Media Ignore How Hillary Clinton's Policies Have Helped Address Income Inequality

››› ››› ALEXANDREA BOGUHN

Mainstream media are highlighting the Clintons' recent disclosure of their personal finances to suggest that Hillary Clinton will not be able to address poverty and income inequality as a 2016 presidential candidate, ignoring how her past policies and work have helped to alleviate these issues.

Clintons Release Report Detailing Earned Income Since January 2014

AP: Hillary And Bill Clinton Release Report On Earned Income. On May 15, Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton released a report outlining their earnings since the beginning of 2014. AP reported:

Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton reported Friday that they earned more than $30 million combined in speaking fees and book royalties since January 2014, putting them firmly within the upper echelon of American earners as the former secretary of state seeks the White House again.

Clinton's presidential campaign reported the income in a personal financial disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday night. The report, required of every candidate for the White House, showed the couple amassed more than $25 million in speaking fees and Hillary Clinton earned more than $5 million from her 2014 memoir, "Hard Choices."

The earnings put the couple in the top one-tenth of 1 percent of all Americans.[Associated Press, 5/15/15]

Media Suggest Clinton's Wealth Means She Is "Tone Deaf" And Incapable Of Addressing Poverty

NBC's Chuck Todd: Will Clinton's Wealth "Lead To Sort Of A Tone Deafness" As She Tries To Tackle Income Inequality? NBC's Chuck Todd questioned whether Hillary Clinton's personal wealth and income from speaking fees would "lead to sort of a tone deafness" as the former secretary of state tries to "talk about income inequality," during the May 17 edition of Meet The Press. [NBC, Meet The Press5/17/15]

Bloomberg: Clinton "Tone Deaf" When Talking About Wealth. In a May 15 report discussing the Clintons' disclosure of their personal finances, Bloomberg asserted that "the couple has at times sounded tone deaf when discussing their wealth." The article also asserted that the new report "will allow Hillary Clinton's opponents from both parties to argue she's the wrong candidate to represent the interests of the middle class," making no mention of how Clinton has previously worked to do just that:

The Clintons' assets put them well within the top 1 percent of Americans for wealth. Those with assets of at least about $7.2 million for 2013 fell into that category, according to New York University professor Edward Wolff.

The financial reports will allow Hillary Clinton's opponents from both parties to argue she's the wrong candidate to represent the interests of the middle class, and that she's beholden to special interests. Republicans immediately began the attack.

[...]

The couple has at times sounded tone deaf when discussing their wealth.

Hillary Clinton said during her book tour last summer that she and her husband "dead broke" when leaving the White House. Weeks later, she apologized for using an "inartful" term that was nonetheless "accurate" in describing their financial standing in early 2001. "We are so successful and we're so blessed by the success we've had. And my husband has worked incredibly hard," she said in a July interview with Fusion. [Bloomberg, 5/15/15]

Wall Street Journal: Clinton Wants To Be "Champion Of Struggling Middle-Class Families" Despite Being "Among The Highest Earners." The Wall Street Journal suggested in a May 16 report that the Clintons' financial disclosure would only "serve as a reminder of the couple's wealth" as Hillary Clinton tries to position "herself as a champion of struggling middle-class families." The article made no mention of Clinton's past policies or work, instead going on to quote Republican National Committee spokesperson Sean Spicer, saying the Clintons' report was proof Hillary Clinton "'is so out of touch'" with the average American:

The Clintons' disclosed income since the beginning of 2014 places them among the highest earners in the top 1% of the population. That is likely to serve as a reminder of the couple's wealth, at a time when she is positioning herself as a champion of struggling middle-class families.

[...]

Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said the disclosures explain what he said are signs that Mrs. Clinton "is so out of touch. She went from 'dead broke' to giving $250,000-a-pop, 30-minute speeches." [The Wall Street Journal5/16/15]

The New York Times Suggests That Clinton's Wealth Hurts Her Ability To Address Poverty And Income Inequality. The New York Times wrote in a May 16 article that due to her personal wealth, Hillary Clinton is "far from those problems" the Democratic candidate hopes to address as part of her 2016 campaign platform, including "policy proposals to narrow the gap between the rich and poor" (emphasis added):

The Clintons' riches have already become a subject of political attacks, and her campaign has been eager to showcase Mrs. Clinton as a more down-to-earth figure. Her only declared Democratic opponent at this point, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, is an avowed socialist, while Republicans like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin have considerably more modest means.

A major dimension of Mrs. Clinton's candidacy is expected to be policy proposals to narrow the gap between the rich and poor and to address stagnant wages. Yet she is far from those problems; while she said she and President Clinton were "dead broke" when they left the White House in early 2001, they are now part of the American elite. [The New York Times5/16/15]

Hillary Clinton Has A Long History Of Advocating For Policies That Support The Middle Class And Address Inequality 

As First Lady, Clinton Worked To Expand Health Care For Millions Of Children

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]

As A Senator, Clinton Advocated For Policies Benefiting Low-Income Individuals

Senator Clinton sponsored and co-sponsored numerous bills that favored low-income Americans, including:

  • 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]
  • 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]
  • 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]
  • 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]

Clinton Has Worked To Reduce Global Poverty And Improve Lives Through Health And Education

Hillary And Bill Clinton Established The Clinton Foundation In 2001. After Bill Clinton left office, he and Hillary Clinton worked to found their non-profit, the Clinton Foundation. The Foundation works globally "to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for women and girls, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change." [ClintonFoundation.org, accessed 5/17/15]

Clinton Global Initiative Invests Billions In Global Development Projects. The Clinton Global initiative is an offshoot of the Clinton Foundation that secures funding for projects supporting global development initiatives, health projects, and other social good movements around the world. [ClintonFoundation.org, accessed 5/17/15]

Clinton Supported Raising Taxes On Upper-Income Americans Like Herself

Hillary Clinton Has Called For Raising Tax Rates On Upper-Income Americans. During her 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton proposed "return[ing] to the income tax rates for upper-income Americans that we had in the 1990s," a move which would impact the former first couple. From a May 2007 speech:

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]

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment, Poverty, Elections, Health Care
Network/Outlet
NBC, The New York Times, Bloomberg
Person
Chuck Todd
Show/Publication
Meet the Press, The Wall Street Journal
Stories/Interests
2016 Elections
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