Sheep in Wolf's Clothing: Clinton's Closeness With Wall Street Insiders May Mean Her Economic Reforms Have No Bite
Despite Sounding More Progressive, is Clinton Still Close to Wall Street?
Are Clinton's Proposed Economic Reforms Mainly Smoke-and-Mirrors?
While the Democratic and Republican parties do not begin voting, state by state, to determine their respective presidential nominees until early next year, candidates begin campaigning earlier and earlier each cycle. Now that the initial excitement of "who's gonna run for president" has faded, we're heading into the long stretch of pre-primary autumn. Most candidates will avoid proposing anything specific, lest they be analyzed and criticized, and instead we will wait for verbal gaffes in speeches or juicy past scandals to be dredged up and reported by the media.
Only Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, a left-leaning progressive, has been forthcoming about specific policy proposals. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, evidently surprised by Sanders' surging popularity, has begun proposing her own specific policy initiatives as well. Moving to the political left, Clinton has spoken out against corporate "short-termism" and lack of profit-sharing with rank-and-file employees. To date, Clinton has proposed raising the capital gains tax on short-term (i.e. less than six years) investments by wealthy investors and offering tax breaks for profit-sharing by firms.
These economic reforms are far lighter than those proposed by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who wants higher taxes on the wealthy to be unequivocal. Many progressives have criticized Clinton's proposals as insufficient. While Clinton may soon bow to pressure to craft meatier economic reform proposals, the Guardian reports on a new worry for progressives: Two prominent Clinton insiders are also Wall Street insiders.
While Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, two of her top aides were Wall Street bigwigs who vocally advocated for pro-business stances. Tom Nides and Robert Hormats, who worked for big investment firms, lobbied the Obama administration to avoid criticizing the financial sector in the wake of the 2008 meltdown and supported the idea of privatizing Social Security. Clinton's campaign, when asked her stance on the "revolving door" between the finance industry and government, in which finance executives often took government posts for temporary periods before returning to the private sector, did not respond.
Progressives worry that Clinton's closeness with Wall Street insiders, and Wall Street donors, is resulting in economic reform proposals that lack teeth. They sound good on the surface, but will bring about little meaningful change. Wall Street insiders know how to lobby for "reforms" that will appeal to the public, at least in written form, but not affect corporate profit margins. Is Clinton trying to play both sides by sounding progressive while keeping Wall Street advisers close by?
Look for Bernie Sanders' supporters to bring up Clinton's continued closeness with Wall Street, especially as the primaries draw closer. Trying to play both sides may ultimately result in Clinton being stranded atop the divide, supported by neither side.