by Gene Howington
There are many Clinton supporters who tout her as a bonafide progressive bent on reform that will/should benefit all citizens and not just the usual host of monied interests. Despite this, she has been fighting off both scandals from her past and an emergent challenger in Senator Bernie Sanders whose bonafides are beyond reproach as he draws ever growing numbers to his rally events and in many cases dwarfing Clinton’s own events in the same area.
There is no problem identifying part of the problem the corrupting influence of money has on politics. The “revolving door” between the financial industry and government service is well recognized, often putting industry insiders in charge of regulating business that they rapidly return to once leaving office and their marked proclivity for lax regulation and enforcement when it impacts their business interests. This is a problem most if not all politically active adult Americans realizes is serious and contributes largely to the perception of and actual dysfunction of government as an exercise in representative democracy.
Many Clinton detractors point to her long immersion in this culture as a willing and contributory player as an indicator that her progressive credentials are overblown at best and a complete fraud at worst. DISCLOSURE: This author has personally stated on many occasions that HRC is simply “more of the same”. However, evidence keeps mounting that this position may not be wrong.
Ben Jacobs at The Guardian is reporting that two top officials in HRC’s campaign are beneficiaries of the revolving door. As Jacobs describes:
Tom Nides and Robert Hormats, have shuttled between government and Wall Street for years. Nides, who is frequently described as a Clinton confidant, is a longtime Morgan Stanley executive who served as deputy secretary of state for management and resources from 2011 to 2013 before returning to Morgan Stanley. Nides is also the former chairman of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (Sifma), the main lobbying group for Wall Street in Washington DC.
Hormats, a former vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs, served as under secretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment from 2009 to 2013. He is currently vice-chairman of Kissinger Associates, the consulting firm founded by the former secretary of state Henry Kissinger.
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Both Nides and Hormats have a strong history of taking pro-business stances on financial regulation and other issues near and dear to progressives. While at Morgan Stanley, which received a federal bailout, Nides pushed for the Obama administration to “find the right balance” in avoiding criticism of Wall Street in the aftermath of the financial crisis. He also played an important role in the Bill Clinton administration lobbying members of Congress to vote for Nafta in 1993.
Hormats, who has been described as Clinton’s “economic guru”, boasted of the Clinton State Department’s support of the business community in a 2013 interview. He is also on the record being supportive of partial privatization of social security. Hormats also touted the benefits of “widescale deregulation” in the 1990s and strongly supported increased trade with China.
Nides, in particular, has played a major role in Clinton’s current campaign. He has been one of the campaign’s top bundlers of contributions and responsible for raising over $100,000 for the former secretary of state. He has been tipped as a future White House chief of staff in a Clinton administration. Further, employees of Morgan Stanley, where Nides serves as vice-chairman, have given Clinton over $90,000 in the past quarter. This is more than every Republican candidate combined has received from the firm.
To say this puts HRC’s progressive credentials at risk is an understatement. In the column, Neil Sroka (spokesman for the progressive advocacy group Democracy for America) noted, “It’s hard to imagine how a presidential candidate is going to seriously confront the powerful, greed-driven interests on Wall Street when they’re taking advice and staffing cabinet posts with people who just clocked out of the same big banks and investment firms that made bundles from wrecking our economy.” Furthermore, Clinton herself has remained silent on the revolving door issue in contrast to both Senator Sanders – a long time critic of the Wall Street to Washington to Wall Street dynamic – and former Maryland Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Martin O’Malley have strong positions on the issue. O’Malley having gone so far as to propose a three-year waiting period before government officials at agencies that regulate the financial sector can take jobs in the industry.
Is Clinton a force for change? Or is she just more of the same? What do you think?