Days after Hillary Clinton delivered her first major campaign speech on economic issues, Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to the Netroots Nation stage on Friday to fulfill her role as America's progressive savior — but the Donald Trumps and Sarah Palins of the Republican Party weren't her only targets. In a passionate headlining address at the gathering of progressive activists, Warren seemingly gave Hillary Clinton some economic advice, including a stark ultimatum about Wall Street politics. The Massachusetts senator’s pointed words will likely raise some eyebrows in the Democratic Party, especially as Clinton’s biggest challenger, the progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders, continues to see his popularity surge.
We probably shouldn’t be too surprised over Warren’s speech. The senator, who has publicly supported both Clinton and her friend Sanders in the past, hardly shies away from calling out those in her own party. But the timing, of course, is obvious: Was Warren not impressed with Clinton's recently revealed economic plan, which was hailed by many writers and news outlets as “fiery," feminist,” “pro-immigrant” and even “progressive"?
Here's a look at where Clinton and Warren may differ on economic reform — and what Warren wants Clinton to do about it if she wins the White House in 2016:
Wall Street In The White House
As we know, Warren isn't that popular on Wall Street, but Wall Street loves Clinton. Or they loved the old Clinton, anyway. On Monday, Clinton took a harsher stance on her former allies and backers, saying:
As a former senator from New York, I know firsthand the role that Wall Street can and should play in our economy, helping main street grow and prosper, and boosting 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 could not or would not keep up. I was alarmed by this gathering storm and called for addressing the risks of derivatives, cracking down on subprime mortgages and improving financial oversight.
Under President Obama’s leadership we have imposed tough new rules that deal with some of the challenges on Wall Street. Those rules have been under assault by Republicans in Congress and those running for president. I will fight back against these attacks and protect the reforms we have made. We can do that, and still ease burdens on community banks to encourage responsible loans to local people and businesses they know and trust.
But perhaps Warren wasn't convinced. The Massachusetts senator told the large crowd at Netroots Nation:
I think anyone running for that job — anyone who wants the power to make every key economic appointment and nomination across the federal government — should say loud and clear that they agree: We don’t run this country for Wall Street and mega corporations. We run it for people.
Both Warren and Clinton brought up Dodd-Frank, the Wall Street-consumer protection legislation passed in the wake of the financial collapse and recession. "Progressives believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher legal enforcement — and that, five years after Dodd-Frank — it’s time to stop pretending and really end ‘too big to fail’ with rules like the Glass-Steagall Act," Warren said Friday, referring to the Great Depression-era legislation that she wants to revive.
Sanders recently said he would support Warren's new Glass-Steagall Act, but Clinton advisers said this week that she would not support the reform. Coincidentally, it was Clinton's husband, Bill, who repealed the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, after nearly 60 years of economic reform.
Although she has wavered on Glass-Steagall, Clinton did address more Wall Street regulation in her sweeping economic address, though the promises were vague. Clinton said Monday:
We also have to go beyond Dodd-Frank. Too many of our major financial institutions are still too complex and too risky. And the problems are not limited to the big banks that get all the headlines. Serious risks are emerging from institutions in the so-called shadow banking system, including hedge funds, high-frequency traders, non- bank finance companies. So many new kinds of entities, which receive little oversight at all.
Boosting The Middle Class
Warren has made middle-class Americans the crux of her career, so it's no surprise she said on Friday that she wants a president who will "embrace the kind of ambitious economic policies that we need to rebuild opportunity and a strong middle class in this country." Will this person be Clinton?
Well, it seems the middle class is the focus of Clinton's campaign, and her recent speech drove at least one point home: Wages. Wages. And more wages.
“The defining economic challenge of our time clear. We must raise incomes for hard-working Americans, so they can afford a middle-class life,” Clinton said in her speech Monday. “We must drive steady income growth that lifts up families, and lifts up our country. And that will be my mission, from the first day I am president to the last.”
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