Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hillary News & Views 7.15: Iran, Climate Change, and Wall Street

(Editor's note: This post is by Lysis, who has been a guest contributor providing great posts for months. Well, now he's official. Please welcome Lysis as the second regular "staff" writer at Hillary HQ! -Scan)

Following up on yesterday's commitment, these news roundups will now be daily! As always, Clinton's own words are in bold. The biggest news story right now is the historic Iran deal that the Obama administration clinched yesterday. It's been reported that Obama called Clinton personally on Monday night to let her know the deal was complete. Clinton was quick to give her full and unequivocal support:
"I am still studying the details, but based on the briefings I received and a review of the documents, I support the agreement because it can help us prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. With vigorous enforcement, unyielding verification, and swift consequences for any violations, this agreement can make the United States, Israel, and our Arab partners safer... I support this agreement because I believe it is the most effective path of all the alternatives available to the U.S. and our partners to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. So we should applaud President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and Secretary Moniz for getting this done, and proceed with wisdom and strength in enforcing this deal to the fullest and in meeting the broader Iranian challenge."
CNN notes that Clinton's State department legacy is tied to the deal:
What's bound to draw attention as the agreement's political ramifications come into focus: Clinton owns a piece of it. She helped the negotiations get started.
The Democratic presidential front-runner said President Barack Obama -- who tapped her as America's top diplomat in his first term in office -- called her late Monday night to tell her that negotiators had struck a deal: Iran will rein in its nuclear program and allow for close monitoring.
In a meeting yesterday with House Democrats, National Journal reports that Clinton signaled that climate change will be a central issue in her campaign and urged her fellow party members to run on it as well:
Hillary Clinton isn't afraid to talk about global warming—and she wants her fellow Democrats to join her.
In closed-door meetings with House and Senate Democrats Tuesday, Clinton jumped at the chance to discuss the hot-button topic in political terms, numerous lawmakers said. Clinton delivered a clear message: Democrats must convince the American public that action to combat Earth's rising temperatures is urgent, and her party can make that case by tailoring their message to different kinds of voters.
"She was incredible," said Sen. Ben Cardin. "She really relates [climate change] to the current political communities and how we have to do a better job. We know the policy, but we have to do a better job on the politics."
Clinton wants Democrats to grasp the importance of Paris climate negotiations later this year and speak about global warming in a way that resonates with millennials, according to several Senate Democrats. That would be an easy way for Democrats to draw a clear contrast with a GOP presidential field dominated by climate skeptics.
The article also reports that co-chair of the Congressional Progressive caucus is encouraged by Clinton on this and other key issues:
"I thought it was pretty solid," Rep. Raul Grijalva, one of the cochairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said after hearing Clinton speak. "Some of the progressive issues and members have kind of been crying in the wilderness for a while, and now these issues like climate change, income inequality, and the jobs agenda are resonating with the public. And I think that Hillary understands that. ... The fact that the progressive causes and organizations feel more in touch with and included with Hillary now is a mark that she understands that."
Clinton's economic speech is still making news, both for what she did and what she did not say. Business Insider reports that her focus on the gig economy "called out the big economic problem of the next decade":
Whether we like it or not, the gig economy seems to be everywhere. More and more Americans are turning to this semi-freelance way of making a living.
A study from the software company Intuit a few years ago estimated that as much as 40% of the American workforce could be freelancers, independent contractors, or consultants by the year 2020. It's a major, major economic shift...
Today's economy isn't set up to deal with this kind of disruption. Policy, so far, has not addressed it. That Clinton addressed the issue in her speech gives the issue a spotlight and legitimacy, the first step forward.
"This on-demand or so-called gig economy is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation, but it's also raising hard questions about workplace protection and what a good job will look like in the future," she said at the New School in Manhattan on Monday.
So, why is the gig economy a problem?
First off, it's expensive for its workers. What independent contractors gain in flexibility, they lose in benefits. Employment taxes are higher, healthcare is more expensive, and 401(k)s (let alone pensions) don't exist for people who freelance. Even if freelancers get paid the same amount as they would at a regular job, they still have a lot less left over to drive the consumer spending that makes up 70% of the American gross domestic product.
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that Clinton is facing pressure to make the reintroduction of the Glass-Steagall act a campaign issue:
Progressives are pressing Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton to clarify her position on reinstating Glass-Steagall, legislation her husband repealed in 1999 that would break up big banks. Clinton's economic policy speech on Monday made no mention of the Depression-era law, which Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) reintroduced earlier this month.
Clinton's challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running as a Democrat, was one of the eight senators in 1999 who voted against repealing the law. Neil Sroka, communications director for the progressive Democracy For America, called it "patently absurd that any serious 2016 Democratic candidate would refuse to join Elizabeth Warren in the push for a new Glass-Steagall."
The Hill also notes what Clinton said in 2008 about the repeal of Glass-Steagall:
"What I believe the failure in '99 was -- is that once you removed some of those barriers between banks and investment banks and the kind of business that could be done by banks -- that there needed to be new regulatory framework. But there was no appetite in the Republican Congress or with a Republican president to take the second step."
Think Progress, meanwhile, is describing her as "unexpectedly tough" on Wall Street:
Clinton dedicated a significant portion of her address to calling for reform, saying we have to “go beyond Dodd-Frank” because many U.S. financial institutions are still too complex and risky. She also specifically called out institutions in the “shadow banking system” — hedge funds, high frequency traders and non-bank finance companies — that receive little oversight and are frequently involved in misconduct and criminal behavior.
“As a former Senator from New York, I know first-hand the role that Wall Street can and should play in our economy,” she said, speaking about the industry’s ability to boost new companies that make America more competitive globally. “But 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.”
To that end, she said she would continue and expand new rules issued by President Obama’s administration to crack down on Wall Street and to extend oversight.
“Those rules have been under assault by Republicans in Congress and those running for president,” she said.
While the institutions involved in misconduct have been held accountable, Clinton said the individuals responsible frequently get off unscathed. She vowed that under her leadership, they wouldn’t be allowed to pocket the profits. Instead, she proposed requiring them to put money into a trust fund to benefit the public or to be returned directly to taxpayers. She also spoke out against stock buybacks, saying they shouldn’t be used for an immediate boost in share prices, and denounced companies that hold down or decrease pay in order to cut costs and inflate quarterly stock prices.
It seems that with the Glass-Steagall controversy, it might be best for her to release those proposed regulations earlier than planned. Then again, as Slate notes, Clinton's economic platform's framework isn't leftist, centrist, corporatist or populist, to borrow some frequently used Kossack adjectives. It's feminist:
What tends to get overlooked is that Clinton has something else on offer for liberals: She's a strong feminist who takes advocacy for women and girls very seriously. Clinton injected feminism into her speech on Monday, noting the loss of female participation in the labor market and how we should strive to get more women working. “The United States used to rank seventh out of 24 advanced countries in women’s labor force participation,” Clinton explained. “By 2013, we’d dropped to 19th. That represents a lot of unused potential for our economy and American families.”
What makes the Clinton campaign especially interesting is that she pushes the narrative that women's issues are inseparable from economic concerns. Sex discrimination, reproductive rights, equal pay, affordable child care, universal pre-K: All of these issues are fundamentally about the economic well-being and contributions of half the population—or much more than half, actually, since the policies that benefit women also benefit their male partners and families. As Clinton noted in her speech, “We can’t afford to leave talent on the sidelines.” Putting feminism at the center of your campaign is a brave move, but also an economically rational one.
More on Clinton: The Hillary 2016 Platform Series: Part 1: Criminal Justice Reform Part 2: Immigration Reform Part 3: Voting Rights

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if Hillary's proposals will go beyond Glass-Steagall. I imagine she'll have much to say about this at some point.