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25 Feb

Clinton has NEVER been a leader against Wall Street

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Clinton has NEVER been a leader against Wall Street — 5 reasons her answer last night was obscene

By HumanOfEarth

hillary_clinton.jpg

At last night’s Democratic town hall, Hillary Clinton was questioned by the moderator about the speeches she’s given to large financial institutions, such as Goldman Sachs, and asked if she will make public the transcripts of those speeches, as has been repeatedly requested by both voters and reporters over the past few weeks.

Here is the entirety of their exchange, key spots bolded:

“Will you agree to release these transcripts?” asked Chris Cuomo. “They have become an issue.”

“Sure, if everybody does it — and that includes the Republicans. Because we know they have made a lot of speeches.

But look, what is this about?

This is about whether I have the best plan to go after Wall Street, whether I have a record that already demonstrates my willingness to take on Wall Street and other financial institutions.

And there’s no question about that.

I did it before the ‘08 crash.

I have done it since.

In this campaign, I have been absolutely clear, and a lot of people have said I have the most comprehensive, most effective, most compressive plan to make sure Wall Street never wrecks Main Street again.

I’ve also said I will use the tools that President Obama achieved in the Dodd Frank regulation — the best reform we’ve had in a long time that provides the ability to break up the banks, if they pose systemic risks, and I’ve said that I would do that if that became the case.”

“All the more reason to move this as an issue,” said Cuomo. “You know everybody’s not going to bring up their transcripts, there’s one hundred reasons—“

“Well, why is there one standard for me and not for everybody else, Chris?

I mean, you know, at some point, at some point, you know, look I’m on record.

I have a record, it certainly is far different than the Republicans because they think, actually, and have said that the cause of the Great Recession was too much regulation on Wall Street, which is an absolute joke.

I have been up front and strong this issue for a long time, as strong, I would argue, as my esteemed opponent.

So you know what, if people are going to ask for things, everybody should be on a level playing field.

And I’m happy if that were the case.”

“You do understand the temptation of the unknown—“

“There is no unknown. I am on record.

I went to Wall Street before the Great Recession. I called them out. I said what they were doing in the mortgage market was going to cause serious problems.

I called for reining in executive pay. I called for ending the loophole that lets hedge fund managers get a lower tax rate.

I’ve been on record for  a really long time.

I’ve now put forth a plan. It’s in the public arena.

The other part of this which if I find somewhat concerning, actually, is the argument seems to be that if you ever took money from any business of any kind, then you can’t fulfill your public responsibilities.

That’s just not the case.

President Obama took an enormous amount of money, more than anybody ever had, from Wall Street in 2008 when he was successful in his election.

And then he turned around and pushed through the toughest regulations we’ve seen since the Great Depression.

So the argument just doesn’t hold up. But, again, if everybody’s going to do the same thing, then I’ll be part of it.”

Clinton’s remarks boil down to five, flawed arguments:

(It’s a bit long, but bear with me. Dissecting her words is vitally important).

Issue #1

Clinton repeatedly states that before she, a Democrat, will release the numerous, extremely well-paid speeches she has made to her wealthy campaign contributors behind closed doors, the Republicans have to release theirs first.

That’s right — Clinton is saying she won’t be honest with the American people unless the corrupted, truth-denying politicians who say climate change isn’t real, who lie about trickle-down economics, who take millions from the Koch Brothers in order to get elected, who want to give massive tax breaks to the wealthy, who battle to shrink social services and expand corporate welfare, who decry raising the minimum wage, do so first.

Do mine ears deceive me?

Is Clinton actually getting away with arguing that she should be held to the same standard as the Republicans — a group of people she listed as one of her main enemies in an earlier debate?

And we’re allowing her to do so?

As critically minded members of the sane wing of our political system, we demand full openness and accountability from every one of our candidates.

And if Clinton cannot hold herself to her Democratic opponent’s standards of integrity, honesty, and transparency, then she should not be a viable nominee for the Democratic Party. 

Go run for the Republican nomination, if those are the standards you want to sink to.

But, right now, you’re running against Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton — so run against Bernie Sanders.

Additionally, Clinton is sorely amiss if she believes she can ask the citizens of this nation — specifically, the Democrats and liberals of this nation — to vault her into the Presidency, a position of incredible power, influence, and responsibility, without hearing exactly, specifically what she said to the financial and special interests who hold so much wealth, so much power, and have so crushed the lives and monetary security of millions.

The Democrats of this country have standards — and we absolutely refuse to lower them to the base level of the Republican Party, an organization so vile that their presidential front-runner wants to deport millions of human beings and has called women “pigs” and “slobs.”

The fact that she’s willing to stoop this low reveals herself: you think there’s a reason she really, really, really doesn’t want to release those transcripts or something? 

Clinton constantly attacks the Republicans — yet is asking to be considered amongst them.

At the beginning of this month, in February 2016, she responded to a questioner who asked if she thought there truly existed a “vast right-wing conspiracy:”

“Don’t you? Yeah, it’s gotten even better-funded. You know, they brought in some new multi-billionaires to pump the money in.

…At this point it’s probably not correct to say it’s a conspiracy, because it is out in the open. There is no doubt about what they’re doing.”

Clinton is astoundingly, insultingly hypocritical.

She accuses dozens of politicians of being corrupted by the billionaires and millionaires who finance their campaigns — but she herself, a politician receiving money from the exact same people funding Jeb Bush and other Republicans, is somehow beholden to none of it.

Such assertions are beyond incredible, especially because they are not backed up by the record she constantly professes to have.

Issue #2

Clinton says there is “no question” she has a record “that already demonstrates my willingness to take on Wall Street and other financial institutions.”

She says she “did it before the ‘08 Crash,” when she “went to Wall Street before the Great Recession. I called them out. I said what they were doing in the mortgage market was going to cause serious problems.”

Do not be fooled, my friends: her descriptions of her record, and that ‘08 speech (much like her accounting of being “under sniper fire” in Bosnia), are alarmingly divergent from reality, as reported several times over.

Clinton did not “call [Wall Street] out,” but-—

Gave a shout-out to her “wonderful donors” in the audience and asked the bankers to voluntarily suspend foreclosures…

She praised Wall Street for its role in creating the nation’s wealth…

[And] she said the brewing economic troubles weren’t mainly the fault of banks, “not by a long shot,” but that “homeowners should have known they were getting in over their heads.”

Clinton fawned over Wall Street.

She thanked her “wonderful donors” for padding her private bank account, as well as enriching her war chest with the funds to buy the 2016 presidential election — never lambasting them for their speculative behavior, but blaming the homeowners, who hold absolutely no responsibility, but were victims, preyed upon and specifically targeted for being low-income Americans of color. 

Do not be fooled: the financial executives absolutely were mainly at fault, along with the government de-regulators like Bill Clinton and GWB who allowed them to run wild.

As The New York Times reports:

The 2008 financial crisis was an “avoidable” disaster caused by widespread failures in government regulation, corporate mismanagement and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street, according to the conclusions of a federal inquiry.

Clinton also praised Wall Street for creating “the nation’s wealth,” which is ridiculous, since all the wealth Wall Street generates goes to the top. The “nation,” therefore, that she refers to is actually the top 3%.

Wall Street has never lifted a finger for the middle class, but stolen from us continuously and constantly.

And then Clinton politely asked them to voluntarily stop being so greedy, all the while thanking them for lining her coffers.

Clinton is no populist, she is no fighter for the middle class: she is in the 1/10th of 1%, and buddy/buddy with all the rest who are.

The fact that she still is using this story as proof of her long-time commitment to fighting Wall Street is nothing short of insulting.

Furthermore — if you, dear reader, are still not convinced — what on Earth’s good green land, pray tell, did her words accomplish?

If she told them off so well, why did they do absolutely nothing? Why did the economy crash a month later?

Clinton’s words were about as effective as throwing daisies and sunshine — and it’s the same thin

The reports about her recent speeches to Wall Street outline how “gushy” she was. Attendees say “she sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.” 

Again, it’s no wonder why she doesn’t want to release the speeches — they’re full of praise and positivity for the people who continue to wreck our economy

As members of a theoretical democracy — we cannot let her get away with it.

Flood Twitter: #ReleaseTheTranscripts. 

Furthermore, as additional proof of her “strong” record, Clinton says this:

“I called for ending the loophole that lets hedge fund managers get a lower tax rate.”

In 2007, while running for president, Clinton definitely made campaign speeches attacking the tax break for hedge-fund and private-equity executives — one of the infamous loopholes that allows rich people to pay way less in taxes than they’re supposed to — but did not sign her name onto legislation that would have ended the tax break. 

Just as she’s doing now, she was “out [t]here every day saying I’m going to shut them down,” but did not actually use her elected-official power to keep her word, and follow through with the simple act of signing her name onto someone else’s bill.

As Politico reports,

When [Clinton] had a chance to support a 2007 bill that aimed to curb a tax break she publicly decried for hedge-fund and private-equity executives, she failed to sign on.

Clinton was never a leader, not once, in the war against Wall Street.

She attacked Wall Street to voters, but fawned over them as a senator.

Why?

Because Wall Street executives were the biggest donors to her 2006 Senate campaign and her 2008 presidential campaign.

Clinton got millions from the financial industry while also protecting them — that “strong record” collapses with the poke of a finger.

Issue #3:

Clinton says she will break up the banks “if they pose systemic risks, and I’ve said that I would do that if that became the case.”

It’s already the case. 

The big banks are BIGGER than they were in 2008.

They’ve grown to pose an even LARGER threat to our economy.

They’re already posing “systemic risks.”

Economists are already worried they might crash our economy again.

As The Guardian reports,

“Big banks now have incentives to bet recklessly on the latest asset bubble, safe in the knowledge that if it goes horribly wrong, Uncle Sam will sponsor a soft landing.”

As Market Watch reports:

The U.S. has the dubious honor of having the most banks on the official “too-big-to-fail” list in 2015.

The annually updated list, published on Tuesday by the Financial Stability Board, the global financial watchdog, shows a total of eight U.S. banking mastodons are considered to be among “global systemically important banks”—a.k.a. too big to fail—that pose a threat to the global economy and financial stability if they were to collapse.

The likelihood of a collapse affecting the rest of the world — and Americans — is terribly, tragically high.

As The New York Times reports:

Congress’s overhaul of the financial system aims to reshape large banks so that if they get into trouble they can descend into an orderly bankruptcy that does not set off a wider panic.

But on Tuesday, two regulators, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, sharply criticized the plans that the banks have prepared for winding themselves down in a controlled fashion. The F.D.I.C. said that it had determined that the so-called living wills were “not credible.”

They have no plan for protecting the middle class and the economy if they fail.

If they crash, the same thing happens all over again.

As The Huffington Post concludes:

Shocking but true: all 11 of Wall Street’s biggest too-big-to-fail banks just flunked a key test, proving that they still pose a huge, needless and unacceptable risk to U.S. taxpayers, the financial system and the economy as a whole.

The big banks still loom enormously over our financial system, they are too behemoth, too powerful, and the people who control them own too much wealth.

BREAK. THEM UP.

Issue #4:

As has become usual for Clinton, last night, she again hid behind President Obama.

Obama “took more money from Wall Street than anybody ever had,” Clinton said, and then “turned around” and passed the “best reform we’ve had in a long time.”

First, Obama has never given paid speeches to Wall Street. His personal wealth comes from his books, not dozens of private, ridiculously well-paid speeches to financial interests. He does not have the personal relationships Clinton does.

Second, Dodd Frank was the strongest reform in decades because we’ve been in a continuos spiral of de-regulation, de-regulation, de-regulation (helped along by one Bill Clinton) since the ‘70s and ‘80s — it’s not a good thing, but a tragedy, that this law is the best we’ve seen in a long time, because the legislation comes nowhere close enough.

As The Guardian reports:

“… Even the most favorably inclined observer would have to acknowledge that Dodd-Frank hasn’t done a terribly impressive job.”

Additionally, Obama has fallen far short of what we need (or what a Sanders administration would do), in terms of Wall Street and the financial industry.

He never prosecuted a single financial executive for the Crash, but protected them.

While poor kids are locked behind bars for stealing cars, the greedy, reckless individuals on Wall Street, who pose an infinitely greater threat to this country than the kids stuck in inner-city Detroit or Zone 6 in Atlanta with no way out.

Furthermore, as Salon writes:

[While campaigning, Obama] called whistle-blowers heroes and vowed to strengthen freedom of information, to let C-SPAN cameras film healthcare negotiations, end no-bid contracts, close revolving doors and never hire lobbyists to handle matters of special concern to their ex-clients.

By late fall, nearly every speech he gave ended in a rousing call for reform.

Breaking those vows was the original sin of the Obama administration.

No C-SPAN cameras ever filmed a meeting. He didn’t treat whistle-blowers as heroes; he broke records prosecuting them. He didn’t end no-bid contracts; he increased them. He didn’t ban lobbyists; he recruited them.

(Healthcare industry consultants drove that team; he even hired a defense lobbyist to oversee Pentagon procurement policy.)

Revolving doors kept swinging; every ex-Obama staffer you ever heard of now sits on some comfy corporate perch.

Republicans didn’t kill the reforms.

Obama had the power to implement each one by executive order, but chose not to.

In 2008, Obama raised more money from big business than any candidate in either party’s history and in 2009 he hired the most conservative economic team of any Democratic president since Grover Cleveland.

He then sided with insurers against a public option, with banks against rescuing homeowners and with business against raising the minimum wage.

Obama never allowed a C-SPAN camera to film health care negotiations; he broke records prosecuting whistle blowers; he increased no-bid contracts; he kept the revolving door spinning; he recruited lobbyists; he hired the most conservative economic team in decades; and sided against a public option for regulating the big banks.

Obama is NOT the standard for our next President.

We need to go far and above beyond what Obama did, and Clinton is the opposite of the choice candidate for the job.

I can tell you this much — Wall Street ain’t worried about a President Clinton.

From Politico,

“Back in Manhattan, the hedge fund managers who’ve long been part of her political and fundraising networks aren’t sweating the putdown and aren’t worrying about their take-home pay just yet. 

‘It’s ‘just politics,’ said one major Democratic donor on Wall Street, explaining that some of Clinton’s Wall Street supporters doubt she would push hard for closing the carried-interest loophole as president, a policy she promoted when she last ran in 2008.

And Robert Wolf, former CEO of UBS Americas and a major Democratic fundraiser, said, ‘As a CEO and former Wall Street executive, I applaud Secretary Clinton’s remarks, and I do not view them as populist nor far left.’

‘’I think people are very excited about Hillary,’ says one Wall Street investment professional with close ties to Washington. ‘Most people in New York on the finance side view her as being very pragmatic. I think they have confidence that she understands how things work and that she’s not a populist.’”

Clinton puts Wall Street down in speeches to the citizens whose vote she needs to be President — and Wall Street doesn’t care.

They know it’s empty. They know it’s just to please us. They know she’s really on their side.

From CNN,

“’We continue to believe Clinton would be one of the better candidates for financial firms,’” wrote Jaret Seiberg of Guggenheim Partners in a note to clients analyzing her plan.

They’re supporting her because she’ll do what they want.

She’s “pragmatic.” She “understands how things work.” She’s “not a populist.”

All those liberal policies she’s espousing? The reason people are drawn to her? The promises she’s giving about what she’ll do in office?

That’s “just politics.”

Issue #5:

Clinton says she has the “best plan,” the “most comprehensive, the most effective, the most comprehensive plan” to rein in Wall Street.

This is damnably false.

As the International Business Times reports,

“’Their policy proposals have two really different focuses,’ said Mike Konczal, a fellow at the progressive Roosevelt Institute… ‘They seem to reflect their public personas. Hillary’s has a lot of footnotes and wonky details whereas Bernie wants to take on the power of the big banks.’

Marcus Stanley, executive director of the advocacy group Americans for Financial Reform, said the differences are largely conceptual. ‘Clinton calls for fine-tuning what regulators are doing already and taking them a step further in some cases. The Sanders proposal is more of a change in direction.’

Clinton’s plan is not tougher. It is smaller and less effective.

As the Atlantic puts it,

”She’s proposing tweaks, when it needs an overhaul…

[In] contrast [to FDR’s Glass-Steagall, Securities, etc. Acts], the Clinton plan is small-scale.

It’s Dodd-Frank 2.0: a list of regulatory tweaks requiring various agencies to write complicated new rules governing obscure corners of the financial markets.

Clinton’s touting a bunch of minor changes to fill the hole in her Elect ME! argument.

Policy experts came up with

“a long list of regulatory ‘enhancements’”

so she’d have a plan of specifics to get behind. And now she’s trying to sell it as the “tougher one,” when, in reality, —

“Clinton is proposing very little beyond what currently exists — nor does she explain how she will get regulators to use the powers they already have.

It sure sounds good, though — which is the whole point.

Clinton is losing ground to Bernie Sanders… whose biggest political asset is his willingness to say what he actually believes.

In response, Clinton is trying to portray herself as the responsible adult who really understands the complexity of the financial system and how to fix it… The premise of Clinton’s plan is that sweeping reforms such as restoring Glass-Steagall are childish, so instead she has to use complexity to communicate seriousness.

If the past seven years — the ones since the financial crisis — have demonstrated anything about the financial system, however, it’s that regulators have little chance of containing the risks posed by large banks such as JPMorgan and Citigroup.

Why do politicians persist in thinking they can change the way the world works by forcing regulators to write some more rules and then try to enforce them? What’s needed are structural changes that reduce the sources of risk directly — for example, by breaking up large banks.. — not more regulatory discretion.

Clinton’s supporters will argue that their candidate understands what she is up against, and that’s why her strategy is to give incremental powers to regulators and encourage them to use those powers (even if they aren’t actually new).

But that was the Obama-Geithner-Summers strategy, and it has had little impact on.. the mismanagement of the financial system.

In the end, the Clinton plan looks like a laundry list of marginally better-than-nothing reforms that are likely to vanish into an abyss of rule-writing and regulatory dithering.

If she wanted to position herself as the heir to President Obama — who talked a good game while leaving Wall Street largely as he found it — she couldn’t have done a better job.”

I had to include all that because it explains, extremely well, why we need to break up the banks.

Clinton’s plan is NOT the strongest. Her plan is to stay within the system and minimally reform it.

Sanders wants to take us in the direction of justice and fairness — not to keep allowing the banks to get away with murder.

——

Clinton is beholden to Wall Street.

The same excuses she’s used for months now were used last night, along with a sprinkling of new ones.

Do not be fooled, my fellow Americans.

While Clinton was praising Wall Street for making millions for themselves and crashing our economy, Bernie Sanders was railing against them, fighting de-regulation, and predicting the ‘07 crash.

——

In 1999, Bernie spoke on the floor of the House, opposing the legislation that would repeal the FDR-era people-protection laws known as Glass-Steagall, saying—

“This legislation… will do more harm than good. It will lead to… taxpayer exposure to potential losses should a financial conglomerate fail. It will lead to more mega-mergers… and further concentration of economic power in this country. This bill is…, however, good for big banks… It is time for the Congress to stand up for the consumers. The big banks are doing fine— let’s protect the consumers. Let’s vote no on this legislation.

The House passed the bill 362-57 over Sanders’ objections.

In 2000, a year later, Bernie grilled Alan Greenspan, then-Federal Reserve Chairman, about what was being done to the economy by all the unregulatedgreedy financial players growing huge amounts of unstable wealth

“What happens if they fail? Who in God’s name is going to bail them out?”

Greenspan told him that,

“We do not believe that…[if] a substantial institution fails, that they should be bailed out.”

But, in 2007, those institutions failed— just as Bernie suspected.

And guess what?

They got bailed out— just as Greenspan denied.

956 institutions were saved by the federal government, including “substantial” ones like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Capital One, KeyCorp, Citigroup, Bank of America, PNC, and the insurance giant AIG.

Instead of allowing them to fail, the government enabled the wealthy to get away scot-free on the taxpayers’ dime. Off the Federal Reserve went, racing to the rescue of the rich and powerful, using the people’s money to do it.

It’s exactly what Bernie worried about in 1999 and 2000.

We’re still paying now for no one listening to him then.

As The Guardian reports,

“The bailout cost us plenty, and continues to do so. Sadly, it is the gift that keeps on giving to the very banks that drove our economy over a cliff – and took trillions in housing wealth, retirement funds, and millions of jobs with it.

…$21bn is no bargain. It’s a hefty sum for a government we’re constantly told is broke – and needs to cut everything from air traffic controllers to Medicare, from meals for needy seniors to public defenders and housing aidBroke – but somehow able to front $700bn for reckless, wildly mismanaged banks.”

Bernie Sanders saw the 2007 Crash coming. He looked ahead and predicted the looming disaster, eight years before it happened.

It’s why he wants to break up the big financial institutions today. He was worried in 1999 and 2000, his fears came true in 2007, and now, in 2016, he understands and is trying to get the American people to understand how desperately we need to break up the banks. 

Bernie knows, like Theodore Trust-Buster Roosevelt, that you cannot let financial institutions grow so massive. Such behemoths breed inequality and instability and, when they (inevitably) crash, the ensuing recession will devastate millions.

This country is based on a system of checks and balances. It is a bastardization of our democracy for the few to be so un-regulated and so un-restrained that they get away with creating massive amounts of fake wealth and an economic sugar-high— a bubble that will, eventually, pop.

Like dragons they hoard their wealth, always seeking to make more, even when it hurts other people, even when they could give away half and not be affected at all, even when the many live with so much less.

It is shameful.

And they will never stop on their own. The way forward is clear—

Break. Up. The. Big. Financial. Institutions.

We need a skittering stop and full-force change in the opposite direction. We need to force the massive financial institutions that control this nation’s cash flow to stop their shameless rapacity. We need to break the stranglehold the rich have over our economy.

There are real people’s lives and livelihoods at stake here. This is gravely serious, my friends.

Hillary Clinton and her “marginally better-than-nothing reforms” are only going to lead us down the exact same path George W. Bush did.

You can’t change Wall Street through minimal reform.

You change it through an overhaul.

And we need that overhaul now, because the next massive crash is already starting.

And when it happens, the government will bail them out again, and the American people will be plunged into a catastrophic wave of suffering yet again.

Bernie never got an honest answer to his question “What if they fail?”

The truth wasn’t the failing of the big banks— it was the growth of child poverty and the continued unemployment of the American people six years after the Recession is supposed to have ended, while the CEOs and executives make more than ever. 

No more empty promises. No more false claims of what your plan will do. We need strong policies and unwavering loyalty-to-the-people.

We need a true leader, someone who will actually stand up to the big players and say, “Enough! You can no longer run this country through your unrelenting and uncontrollable greed!”

We need President Bernie Sanders.

——

NOTE:

THIS HAS BEEN RE-POSTED ONCE FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF VISIBILITY, AS I BELIEVE THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HERE IS VITALLY IMPORTANT (Also, I spent a lot of time on it and foolishly posted it early on a weekday.)

 

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