Elizabeth Warren On Hillary Clinton’s Embrace Of Her Populist Message: ‘Eh’

Clinton agreed to help stop a bankruptcy bill “Warren felt was written, essentially, by the credit-card industry”. Once she become senator for New York, however, Clinton voted for a version of the same bill.

By Ben Jacobs
The Guardian (4/27/15)

Is Hillary Clinton co-opting Elizabeth Warren’s progressive message? Warren has a one-word answer: “Eh.”

The Massachusetts senator and liberal hero added to her inscrutable initial response in an interview with the New Yorker: “She’s laying out her vision for the country and she deserves an opportunity to do that.”

But the opaqueness of her answer will raise eyebrows about Warren’s role as a Democratic party powerbroker as she continues to put pressure on Clinton from the left.

As Clinton turns towards populism to shore up the Democratic base in her run for the White House, her rhetoric increasingly sounds like Warren’s. In an op-ed in the Des Moines Register on Monday, Clinton wrote: “The deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Something is wrong when CEOs earn 300 times more than a typical American worker and hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than a truck driver or a nurse.”

More than words?

Such progressive language serves as a way for Clinton to prove her liberal bona fides and appeal to those in the party skeptical of her ties to Wall Street. According to the New Yorker, Clinton invited Warren to her Washington home in December to listen to the Massachusetts senator’s views on income inequality, and members of Clinton’s team have consulted with one of Warren’s closest advisers about the economy.

Clinton also paid tribute to Warren in Time magazine recently, saying: “She never hesitates to hold powerful people’s feet to the fire: bankers, lobbyists, senior government officials and, yes, even presidential aspirants.”

The New Yorker article also touches on an early incident between Clinton and Warren, when, according to Warren, Clinton agreed to help her stop a bankruptcy bill “that Warren felt was written, essentially, by the credit-card industry”. Once she had become senator for New York, however, Clinton voted for a version of the same bill.

“There were a lot of people who voted for that bill who thought that there was going to be no political price to pay,” Warren told the magazine.

The genuine threat

When the New Yorker presented Warren with the critique – ascribed to Clinton advisers – that she places too much blame on Wall Street as the root of America’s economic problems, Warren responded: “I think it’s important to hold Wall Street accountable. Some of the biggest financial institutions in this country developed a business model around cheating American families, and they put out the riskiest possible products. They sold mortgages that were like grenades with the pins pulled out, and then they packaged up those risks and sold them to pension plans and municipal governments, groups that did not intend to buy high-risk financial products.

“That’s how Wall Street blew up the American economy. That’s a genuine threat, and that’s worth paying attention to.”

And she defended her apparent decision not to run against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. “You think I’m not forcing a debate? Call me back in a year, and ask me what type of debate we’re having.”

Although other Democrats such as former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders have signaled challenges to Clinton’s left, the former secretary of state is the still only declared candidate for the White House.

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