Behind Closed Doors, Hillary Clinton Sympathized With Goldman Sachs Over Financial Reform
David Dayen, Intercept, Oct 11 2016
Excerpts of Hillary Clinton’s previously secret speeches to big banks and trade groups in 2013 and 2014 show her exalting the work of her hosts, hardly a surprise when these groups paid her up to $225k/hr to chat them up. Far from chiding Goldman Sachs for obstructing Democrat proposals for financial reform, Clinton appeared to sympathize with the giant investment bank. At a Goldman Sachs Alternative Investments Symposium in Oct 2013, Clinton almost apologized for the Dodd-Frank reform bill, explaining that it had to pass “for political reasons”:
If you were an elected member of Congress and people in your constituency were losing jobs and shutting businesses and everybody in the press is saying it’s all the fault of Wall Street, you can’t sit idly by and do nothing. And I think the jury is still out on that because it was very difficult to sort of sort through it all.
Clinton praised Deutsche Bank in a 2014 speech for “the work that the Bank has done in New York City on affordable housing.” While Deutsche Bank has given to anti-homelessness campaigns in the past, it was also cited in a New York State Senate report in January for refusing to maintain foreclosed properties in NYC neighborhoods and costing those communities millions in unpaid fines. Deutsche is also about to face a multi-billion-dollar penalty from the Justice Department for defrauding investors with low-quality mortgage securities, leading to the housing meltdown. Those excerpts were among many listed in an 80-page document prepared by the Clinton campaign, listing potentially damaging quotes from the Democratic nominee’s paid but at that point still secret speeches. The report landed in campaign chairman John Podesta’s email, which was hacked, and then posted by WikiLeaks last week.
In a Nov 2013 speech to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Clinton pronounced herself proud to work with the trade group as a Pindosi senator to “look for ways to help families facing foreclosure with concrete steps.” NAR represents real estate agents, who had no authority to assist distressed homeowners. An Apr 2007 document lists NAR’s priorities in foreclosure mitigation, and they were able to get an amendment exempting mortgage debt forgiveness from being treated as earned income. But the rest amount to “urging” and “supporting” efforts to help homeowners that never happened. Clinton has historically been far less critical of the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington than many other Democrats, and as Sec State allowed two of her top aides, Tom Nides and Robert Hormats, to receive big payouts from their big-bank employers before entering public service. Clinton said to a crowd at Morgan Stanley on Apr 18 2013:
Thank you for lending me Tom Nides for the past two years.
As The Intercept reported in Jul 2015, Nides moved from chief operating officer at Morgan Stanley into Clinton’s State Dept, and when Clinton left Foggy Bottom, Nides went right back to Morgan Stanley as a vice chairman. Clinton joked about the “culture shock” for Nides, working a government job:
You should have seen his face when he learned there were no stock options at the State Dept. But he soon not only settled in very nicely, he became positively enthusiastic when I told him we did have our own plane.
Clinton also gushed about Hormats, who joined her at State after a career at Goldman Sachs, in a 2014 speech at JP Morgan Chase. In excerpts that got some attention last week, Clinton told bankers that financial reform “really has to come from the industry itself,” that “the people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry,” and that blaming banks for the crisis was “an oversimplification.” Bernie Sanders responded in a statement:
Whatever Sec Clinton may or may not have said behind closed doors on Wall Street, I am determined to implement the agenda of the Democrat Party platform which was agreed upon by her campaign, which calls for breaking up the largest financial institutions in this country, re-establishing Glass-Steagall and prosecuting those many Wall Street CEOs who engaged in illegal behavior.
The excerpts reveal that Clinton, when speaking to the financial industry, adopted their mindset and privileged their arguments. The question that arises is whether members of a possible Clinton administration will reflect this worldview, or whether the long primary with Sanders has made that untenable. Some aggressive advocates for progressive appointments believe the latter. Jeff Hauser, Director of the Revolving Door Project said:
At State and on the speaking circuit, Clinton was in an environment that encouraged her to view Wall Street bankers as fonts of economic wisdom. But after 15 months running against a progressive populist like Sanders, Clinton knows that government conducted a by rotating stream of bankers is politically unacceptable.
In Secret Goldman Sachs Speech, Hillary Clinton Admitted No-Fly Zone Would “Kill a Lot of Syrians”
Zaid Jilani, Intercept, Oct 10 2016
Hillary Clinton reiterated her unreserved support for both a “no-fly zone” and “safe zones” in Syria during Sunday’s presidential debate, but in a partial transcript of private remarks she made at a Goldman Sachs event in 2013, she acknowledged some of the complications involved. Her comments were included in an 80-page report prepared by the Clinton campaign listing the most politically damaging quotes from Clinton’s paid speeches, which she has refused to make public. Among the recipients of that report was Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, whose hacked emails were posted by WikiLeaks on Friday. In her remarks to Goldman Sachs, Clinton pointed to the Syrian government’s air defense systems, and noted that destroying them would take the lives of many Syrian civilians. She said:
They’re getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are stand-off missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk, are going to kill a lot of Syrians, so all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes a Pindosi/NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.
She also addressed how much harder it would be to intervene in Syria, compared to Libya, saying:
In Libya we didn’t have that problem. It’s a huge place. The air defenses were not that sophisticated and there wasn’t very… In fact, there were very few civilian casualties. That wouldn’t be the case. And then you add on to it a lot of the air defenses are not only in civilian population centers but near some of their chemical stockpiles. You do not want a missile hitting a chemical stockpile.
While Clinton admitted these complications in establishing a no-fly zone, she also urged other forms of intervention, saying:
And there is still an argument that goes on inside the administration and inside our friends at NATO and the Europeans, on how to intervene. My view was you intervene as covertly as is possible for Pindosis to intervene. We used to be much better at this than we are now.
She also explained how in her view the civil war could have been avoided by offering concessions to the Syrian people, saying that Syrian leader “[Bashar Al-] Assad very well could have in my view bought them off with some cosmetic changes that would not have resulted in what we have seen over the now two years and the hundred thousand deaths and the destabilization that is going on” in the region. At a Jewish United Fund dinner in Oct 2013, she blamed the Toads for complicating efforts to arm ideologically moderate Syrian rebels, pointing to their indiscriminate arming of a wide variety of groups. She said:
Some of us thought perhaps we could, with a more robust covert action trying to vet, identify, train and arm cadres of rebels that would at least have the firepower to be able to protect themselves against both Assad and the AQ-related Jihadi groups that have unfortunately been attracted to Syria. That’s been complicated by the fact that the Toads and others (Turks, Toads & Thanis – RB) are shipping large amounts of weapons and pretty indiscriminately, not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely to cause problems in the future, but this is another one of those very tough analytical problems.
Hillary Clinton Privately Pitched Corporations on “Really Low” Tax Rate for Money Stashed Abroad
Jon Schwarz, Intercept, Oct 10 2016
In public, top Hillary Clinton surrogate Neera Tanden said at the DNC in Philadelphia that there’s no need to cut the federal corporate tax rate from its current 35%. But in private, Clinton says something quite different to corporations and trade groups. An 80-page report compiled by Clinton’s own campaign of potentially damaging remarks she made behind closed doors was published by Wikileaks on Friday. It includes extensive comments on tax policy. During an Oct 13 2014, speech to the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, Clinton told the audience:
A number of business leaders have been talking to my husband and me about an idea that would allow the repatriation of the couple trillion dollars that are out there. And you would get a lower rate, a really low rate, if you were willing to invest a percentage in an infrastructure bank.
Clinton has repeatedly called for increased spending on Pindosi infrastructure, but has never specified where the needed revenue would come from. In a speech the previous month to the Cardiovascular Research Foundation, Clinton also said that a lower rate for all corporate profits regardless of where they are earned “certainly could be on the table” as long as that was “part of a broader package.” However, she specified that “if all you do is lower the rates” that “there’s a price to pay” in terms of lower tax revenue. Pindo MNCs are currently stashing a staggering $2.4 trillion in profits overseas, about 14% of the size of the entire Pindo economy. MNCs are required by Pindo law to pay the statutory 35% tax on profits they earn anywhere on earth, but the tax is not assessed until the profits are brought back to Pindostan. This has allowed Corporate Pindostan to essentially hold Pindosi tax revenue hostage, refusing to pay its taxes until Pindosis become so desperate that they will cut a deal giving MNCs a special new tax rate. This strategy already paid off in 2004, when MNCs got Congress to let them bring back $312b in profits at a one-time rate of about 5%. The legislation required that the cash be used to hire Pindosis or conduct R&D. The MNCs ignored these provisions and instead used the money to enrich their executives and stockholders, while cutting Pindo jobs. Both Hillary and Bill Clinton clearly envision cutting a similar deal during a Hillary Clinton presidency, although presumably they intend for the corporations to keep their part of the bargain this time. Just last month, Bill Clinton told the audience at a Clinton Foundation Event that the corporate tax rate “should be lowered” and then trailed off, as follows:
Put x% of repatriated profits, whatever percent, into buying investments in the national infrastructure program. This is just me now, I’m not speaking for …
Hillary Clinton said the same thing during a private Aug 2014 speech to the software storage company Nexenta:
I would like to find a way to repatriate the overseas earnings and I’ve read a really interesting proposal. … John Chambers and others … basically have said they would be willing to invest a percentage of their repatriated profits in an infrastructure bank … I thought that was a really intriguing idea.
Chambers was the CEO of Cisco at the time, and a vociferous proponent of MNCs refusing to bring their profits home until they receive such a sweetheart deal. Donald Trump has a similar plan to slash corporate tax rates to 15%, with a special rate for repatriated profits of 10%, although without requirements for corporations to participate in funding an infrastructure bank.
Hillary Clinton Touted Her Record of Spreading Fracking in Secret, Paid Speeches
Lee Fang, The Intercept, Oct 10 2016
Behind closed doors on the paid speaking circuit, Hillary Clinton was far more candid than she has been in public about her prominent role as Sec State in exporting Pindosi-style hydraulic fracturing, the controversial, environmentally damaging technique best known as fracking, to countries all over the world. She declared during a 2013 paid talk to Deutsche Bank that she launched a new wing of the State Dept devoted to the initiative, and boasted:
I’ve promoted fracking in other places around the world.
During a paid speech in Canada the following year, Clinton touted her role in “accelerating” natural gas development in Europe, calling attention to Poland’s embrace of fracking as a positive step. The contrast with the rhetoric Clinton has used on the campaign trail is striking. Clinton has rarely spoken in public of her role selling fracking abroad, and at times positioned herself as a skeptic of the controversial drilling technique. In the lead-up to the NY Democrat primary, Clinton’s campaign released a television advertisement that gave the impression that she has worked to discourage fracking. The remarks were quoted in an attachment to one of the hacked emails belonging to campaign chairman John Podesta that were posted by WikiLeaks on Friday. Two days after we asked Clinton in Manchester, New Hampshire, in January to release her Goldman Sachs transcripts, Clinton campaign deputy research director Carter Hutchinson reviewed all her paid speech transcripts in an 80-page report highlighting potential political fallout. It was sent to Podesta and other top campaign aides by Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director. Carrk did not respond to a request for comment.
Clinton’s decision to use fracking as a diplomatic tool has been chronicled by Mother Jones and The Intercept. Earlier this year, we obtained emails from Clinton aides discussing plans to make Poland a “laboratory for testing whether Pindosi success in developing shale gas can be repeated in a different country.” The emails also revealed efforts to partner with energy companies such as Chevron and Marathon Oil. Starting early in her tenure as Sec State, Clinton traveled the globe, encouraging foreign countries to adopt fracking technology. Clinton has both publicly and privately explained that she views fracking, under the right circumstances, as the most environmentally sound method of transitioning away from other fossil fuels such as oil and coal. She has also said that fracking can make Pindostan and other nations energy independent, a foreign policy goal that may weaken gas exporting countries such as Russia. But in private, Clinton has also asserted that there is a conspiracy of Russian-funded groups attempting to suppress fracking development. During a speech to a group in Canada called tinePublic, Clinton claimed that there are “phony environmental groups” that are “funded by the Russians to stand against” fracking. It wasn’t clear which groups Clinton was referring to during those remarks. The Clinton campaign has not responded to a request for comment.