Monday, July 13, 2015

The Extreme Centrism of Hillary Clinton

Despite a speech being touted as "sweeping" and populist, Hillary Clinton's ingrained market-based approach to governance kept shining through like high beam headlights aimed at the yellow line in the middle of the road.

 She outlined her economic agenda on Monday in a talk at the carefully chosen progressive bastion known as the New School.

Reciting the standard litany of ills -- erosion of the middle class due to globalization, crushing student debt, increasing wealth disparity, lack of child care for working mothers, and Wall Street malfeasance --  she managed to totally ignore how Clintonian neoliberal policies themselves accelerated our race to the bottom and contributed to the pain of what she calls "everyday Americans."  Hillary Clinton can deny reality every bit as glibly as her fellow neolibs and neocons across the aisle:
“Twice now in the past 20 years, a Democratic president has had to come in and clean up the mess. I think the results speak for themselves.
“Under President Clinton – I like the sound of that - America saw the longest peacetime expansion in history … nearly 23 million jobs… a balanced budget and a surplus for the future. And most importantly, incomes rose across the board, not just for those already at the top.

The roaring 90s of the Clinton administration were fueled by a bubble economy. Financial deregulation (repeal of Glass-Steagall, the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, loosened lending rules under the Community Reinvestment Act ) helped set the stage for the meltdown of 2008, when trillions of dollars in household wealth were "lost" before getting sucked up by the top .01%. When a protester challenged Hillary about restoring Glass-Steagall, she ignored him.
“Now today, today as the shadow of crisis recedes and longer-term challenges come into focus, I believe we have to build a “growth and fairness” economy. You can’t have one without the other.
There is no evidence that the "shadow of crisis" -- whatever that even means -- is receding. The answer to ever-widening wealth and income inequality is not more growth, as Clinton says. It's more redistribution of wealth, as Bernie Sanders prescribes.
“We can’t create enough jobs and new businesses without more growth, and we can’t build strong families and support our consumer economy without more fairness. 
Again -- what does this even mean? That the only way you're going to get a job is from limitless growth accruing to the top tier of the economic pile? 

This is the crux of historic, neoliberal Clintonian economics, also known as the Third Way. Rather than repudiating the right wing and re-embracing a traditionally paternalistic relationship of the government toward the governed that reached its apogee with FDR's New Deal, the Third Wayers of the Democratic Leadership Council called for a "social partnership" between the market and individuals. Despite some feeble efforts to feign Warren-like progressivism, Hillary Clinton started right off with this centristic trope:
“We need both, because while America is standing again, we’re not yet running the way we should.  
Oops. The Market is standing again, thanks to quantitative easing for the investor class and bailouts for banks, while "we" are not only not running, we're slumped on the pavement like the Greek woman lying in a heap in front of the bank ATM.
“The defining economic challenge of our time is clear: 
“We must raise incomes for hard-working Americans so they can afford a middle-class life. We must drive strong and steady income growth that lifts up families and lifts up our country. 
“And that will be my mission from the first day I’m President to the last. I will get up everyday thinking about the families of America, like the family that I came from with a hard working dad who started a small business and scrimped and saved and gave us a good middle class life. I’ll be thinking about all the people that I represented here in New York and the stories that they told me and that I worked with them to improve. And I will as your President take on this challenge against the backdrop of major changes in our economy and the global economy that didn’t start with the recession and won’t end with the recovery.
This was the Obama-esque "defining issue of our time" part of her speech that starts off nobly and then goes off on a tangent. She'll be thinking of us when she gets up in the morning. No word about her thoughts at bedtime. She once worked with New Yorkers and tried to improve their stories. (Like Harper Lee's editor?) She'll take on the "challenge" of job-destroying, poverty-inducing globalization without actually trying to rein in the globalization. According to neoliberal dogma, globalization is a force of nature, not a man-made policy choice. Thus can they absolve themselves of responsibility for the bad consequences. Thus can they acknowledge the bad consequences without taking responsibility:
“You know advances in technology and expanding global trade have created whole new areas of commercial activity and opened new markets for our exports, but too often they’re also polarizing our economy – benefiting high-skilled workers but displacing or downgrading blue collar jobs and other midlevel jobs that used to provide solid incomes for millions of Americans. 
That's the part where she didn't touch the Trans-Pacific Partnership with a ten-foot pole. No surprise there.
“Today’s marketplace focuses too much on the short term – like second-to-second financial trading and quarterly earnings reports – and too little on long-term investments.
So, does she call for a tax on high-speed trades, as Bernie Sanders has? No, she does not.
“Meanwhile, many Americans are making extra money renting out a spare room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car. This “on demand” or so-called “gig economy” is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation but it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.
To her credit, Hillary does seem to have a problem with the "sharing economy." Could it be that her armored Scooby van had a near-collision with an Uber rust-bucket on the streets of Manhattan? Was this a subtle dig at her former boss, whose adviser David Plouffe now has a multimillion-dollar gig helping to run Uber?
“So all of these trends are real, and none, none is going away. But they don’t determine our destiny. The choices we make as a nation matter. And the choices we make in the years ahead will set the stage for what American life in the middle class in our economy will be like in this century. 
Feudalism is here to stay, folks, but you'll always have your destiny and your choices. This is another neoliberal mantra designed to crush you when you are still down: There is no other way
“As President, I will work with every possible partner to turn the tide. To make these currents of change start working for us more than against us. To strengthen –not hollow out – the American middle class.
 “Because I think at our best, that’s what Americans do.  We’re problem solvers, not deniers. We don’t hide from change – we harness it.
What about the underclass and the precariat and the disabled? They, apparently, will drown while "we" swim with the rip current. Hillary will not repudiate her "every possible partner", which one can assume will include Wall Streeters and Republicans and CEOs and multinationals.
“The measure of our success must be how much incomes rise for hard-working families, not just for successful CEOs and money managers. And not just some arbitrary growth target untethered to people’s lives and livelihoods.
“I want to see our economy work for the struggling, the striving, and the successful.
These are echoes of Clintonian triangulation. The bootstrappers and the successful rich are pitted against the moochers. "Successful" predators like Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon as just as important to Hillary as striving teachers and nurses.
“We’re not going to find all the answers we need today in the playbooks of the past.  We can’t go back to the old policies that failed us before. Nor can we just replay previous successes. Today is not 1993 or 2009. We need solutions for the big challenges we face now.
“So today I am proposing an agenda to raise incomes for hard-working Americans. An agenda for strong growth, fair growth, and long-term growth. 
“Let me begin with strong growth.
“More growth means more jobs and more new businesses. More jobs give people choices about where to work. And employers have to offer higher wages and better benefits in order to compete with each other to hire new workers and keep the productive ones. That’s why economists tell us that getting closer to full employment is crucial for raising incomes. 
“Small businesses create more than 60 percent of new American jobs on net. So they have to be a top priority. I’ve said I want to be the small business President, and I mean it.  And throughout this campaign I’m going to be talking about how we empower entrepreneurs with less red tape, easier access to capital, tax relief and simplification.
Again, her emphasis is on growth rather than on relief. Although she acknowledges that Clinton One and Obama One's policies were not exactly just what the small-d democratic doctor ordered, she is not actually moving left. She is not, for example, proposing a government jobs program. She merely means to "empower" (another neoliberal buzzword) those millions and millions of incipient entrepreneurs out there, just champing at the bit to get off the couch for easy access to capital and tax relief and the simple life.
“I’ll also push for broader business tax reform to spur investment in America, closing those loopholes that reward companies for sending jobs and profits overseas.
“And I know it’s not always how we think about this, but another engine of strong growth should be comprehensive immigration reform.
I want you to hear this: Bringing millions of hard-working people into the formal economy would increase our gross domestic product by an estimated $700 billion over 10 years.
We can assume that Hillary wants more high-tech immigrants to work for cheap in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. We can also assume that Hillary is not talking about integrating the Central American mothers and child refugees either being deported without a fair hearing, or kept locked up in border internment camps. During last summer's refugee crisis, she said that this category of migrant should be "sent back" -- presumably because they would not help to immediately grow the American economy. (They do, however, grow the profits of the private prison system.)  
“Then there are the new public investments that will help established businesses and entrepreneurs create the next generation of high-paying jobs.
Corporate welfare! Public-private partnerships! Profits now, benefits for regular people sometime in the next generation. 
“You know when we get Americans moving, we get our country moving.
This is the part where, entirely against your will, you start humming the Ford truck commercial ditty.
“So let’s establish an infrastructure bank that can channel more public and private funds, channel those funds to finance world-class airports, railways, roads, bridges and ports. 
Channel public money into corporate profit!  Total privatization! Growth, money and growth.
“And really there’s no excuse not to make greater investments in cleaner, renewable energy right now. Our economy obviously runs on energy. And the time has come to make America the world’s clean energy superpower.  I advocate that because these investments will create millions of jobs, save us money in the long run, and help us meet the threats of climate change.
This is the part where Hillary could have called for divestments from oil, a stop to Arctic and Atlantic drilling, a ban on fracking, and a reduction in Pentagon spending and wars to reduce the carbon footprint. 
“And let’s fund the scientific and medical research that spawns innovative companies and creates entire new industries, just as the project to sequence the human genome did in the 1990s, and President Obama’s initiatives on precision medicine and brain research will do in the coming years.
Let's spend public money on scientific research, not just to ease human suffering, but so that for-profit pharmaceutical and tech companies can grow and maybe hire some folks in the New Economy.
“I will set ambitious goals in all of these areas in the months ahead. 
“But today let me emphasize another key ingredient of strong growth that often goes overlooked and undervalued: breaking down barriers so more Americans participate more fully in the workforce – especially women.
“We are in a global competition, as I’m sure you have noticed, and we can’t afford to leave talent on the sidelines, but that’s exactly what we’re doing today. When we leave people out, or write them off, we not only shortchange them and their dreams — we shortchange our country and our future.
“The movement of women into the workforce over the past forty years was responsible for more than three and a half trillion dollars in economic growth.
“But that progress has stalled. The United States used to rank 7th out of 24 advanced countries in women’s labor force participation. By 2013, we had dropped to 19th. That represents a lot of unused potential for our economy and for American families.
“Studies show that nearly a third of this decline relative to other countries is because they’re expanding family-friendly policies like paid leave and we are not. 
“We should be making it easier for Americans to be both good workers and good parents and caregivers. Women who want to work should be able to do so without worrying every day about how they’re going to take care of their children or what will happen if a family member gets sick.
“You know last year while I was at the hospital here in Manhattan waiting for little Charlotte to make her grand entrance, one of the nurses said, “Thank you for fighting for paid leave.” And we began to talk about it. She sees first-hand what it means for herself and her colleagues as well as for the working parents that she helps take care of.
“It’s time to recognize that quality, affordable childcare is not a luxury – it’s a growth strategy. And it’s way past time to end the outrage of so many women still earning less than men on the job — and women of color making even less. 
That was the part where she could have apologized for the 1997 Welfare Reform Act, when the Clinton administration cut off poor mothers at the knees by ending  FDR's New Deal program of Aid to Parents With Dependent Children -- direct cash aid to the poor. Bill and Hillary gleefully decided it would be smart to demand that mothers work in exchange for assistance. They'd get a maximum two years of benefits before being compelled to work or engage in job training. When Republicans refused to fund job training or child care for women going back to work at low-wage jobs, Clinton signed the bill anyway. The Clintons and their GOP compatriots made it virtually impossible for parents to attend school full or part-time to increase their skills and qualify for better paying jobs. 

 But Hillary blithely continued,
“All this lost money adds up and for some women, it’s thousands of dollars every year. 
“Now I am well aware that for far too long, these challenges have been dismissed by some as “women’s issues.”
“Well those days are over.
“Fair pay and fair scheduling, paid family leave and earned sick days, child care are essential to our competitiveness and growth. 
“And we can do this in a way that doesn’t impose unfair burdens on businesses – especially small businesses. 
She doesn't share how "we" can do this, except to dog-whistle to the oligarchs that babysitting change will not be coming out of their pockets. The rich will not be taxed to pay for day care.
“As President, I’ll fight to put families first – just like I have my entire career. 
Given her career of kicking poor women off the welfare rolls, just what families is Hillary Clinton talking about? The Forbes 400?
“Now, beyond strong growth, we also need fair growth. And that will be the second key driver of rising incomes.
“The evidence is in: Inequality is a drag on our entire economy, so this is the problem we need to tackle.
“You may have heard Governor Bush say last week that Americans just need to work longer hours. Well, he must not have met very many American workers.
“Let him tell that to the nurse who stands on her feet all day or the trucker who drives all night. Let him tell that to the fast food workers marching in the streets for better pay. They don’t need a lecture – they need a raise.
“The truth is, the current rules for our economy reward some work – like financial trading – much more than other work, like actually building and selling things the work that’s always been the backbone of our economy. 
“To get all incomes rising again, we need to strike a better balance. If you work hard, you ought to be paid fairly. So we have to raise the minimum wage and implement President Obama’s new rules on overtime. And then we have to go further.
“I’ll crack down on bosses who exploit employees by misclassifying them as contractors or even steal their wages.
All true, all good. I am interested to learn exactly how Hillary will "crack down" on crooked bosses. And again, she criticizes the rewarding of wealth over work while failing utterly to propose higher taxes on the rich and without putting any dollar figure on a higher minimum wage.
“To make paychecks stretch, we need to take on the major strains on family budgets. I’ll protect the Affordable Care Act – and build on it to lower out-of-pocket health care costs and to make prescription drugs more affordable.
Medicare for All! Renegotiating drug prices with Big Pharma! Go Bernie Go! Oh, never mind.
“We’ll help families look forward to retirement by defending and enhancing Social Security and making it easier to save for the future. 
Scrap the cap on FICA contributions! Lower the eligibility age! Oh, never mind. She only wants to vaguely enhance our old ages. This sounds vaguely like torture (enhanced interrogation.)
“Now many of these proposals are time-tested and more than a little battle-scarred. We need new ideas as well. And one that I believe in and will fight for is profit sharing.
“Hard working Americans deserve to benefit from the record corporate earnings they help produce. So I will propose ways to encourage companies to share profits with their employees.
OK, forget about protecting Social Security and Medicare. But how about those market-based retirement savings accounts and profit-sharing? Note that Hillary will merely and meekly request that overpaid CEOs share the wealth. They won't be forced into it, by any stretch.
“Another priority must be reforming our tax code.
“Now we hear Republican candidates talk a lot about tax reform. But take a good look at their plans. Senator Rubio’s 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. Well that’s a sure budget-busting give-away to the super-wealthy. And that’s the kind of bad economics you’re likely to get from any of the candidates on the other side.
“I have a different take, guided by some simple principles. 
“First, hard-working families need and deserve tax relief and simplification. 
“Second, those at the top have to pay their fair share. That’s why I support the Buffett Rule, which makes sure that millionaires don’t pay lower rates than their secretaries. 
The Buffett Rule is way over-hyped. Not to mention a battle-scarred and stale talking point that comes up in Democratic circles come campaign season. The Buffett Rule does not address the more important and basic reality that wealth is not taxed at the same rate as work.
“I have also called for closing the carried interest loophole, which lets wealthy financiers pay an artificially low rate.
Now she's talking. Of course, Barack Obama has been tepidly suggesting the same policy since he first started running for president, too. Key word: tepid. This is one of those policy issues, like the Buffett Rule, that enables Democrats to be be seen as trying. Their wealthy benefactors don't want the carried interest loophole closed, and as Gilens and Page have established, wealthy political donors get what they want.
“And let’s agree that hugely successful companies that benefit from everything America has to offer should not be able to game the system and avoid paying their fair share… especially while companies who can’t afford high-price lawyers and lobbyists end up paying more.
“Alongside tax reform, it’s time to stand up to efforts across our country to undermine worker bargaining power, which has been proven again and again to drive up wages. 

“Republicans governors like Scott Walker have made their names stomping on workers’ rights. And practically all the Republican candidates hope to do the same as President.

“I will fight back against these mean-spirited, misguided attacks.
“Evidence shows that the decline of unions may be responsible for a third of the increase of inequality among men. So if we want to get serious about raising incomes, we have to get serious about supporting workers. 
Where was Hillary when Obama refused to support the trade union protests in Madison? Where was Hillary when the Democratic National Committee refused to mount or fund a strong leftist challenge to Scott Walker's anti-worker regime, and and a weak, pre-approved Democratic centrist lost to him by design?
 “And let me just say a word here about trade. The Greek crisis as well as the Chinese stock market have reminded us that growth here at home and growth an ocean away are linked in a common global economy. Trade has been a major driver of the economy over recent decades but it has also contributed to hollowing out our manufacturing base and many hard-working communities. So we do need to set a high bar for trade agreements. 
“We should support them if they create jobs, raise wages, and advance our national security. And we should be prepared to walk away if they don’t.
“To create fair growth, we need to create opportunity for more Americans.
She just blew her second chance in one speech to take a stand on the TPP. At least she mentioned "Greece" one time, but also without elaborating. Maybe it has something to do with her grotesque praise for austerity for "ordinary Greeks" when she was Secretary of State and busily selling outrageously expensive weaponry to the Greek military. And needless to say, the word "NAFTA" never made it into the final copy.
“I love the saying by Abraham Lincoln, who in many ways was not only the President who saved our union, but the president who understood profoundly the importance of the middle class, and the importance of the government playing its role in providing opportunities. He talked about giving Americans a fair chance in the race of life. I believe that with all my heart. But I also believe it has to start really early at birth. High quality early learning, especially in the first five years, can set children on the course for future success and raise lifetime incomes by 25 percent.
Except that Abraham Lincoln, unlike Hillary, didn't believe that globalization and the free market were the be-alls and end-alls of American life. To the contrary, in his first Inaugural he proclaimed that "labor is prior to and independent of capital." He also talked to Marxists. He probably would have loved Bernie Sanders.
“I’m committed to seeing every 4-year old in America have access to high-quality preschool in the next ten years.  But I want to do more. I want to call for a great outpouring of support from our faith community, our business community, our academic institutions, from philanthropy and civic groups and concerned citizens to really help parents, particularly parents who are facing a lot of obstacles. To really help prepare their own children in that zero to four age group. 
The market and private enterprise are Hillary's answer to everything (albeit with a little government "support" of the market and free enterprise.) She wants to invest in children the same way she once invested in cattle futures. Instead of the government helping children directly through universal, federally subsidized child care, she is calling for businesses to act like churches and help children. That should work out really well. It sounds like she wants to give hedge fund predators the opportunity to "grow" into charter pre-schools and get a huge return on poor tots.
“80% of your brain is physically formed by age of three. That’s why families like mine read, talk, and sing endlessly to our granddaughter. I’ve said that her first words are going to be enough with the reading, and the talking, and the singing. But we do it not only because we love doing it, even though I’ll admit it’s a little embarrassing to be reading a book to a two-week old, or a six-week old, a ten-week old. But we do it because we understand that it’s building her capacity for learning. And the research shows that by the time she enters kindergarten she will have heard 30 million more words than I child from a less privileged background.
If Hillary is reading her grueling memoir Hard Choices to little Charlotte, the poor kid's first words are going to be "Shut the eff up, Grandma! My brain is trying to grow, and yet you go on and on about how dead broke you were when you left the White House. Give my neurons an effing break."
“Think of what we are losing because we are not doing everything we can to reach out to those families and we know again from so much research here in the United States and around the world that the early help, that mentoring, that intervention to help those often-stressed out young moms understand more about what they can do and avoid the difficulties that stand in the way of their being able to get their child off to the best start.
“We also have to invest in our students and teachers at every level.  
“And in the coming weeks and months, I’ll lay out specific steps to improve our schools, make college truly affordable, and help Americans refinance their student debt. 
“Let’s embrace the idea of lifelong learning. In an age of technological change, we need to provide pathways to get skills and credentials for new occupations, and create online platforms to connect workers to jobs. There are exciting efforts underway and I want to support and scale the ones that show results. 
Grandma! Shut the eff up about investing in children like they were pork belly futures! What better time than now to get specific on education?  How about, instead helping us refinance our debt, the government forgives our debt? So we can buy a house, start a family, grow the effing economy?
“As we pursue all these policies, we can’t forget our fellow Americans hit so hard and left behind by this changing economy— from the inner cities to coal country to Indian country.  Talent is universal – you find it everywhere – but opportunity is not.  
“There are nearly 6 million young people aged 16 to 24 in America today who are not in school or at work. The numbers for young people of color are particularly staggering. A quarter of young black men and nearly 15 percent of all Latino youth cannot find a job. 
“We’ve got to do a better way of coming up to match the growing middle class incomes we want to generate with more pathways into the middle class. I firmly believe that the best anti-poverty program is a job, but that’s hard to say if there are not enough jobs for people that we are trying to help lift themselves out of poverty.
“That’s why I’ve called for reviving the New Markets Tax Credit and Empowerment Zones to create greater incentives to invest in poor and remote areas.
Empowerment zones and promise zone tax credits are government welfare for the plutocrats. Hillary will never espouse direct cash aid to the poor and a government-funded job for everyone who wants one.The neoliberal way is to domestically colonize/gentrify selected "poverty pockets" and then call it helping the poor.
“Now, the third key driver of income alongside strong growth and fair growth must be long-term growth.
“Too many pressures in our economy today push us toward short-termism. Many business leaders see this. They’ve talked to me about. One has called it the problem of “quarterly capitalism.” They say everything’s focused on the next earnings report or the short-term share price. The result is too little attention on the sources of long-term growth: research and development, physical capital, and talent. 
One solution would be restoration of Glass-Steagall. Another would be a tax on high speed trades. This part of her speech sounds to me like another call for public funding for research, training and development in order to ease the day-to-day angst of billionaires trying to keep up with other billionaires. 
“Net business investment – which includes things like factories, machines, and research labs – has declined as a share of the economy. In recent years, some of our biggest companies have spent more than half their earnings to buy back their own stock, and another third or more to pay dividends. That doesn’t leave a lot left to raise pay or invest in the workers who made those profits possible or to make the new investments necessary to insure a company’s future success. These trends need to change. And I believe that many business leaders are eager to embrace their responsibilities, not just to today’s share price but also to workers, communities, and ultimately to our country and indeed our planet.  
This is Hillary's dog whistle to the plutocrats. She comes not to blame or damn them for their obscene wealth and greed, but to praise and encourage them. They are so eager to please, poor things.
“I’m not talking about charity – I’m talking about clear-eyed capitalism. Many companies have prospered by improving wages and training their workers that then yield higher productivity, better service, and larger profits.
“Now it’s easy to try to cut costs by holding down or decreasing pay and other investments to inflate quarterly stock prices, but I would argue that’s bad for business in the long run. 
Another dog-whistle. Without mentioning Bernie Sanders by name, she cheers for capitalism, pile of steaming, stinking dung that it is. (see: Pope Francis.)
“Workers are assets.  Investing in them pays off.  Higher wages pay off.  And training pays off. 
“To help more companies do that, I’ve proposed a new $1,500 apprenticeship tax credit for every worker they train and hire. 
Heaven forbid that tax loophole-loopy CEOs making 350 times the salary of workers fork over one dime of their own stash to train the help. This is more corporate welfare. 
“And I will soon be proposing a new plan to reform capital gains taxes to reward longer-term investments that create jobs more than just quick trades.
“I will also propose reforms to help CEOs and shareholders alike focus on the next decade rather than just the next day. Making sure stock buybacks aren’t being used only for an immediate boost in share prices. Empowering outside investors who want to build companies but discouraging “cut and run” shareholders who act more like old-school corporate raiders. And nowhere will the shift from short-term to long-term be more important than on Wall Street.
All praise and honor be to Mammon. I look forward to hearing more about Hillary's specific plan on tax reform. It sounds like she is proposing a higher financial return for any plutocrat willing to wait those few extra months or years for a much higher, publicly-subsidized, fabulous payday. But who knows.
“As a former Senator from New York, I know first-hand the role that Wall Street can and should play in our economy – helping Main Street grow and prosper and boosting new companies that make America more competitive globally.
“But, as we all know, in the years before the crash, financial firms piled risk upon risk. And regulators in Washington either couldn’t or wouldn’t keep up.  
Is she laying it on really thick and sweet for Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon, or what? Financial firms were able to pile risk upon risk because Bill Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall. Subliminal message to Wall Street: despite the pseudo-populist rhetoric, Hillary is no scary Liz Warren. She is just playing Liz on TV.
“I was alarmed by this gathering storm, and called for addressing the risks of derivatives, cracking down on subprime mortgages, and improving financial oversight. 
She tried to talk Bill out of repealing Glass-Steagall? Or did she disown Larry Summers and Robert Rubin later, when she was a senator, and I missed it?  This is the first I've ever heard about alarm bells over Wall Street fraud clanging in her head, way before even expert economists were failing to predict the meltdown. Fact check, please. (According to Amy Chozick of the New York Times, the Clinton camp indulged in much "hand-wringing" before finally deciding at the last minute to include criticism of Wall Street in the speech.)
“We also have to go beyond Dodd-Frank. 
“Too many of our major financial institutions are still too complex and too risky. And the problems are not limited to the big banks that get all the headlines. Serious risks are emerging from institutions in the so-called “shadow banking” system – including hedge funds, high frequency traders, non-bank finance companies –  so many new kinds of entities which receive little oversight at all. 
Grandma Hillary will really have to keep a sharp eye on Charlotte's Goldman alum/hedge fund Daddy.
“Stories of misconduct by individuals and institutions in the financial industry are shocking. HSBC allowing drug cartels to launder money. Five major banks pleading guilty to felony charges for conspiring to manipulate currency exchange and interest rates. There can be no justification or tolerance for this kind of criminal behavior. 
Where was Hillary when Obama and his DOJ consigliere Eric Holder were spending their entire reigns tolerating it?
And while institutions have paid large fines and in some cases admitted guilt, too often it has seemed that the human beings responsible get off with limited consequences – or none at all, even when they’ve already pocketed the gains.
“This is wrong and, on my watch, it will change.
This is utter bullshit. I will set my watch on it. Hillary Clinton socializes with Eric Holder and has heavily lobbied for the confirmation of Holder replacement Loretta Lynch, who has made a career out of coddling the felons of finance.  Somebody should ask Clinton whether she would retain Lynch if elected president. Then we'll have our answer.
“Over the course of this campaign, I will offer plans to rein in excessive risks on Wall Street and ensure that stock markets work for everyday investors, not just high frequency traders and those with the best – or fastest – connections. 
“I will appoint and empower regulators who understand that Too Big To Fail is still too big a problem. 
This is an attempted pre-emptive strike against the Warren/Sanders wing, and another slobbery dog-whistle to Wall Street. If she means what she says, she will call for the restoration of Glass-Steagall. Otherwise, she might as well not waste her breath. The hecklers are already calling her out on this, and the election is more than a year away.
“We’ll ensure that no firm is too complex to manage or oversee. 
“And we will prosecute individuals as well as firms when they commit fraud or other criminal wrongdoing. 
Will she appoint white collar forensic economist Bill Black as chief investigator for the prosecutors? If not, she should shut up.
“And when the government recovers money from corporations or individuals for harming the public, it should go into a separate trust fund to benefit the public. It, could for example, help modernize infrastructure or even be returned directly to taxpayers.
“Now reform is never easy. But we have done it before in our country. But we have to get this right. And we need leadership from the financial industry and across the private sector to join with us.
Um, Hillary: three hundred million Americans are still waiting for their damages/ rebate checks from the last criminogenic kerfuffle. Ask your former boss to cut us all a check right now, today, this very minute.

Of course, I jest. The big tell in this part of the speech is that she also calls for the foxes to guard the henhouse, for Wall Street to police itself. We need the leaders of the finance mafia "to join with us" like we need to take a swim in a pond full of leeches.
“Two years ago, the head of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Terry Duffy, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that really caught my attention.  He wrote, and I quote: “I’m concerned that those of us in financial services have forgotten who we serve—and that the public knows it… Some Wall Streeters can too easily slip into regarding their work as a kind of money-making game divorced from the concerns of Main Street.”
“I think we should listen to Terry Duffy.
“Of course, long-term growth is only possible if the public sector steps up as well.
“So it’s time to end the era of budget brinksmanship and stop careening from one self-inflicted crisis to another. It’s time to stop having debates over the small stuff and focus on how we’re going to tackle the big stuff together: 
“How do we respond to technological change in a way that creates more good jobs than it displaces or destroys? 
At least she sort of admits that globalization/capitalism on crack displaces and destroys jobs. Part of the oligarchic public relations ploy is to perform occasional acts of contrition in hopes that we will forgive and forget.

And now to the bitter, exhausting end:
“Can we sustain a boom in advanced manufacturing? 
“What are the best ways to nurture start-ups outside the successful corridors like Silicon Valley? 
“Questions like these demand thoughtful and mature debate from our policy makers in government, from our leaders in the private sector, and our economists, our academics, and others who can come to the table on behalf of America and perform their patriotic duty to ensure that our economy keeps working and our middle class keeps growing.
“So government has to be smarter, simpler, more focused itself on long-term investments than short-term politics – and be a better partner to cities, states, and the private sector. 
Washington has to be a better steward of America’ tax-dollars and Americans’ trust. And please let’s get back to making decisions that rely on evidence more than ideology.
“That’s what I’ll do as President.  I will seek out and welcome any good idea that is actually based on reality.  I want to have principled and pragmatic and progressive policies that really move us forward together and I will propose ways to ensure that our fiscal outlook is sustainable — including by continuing to restrain healthcare costs, which remain one of the key drivers of long-term deficits. I will make sure Washington learns from how well local governments, business, and non-profits are working together in successful cities and towns across America.
“You know passing legislation is not the only way to drive progress. As President, I’ll use the power to convene, connect, and collaborate to build partnerships that actually get things done.
It's right there in the bold print: Hillary Clinton is no born-again progressive. She is not even a born-again liberal. She is a free market ideologue who will not welcome the hatred of the malefactors of great wealth. To the contrary, she will use and build upon the oligarchic connections she made at the Clinton Foundation to "get things done." That sounds downright ominous.
“Because above all, we have to break out of the poisonous partisan gridlock and focus on the long-term needs of our country. I confess maybe it’s the grandmother in me, but I believe that part of public service is planting trees under whose shade you’ll never sit.“And the vision I’ve laid our here today – for strong growth, fair growth, and long term growth, all working together — will get incomes rising again, will help working families get ahead and stay ahead.
“That is the test of our time. And I’m inviting everyone to please join me, to do your part, that’s what great countries do. That’s what our country always has done. We rise to challenges.
“It’s not about left, right, or center – it’s about the future versus the past.
I’m running for President to build an America for tomorrow, not yesterday. 
An America built on growth and fairness. 
An America where if you do your part, you will reap the rewards.
Where we don’t leave anyone out, or anyone behind.
“Thank you all. Thank you. I just want to leave you with one more thought.
“I want every child, every child in our country, not just the granddaughter of a former President or a former secretary of state, but every child to have the chance to live up to his or her God-given potential.
“Please join me in that mission. Let’s do it all together.
Thank you so much.”
Don't. Stop. Thinking about tomo-o-r-ow.  Yesterday's gone.

True-blue neoliberal ideologue that she is, Hillary tempers the brutality of the class war with platitudes and vague promises. She will not be fighting against GOP nihilism. John McCain and even Donald Trump are good friends of hers. Socialite daughter Chelsea sits on some of the same boards as the Kochs.

 The Clinton Yesterday, the boom and the bubble, were the very temporary results of globalization and deregulation. The Clintons waged war on the poor and minorities while they gave tax breaks to the rich on their real estate investments and securities and stocks. They argued then, as they argue now, that such tax breaks encourage businesses to invest in new technologies and a skilled labor force, when the exact opposite has been proven all too sadly true.

  Besides deregulating finance, Bill Clinton's 1997 federal budget included more than $10 billion in capital gains and business tax relief for a five year period. A year later, he signed a huge tax cut passage totalling almost $100 million for further capital gains and estate tax relief. Working families got limited tax relief to make it "fair." Actual wages of working people began to stagnate while CEO pay rose to brand new heights. Don't even get me started about the destructive mega-mergers spawned by his Telecommunications Act.

Clinton got away with all of this by also launching anti-trust campaigns against Microsoft, Intel and American Airlines. The Clintons got away with their blatant pro-business actions by concurrently expanding student loans, more liberal family leave policies, and allowing patients to keep their health coverage while changing jobs -- if, that is, they could afford it.

From what I can glean from Hillary Clinton's economic speech, we can expect even more of the damaging, extremist centrism if she becomes our next president.


PEARL said...

Just glanced at your report on dear Hillary - too late to read it closely but I feel you deserve a good night's rest Karen for your efforts. Now I have something to look forward to tomorrow.

I am exhausted from fighting the endless dining room battle at my retirement place and have resorted to using polite but strong stinging rhetoric finally. They can't throw me out of my condo so there is nothing to lose. Even one of the dining room waitresses said about their decisions - it's all in the numbers meaning what brings in the most profits for the owners. When I said to my dearest friend, I don't know if its worth ruining what is left of my health with all this e-mailing back and forth all day, she stated clearly, "YOU ARE CHANGING THE WORLD!!"

Even in the dining room??????? Well it's a start. There is plenty of food but expensive and fancy and not healthy for old people which kind of meals don't bring in the $$$$$$.

valerie said...

Keep fighting the good fight, Pearl! I am sure you speak for many who are to cowardly to speak up.

Paula D. said...

I love that this blog doubles as a chat room for anything and everything.

Let me share my favorite recipe for custard pudding, so easy on the digestion. Chelsea's maid can whip it up in a jiffy so that Hillary can feed it to Charlotte at the same time she is reading and singing to her to enhance her brain:

2 -3 tablespoons cornstarch
1⁄2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla


Mix together the sugar and cornstarch, then add the eggs. Beat until the mixture is well combined and pale colored.
In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a boil over miedium-high heat. Stir frequently to keep it from sticking.
Add a little of the hot milk to the egg mixture, and stir until combined. Then pour the egg mixture into the milk.
Cook the mixture until it reaches desired thickness, stirring constantly.
Stir in the vanilla.
Remove from heat, and place plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding instead of just around the pot. This will prevent a skin from forming while it cools.

Jay–Ottawa said...

“I love that this blog doubles as a chat room for anything and everything.”

You can say that again, Paula D.

“I love that this blog doubles as a chat room for anything and everything.”

Clever on topic tie-in anyway, what with that bit about Chelsea, the maid, and big mama herself humming lullabies to baby Charlotte. Up to that point it crossed my mind you might be doing overtime for Hillary as a spoiler, or, in the alternative, that you sure can whip up a dish of irony I’ll gobble up anytime: breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Whatever the custard you’re cooking up in that kitchen, do NOT read Karen’s follow-up down in the weeds of the commentary back on June 10, 2015, at 7:09 PM. Might curdle the custard.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Aw, you got me that time, Paula. Do tell. Paula Deen, of course. Somebody had to clue me in. The big dogs, they shut you down on every other channel, so you’ve come here to do your thing.

Kate Flannery said...

Thank you for writing this - it must have been exhausting and draining, but I'm so appreciative. It's stunning to me though how so many people - after all we've been through with Obama - will hear her speech and think, "What a fighter for progressive values and everyday Americans." She is just another plastic politician spouting inane nothings to win her place at the top.

Karen Garcia said...


I so appreciate your appreciation! It took me more than four hours to research and write this piece. During the halfway point, as I plodded through paragraph after stultifying paragraph, I asked myself "is this hell never going to end?"

I can see why there were so few analyses of her speech. A truly epic deconstruction can be found over at Naked Capitalism... but other than that, the reviews were a few inches long, the reactions ranging from "meh" to "you go girl!"

Ste-vo said...

Karen and Kate - To be honest with you, I ended up, about half-way through, reading just Karen's honest response. I might consider skimming Naked Capitalism. I don't care what she say in response to anything. I am working and voting when his name is on the ballot, for my junior senator - Bernie.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen....thank you for your informative post, filled with detail to be kept for reference. And especially Lincoln quote----'labor is prior to and independent of capital.' Could some intrepid reporter put that to today's Gop stars and force a comment out of them? Might be educational.

When Clinton has to debate Sanders, her lack of specifics will contrast with him. He's the most specific candidate. The media will be forced to pay attention. Let’s see what they can think up to discount Sanders then.
It’s a long, long campaign. Will she evolve?

At least she cited closing tax ‘loopholes’ that reward sending jobs overseas. Profits from that have been shared with lawmakers by campaign donations in an upward spiral.

Is there such a thing as tax incentives to bring jobs back? How would that work?


Clinton says we can’t go back to the past? But that’s just what her theme should be---back to our more successful, equitable past The evidence is all there to make use of.

Here’s a terse comment clip that tells it. “At one time we had sustained 4% growth in this country, unions were strong and the plutocrats had marginal tax rates between 75 & 91%.”

And yet business was profitable and expanding!

Talk about raising wealth taxes to higher rates that were once acceptable. While jobs were kept here and union apprenticeships were a path to stable support of a family.

That’s a past as a positive role model. Business was profitable while paying higher taxes, jobs were kept at home, salaries and benefits were rising. We subsidized college tuition, didn’t let hedge funds profitize public schools, and accepted govt regulation of corporations as normal, to a much greater extent.

Before the starve govt ideology got mainstream, moderate Repubs actually existed on this earth, and supported many of these policies. Highlight this contrast.

Explain to younger people how norms of yesterday starkly differ from today. Put the rw on the spot. Plenty of people are walking around that lived then and could testify to a different US.

Pearl said...

I am looking forward to Bernie Sander's kick off across he country July 29 where he will speak to the nation and hopefully help deflate Hillary's balloon. He has the highest number of people contributing to his campaign than ever recorded by either party. Should be interesting. As he said, the opposition may have the money but we have the people.
I don't think he will bore people to death like his opponent.

Pearl said...

"Explain to younger people how norms of yesterday starkly differ from today. Put the rw on the spot. Plenty of people are walking around that lived then and could testify to a different US."

Yes indeedy Meredith. I am still trying to wrap my head around Caitlin, formerly Bruce Jenner Olympic athlete, making an important public speech in a long white gown. Some things are changing too rapidly for us old timers. Wish it were the politics.

Carol S. said...

I'm three quarters or more through this and must take a break. Of course it took four days to write! Thank you, Karen. You are a great teacher. Hillary will say anything it takes so she can jump to her military industrial complex strategy and any other means it takes to help her Wall Street and investment bank friends if she achieves that excruciatingly burning need to be president. She's such a scary and terrible phony.