Monday 20 November 2017

Clinton vows to raise wages in first major policy speech

US Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton arrives on stage to speak outlining economic vision at the New School in New Yor
US Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton arrives on stage to speak outlining economic vision at the New School in New Yor

Luciana Lopez in New York

US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has vowed to raise middle-class wages and took swipes at Wall Street and her Republican rivals in her first major policy speech.

Mrs Clinton said she would appoint strict overseers to ensure that financial institutions never again indulge in the risky behaviour that helped cause the 2008 banking crash.

The former secretary of state warned that banks cannot be "too big to fail".

"As we all know, in the years before the crash financial firms piled risk upon risk, and regulators in Washington either couldn't or wouldn't keep up," she said at the New School, a liberal university in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.

"I will appoint and empower regulators who understand that too big to fail is still too big a problem," Clinton said.

She promised to go beyond the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that imposed stronger regulations on the financial industry.

The former first lady and US senator, Mrs Clinton is the clear favourite to win the Democratic nomination for the November 2016 presidential election but is facing a challenge from Bernie Sanders, a Vermont senator and self-styled socialist who is drawing large crowds at campaign events.

Mrs Clinton put the fight for higher wages for everyday Americans at the heart of her economic agenda, although her speech was short on specific policy proposals.

She said the US economy would run at full steam only when middle-class wages rose steadily along with executive salaries and company profits.

"Corporate profits are at near-record highs and Americans are working as hard as ever but paycheques have barely budged in real terms," Clinton said.

Stepping up attacks against Republican rivals for the White House, Mrs Clinton took a dig at former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who said last week that Americans should have the chance to work longer hours.

"They don't need a lecture, they need a raise," she said. Mrs Clinton also took Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to task for his strong opposition to union collective bargaining.

Mr Walker announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination as expected shortly after her speech yesterday.

Mrs Clinton will unveil more specifics of her economic policy in a series of speeches in coming weeks as liberal Democrats flirting with Mr Sanders seek more details of her plans on increasing the minimum wage, creating universal preschool and investing in infrastructure.

Putting some meat on the bones of her economic policy could divert focus from issues dragging on Mrs Clinton's popularity, including a controversy over her use of a private email account while she was America's top diplomat.

"I think substance is her friend on the campaign because she has credibility as a substantive person, with extensive experience. Thoughtful, innovative proposals are going to help her," said Democratic strategist Bill Carrick.

It remains unclear how Mrs Clinton's tough-sounding language might affect the deep ties she and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, have with Wall Street. Both have been handsomely paid for speeches by major finance and investment institutions in recent years. The finance sector has also been a big source of her corporate donations.

Irish Independent

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