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Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street Connections

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Hillary’s Wall Street Reckoning – Clinton struggles to explain why Goldman paid her $675,000.

President Obama has spent seven years denouncing Wall Street and persuading young progressives that the U.S. economy is rigged for the benefit of wealthy financiers. So how will he now persuade them to support Wall Street’s favorite Democrat?

This is the political trap Mr. Obama has sprung on Hillary Clinton, who made it difficult to watch Wednesday’s Democratic town hall on CNN as she squirmed in response to a question about speaking fees she collected from Goldman Sachs. Host Anderson Cooper asked her whether she really had to be paid $675,000 for giving three speeches.

“Well, I don’t know. That’s what they offered,” said Mrs. Clinton—to much audience laughter. She then tried the argument that every Secretary of State does it, and then settled on the unbelievable claim that at the time she took the money she didn’t know she would be running for President again. Mr. Cooper was so startled he asked her to repeat the point.

The laughter likely occurred because the average voter can guess that the traders at Goldman have a keen sense of value. And they’re not trading $675,000 for the entertainment value of Hillary Clinton appearances.

The long-standing arrangement between Democrats and financial giants like Goldman is that the politicians collect money and get to pose as populists by publicly attacking the big banks, and in return the big banks enjoy high regulatory barriers that prevent smaller firms from competing with them. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer has perfected this bargain, which may have reached its zenith with the Dodd-Frank law of 2010, which brought Wall Street giants and Washington into a historically intimate embrace.

Yes, Wall Streeters love to complain about Dodd-Frank, but they also know it virtually ensures that no upstart finance company in the Midwest is going to challenge Goldman’s position in global finance. “More intense regulatory and technology requirements have raised the barriers to entry higher than at any other time in modern history,” said Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein last year. “This is an expensive business to be in, if you don’t have the market share in scale.”

Mrs. Clinton has been trying to enjoy the customary privileges—squeezing every nickel she can out of New York’s financial district while suggesting that she too is a progressive who wants to occupy the place. Her problem is that she’s now running for her party’s nomination against Bernie Sanders, who actually means what he says about bankers. And she’s running in a party that, thanks to Mr. Obama, increasingly looks at finance not as an essential part of the economy that needs to be moved outside the taxpayer safety net, but as a den of thieves populated by people who ought to be in jail.

As Mrs. Clinton continued her meandering explanation on CNN Wednesday, she tried to say everything that Mr. Obama’s refashioned Democratic Party wants to hear about the banksters. “I’m out here every day saying I’m going to shut them down, I’m going after them. I’m going to jail them if they should be jailed. I’m going to break them up,” she said. “I mean they’re not giving me very much money now. I can tell you that much.”

She can tell people whatever she wishes. But according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which maintains a searchable database of contributions reported to the Federal Election Commission, the securities and investment industry is Mrs. Clinton’s single greatest source of support. Financiers have given her campaign and other pro-Clinton political operations more than $17 million, compared with a little less than $78,000 for Mr. Sanders.

The flood of money to Clinton political committees, on top of the speaking fees, plus whatever other contributions the Clinton Foundation was able to wring out of Wall Street, are among the reasons no one believes her when she talks about breaking up banks and jailing their employees.

When asked on CNN if she regretted her income windfall from Goldman, Mrs. Clinton replied, “No, I don’t, because, you know, I don’t feel that I paid any price for it and I am very clear about what I will do and they’re on notice.”

Mrs. Clinton is the one on notice that there is a political price to be paid for it. And the bill is coming due because she so ostentatiously collected money from people that the President has taught Democratic voters to hate. And because everyone knows why Goldman paid her $675,000.
Source: http://www.wsj.com