THEIR POLICIES DON’T BEAR DETAILED ANALYSIS: Sanders and Clinton Get Substantive. That’s Where They Go Wrong.
In previous debates, we got bogged down in the need for a new Glass-Steagall. Since the old Glass-Steagall hadn’t actually gone away, and no specific aspects of the theoretical new one were described, this had the ethereal, almost theological flavor of monks discussing how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. To put it in math-esque terms: The possible set of policies included in the phrase “new Glass-Steagall” was so large as to include nearly all possible outcomes, good and bad.
Last night, on the other hand, Clinton decided to stop mucking about with vague promises to bring Wall Street to heel. Instead, she claimed that she was a financial regulator of rare foresight and rarer steely will, hated and feared by the denizens of New York’s financial district. Presumably we are supposed to see that $675,000 she was paid by Goldman Sachs to make three speeches less as a warm gesture between close friends, than as the bags of gold left outside the city gates for the Visigoth king who is threatening to sack the place.
“But what I want people to know,” said Clinton, “is I went to Wall Street before the crash. I was the one saying you’re going to wreck the economy because of these shenanigans with mortgages. I called to end the carried interest loophole that hedge fund managers enjoy. I proposed changes in CEO compensation.”
Finally, specifics! And yet — this was a somewhat surprising claim. Those of us who were writing about financial regulation in 2007 do not recall Hillary Clinton as a fiery crusader against the financial industry. We remember her as being — like all New York senators — rather friendly to the place.
So I went looking for the support for this remarkable statement. Politifact rated a similar statement as true, based on some speeches she gave in 2007, and a plan she put forward in 2008. It is hard, however, to read this collection as a “warning that Wall Street is going to wreck the economy.” It would be more properly termed “Grousing about consumers who can’t afford their bubblicious subprime mortgages,” and vague remarks about transparency and oversight.