Two 2016 Democrat rivals came out swinging last night in Brooklyn, New York and voters watched the dynamic duo as each tried to land stinging verbal punches before New York voters head to the polls next Tuesday, with Bernie Sanders bringing up the “Goldman Sachs” speeches, and Clinton zeroed in on an interview by her opponent regarding “the kinds of problems he had answering questions about even his core issue, breaking up the banks.”
Sanders hits on ‘billionaires’ and ‘campaign reform’
Bernie Sanders got first dibs from CNN hosts to strike first blows, so he took some very polished verbal hits on Hillary Clinton. (Remarks come from the CNNtranscript.) “When we began this campaign almost a year ago, ” Sanders began, “we started off at 3 percent in the polls. We were about 70 points behind Secretary Clinton. In the last couple of weeks, there were two polls out there that had us ahead. Of the last nine caucuses and primaries, we have won eight of them, many of them by landslide victories. Over the last year, we have received almost 7 million individual campaign contributions, averaging — guess what — $27 apiece, more individual campaign contributions than any candidate in American history at this point in a campaign”
Then came what has previously been dubbed as the “very artful smear” of previous debates regarding his accusations that perhaps others could be bought by big political donations. “The reason that our campaign has done so well is because we’re doing something very radical. We’re telling the American people the truth. And the truth is that this country is not going to move forward in a significant way for working people unless we overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision … and unless we have real campaign reform so that billionaires and super PACs cannot buy elections. This campaign is also determined to end a rigged economy where the rich get richer and everybody else get poorer, and create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.”
Clinton hints at ‘New York values’
Clinton touted her own achievements for New York and the nation, also to much applause. “Well, first of all, it’s great to be here in New York, and I am delighted to have this chance to discuss the issues that are important to our future. I was so honored to serve as a senator from New York for eight years and to work to provide opportunity for all of our citizens to make it possible that we could knock down the barriers that stand in the way of people getting ahead and staying ahead. And during those eight years, we faced some difficult challenges together. We faced 9/11. We worked hard to rebuild New York. I was particularly concerned about our first responders and others who’d been affected in their health by what they had experienced. We worked hard to bring jobs from Buffalo to Albany and all parts of New York to give more hard-working people a chance to really make the most out of their own talents.”
Then Clinton slipped in a hit at something a Republican rival, Ted Cruz, said about “New York values” in another debate. “And we worked hard to really keep New York values at the center of who we are and what we do together. And that is — that is exactly what I want to do as your president. We will celebrate our diversity. We will work together, bringing us back to being united, setting some big, bold, progressive goals for America. That’s what I’m offering in this campaign, to build on the work, to build on the value that we share here in New York, to take those to Washington, and to knock down those barriers that in any way hold back not only individual Americans, bur our country from reaching our full potential. That is what my campaign is about.”
Sanders continues to harp on fact that “Secretary Clinton was busy giving speeches to Goldman Sachs for $225,000 a speech.” Asked to name “one decision” that Hillary Clinton made as a New York senator showing that she “favored banks because of the money she received,” Bernie Sanders replied that “[t]he obvious decision is when the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior of wall street brought this country into the worst economic downturn since the Great Recession — the Great Depression of the ’30s, when millions of people lost their jobs, and their homes, and their life savings, the obvious response to that is that you’ve got a bunch of fraudulent operators and that they have got to be broken up.”
Clinton pushed back. “It may be inconvenient, but it’s always important to get the facts straight. I stood up against the behaviors of the banks when I was a senator. I called them out on their mortgage behavior. I also was very willing to speak out against some of the special privileges they had under the tax code. When I went to the secretary of state office, the president — President Obama led the effort to pass the Dodd-Frank bill. That is the law. Now, this is our ninth debate. In the prior eight debates, I have said, we have a law. You don’t just say, we’re upset about this. I’m upset about it. You don’t just say, go break them up. You have a law, because we are a nation of laws.”
‘Shadow banking sector’
But Clinton injected the thought that more should be done. “So I support Dodd-Frank, but I have consistently said that’s not enough. We’ve got to include the shadow banking sector.” What is that sector, many may be asking. According to an article over at the International Monetary Foundation, “[s]hadow banking, in fact, symbolizes one of the many failings of the financial system leading up to the global crisis. The term ‘shadow bank ‘was coined by economist Paul McCulley in a 2007 speech at the annual financial symposium hosted by the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.”
The NewYorkFED writes of this nefarious-sounding entity as well. Four authors, Zoltan Pozsar, Tobias Adrian, Adam Ashcraft and Hayley Boesky, in a 2010 online posting state: “While we believe that shadow banking is a somewhat pejorative name for such a large and important part of the financial system, we adopt it in this paper. Over the past decade, the shadow banking system provided sources of funding for credit by converting opaque, risky, long-term assets into money-like, short-term liabilities.” And in their conclusion, the authors made the statement that “we expect shadow banking to be a significant part of the financial system, though almost certainly in a different form, for the foreseeable future.”
Sarcasm by Sanders
In response to Clinton’s remark that “I stood up against the behaviors of the banks when I was a senator. I called them out on their mortgage behavior,” Sander’s let loose with sarcasm. And then he brought up the speech money.
“Secretary Clinton called them out,” snarked Sanders. “Oh my goodness, they must have been really crushed by this. And was that before or after you received huge sums of money by giving speaking engagements? So they must have been very, very upset by what you did. Look, here is the difference and here is the clear difference. These banks, in my view, have too much power. They have shown themselves to be fraudulent organizations endangering the well-being of our economy. If elected president, I will break them up. We have got legislation to do that, end of discussion.”
Transcript deflection, a hint of innuendo
Clinton was asked by CNN’s Dana Bash “if there’s nothing in those speeches that you think would change voters’ minds, why not just release the transcripts and put this whole issue to bed?” The former Secretary of State replied using deflection and then tossed in some innuendo. “You know, first of all — first of all, there isn’t an issue. When I was in public service serving as the senator from New York, I did stand up to the banks. I did make it clear that their behavior would not be excused. I’m the only one on this stage who did not vote to deregulate swaps and derivatives, as Senator Sanders did, which led to a lot of the problems that we had with Lehman Brothers. Now, if you’re going to look at the problems that actually caused the Great Recession, you’ve got to look at the whole picture. It was a giant insurance company, AIG. It was an investment bank, Lehman Brothers. It was mortgage companies like Countrywide. I’m not saying that Senator Sanders did something untoward when he voted to deregulate swaps and derivatives….”
As CNN’s mod attemted to rein Clinton in a bit, she called out “Madam Secretary” and Clinton kept talking. “… but the fact is he did. And that contributed to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and started the cascade… .” So the mod tried again. “Senator Sanders, one second, please. Secretary Clinton, the question was about the transcripts of the speeches to Goldman Sachs. Why not release them?”
Clinton then brings up tax returns. “I have said, look, there are certain — there are certain expectations when you run for president,” replied Clinton. “This is a new one. And I’ve said, if everybody agrees to do it — because there are speeches for money on the other side. I know that. But I will tell you this, there is — there is a long-standing expectation that everybody running release their tax returns, and you can go — you can go to my website and see eight years of tax returns. And I’ve released 30 years of tax returns. And I think every candidate, including Senator Sanders and Donald Trump, should do the same.”
The mod protested. “Secretary Clinton, we’re going to get to the tax returns later, but just to put a button on this, you’re running now for the Democratic nomination….
And it is your Democratic opponent and many Democratic voters who want to see those transcripts. It’s not about the Republicans…”
Clinton objected, as any well-trained attorney might. “You know, let’s set the same standard for everybody. When everybody does it, OK, I will do it, but let’s set and expect the same standard on tax returns. Everybody does it, and then we move forward.”
Sanders replied to Clinton’s new topic of tax returns. “Well, let me respond. Secretary Clinton, you just heard her, everybody else does it, she’ll do it. I will do it. I am going to release all of the transcripts of the speeches that I gave on Wall Street behind closed doors, not for $225,000, not for $2,000, not for two cents. There were no speeches.
And second of all, of course we will release our taxes. Jane does our taxes. We’ve been a little bit busy lately.”