columnist David Blaska offer their opinions from the left and the right, respectively.

Only Bernie Sanders appears ready to tackle a broken structure.

Pundits often say that our economy is like a garden. All we need for it to bear fruit are a little sunshine and some rain and changes in the seasons. That is, we need the right gardener. Next fall — in 2016, once a new president is elected — things are going to be better. You’ll see.

So they say, but I have my doubts: Our current economic problems are structural, not seasonal, the results of 30-year-old policies created and maintained under both Democrats and Republicans. They deregulated banks, credit institutions, real estate, manufacturing, and Wall Street, all while tearing down the divide between money and politics. This was done on the theory that when rich people became richer, they would create abundance for the rest of us.

Arguably, this hasn’t worked out so well. Today, the divide between rich and poor has never been larger. The middle class is shrinking. Worse, studies say the U.S. has probably become an oligarchy. So the only measurable results from the rich getting richer over these last 30 years is that a whole lot more money is being spent on elections, and this money gets results for the people who spend it.

For Progressives, it’s too easy to dismiss almost the entire Republican field. Not one will address the structural issues that brought us to where we are, and almost all of them are funded by donors who benefit from the current system. But the same can be said of almost the entire slate from the Democrats, as well. Of the 20-odd candidates from both parties who are in the race, there’s a decent argument to be made that on the economy, they are mostly all the same.

Only two seem at all different, and they couldn’t be more so: One is Bernie Sanders, a socialist, and the other is a belligerent billionaire, an ardent capitalist. Which one would be a better gardener for our economy? Sanders seems primed to tackle the structural issues to get the whole garden growing, while that other guy just wants to harvest everything.

Brad Werntz is a small business owner and the executive director of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Business Alliance, wisconsinbusinessalliance.com.

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