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Hillary Clinton's Goldman Sachs Problem

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She talks populism, but hobnobs with Wall Street.

From Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
(image by YouTube)

A few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton delivered a much-touted policy speech at the New America Foundation in Washington, where she talked passionately about the financial plight of Americans who "are still barely getting by, barely holding on, not seeing the rewards that they believe their hard work should have merited." She bemoaned the fact that the slice of the nation's wealth collected by the top 1 percent -- or 0.01 percent -- has "risen sharply over the last generation," and she denounced this "throwback to the Gilded Age of the robber barons." Her speech, in which she cited the various projects of the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation that address economic inequality, was widely compared to the rhetoric of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the unofficial torchbearer of the populist wing of the Democratic Party. Here was Hillary, test-driving a theme for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, sticking up for the little guy and trash-talking the economic elites. She decried the "shadow banking system that operated without accountability" and caused the financial crisis that wiped out millions of jobs and the nest eggs, retirement funds, and college savings of families across the land. Yet at the end of this week, when all three Clintons hold a day-long confab with donors to their foundation, the site for this gathering will be the Manhattan headquarters of Goldman Sachs.

Goldman was a key participant in that "shadow banking system" that precipitated the housing market collapse and the consequent financial debacle that slammed America's middle class. (A system that was unleashed in part due to deregulation supported by the Clinton administration in the 1990s.) This investment house might even be considered one of the robber barons of Wall Street. In its 2011 report, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a congressionally created panel set up to investigate the economic meltdown, approvingly cited a financial expert who concluded that Goldman practices had "multiplied the effects of the collapse in [the] subprime" mortgage market that set off the wider financial implosion that nearly threw the nation into a depression.

Hillary Clinton's shift from declaimer of Big Finance shenanigans to collaborator with Goldman -- the firm has donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation -- prompts an obvious question: Can the former secretary of state cultivate populist cred while hobnobbing with Goldman and pocketing money from it and other Wall Street firms? Last year, she gave two paid speeches to Goldman Sachs audiences. (Her customary fee is $200,000 a speech.)

Go to Mother Jones to read the rest of this article.

David Corn is  Mother Jones ' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories,  click here . He's also  on  Twitter  and  FacebookRSS  |    David is (more...)

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Does anyone remember that she was Senator from New... by Samson on Friday, Jun 6, 2014 at 2:02:29 AM
Yes, I was in NY at the time. She voted FOR the P... by Jill Herendeen on Friday, Jun 6, 2014 at 9:04:04 PM
I was just wondering..... Gee! Suddenly Hillary i... by JON LARSEN on Friday, Jun 6, 2014 at 2:08:12 PM
The Clinton's grandchild is/ will be a blood membe... by Textynn N on Friday, Jun 6, 2014 at 3:09:01 PM
I think Warren and Sanders are the only worthy pre... by Bob Davey on Friday, Jun 6, 2014 at 10:56:32 PM
Goldman Sachs is part of the force that is taking ... by Textynn N on Friday, Jun 6, 2014 at 11:33:32 PM
Of course I would vote for someone I liked who ran... by Paul Easton on Saturday, Jun 7, 2014 at 12:34:31 PM
Sorry. Meant to say I wouldnt vote for Warren. ... by Paul Easton on Saturday, Jun 7, 2014 at 12:35:56 PM
Reprehensible person. ... by George W.Reichel on Friday, Jun 6, 2014 at 3:14:15 PM
GoldmanSachs was charged of destabilizing the Euro... by urb musak on Friday, Jun 6, 2014 at 5:59:12 PM
During recent decades Billionaires have realized t... by E. J. N. on Saturday, Jun 7, 2014 at 2:07:19 PM
ahhhhh yes...." to reform, alter, or totally chan... by Pal Palsimon on Saturday, Jun 7, 2014 at 7:04:18 PM
Absolutely right. I know you've been advocating th... by E. J. N. on Sunday, Jun 8, 2014 at 3:01:09 PM