Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Administration's Proposal to Restore Stability to U.S. Financial MarketsThis statement should be printed out, carried around and read five times a day by every Democrat. In four paragraphs, a new vision for the party and the country are laid out.
“When the American people, facing a foreclosure crisis and struggling economy, turned to this administration for help, the answer was no. Now, the administration is turning to the American people for help, to rescue the credit markets and take on hundreds of billions in debt and financial obligations as a consequence of that same foreclosure crisis. The truth is, Main Street came to Washington and got little. Now Washington is coming to Main Street and asking for a lot. The American people deserve to know that this isn't a blank check. While the need to address the current crisis is clear, I will only support steps that will prevent a widening crisis, tackle the worst kinds of abuse tolerated for too long by the Bush Administration, and address the root problems at work.
The proposed intervention outlined today by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would be a watershed moment for our economy. I believe that such an intervention demands that we fundamentally alter the priorities and policies of our nation under the Bush Administration that allowed this crisis to take place and escalate. Corporations that will benefit must be held accountable not only to large shareholders but also to the American people. And American taxpayers deserve to know that their money will not allow for a continuation of the status quo: short term profit at the expense of long term viability; obscene bonuses and golden parachutes regardless of performance; reckless risk taking that have placed the markets in so much jeopardy; rewards for those who foreclose on middle class families and sell mortgages designed to fail to turn a profit; and outsourcing of good jobs to serve short term stock prices instead of America's long term economic health. The prevailing dynamic of corporate America, where the sole priority was the dividend, the inflated bonus and the quarterly earnings report, must give way to a new respect for the long term prosperity of the American worker and the well being of the middle class.
After eight years of failed policies – and two years of an absentee administration – our only option left may be an unprecedented government intervention into the private markets. The markets must be stabilized to stave off wider turmoil. Nevertheless, the urgency of this crisis does not mean that we should offer a blank check to financial institutions or the privileged few. Nor can we simply allow the administration to use the taxpayers like a ‘reset button.’ We cannot allow Wall Street to act without oversight by a vigilant SEC and administration – and without regard for the American people, who will now have paid twice: in falling prey to a widening credit crisis, and in paying the bill to hopefully bring it to an end.
I will be examining the administration's proposal very closely to ensure that we do not approve a policy that may stabilize the markets in the short term without addressing the root problems facing middle class families or the kinds of reckless gambling that was permitted for far too long by the administration. The Bush Administration may have changed its tune once the crisis facing Main Street hit Wall Street. But we need to be sure that the American taxpayers – asked to shoulder yet more risk and responsibility – have a voice.”
The first paragraph captures the power dynamic in Washington. Ordinary citizens cannot get assistance to deal with extreme crises caused by mismanagement of a needed industry. When that industry mismanages its way into the ground, the citizens are supposed to step up and help out. That is what needs to be answered, the power imbalance, not whether Bush's golf buddies can afford that 10th or 11th summer house.
The second paragraph is the most important, as Hillary calls for no less than an FDR level reorganization of the relations between the citizens and the corporations, which means the structure of power will change. The nation is not here to serve the interests of the monied class against the rest.
The third paragraph puts responsibility where it belongs - squarely on the head of the Bush administration. No more of this mealy mouthed "divisive politics of left and right" crap. The division is there because of the "privileged few" using the rest of us like piggy banks. If the fat cats keep screwing up, it's time to put them on a diet.
The fourth paragraph is an announcement of how she shall act and the standard against which Democrats should be judged. It makes clear, once again, that the real problem is not some liquidity issue but the very structure of the financial industry. Just stabilizing the stock market will not suffice, though it is clearly necessary.
See? It's not so hard to do what is right by all parties by being a strong, unapologetic Clinton Democrat. A little less unity and a lot more opposition, please.