WASHINGTON, February 27, 2016 — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been criticized for putting forth contrasting positions concerning her relationships with Wall Street bankers. She says, if elected, she will end Wall Street’s irresponsible behavior, which, she claims, has cost Americans billions of dollars.
Yet while Hillary claims she will be tough on Wall Street’s wealthy individuals and corporations, the reality is that their relationship is mutually beneficial for both sides, since there’s ample evidence that Hillary and Wall Street seem to work perfectly well together.
According to Clinton’s web site, if nominated and then elected President, she will impose risk fees on the largest institutions, close the hedge fund loophole, hold bankers accountable for excessive risk taking, impose a tax on high-frequency traders and hold corporations accountable when they “break the law.”
All these actions, while being tough on Wall Street, will also serve to reduce the profits of those companies involved by limiting their opportunities for future growth. Yet she says that “Wall Street must work for Main Street.”
Many Americans, who already question Hillary’s truthfulness, have trouble believing that she will take the actions she threatens, given that Wall Street has paid her millions of dollars just to deliver speeches at corporate events. It is difficult to believe that she will bite the large and well-moneyed hand that feeds her ambitions.
How much has Hillary received from Wall Street?
According to the Washington Post, as of the end of 2015, Hillary had received $21.4 million from hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial services firms in support of her 2016 presidential run: almost 15% of the total funding she has raised. That figure jumps to $44.1 million when the contributions to her allied super PACs are included.
Yet despite the overwhelming support she’s received from Wall Street, she still claims, “I believe strongly that we need to make sure that Wall Street never wrecks Main Street again,” later adding “No bank is too big to fail and no executive is too powerful to jail.”
While campaigning in New Hampshire against her Socialist opponent Bernie Sanders—the heavily favored and eventual winner of that state’s Democrat primary who says he will break up big banks—Hillary said, “Anybody that knows me, who thinks they can influence me, name anything they’ve influenced me on. Just name one thing. I’m out here every day saying, ‘I’m going to shut them down; I’m going after them.’”
American voters are having a difficult time believing that Hillary will really be as tough on Wall Street as she claims. Many Americans wonder what she has actually told Wall Street executives in the past, particularly during those numerous and very profitable speeches she has given to them.
According to CNN, from April 2013 to March 2015, Hillary gave 92 speeches and received total compensation of $21.6 million, or about $207,000 per speech. Many of these speeches were given to financial firms like Goldman Sachs, UBS, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup, all of which can easily afford to pay those ridiculously high fees in return for . . .
And that’s the problem: In return for what?
Any individual or corporation contributing money to a candidate’s political campaign does so believing that if the candidate they support is elected, he or she will take actions favorable to the contributor. If it’s discovered that’s not the case, they will contribute elsewhere.
Even with all of the criticism that’s been leveled at Wall Street executives during this campaign, there is one thing we know for sure: all the executives involved are shrewd businesspeople who make shrewd investments expecting a good return. What will be the return for their Clinton contributions?
Hillary could clear up any current confusion by simply releasing the transcripts of the numerous, lucrative speeches she has made to Wall Street firms. So far she refuses to do so, leading many to conclude her lack of transparency means that what she says to Wall Street differs significantly from what she says to Main Street.
That’s why the perception still remains that Hilary Clinton and Wall Street money are perfect together. Both continue to coexist in a mutually beneficial relationship that neither side wishes to harm.
*Cartoon by Branco. Reprinted by arrangement and with permission via LegalInsurrection.