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Book Excerpt

How Hillary Clinton's Goldman Sachs Speeches Cost Her the 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)
Joe Lauria

Hillary Clinton. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from “How I Lost by Hillary Clinton,” introduced and annotated by Joe Lauria and reprinted by arrangement with OR Books. The book draws on the WikiLeaks releases of Clinton’s talks at Goldman Sachs and the emails of her campaign chief, John Podesta, as well as key passages from her public speeches. “How I Lost by Hillary Clinton” also includes extensive commentary by Lauria and a foreword by Julian Assange, editor in chief of WikiLeaks. For a limited time, Truthdig readers can buy “How I Lost” from OR Books for 20 percent off — just use coupon code HILLZ20 on the last page of checkout.

Between April 2013 and March 2015, Hillary Clinton gave 91 paid speeches averaging $235,304.35 apiece, for a total of $21,648,000. Three weeks after delivering the last speech, on April 12, 2015, Clinton announced her second bid for the presidency. During the campaign she steadfastly refused to release transcripts of her Wall Street speeches. But on October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks published the full transcripts as part of its Podesta email release.

Clinton spoke to just about anyone who would pay, including a scrap metal and recycling conference in Las Vegas, the automobile dealers association in New Orleans and the National Association of Convenience Stores in Atlanta. Clinton said that fees from speeches at universities went to the Clinton Foundation and not directly into her pocket. That didn’t stop students at the University of Nevada Las Vegas protesting her $225,000 haul as the university was hiking tuition.

Excerpts in this book are principally from the three speeches she gave in 2013 to Goldman Sachs executives for a total of $675,000. Asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper at a town hall event in New Hampshire on February 3, 2016, whether it was a mistake to accept that much money, Clinton responded: “That’s what they offered.” A Washington Post column the next day was headlined,
“Hillary Clinton is going to really regret saying these 4 words about Goldman Sachs.”

Also included in these pages is a selection of emails from the Podesta trove illuminating why, for the second time in eight years, Hillary Clinton failed to return to the White House as president.

* * *

These remarks from Clinton speeches, contained in a leaked Podesta email dated January 1, 2016 were labeled “red flags” that would mark Clinton as an economic elitist out of touch with average Americans.

Tony Carrk, Clinton’s campaign research director and the author of the email, recommended covering up these private positions in public. “There is a lot of policy positions that we should give an extra scrub with Policy,” he writes.

FAR REMOVED
Hillary Clinton remarks at Goldman-BlackRock, February 4, 2014, in New York. BlackRock has 13,000 employees and manages $5.1 trillion in assets, making it the world’s largest asset management company.

CLINTON: I am not taking a position on any policy, but I do think there is a growing sense of anxiety and even anger in the country over the feeling that the game is rigged. And I never had that feeling when I was growing up. Never. I mean, were there really rich people? Of course there were. My father loved to complain about big business and big government, but we had a solid middle class upbringing. We had good public schools. We had accessible health care. We had our little, you know, one-family house that, you know, he saved up his money, didn’t believe in mortgages. So I lived that. And now, obviously, I’m kind of far removed because the life I’ve lived and the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy, but I haven’t forgotten it.

In many of her speeches Clinton appears to personify the individualism and acquisitiveness rampant at the top in America. Here at least she recognizes the “growing sense of anxiety” and “even anger in the country.” Having said that, she admits she can’t relate to it and implies she’s having difficulty formulating policy to deal with it. That proved fatal in the 2016 election. Newspaper stories about being “kind of far removed because the life I’ve lived and the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy” did not endear her to Rust Belt and other working-class voters. Nor did it to Colin Powell, who in a 2014 email revealed by DC Leaks called Clinton “a 70-year person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still dicking bimbos at home.” The following email from Neera Tanden, a Clinton adviser and president of Podesta’s Center for American Progress, likewise casts Clinton as someone unable to connect with ordinary people.

Email from Neera Tanden to John Podesta, August 22, 2015.

I know this email thing isn’t on the level. I’m fully aware of that. But her inability to just do a national interview and communicate genuine feelings of remorse and regret is now, I fear, becoming a character problem (more so than honesty).

THE PROBLEM OF BIAS AGAINST RICH PEOPLE
From remarks at a Goldman Sachs Builders and Innovators Summit, with Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, October 29, 2013. This was Goldman’s second annual summit with entrepreneurs held outside Tucson, Arizona.

CLINTON: Yeah. Well, you know what Bob Rubin [estimated 2012 net worth of $100 million] said about that. He said, you know, when he came to Washington, he had a fortune. And when he left Washington, he had a small—

BLANKFEIN: That’s how you have a small fortune, is you go to Washington.

CLINTON: You go to Washington. Right. But, you know, part of the problem with the political situation, too, is that there is such a bias against people who have led successful and/or complicated lives. You know, the divestment of assets, the stripping of all kinds of positions, the sale of stocks. It just becomes very onerous and unnecessary.

Here Clinton is saying she doesn’t much like ethics rules that require public officials to eliminate conflicts of interest, which Clinton has been dogged with since her days as a lawyer at the Rose Law Firm doing business with the Arkansas state government while her husband was governor.

‘THE DEPLORABLES’

Of all the remarks Hillary Clinton made that could offend average Americans, none perhaps was as devastating as her assertion that half of Trump’s supporters were “deplorables,” a claim that she made on camera—no leak was necessary. It was accompanied by calls for understanding and empathy for Americans victimized by an extreme market economy, but that part of her message never got through.

From an on-the-record speech by Clinton to a gala LGBT fundraiser in New York on September 9, 2016:

CLINTON: I know there are only 60 days left to make our case—and don’t get complacent, don’t see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think, well, he’s done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people—now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks—they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

But the other basket—and I know this because I see friends from all over America here—I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas—as well as, you know, New York and California—but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

Clinton had previously made similar disparaging remarks about some workers to an Israeli TV station: “You could put Trump’s supporters in two big baskets. They’re what I call the deplorables. The racists and the haters and the people who are drawn because they think he can somehow restore an America that no longer exists.” These voters are “the paranoiac prejudicial element within our politics.” This is a stinging rebuke to victims of an America that no longer exists largely because of the neoliberalism of Clinton and her backers.

A POLITICAL MODERATE—IN PRIVATE

This remark, that what was needed in American politics were two “sensible, moderate” parties, would not be surprising except that later Clinton, with Bernie Sanders snapping at her heels, tried to convince voters that she was a “progressive.”

From the Tony Carrk email. Excerpt of a discussion with Ursula Burns, the Chairperson of Xerox Corporation, and Hillary Clinton in New York, March 18, 2014.

URSULA BURNS: Okay. We’ll go back to questions.

CLINTON: We need two parties.

BURNS: Yeah, we do need two parties.

CLINTON: Two sensible, moderate, pragmatic parties.

TAKING FLAK FOR WALL STREET

From remarks to Goldman Sachs AIMS Alternative Investments Symposium, October 24, 2013 in New York.

CLINTON: That was one of the reasons that I started traveling in February of ’09, so people could, you know, literally yell at me for the United States and our banking system causing this everywhere. Now, that’s an oversimplification we know, but it was the conventional wisdom. And I think that there’s a lot that could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing what happened with greater transparency, with greater openness on all sides, you know, what happened, how did it happen, how do we prevent it from happening? You guys help us figure it out and let’s make sure that we do it right this time. And I think that everybody was desperately trying to fend off the worst effects institutionally, governmentally, and there just wasn’t that opportunity to try to sort this out, and that came later.

This is notable because the blame Clinton places on Wall Street for the 2008 crash is so tepid. The crash came about in significant part because of the dismantling of banking regulations by the successive administrations of her husband and George W. Bush. Rather than calling for more regulation, breaking up banking monopolies, or even nationalizing banks, she asks the very culprits to “figure it out” so “we do it right this time.” Clinton’s use of “we” underscores the barely covert ruling partnership of government and private finance.

Tellingly, she names only two victims of Wall Street’s perfidy: Wall Street itself and government—not ordinary Americans: “Everybody was desperately trying to fend off the worst effects institutionally, governmentally,” she says. “Everybody” apparently includes only those in high finance and government. Clinton is, of course, expert at telling an audience what they want to hear, especially one that she knew she’d need once she declared for the presidency. Clinton here attempts to convince her audience that she is one of them, someone who’d go to bat for them—as she did when she was secretary of state and took a hit on their behalf as she traveled in a world shaken by their greed. She was rewarded by a total of $115.5 million in donations from the financial services industry to her campaign and associated PACs out of a total of $1.2 billion raised. (Trump raised only $7.9 million from Wall Street.)

READ: Hillary Clinton the Fear of War With Russia

CLINTON AND GLASS-STEAGALL

The Glass-Steagall Act was passed in 1933, in the depths of the Depression, to separate commercial from investment banking, thus curbing speculation with ordinary Americans’ savings. It was repealed by Congress in 1999 after a push from President Bill Clinton and his Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Ending the act made the pending October 1998 merger of Citicorp with Travelers Group possible, creating the first super bank, Citigroup. And who became chairman of the new banking conglomerate when he left government? None other than Rubin himself. In his primary campaign against Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders called for the reenactment of Glass-Steagall, a position Clinton rejected, despite the consternation of some of her advisers, as is seen in these two leaked emails. Clinton adviser Neera Tanden is trying to come up with a debate answer that will make Clinton look “progressive” and not “pro-bank” without actually calling for the return of Glass-Steagall. And Ron Klain, chief of Clinton’s debate prep team, suggests Clinton finesse her way around the problem by saying that Glass-Steagall can’t be brought back because it is out of date and that new legislation is needed.

From: Neera Tanden
To: Jake Sullivan (Clinton’s top foreign policy adviser in the campaign)
Date: September 12, 2015
Subject: Re: Glass steagall

I would say that if there’s a bank that needs to be broken up she needs a glass steagall tool to break them up. She can’t really do that now. However, I’m open to saying a pattern of too much complexity. So it’s finding several banks. But I’m trying to find a debate answer not a policy rollout. Happy to think longer for that kind of answer. Obviously she can’t break up any bank on her own. The higher cap requirements are designed to assure much less likelihood of failure. We have pushed for higher ones. But we live in a quandary which is no one knows what any of this means and glass steagall has the most resonance with reporters and the like.

From: Neera Tanden
To: Gary Gensler (Clinton campaign’s chief financial officer)
Date: September 12, 2015
Subject: Glass steagall

First I would expect Biden to endorse glass steagall if he gets in. What do we think he and warren [U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who favors restoring the Act] were discussing for the hour? But we will know something [like] that hopefully before the debate. But it would be my bet that he ends up in favor. To answer Gary’s email, we have an essential conundrum. Glass Steagall has become shorthand for tough on the banks with the left. Again, I’m not saying it’s fair or unfair. It just seems very hard to undo in the time we have. So we can say all these things you’d like her to say but when she says she’s against reinstating on that debate stage I am worried that will be shorthanded as she’s pro-bank. We all have different discussions about policy with different people and different assessments. But a lot of people see an ftt. [financial transaction tax] as a criticism of Wall Street simply by being a tax on stocks. Though I’m all for making brokers pay it. It’s not like people are super distinguishing the banks, hedge funds and Wall Street. But hey, if she had been for reinstating glass steagall, that would create a different calculus for an ftt Given we are not for reinstating, I think that makes an ftt even more of an imperative. And at least it gives her something to say about taking a tough stand in this realm. Now I think I’ve at least properly beaten this dead horse for my part.

From: Gary Gensler
To: Neera Tanden
Date: September 12, 2015
Subject: Re: Glass steagall

Neera, And here I thought that I affirmatively offered an alternative way that keeps the horse was [sic] alive: We revise our risk proposals to center or include explicit laws to allow for regulators to downsize or restructure the largest banks. Not Glass Steagall, but clearly putting HRC in camp of breaking up Too Big to Fail Banks. Gives her a clear answer on debate stage. She would be for downsizing these Banks but not in a 1930’s way. In fact she would be addressing the real issues of size, risk and complexity, not just some rhetoric about an old law about lines of business. It actually can be articulated as bolder than Glass Steagall, depending how structured. Dial up all the way to a size limit or dial still high [sic] to explicitly give regulators greater authorities to downsize and restructure. To criticism that not Glass Steagall, she responds that she is actually broader than simply focusing on what lines of finance these firms can be in. To question of why not just break them up now she says that best go give to experts rather than make a political decision. Horse still alive in my mind. Just a slightly different horse – more appropriate for the times than an old nag from thee 1930’s [sic].

Gary

From: Ron Klain (chief of Clinton’s debate prep team)
To: Jake Sullivan
Date: Oct 3, 2015, at 11:39 AM

*She should move 95% to Warren on Glass Steagall.* I think you can avoid the flip flop, but survive the Warren primary by saying: “Of course I wouldn’t bring back Glass Steagall—that’s a law written 80 years ago before we had anything like the current banking system. But I agree with Sen. Warren that—given the ongoing misconduct in the banking industry—we need to erect a wall between banking and non-banking activities. If I became President, I would sit down with her and develop a 21st century version of Glass Steagall that provides sound separation between basic banking and riskier activities, but still keeps America’s financial institution’s competitive.” Just my view, FWIW [For what it’s worth].

Ron

In the first Democratic debate, ten days after Klain’s email, Clinton ignored Glass-Steagall though she was asked directly about it, simply saying she had a better plan.

From the first Democratic debate, October 13, 2015, Las Vegas, Nevada.

CLINTON: There’s this whole area called “shadow banking.” That’s where the experts tell me the next potential problem could come from. … If only you look at the big banks, you may be missing the forest for the trees.

ANDERSON COOPER (CNN): Senator Sanders, Secretary Clinton just said that her policy is tougher than yours.

SANDERS: Well, that’s not true.

[Laughter]

COOPER: Why?

SANDERS: Let us be clear that the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street, where fraud is a business model, helped to destroy this economy and the lives of millions of people. Check the record. In the 1990s—and all due respect—in the 1990s, when I had the Republican leadership and Wall Street spending billions of dollars in lobbying, when the Clinton administration, when [Fed Chairman] Alan Greenspan said, “what a great idea it would be to allow these huge banks to merge,” Bernie Sanders fought them, and helped lead the opposition to deregulation. [Applause]

Today, it is my view that when you have the three …

COOPER: Senator…

SANDERS: … largest banks in America—are much bigger than they were when we bailed them out for being too big to fail, we have got to break them up. … In my view, Secretary Clinton, you do not—Congress does not regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress. [Applause] And we have gotta break off these banks. Going to them …

CLINTON: So …

SANDERS: … and saying, ‘please, do the right thing’ …

CLINTON: … no, that’s not what …

SANDERS: … is kind of naive.

‘WE ARE NOT DENMARK’

In the same debate Clinton revealed why she does not believe in the European-style social democracy that provides government-subsidized health care and education while maintaining a regulated free market system that puts breaks on runaway profit-making.

SANDERS: Well, we’re gonna win because first, we’re gonna explain what democratic socialism is. And what democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent—almost—own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. That when you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States. You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we’re not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have—we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth. Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished.

[Applause]

CLINTON: Well, let me just follow-up on that, Anderson, because when I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families. And I don’t think we should confuse what we have to do every so often in America, which is save capitalism from itself. And I think what Senator Sanders is saying certainly makes sense in the terms of the inequality that we have. But we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America. And it’s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn’t run amok and doesn’t cause the kind of inequities we’re seeing in our economic system. But we would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history. …

Clinton was never explicit about why she felt the U.S. could not become a European-style social democracy. Certainly such a transition is economically possible. The U.S. is the richest nation on earth. It spends more on defense than the next ten nations combined. Cutting its military budget and raising taxes on the wealthy could easily facilitate substantial social democratic programs. But Clinton appears to believe that America’s obsessive commitment to profit makes this impossible.

THE PERCEPTION THAT THE GAME IS RIGGED
The following remark was made by Clinton to an audience at Deutsche Bank on October 7, 2014 in New York.

CLINTON: Now, it’s important to recognize the vital role that the financial markets play in our economy and that so many of you are contributing to. To function effectively those markets and the men and women who shape them have to command trust and confidence, because we all rely on the market’s transparency and integrity. So even if it may not be 100 percent true, if the perception is that somehowvthe game is rigged, that should be a problem for all of us, and we have to be willing to make that absolutely clear. And if there are issues, if there’s wrong-
doing, people have to be held accountable and we have to try to deter future bad behavior, because the public trust is at the core of both a free market economy and a democracy.

Clinton shied away from calling for bankers to be jailed until exactly one month before the election when on October 8 she said bankers who broke the law should be criminally prosecuted. This came as she was appealing to Sanders supporters to vote for her, and just a day after the leaked transcripts of her speeches were published.

IN FAVOR OF SELF-REGULATION
From remarks to Deutsche Bank, October 7, 2014 in New York:

CLINTON: Remember what Teddy Roosevelt did. Yes, he took on what he saw as the excesses in the economy, but he also stood against the excesses in politics. He didn’t want to unleash a lot of nationalist, populistic reaction. He wanted to try to figure out how to get back into that balance that has served America so well over our entire nationhood. Today, there’s more that can and should be done that really has to come from the industry itself, and how we can strengthen our economy, create more jobs at a time where that’s increasingly challenging, to get back to Teddy Roosevelt’s square deal. And I really believe that our country and all of you are up to that job.

This makes clear that Clinton believed the people who should fix the economic crisis are the very people who caused it. Her invocation of Teddy Roosevelt is risky with this crowd—were he alive today he would likely be the strongest voice calling to break up the big banks.

From remarks to Goldman Sachs AIMS Alternative Investments Symposium, October 24th, 2013 in New York.

CLINTON: I mean, it’s still happening, as you know. People are looking back and trying to, you know, get compensation for bad mortgages and all the rest of it in some of the agreements that are being reached. There’s nothing magic about regulations, too much is bad, too little is bad. How do you get to the golden key, how do we figure out what works? And the people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry. And I think there has to be a recognition that, you know, there’s so much at stake now, I mean, the business has changed so much and decisions are made so quickly, in nanoseconds basically. We spend trillions of dollars to travel around the world, but it’s in everybody’s interest that we have a better framework, and not just for the United States but for the entire world, in which to operate and trade.

Clinton is here addressing a Goldman Sachs crowd on the issue of banking regulation. Between 2008 and 2015, Goldman Sachs alone spent millions of dollars lobbying against the Dodd-Frank financial regulations—the response to the 2008 financial crash. After Obama signed it into law in 2010, the lobbying efforts shifted to impeding its implementation. Only 38 of the almost 400 regulations were completed. The Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission delayed rulings, creating regulatory gridlock. In the following years, Wall Street successfully lobbied Congress to attach various new restrictions on regulations to must-pass legislation like Budget Resolutions, capturing the Democratic support needed to approve the deregulatory amendments.

Clinton has a long history of fighting regulation unfriendly to business. At the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas in the late 1970s, she helped craft a legal strategy to undo regulations that hampered the profits of the local electric company.

WALL STREET CAMPAIGN FUNDING

From remarks to Goldman Sachs AIMS Alternative Investments Symposium, October 24, 2013 in New York.

CLINTON: Running for office in our country takes a lot of money, and candidates have to go out and raise it. New York is probably the leading site for contributions for fundraising for candidates on both sides of the aisle, and it’s also our economic center. And there are a lot of people here who should ask some tough questions before handing over campaign contributions to people who were really playing chicken with our whole economy.

Clinton here is coming down hard on the side of Wall Street donors, advising them to hold politicians to account before turning over their cash—a candid admission about who holds the levers of power.

From remarks to General Electric’s Global Leadership Meeting on June 1, 2014 in Boca Raton, Florida.

CLINTON: Obviously as somebody who has been through it, I would like it not to last as long because I think it’s very distracting from what we should be doing every day in our public business. I would like it not to be so expensive. I have no idea how you do that. I mean, in my campaign—I lose track, but I think I raised $250 million or some such enormous amount, and in the last campaign President Obama raised $1.1 billion, and that was before the Super PACs and all of this other money just rushing in, and it’s so ridiculous that we have this kind of free for all with all of this financial interest at stake, but, you know, the Supreme Court said that’s basically what we’re in for. So we’re kind of in the wild west, and, you know, it would be very difficult to run for president without raising a huge amount of money and without having other people supporting you because your opponent will have their supporters. So I think as hard as it was when I ran, I think it’s even harder now.

Clinton is here referring to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizen’s United decision, which overturned prohibitions dating back to the Progressive Era on campaign contributions coming from company coffers. Companies still can’t contribute directly to campaigns. But the court’s ruling has unleashed large amounts of uncapped money, which can remain secret, to political action committees (PACs). The PACS are legally supposed to have no contact with political campaigns, but they are playing an increasingly influential role in American politics. Clinton is treading delicately here. Do big donors really want to spend less on politicians? Reducing the cost of running, as Clinton suggests, might lessen politicians’ dependence on them. It is noteworthy that Clinton is telling this wealthy audience that she has “no idea” how to solve the problem of money in politics, though there are plenty of reform proposals out there.

REPRESENTING WALL STREET
From remarks at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, a financial securities law firm, in San Diego, September 4, 2014.

CLINTON: When I was a Senator from New York, I represented and worked with so many talented, principled people who made their living in finance. But even though I represented them and did all I could to make sure they continued to prosper, I called for closing the carried interest loophole and addressing skyrocketing CEO pay. I also was calling in ’06, ’07 for doing something about the mortgage crisis, because I saw every day from Wall Street literally to main streets across New York how a well-functioning financial system is essential. So when I raised early warnings about subprime mortgages and called for regulating derivatives and over complex financial products, I didn’t get some big arguments, because people sort of said, no, that makes sense. But boy, have we had fights about it ever since.

Clinton may well have raised those matters in the Senate, but her efforts did not translate into adopted legislation. In debate prep questions and answers in an email from Clinton adviser Neera Tanden on August 11, 2015, Clinton is prepared to say that “back in 2006, 2007 and 2008, I was on the front lines in pushing back against the excesses in the subprime market. I introduced legislation about this.” But a video emerged showing her blaming homeowners for the coming crisis in 2007. She said home buyers “should have known they were getting in over their heads.”

Remarks to Goldman Sachs AIMS Alternative Investments Symposium, October 24, 2013, in New York.

CLINTON: I represented all of you for eight years. I had great relations and worked so close together after 9/11 to rebuild downtown, and a lot of respect for the work you do and the people who do it, but I do—I think that when we talk about the regulators and the politicians, the economic consequences of bad decisions back in ’08, you know, were devastating, and they had repercussions throughout the world.

Though Clinton is here mildly chastising Goldman Sachs executives for 2008, Carrk still flagged her comment as potential trouble for the campaign because she prefaces it with praise and appreciation for the “great relations” she’s enjoyed with the bankers. Clinton made a similar remark about her close relations with Wall Street in the aftermath of 9/11 during a November 14, 2015, debate with Bernie Sanders. But, oddly, she invoked that relationship as a defense for receiving huge Wall Street donations.

Debate with Bernie Sanders, November 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.

SANDERS: I have never heard a candidate, never, who’s received huge amounts of money from oil, from coal, from Wall Street, from the military industrial complex, not one candidate, go, “Oh, these—these campaign contributions will not influence me. I’m gonna be independent.” Now, why do they make millions of dollars of campaign contributions? They expect to get something. Everybody knows that.

CLINTON: He has basically used his answer to impugn my integrity, let’s be frank here. …You know, not only do I have hundreds of thousands of donors, most of them small, I am very proud that for the first time a majority of my donors are women, 60 percent. So I—I represented New York. And I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild.

SANDERS: Here’s—this issue touches on two broad issues. It’s not just Wall Street. It’s campaigns, a corrupt campaign finance system. And it is easy to talk the talk about ending—Citizens United. But what I think we need to do is show by example that we are prepared to not rely on large corporations and Wall Street for campaign contributions.

ON THE VIRTUES OF OPEN MARKETS
Remarks to Goldman Sachs Builders and Innovators Summit, Tucson, Arizona, October 29, 2013

CLINTON: There is a still continuing movement toward open markets, toward greater innovation, toward the development of a middle class that can buy the products. As Lloyd was talking in his intro about the work that you do creating products and then making sure there’s markets by fostering the kind of inclusive prosperity that includes consumers is a positive trend in many parts of the world now. Democracy is holding its own, so people are still largely living under governments of their own choosing. The possibilities of technology increasing life span and access to education and so many other benefits that will redound to not only the advantage of the individual but larger society.

Clinton is here pushing the neoliberal myth that “continuing movement toward open markets” and “greater innovation” develops a middle class “that can buy the products.” While rising middle classes in China and India have opened up markets for American goods, more than 30 years of declining wages and benefits in the U.S. has proven just the opposite.

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