Human Rorschach test Hillary Clinton unveiled something of a working draft of her economic policy in a speech today, and she had some stern words for some of her close friends and family on Wall Street.
While Clinton's speech overall was light on specifics, she bore down on a few themes that collectively staked out a position to the right of Bernie Sanders and the left of everyone else. But her speech did little to solve facile riddle of "Is Hillary too close to Wall Street?" so now we have to keep talking about it.
Here are some things that Hillary said which will drive people nuts.
- "I know the role that Wall Street can and should play in our economy."
- "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."
- "We’ve imposed tough new rules. but those rules have been under attack by Republicans in Congress and those running for president."
- "We still have to go beyond Dodd-Frank."
- "Serious risks are emerging from institutions in the so-called shadow banking system, including hedge funds, high-frequency traders, non- bank finance companies."
- "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."
- "Corporate profits are at near-record highs and Americans are working as hard as ever but paychecks have barely budged in real terms."
But here is the closest Hillary to being really specific about what she'd actually do about any of this...
"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 or 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. We will ensure no firm is too complex to manage or oversee, and we will also process individuals as well as firms when they commit fraud or other criminal wrongdoing."
There is nothing to really talk about inside that statement other than Hillary is campaigning for president on a platform that Wall Street should not engage in the behaviors that led to the near collapse of the US economy.
Not a detail to be found. It's air.
Oh, she's going prosecute financiers who break the law? Bernie Sanders seemingly wants to arrest people for just working on Wall Street, and Rand Paul announced his campaign using a song that threatens Wall Street with actual, physical violence.
Also, Hillary is raising an eyebrow at the shadow economy of hedge funds. That must make for awkward Sunday dinners when her hedgie son-in-law comes over with his daughter who played a major rhetorical role in Hillary's speech.
So,"Is Hillary too close to Wall Street?"
Who f*cking cares?
Hillary took time in the speech to take a shot at the employment practices of Uber and other "sharing economy" startups? Does that make her a luddite who hates the tech sector?
Judging from the fact that she will be the prime beneficiary of Silicon Valley donations, it appears that she is rather fond of technology.
Perhaps Hillary is a woman who spent eight years as first lady and another eight as the US Senator from New York (which, if geography serves is pretty close to Wall Street) during which time she and her husband built close personal and financial relationships with certain finance types. And perhaps over that same period of time, Hillary came to believe that not all hedge funds are good and not all big banks are evil.
But that's boring, so let's say this.
Hillary Clinton IS close to Wall Street and everyone knows it.
There's no "will they, won't they?" plot point to fawn over here. They HAVE, and it was great for both of them. But now they're on a break while Hillary tries to move back into the White House, so things are going to be said that might hurt feelings.
Hillary and Wall Street might be the Ross And Rachel of American politics, but that doesn't mean we all have to keep acting like Joey.