NBC's Today Show Ignores Hillary Clinton's Record To Claim Personal Wealth Gives Her A “Romney Problem”

NBC's Today Show suggested that Hillary Clinton's personal wealth “is a liability like Mitt Romney in 2012,” ignoring the former senator's extensive history championing policies that help the middle class and attempts to address income inequality in order to compare her to Romney, who called for huge tax cuts for the rich during his last failed presidential run.

NBC Suggests Hillary Clinton Has A “Romney Problem”

NBC Claims Hillary Clinton Has A Mitt “Romney Problem.” During the May 28 edition of Today, the co-hosts framed Hillary Clinton's personal wealth as her “Romney problem.” Network Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell suggested that “scrutiny over” Clinton's personal wealth may “get in the way of her populist message,” going on to claim that it could become a liability for the former secretary of state in the race for 2016 in much the same way it was for Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. [NBC, Today, 5/28/15]

But Unlike Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton Has A Long History Of Advocating For Policies That Support The Middle Class And Address Inequality

Clinton Supported Raising Taxes On Upper-Income Americans Like Herself. During her 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton proposed “return[ing] to the income tax rates for upper-income Americans that we had in the 1990s,” including herself. From a May 2007 speech:

CLINTON: And when the president's irresponsible tax breaks for high-income Americans expire, we will return to the income tax rates for upper- income Americans that we had in the 1990s, rates that were consistent with a balanced budget and economic growth.

For middle-class Americans, who haven't seen their paychecks increase, let's keep the middle-class tax cuts and reform the alternative minimum tax in order to give middle-class Americans the tax relief they deserve to have. [American Presidency Project, 3/29/07]

Senator Clinton Sponsored Numerous Bills To Support Low-Income Americans, Including:

  • Multiple Laws That Would Benefit Women, Children, And Low-Income Individuals. During her Senate tenure, Clinton co-sponsored bills to increase the minimum wage, a measure that would expand Social Security coverage to pregnant women, a bill to provide dental service to disadvantaged children, as well as a bill to provide education for homeless and foster children. Clinton also introduced the Food Insecurity Reduction Act of 2008 that would expand access to food stamps for low-income individuals. [Thepoliticalguide.com, accessed 5/17/15] [Govtrack.us, accessed 5/17/15]
  • Relief For Working Families Tax Act Of 2003. Clinton co-sponsored the Relief for Working Families Tax Act, which supported a lower tax burden for families with children and “working families.” [CCH Tax Briefing, 10/4/04] [Thepoliticalguide.com, accessed 5/17/15]
  • National Affordable House Trust Fund Act Of 2003. Clinton co-sponsored the National Affordable House Trust Fund Act, which supports low income housing by providing funds to communities to “build, preserve, and rehabilitate rental homes that are affordable for extremely and very low income households.” [National Housing Trust Fund, accessed 5/17/15] [Thepoliticalguide.com, accessed 5/17/15]
  • Overtime Compensation Protection Act Of 2003. Clinton co-sponsored a bill to protect overtime compensation in 2003. The bill amended “the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) to prohibit the Secretary of Labor from promulgating any regulation that has the effect of exempting from FLSA overtime compensation requirements (which limit maximum hours at regular compensation) any employee who is not otherwise exempted under regulations in effect on the date of enactment of this Act.” [Thepoliticalguide.com, accessed 5/17/15]

Clinton Played “A Major Role” In Legislating State Children's Health Insurance Program. FactCheck.org reported that as First Lady, Clinton was a driving force for providing health insurance to millions of children through SCHIP, a government program that provided health insurance for uninsured children who did not qualify for Medicaid. FactCheck.org noted that Clinton played a “major role in translating the new law into action.” [FactCheck.org, 3/18/08]

Clinton “Used Her Influence Behind The Scenes To Push For SCHIP.” PolitiFact reported that Clinton's “behind the scenes” influence worked to push SCHIP through Congress:

Clinton is also on solid ground saying that she helped to create SCHIP. Much of the credit for SCHIP usually goes to Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who shepherded the legislation through a Republican-controlled Congress. But the Clinton campaign has said previously that she used her influence behind the scenes to push for SCHIP, and there is evidence to support that.

Soon after the legislation passed, the New York Times reported, “Participants in the campaign for the health bill both on and off Capitol Hill said the first lady had played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in lining up White House support.” [PolitiFact, 1/6/08]

Romney's Economic Proposals Favored The Rich At The Expense Of Low And Middle Class Americans

Tax Policy Center: Romney Tax Plan “Would Provide Large Tax Cuts To High-Income Households, And Increase The Tax Burdens On Middle- And/Or Lower-Income Taxpayers.” A study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center concluded that Romney's plan would have to “provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers” in order to be “revenue-neutral” :

Our major conclusion is that a revenue-neutral individual income tax change that incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed - including reducing marginal tax rates substantially, eliminating the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) and maintaining all tax breaks for saving and investment - would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers. This is true even when we bias our assumptions about which and whose tax expenditures are reduced to make the resulting tax system as progressive as possible. For instance, even when we assume that tax breaks - like the charitable deduction, mortgage interest deduction, and the exclusion for health insurance -are completely eliminated for higher-income households first, and only then reduced as necessary for other households to achieve overall revenue-neutrality- the net effect of the plan would be a tax cut for high-income households coupled with a tax increase for middle-income households. [Tax Policy Center, 8/1/12]

Tax Policy Center: Romney's Tax Plan “Would Require Deep Reduction In Popular Tax Benefits” Like “Benefits For Low- And Middle-Income Families And Children.” The Tax Policy Center study further found that to offset the $360 billion in revenue losses under Romney's tax plan, Romney would be required to make “deep reductions” in tax benefits such as “mortgage interest deduction, the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance, the deduction for charitable contributions, and benefits for low- and middle-income families and children like the EITC and child tax credit” :

Absent any base broadening, the proposed reductions in individual and estate taxes specified in Governor Romney's plan would decrease federal tax revenues by $360 billion in 2015.These tax cuts predominantly favor upper-income taxpayers: Taxpayers with incomes over $1 million would see their after-tax income increased by 8.3 percent (an average tax cut of about $175,000), taxpayers with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 would see somewhat smaller increases of about 2.4 percent (an average tax cut of $1,800), while the after-tax income of taxpayers earning less than $30,000 would actually decrease by about 0.9 percent (an average tax increase of about $130) due to the expiration of the temporary tax cuts enacted in 2009 and extended at the end of 2010.

Offsetting the $360 billion in revenue losses necessitates a reduction of roughly 65 percent of available tax expenditures. Such a reduction by itself would be unprecedented, and would require deep reductions in many popular tax benefits ranging from the mortgage interest deduction, the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance, the deduction for charitable contributions, and benefits for low- and middle-income families and children like the EITC and child tax credit. [Tax Policy Center, 8/1/12]

FactCheck.Org: “We Don't See That” It's “Possible” For Romney Tax Plan Not To Put “A Greater Burden” On Middle-Income Taxpayers. FactCheck.org looked at Romney's tax plan and concluded that Romney “has failed to prove” that his plan will not put “a greater burden, or a larger share of a reduced burden, on middle-income taxpayers.” FactCheck.org further noted that “we don't see that it is” possible for his plan not to burden the middle and lower income taxpayers “based on available evidence” :

But Romney is not arguing that more jobs and growth should compensate for a tax system that puts a greater burden, or a larger share of a reduced burden, on middle-income taxpayers. He's promising that the share of taxes won't change. He has failed to prove that's possible. And based on available evidence, we don't see that it is. [FactCheck.org, 8/3/12]

Wash. Post: Romney Plan Disproportionately Benefits Wealthy In After-Tax Income. Dylan Matthews, formerly of The Washington Post, created a chart using data from the Tax Policy Center report which demonstrated that if the Romney tax plan is paid for with tax break cuts, it would create significant increases to after-tax income for the top 0.1 percent, while the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers would see after-tax incomes fall:

The blue bars indicate how the plan would affect after-tax income if the rate cuts are paid for with tax break cuts, and the red bars show its effects without making up the lost revenue. The top 0.1 percent see incomes that are 8.6 percent higher without paying for the rate cuts, and 4.4 percent higher if they're fully financed. Meanwhile, the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers see incomes fall by 1.1 percent if the rate cuts are paid for by cutting tax breaks. [The Washington Post, 8/1/12]