Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Clinton comes out against the TPP and against Glass-Steagall

Somewhat equivocal, but we expected that.

"As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about (the Pacific Rim trade pact). I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set."

We'll get to Val's bar in a minute.

Hillary Clinton says she doesn’t support reinstating a Depression-era banking law that separated commercial and investment banks because her forthcoming proposal for U.S. financial reform is “more comprehensive.”

Two items, same note: 'I can do better'.  Let's see about that.  First, on the trade bill she formerly supported...

Clinton explained her skepticism by mentioning two of the most common objections to the deal among left-leaning critics: that it's too favorable to pharmaceutical companies, and that it doesn't include language prohibiting other countries from manipulating their currencies to gain a trade advantage.

Thanks, Bernie!

The lack of currency manipulation language is a key concern of the labor movement, whose support could be crucial in next year's Democratic primary elections. Meanwhile, public health groups have raised concerns about language in the TPP that could raise the cost of medicines worldwide.

Obama faces a tough vote on the trade deal next year, and Clinton's comments won't help. They will give political cover to wavering congressional Democrats who want to help Obama but are also feeling grassroots pressure from labor unions and other liberal groups.

Clinton's comments also represent something of a flip-flop. During her time as Obama's secretary of state, from 2009 to 2013, Clinton repeatedly promoted the trade deal. While the final text is different from versions being considered when she was in office, neither of the concerns she's raising today — about benefits to pharmaceutical companies and the lack of language on currency manipulation — have changed since then.

More from HuffPo, and the following from the BBC.

(Sanders) was likely to bring the topic up during the debate and use it against the former Secretary of State, who once called the agreement the "gold standard" for trade negotiations.

By backing away from the TPP, Mrs. Clinton could also be anticipating the arrival of another, more formidable opponent for the Democratic nomination: Joe Biden.

The vice president has made increasingly clear moves toward a presidential bid, and given his current job it would be extremely difficult for him to oppose a key piece of his boss's presidential legacy.

Mr. Biden's campaign would be likely to rely heavily on working-class, union support -- a segment of the Democratic electorate that is firmly opposed to new trade deals. Mrs. Clinton could be digging her trenches now, before the battle commences.

Pretty much a pure political move, designed to appeal to the interests of and/or avoid the criticism of those who would rather be voting for her challengers.  Savvy and craven, a Clinton hallmark.

On Glass-Steagall, the post-Depression law that got banks out of the investment business, created the FDIC, and which was repealed in 1999 by her husband, leading ultimately to the Second Great Depression of 2008...

Who supports it? Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley — two of Clinton’s challengers for the Democratic presidential nomination — as well as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who along with Arizona Sen. John McCain, reintroduced legislation to revive Glass-Steagall this year.

“Despite the progress we’ve made since 2008, the biggest banks continue to threaten our economy,” Warren said in a statement introducing the legislation. “The biggest banks are collectively much larger than they were before the crisis, and they continue to engage in dangerous practices that could once again crash our economy.”

Both Sanders and O’Malley have hit Clinton for her close ties to Wall Street.

“Her closeness with big banks on Wall Street is sincere,” O’Malley said in July. “It’s heartfelt, long established and well known.”

Why doesn’t Hillary? “The big banks are not the only thing we have to worry about,” Clinton said in Iowa Tuesday. “I’ve studied this real closely, and what I am proposing is we go after the risk, and if they are too big to manage, that is a risk and they should not continue. If they are so big that they are causing disruptions on the marketplace, that’s a risk.”

Clinton continued, “If you only reinstate Glass-Steagall, you don’t go after all these other institutions in what is called the shadow banking system — hedge funds and other financial entities that have too much power in our economy. I have what I consider to be a more comprehensive approach to what we need to do to rein in these institutions, including the big banks.”
The Democratic frontrunner also took a swipe at her rivals, like O’Malley, who are seeking to tie her to her husband’s repeal of Glass-Steagall.
“I’m going to go after what I think are the real problems, not the problems on the past,” Clinton said, “because what I’m interested in is stopping something like this from happening again.”

Reinstatement of Glass-Steagall has bipartisan Senate support, as the bill sponsors Warren and McCain would indicate.  The House is probably a different story.  If a Madam President thinks she can get a more rigorous financial regulation bill through the Congress a year and a half from now -- especially with a Democratic Senate led by Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) -- then the next policy announcement we will hear is that Mrs. Clinton supports full legalization of marijuana, because she's high.

Other than the obvious pandering, we seem to have her moving in the left direction.  Which is, again, the most I believe we could hope for.

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