Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hillary Clinton Offers Her Vision of a "Fairness Economy"

As noted in a prior post, while the Republican 2016 presidential clown car occupants preach an economic/tax plan that will aid the wealthy and vulture capitalists while further harming working Americans, Hillary Clinton has announced her vision for a "fairness economy" where wealth disparities would be less shocking and fewer Americans would be kicked to the gutter by the Republicans and their Christofascist party base.   The New York Times looks at Clinton's proposed economic policy and agenda.  Here are story highlights:
In the most comprehensive policy speech of her presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday presented her vision of a “growth and fairness economy,” an economic agenda intended to lift middle-class wages, expand social services, and increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans to combat a widening gap between rich and poor.

Clinton said “the defining economic challenge of our time” is raising incomes for the vast majority of Americans whose wages have remained virtually stagnant for 15 years as the costs of housing, college, child care and health care have soared.

The widespread feeling that the economic recovery has not benefited large parts of the population has helped frame the 2016 presidential race. But crafting an agenda that addressed income inequality without vilifying the wealthy has been a central challenge of Mrs. Clinton’s early candidacy, and for weeks she pored over policy briefings and academic papers and fielded advice from 200 policy experts who often offered divergent opinions.

Clinton decided to criticize by name three of her potential Republican rivals, adding Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin to the speech in addition to Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor. And considerable hand-wringing went into deciding how forcefully to speak about criminalizing financial industry executives before an audience made up largely of her Wall Street donors.

In the end, Mrs. Clinton did forcefully denounce fraud and manipulation of currency in the financial sector and said there could be “no justification or tolerance for this kind of criminal behavior,” language that some of her top Wall Street backers had been told of in advance. But Mrs. Clinton also appealed to the private sector and Wall Street to work with government to help lift middle-class wages through long-term investment in employees rather than short-term focus on quarterly results.

That vision may not appease the restless left of the Democratic Party and it may not assuage concerns among moderates and independents that Mrs. Clinton is a tax-and-spend liberal. But aides said the speech — even with all of the disparate voices that had weighed in to draft it — presented the clearest encapsulation yet of what Mrs. Clinton’s economic doctrine would look like, and the way in which it would be both similar to and distinct from the policies of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and President Obama.

[T]he message she will carry throughout the campaign, rested entirely on what economists refer to as “the great wage slowdown,” a problem that has persisted through recent administrations, both Democratic and Republican. It has only worsened as globalization and new technology put added pressures on middle- and low-income earners, and has been exacerbated by the rising costs of housing, education and retirement.

The problem has led to widespread frustration; two-thirds of Americans said they thought the distribution of money and wealth in this country should be more even, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in late May.

In her speech, Mrs. Clinton blamed Republicans, pointing to Mr. Walker, Mr. Bush and Mr. Rubio, specifically, for “trickle down” policies that “give more wealth to those at the top, by cutting their taxes and letting big corporations write their own rules.”

Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics who has written extensively about inequality and is now an adviser to Mrs. Clinton, said “the speech showed a clear understanding that our economy is not working for most Americans” and that “we need to fundamentally rewrite the rules.”

To that end, Mrs. Clinton called for closing corporate loopholes, eliminating the “carried interest” loophole that allows some financiers to avoid paying millions in income taxes, and expanding the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill.

[S]he stopped short of endorsing policies championed by Mr. Sanders and others in the liberal wing of the party, including breaking up the big banks and a financial transaction tax, or a government fee on the sale or purchase of certain financial assets. 

Clinton did express her concerns about the emergence of a potentially bigger problem, so-called shadow banking, the system of hedge funds and algorithmic traders that has thrived in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis with little to no government regulation. “Too many of our major financial institutions are still too complex and too risky,” Mrs. Clinton said. 

[T]he economic vision Mrs. Clinton presented on Monday placed a strong emphasis on the issues she has long advocated, including helping women in the work force by advancing “fair scheduling, paid leave and earned sick days,” providing better access to early childhood education and addressing rising health care costs.

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