Hillary Clinton, the likely democratic nominee for president, and also the likely next president, has received millions of dollars from the financial elite - millions of dollars from those who have profited from wide-scale fraud, insider trading, money laundering, illegal tax evasion, interest rate rigging, cheating U.S. soldiers on loans, etc.
We also know that the policy preferences of the financial elite are far different from the policy preferences of the middle-class and poor (see "Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans," Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 11, No. 1, March 2013). In sum, and with a few exceptions, they don't give a damn about us.
When Hillary Clinton is on the campaign trail, she is going to say pretty things to get the liberal vote. Once she is in office, however, I predict that she will follow the same strategy that President Obama has followed - she will begin to water down her (claimed) progressive agenda to appease her ultra-wealthy backers. And she will appoint Wall Street insiders into important government positions, just as Obama did. Don't expect her to bring aboard the likes of Robert Reich, Paul Krugman, or Joseph Stiglitz - their advocacy for economic fairness is just too strong for Wall Street to stomach. And on the rare occasion she does bring aboard a progressive thinker, in order to claim, "See, I'm a progressive too," that progressive thinker will certainly be muzzled.
Clinton has been talking a tough game lately, but it should come as no surprise that Wall Street big wigs believe "Clinton is merely adopting a more populist veneer" (the Oxford Dictionary defines "veneer" as "An attractive appearance that covers or disguises someone or something’s true nature or feelings"). At the end of the day, Wall Street knows that Clinton's allegiance lies with them. They trust (they know) she will do the job she is being paid to do - and that job is keeping them wealthy and keeping everyone else in a state of financial insecurity. Oh, she'll push for some minor changes along the margins, in an attempt secure liberal votes for a second term, but she won't ruffle the feathers of those giving her colossal sums of money. Instead, she'll seek "the middle-ground," and strive to be "the adult in the room." And so, as is happening now, the middle-class will continue to shrink and the rich will continue add more billions to their wealth.
There is a better choice for president, an infinitely better choice: Bernie Sanders, a man who has more concern about the middle-class & poor in his pinky finger than the whole rest of the presidential field combined. And since Elizabeth Warren has been adamant about not running, we should throw our support behind Sanders ("Bernie Sanders is running for president," CNN, April 30, 2014).
Here is Sanders' Economic Agenda for America:
1. Invest in our crumbling infrastructure with a major program to create jobs by rebuilding roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants, airports, railroads and schools.
2. Transform energy systems away from fossil fuels to create jobs while beginning to reverse global warming and make the planet habitable for future generations.
3. Develop new economic models to support workers in the United States instead of giving tax breaks to corporations which ship jobs to low-wage countries overseas.
4. Make it easier for workers to join unions and bargain for higher wages and benefits.
5. Raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour so no one who works 40 hours a week will live in poverty.
6. Provide equal pay for women workers who now make 78 percent of what male counterparts make.
7. Reform trade policies that have shuttered more than 60,000 factories and cost more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs.
8. Make college affordable and provide affordable child care to restore America’s competitive edge compared to other nations.
9. Break up big banks. The six largest banks now have assets equivalent to 61 percent of our gross domestic product, over $9.8 trillion. They underwrite more than half the mortgages in the country and issue more than two-thirds of all credit cards.
10. Join the rest of the industrialized world with a Medicare-for-all health care system that provides better care at less cost.
11. Expand Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and nutrition programs.
12. Reform the tax code based on wage earners’ ability to pay and eliminate loopholes that let profitable corporations stash profits overseas and pay no U.S. federal income taxes.
And you can be sure that Sanders' agenda is not a veneer, as Clinton's is. As author and journalist Matt Taibbi highlighted in a recent Rolling Stone article, "He is the rarest of Washington animals, a completely honest person."
So, we have a choice: We can support Hillary Clinton and continue moving towards a more entrenched plutocracy, or we can support Bernie Sanders and perhaps (he would need the support of Congress of course) get something akin to a New Deal, i.e., a government truly for the people.