Clinton’s Speech on “The Economy”: Where’s the Beef?

If you are a long-time Naked Capitalism reader, you’ll remember that we like to use our magic markers to color important speeches, both to highlight the clever use of rhetorical figures for emulation, and to call bullshit where needed. So here we have what the Times billed as former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s “first major speech on the economy” — whenever you hear “the economy,” ask “Whose economy?” — and so it’s time to break out the magic markers again.

My first reaction, when I read the transcript, was that the speech sounded specific, but wasn’t. So as an overview, I’d like to run two simple tests. First, I’ll see where Clinton uses figures. Then, I’ll look at where Clinton uses dollar signs.

Here are all the places Clinton uses the digits 0–9, in context:

$ grep -E -o ".{0,30}[0-9].{0,30}" clinton.txt

 1 For 35 years, Republicans have argue
 2 Twice now in the past 20 years, a Democratic president
 3 Nearly 23 million jobs, a balanced budg
 4 t and provided health care to 16 million  Americans.
 5 Today is not 1993 . It’s not 2009 . So we need solutions for th
 6 l businesses create more than 60 percent of new American jobs
 7 stic product by an estimated $700 billion over 10 years .
 8 e the human genome did in the 1990s and President Obama’s ini
 9 rican workforce over the past 40 years was responsible for mo
10 re than $3.5 trillion in economic growth. 
11 he United States used to rank  7th out of 24 advanced countrie
12 labor force participation. By 2013, we had dropped to  19th.  T
13 households making around $3 million a year by almost $240,000 
14 and raise lifetime incomes by 25 percent. And –
15 I’m committed to seeing every 4-year-old in America have acce
16 uality pre-school in the next 10 years. But I want to do more
17 re their own children in that 0 to 4 age group.
18 ysically formed by the age of 3. That’s why families like min
19 ek-old or a six-week-old or a 10-week-old, but we do it becau
20 ergarten, she will have heard 30 million more words than a ch
21 nearly 6 million young people aged 16 to 24 in America today 
22 of young black men and nearly 15 percent of all Latino youth 
23 panies do that, I proposed a $1,500 tax credit for every work

Now let’s categorize all each occurrence of a figure in the form of a table:

Table I: Figures in Clinton’s Economic Speech

Figure Class (example) Occurrence Line Number
Years (“35 years,” “1993”) 1, 2, 5, 8, 9
Past Achievements (“23 million jobs”) 3, 4
Factoids, economic (“60 percent of American jobs”) 6, 7, 10, 11, 12
Factoids, income (“making around $3 million”) 13, 14
Factoids, children (“formed by the age of 3”) 18, 19, 20,
Factoids, labor (“6 million young people”) 21, 22
Programmatic, children (“) 15, 16, 17
Programmatic, other (“$1,500 tax credit”) 23

So, although Clinton’s speech sounds like it’s peppered with specifics, there are really only two programs that are specific enough to put any numbers to at all: One concerns the demographics of early learning (lines 15, 16, 17), and the other is a $1,500 tax credit for training. That’s pretty thin gruel. Where, for example, is reducing Social Security eligibility to 60, so as many old codgers like me as possible can leave the work force, and free up some jobs for the young people?

Here are the results for dollar signs:

$ grep -E -o ".{0,30}\\$.{0,30}" clinton.txt

1 estic product by an estimated $700 billion  over 10 years.
2 was responsible for more than $3.5 trillion  in economic growt
3 for households making around $3 million a year  by almost $24
4 mpanies do that, I proposed a $1,500 tax credit  for every wor

For this result, I don’t need to make a table, but for the sake of symmetry:

Table II: Dollar Amounts in Clinton’s Economic Speech

Dollar Amounts Class (example) Occurrence Line Number
Factoids, economic (“an estimated $700 billion”) 1, 2
Factoids, income (“making around $3 million”) 3
Programmatic, other (“$1,500 tax credit”) 4

So, the $1,500 tax credit is the only program Clinton will commit to in dollars. (One might have thought a $15 an hour minimum wage might have been mentioned. Or the cost of pharmaceuticals. Examples could be multiplied.)

So, I think we’re quite justified in asking of Clinton — with Clara Peller, and as Walter Mondale famously did of Gary Hart — “Where’s the beef?” So with that context, let’s dive into the text of the speech; I’ll be color coding it as documented in the table below.

* * *

Category Note

Secular religion

A mish-mash of phrases from the Framers, Lincoln and MLK echoes, and so forth


Bathos is an abrupt transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace

Neo-liberal catchphrase

“Free market,” “innovation,” “hard choices” etc.


“Our most vulnerable citizens”

Bipartisan shibboleth

“The troops,” for example

Dead metaphors/cliche

“Ring the changes on,” “take up the cudgel for,” “toe the line,” “ride roughshod over,” etc. (Orwell)

Sheer nonsense

Word salad
Falsehood or truthiness A terminological inexactitude
Equivocation Lawyerly parsing and weasel wording


“Ladies and gentleman,” and so forth.

To the transcript!

* * *

CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you very much, President Van Zant, and thanks to everyone at the New School for welcoming us today. I’m delighted to be back.

You know, over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to listen to Americans’ concerns1 about an economy that still isn’t delivering for them. It’s not delivering the way that it should. It still seems 1, to most Americans that I have spoken with3 , that it is stacked for those at the top4.

1 Which “Americans”? The economy is clearly delivering for some Americans, so who is Clinton’s audience? And who are Clinton’s programs going to benefit? We’ll see this equivocation throughout.

2 “Seems”? Rather, is.

3 OK, so now for “Americans” we have “most Americans that I have spoken with” (not a large number, surely).

4 “[S]tacked for those at the top” reads a little oddly; more usual would be “stacked against those at the bottom,” but perhaps Clinton doesn’t want to categorize those not at the top as at the bottom.

But I’ve also heard about the hopes that people have for their future — going to college without drowning in debt; starting that small business they’ve always dreamed about; getting a job that pays well enough to support a family and provide for a secure retirement.1

1 Part of my privilege is that I grew up in a world where such things seem normal, so today’s conditions seem deviant, and I expect a reversion to the mean. Clearly, that won’t happen spontaneously.

Previous generations of Americans built the greatest economy and strongest middle class1 the world has ever known on the promise of a basic bargain:2 if you work hard and do your part, you should be able to get ahead. And when you get ahead, America gets ahead. But over the past several decades, that bargain has eroded. Our job is to make it strong again3.

1 “Middle class” is a notoriously mushy and nebulous term.

2A “bargain” between “Americans” (or “most Americans” (“that I have talked with”) or “the middle class” and whom? “Those at the top”? A bargain between equals? An unconscionable contract? What? Again, “whose economy”?

3 Bargains are not geological; they do not “erode.” And what is “eroded” is not “made strong,” although it may be repaired or replaced. To a reader, we have language that is both hazy and curiously flat, as if it’s been worked over by too many advisors or focus groups. And does Clinton even get the social contract right? She states:

[I]f you work hard and do your part, you should be able to get ahead.

We’re in secular religion mode here, so I’ll refrain from pointing out this “basic bargain” doesn’t now and never did apply to all “Americans.” But I don’t see “getting ahead” as the only clause in the bargain. How about not being thrown away like garbage when you’re old? Or entering a job market that isn’t a wasteland of crapification when you’re young? Phillip Bobbit (hat tip to alert reader ex-PFC Chuck for reminding me of Bobbit’s Shield of Achilles) frames our basic bargain in these terms:

The “market-state” is the latest constitutional order, one that is just emerging in a struggle for primacy with the dominant constitutional order of the 20th century, the nation-state. Whereas the nation-state based its legitimacy on a promise to better the material well-being of the nation, the market-state promises to maximize the opportunity of each individual citizen.

Bobbitt further argues that “the past several decades,” as Clinton has it, has been marked by a change in the constitutional order from nation-state to market-state. And note well that Clinton’s “get ahead” formula is much closer to the latter than the former.

For 35 years1, Republicans have argued that if we give more wealth to those at top by cutting their taxes and letting big corporations write their own rules, it will trickle down, it will trickle down to everyone else. Yet every time they have a chance to try that approach, it explodes the national debt, concentrates wealth even more and does practically nothing to help hard-working Americans.

1 16 of which were under Democratic Presidents, and current Republican dominance of the House and Senate beginning on Clinton’s watch. Neoliberalism is a thoroughly bipartisan project.

Twice now in the past 20 years1, a Democratic president has had to come in and clean up the mess left behind.2

1 Come on. Bush II was a mess — although on income inequality, supposedly one subject of this speech, Obama has been worse than Bush (2012; 2013) — but Bush I wasn’t.

2At least according to Stephanie Kelton the Clinton I surplus, of which Democrats is so proud, led to the recession in the early years of Bush II.

I think the results speak for themselves. Under President Clinton — I like the sound of that — America saw the longest peacetime expansion in our history.1

1 No matter the causalities, and no matter the dot com bubble — and at least we got “the Internet” out of it, instead of a continent’s-worth of McMansions — that record is why the Clintons are remembered, by some, with a degree of affection. (“Back then my salary kept going up, and I even had dental!”) The left would do well to remember that delivering concrete material benefits — the needs at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy, not the self-actualization stuff at the top — is critical; that’s why FDR put several generation’s-worth of good will on the asset side of the Democratic balance sheet (although if Bobbitt is correct, under a different constitutional order.)

Nearly 23 million jobs, a balanced budget and a surplus for the future 1, and most importantly, incomes rose across the board, not just for those already at the top. Eight years later, President Obama and the American people’s hard work pulled us back from the brink of depression. President Obama saved the auto industry, imposed new rules on Wall Street and provided health care to 16 million Americans. 2

1 Democrats should must abandon the view that balanced budgets and surpluses are a sign of virtue; they are not. And until they do, they will be in the policy straitjacket that they helpfully donned after people like the Peterson Institute helpfully held it for them; always a grand bargain of one sort or another; always “pay for.” How did FDR help win World War II, after all? By cutting domestic spending? With a balanced budget? Fiscal policy matters only for the effects it produces in the real economy.

2 Clinton is a lot more equivocal on Obama’s record than one might expect; perhaps the Clinton campaign has in fact managed to get a dim sense of reality about what people outside the Beltway are experiencing. “New rules” on Wall Street isn’t prosecution of criminal banksters for accounting control fraud, after all; and “16 million” is a useful reminder that ObamaCare is by no means universal.

Now today — today, as the shadow of crisis recedes and longer-term challenges come into focus1, I believe we have to build a growth and fairness economy. You can’t have one without the other.2 We can’t create enough jobs and new businesses without more growth3, and we can’t build strong families3 and support our consumer economy without more fairness. We need both.

1 There’s something about the language of this speech that really bugs me, but it’s hard to put my finger on it (and that’s perhaps by design). Granted, I’m used to parsing Obama’s “soaring rhetoric,” so I may be holding Clinton to a standard that’s too high (!). But look at those cliches carefully. First, although “crisis” and “challenge” are commensurate conceptually, and also help sound patterning by both starting with “c” (as does “come,” following them), “shadow” and “long-term” are not commensurate: “Shadow,” though a dead metaphor, at least nods toward the real-world, but “long-term” is just a stale bureaucratic formula. And we move from the space in which shadows appear, into time, the realm of the “long term,” and finally the visual field of the photographer or optometrist, with “come into focus.” I’m not sure whether these hazy, blurry transitions between incommensurates are the results of the collective speechwriting process in the Clinton campaign, or the candidate’s habits of the thought, or are obfuscatory by intent as well as in effect, but this haziness is pervasive throughout the speech. Also pervasive is lack of agency: There is a “crisis.” Why? For whom? But it “recedes.” Why? For everybody?

2 Sure you can. “The economy” is growing perfectly well for the 1%. (Clinton will square the circle on what NCers call “groaf” and climate with infrastructure below.)

3 Odd, perhaps even a category error. I would have thought that jobs and new businesses (in their aggregate and including network effects) created growth, and not the other ay around. The abstract (“growth”) creates the concrete (“new businesses”).

4 Along with general (1) haziness and (2) lack of agency, we see a third general characteristic of this speech: (3) Unclear constituency. Of course, Clinton and the Democrats are supposed to be making a populist turn, so this claim may seem outrageous, but look at the language. The people — dare I say, “classes” — for whom “the economy” is supposed to “deliver,” were “Americans.” Then they were “Americans” Clinton talked to. Now they are “strong families.” Leaving aside the unmarried adult, for whom presumably the growth and fairness economy will not deliver, these abstractions, again, are incommensurate. The Waltons are a strong family (as Clinton surely knows well, being on the Walmart board). Will Clinton’s economy deliver for them? Deliver as the Waltons conceive it? (And it’s not an answer to say “Everybody will benefit!” The lesson Obama has carefully taught us is that everybody doesn’t benefit.)

Because while America 1 standing again, we2 are not yet running the way we should. Corporate profits are at near record highs and Americans are working as hard as ever. But paychecks had nearly budged in real terms. Families today are stretched in so many directions, and so are their budgets. Out of pocket costs of health care, child care, hearing for aging parents, are rising a lot faster than wages.

1 There are several glitches in this paragraph: “America [is] standing,” “had nearly” for “have nearly not”, “hearing for” instead of “caring for.” I hope these are transcription or teleprompter errors.

2 What to you mean, “we”? (This is another way of saying “unclear constituency.”)

I hear this everywhere I go. A single mom talked about juggling a job and classes at community college while raising three kids. She doesn’t expect anything to come easy. But if she got a raise, everything would not be quite so hard.1

1 I’m coloring this populist because it is (even though I share the presumed empathy).

The grandmother who works around the clock providing child care to other people’s kids. She’s proud of her work, but the pay is fairly1 enough to live on, especially with the soaring price of her prescription drugs.

1 Another glitch.

The young entrepreneur whose dream of buying a bowling alley where he worked as a teenager was nearly derailed by his student debt. If he can grow his business, he can pay off his debt and pay his employees, including himself, more, too. 1

1 Clinton’s language really improves with these examples; the haziness is gone. The plain style works for her, here.

Millions of hardworking Americans tell similar stories. Wages need to rise to keep up with cost, paychecks need to grow. Families who work hard and do their part deserve to get ahead and stay ahead1. The defining economic challenge of our time clear2. We must raise incomes for hard-working Americans3, so they can afford a middle-class4 life. We must drive steady income growth that lifts up families5, and lifts up our country. And that…

1 Unclear constituency, and echoes of the Victorian “deserving poor.”

2 Another glitch; should be “is clear.”

3 , 4 , 5. Unclear constituency.

And that will be my mission1, from the first day I am president to the last. I…

1 “I will be your champion” seems to have been scrubbed.

I will get up every day thinking about the families1 of America, like the family I came from, with a hard-working dad who started a small business and scrimped, and saved, and gave us a good middle- class life. I will be thinking about all the people that I represented in New York 2 and the stories that they told me, and that I worked with them to improve. I will, as your president take on this challenge against the backdrop of major changes in our economy and the global economy that did not start with the Recession and will not end with the recovery.2

1, 2 Unclear constituency. I mean, Clinton represented Wall Street banksters in the Senate, and all those banksters were very hard-working and most have families (“like” her “hardworking dad”).

2 Translation: “Economies persist over time.” The parallelism, conceptual and sonic, of “Recession” and “recovery” conceals… nothing. There is nothing to conceal.

You know, advances in technology and expanding global trade have created new areas of commercial activity and opened new markets for our exports. Too often they are polarizing our economy, benefiting high skilled workers, but displacing and downgrading blue-collar jobs and other mid-level jobs that used to provide solid incomes for millions of Americans.1

1 Notice the difference between “high-skilled workers” and “blue collar jobs”; the first are people; the second is an abstraction. Who are the Americans who have “blue collar jobs”? Is the “single mom juggling a job and classes one of them”? Clinton does not say.

Today’s marketplace1 focuses too much on the short-term, like second to second financial trading, and quarterly earnings reports, and too little on long-term investments. Meanwhile, many Americans are making extra money renting out a small room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car.2 This on-demand, or so-called gig economy is creating exciting economies3 and unleashing innovation.3

1 By which Clinton means the stock market as opposed to, say, the ObamaCare MarketPlace (or Bobbit’s “market state”).

2 Unclear constituencies. Are the “Americans” who own homes in big cities and rent out rooms out “blue collar”? How about the website designers an online sellers? Maybe yes, maybe no. Presumably they are not on the Walmart board. But Clinton does not say. Oh, and the car is “their own” unless they decided to go into hock with Uber for it with a subprime loan.

3 “Exciting economies” of what? Scale?

4 “Unleashing innovation” is a double cliche! It’s also worth mentioning that both Uber and AirBnB enter markets by breaking local regulations. That’s called “disruption,” and is their real innovation. Otherwise, they’re about as innovative as CraigsList.

But it is also raising hard questions1 about work-place protections and what a good job will look like in the future.

1 Unclear constituency: “Hard” for whom? (At least in Southeast Asia, the advantage of Uber is that you get a “professional” with a phone, as opposed to a working class person with imperfect teeth and dark skin from growing up working in the fields. I imagine a similar dynamic applies in this country.)

So, all of these trends are real and none, none is going away. But they do not determine our destiny. The choices we1 make as a nation matter. And the choices we2 make in the years ahead will set the stage for what American life in the middle class and our economy3 will be like in this century.

1, 2 Whaddaya mean, “we”? I’m going to stop marking “we,” now. Presumably readers are sensitized.

3 Unclear constituency. Does “American life in the middle class” include “blue collar”? “Americans”? “Americans I have talked to”? “Hard-working families”?

As president, I will work with every possible partner to turn the tide to make these currents of change start working for us1 more than against us, to strengthen, not hollow out, the American middle class2. Because I think at our best, that’s what Americans do. We are problem solvers, not deniers. We don’t hide from change; we harness it.3

1 Hazy. “Currents of change” don’t “work for us.” We might “navigate,” or “sail” them.

2 Unclear constituency. I would have thought that “blue collar workers” were hit hardest by the “hollowing out” process, as private equity shipped manufacturing overseas, leaving industrial wastelands behind.

3 This “hide”/”harness” dichotomy/parallelism (conceptual, sonic) is about as high as Clinton’s plain style soars.

The measure of our success must be how much incomes rise for hardworking families1, not just for successful CEOs and money managers1 and not some just arbitrary growth targets untethered to people’s lives and livelihoods.

1 Unclear constituency. What is it that differentiates CEOs and money managers from “hardworking families”? (Presumably also “Americans,” “Americans I have talked to,” the “middle class,” “skilled workers,” “blue collar jobs,” as well as, by courtesy, those who are not married.) What is it? What could it be? And whatever it is, do “successful” CEOs have it, and “unsuccessful” CEOs not?

I want to see our economy work for the struggling, the striving and the successful1. We’re not going to find all the answers we need today in the playbooks of the past2, we can’t go back to the old policies that failed us before, nor can we just replay the successes.

1 A trichotomy with sonic parallelism.

2 Sonic parallelism.

Today is not 1993. It’s not 2009. So we need solutions for the big challenges we face now.

So today, I’m proposing an agenda1 to raise incomes for hardworking Americans2, an agenda for strong growth, fair growth and long-term growth.3

1 An agenda which, if we go by the speech to this point, will be (1) hazy, exhibit (2) lack of agency, and have (3) unclear constituencies.

2 Which includes, or does not include, “successful CEOs”? And “families”?

3 Trichotomy with sonic parallelism (“growth”).

Let me begin with strong growth.1 More growth means more jobs and more new businesses.2 More jobs give people choices about where to work.

1 One problem with the speech generally is the lack of signposting. When the “growth” trichotomy was introduced, it just seemed like another example of rhetorical patterning. Now, with “let me begin,” it turns out Clinton will use it to structure the speech.

2 As above, Clinton reverses the causality.

And employers have to offer higher wages and better benefits in order to compete with each other to hire new workers and keep the productive ones.1 That’s why economists tell us that getting closer to full employment2 is crucial for raising incomes.

1 Hasn’t happened so far! I will, however, give Clinton credit for saying that wages should actually be raised. No doubt there’s already panic on Wall Street.

2 “Full employment” however that number may be gamed.

Small businesses create more than 60 percent of new American jobs on net1, so they have to be a top priority. I’ve said I want to be the small-business president, and I mean it. And throughout this campaign, I’m going to be talking about how we empower entrepreneurs with less red tape, easier access to capital, tax relief and simplification.2

1 Leaving aside whatever “on net” might mean, and leaving aside Clinton’s ready acceptance of the “job creators” concept, “more than 60 percent” is a dubious factoid, turning on how “small business” is defined. For example, a small business can employ 500 people, so Clinton’s agenda might not be relevant to the guy who wants to start the bowling alley at all. So, underneath the dubious factoid lies an unclear constituency.

2 Stealing the Republican’s clothes programmatically as well as conceptually. And what the heck is the difference between “less red tape” and “simplification”? Simplification of what?

I’ll also push for1 broader2 business tax reform to spur investment in America, closing those loopholes3 that reward companies for sending jobs and profits overseas.

1 At this point, I think I’m going to have to add a fourth characteristic to the three — (1) haziness, (2) lack of agency, (3) unclear constituencies — already mentioned: (4) Can-kicking. As we are about to see, Clinton’s agenda is no such thing. An agenda is actionable. That Clinton’s agenda — with the country in the state that it’s in — turns out to be a laundry list with no specifics whatever, despite the ginormous scale of the Clinton policy machine and the “progressive” nomenklatura should be a scandal. It won’t be, of course.

2 Hazy. Broader than what?

3 Can-kicking. Which loopholes? Whose oxen get gored?

And I know it’s not always how we think about this, but another engine of strong growth should be comprehensive immigration reform.1

1 Can-kicking. What does “comprehensive” mean?

I want you to hear this. Bringing millions of hardworking people1 into the formal economy would increase our gross domestic product by an estimated $700 billion over 10 years.

1 I thought, on first reading, that Clinton meant people who have left the workforce to join System D because of Obama shrank the workforce permanently. She means immigrants, however, so apparently the permanently disemployed aren’t “hardworking people.” So, once again, under the haze we have an unclear constituency.

Then there are the new public investments that will help establish businesses and entrepreneurs, create the next generation of high-paying jobs.

You know, when we get Americans moving, we get our country moving. So let’s establish an infrastructure bank that can channel more public and private funds1

1 Ah, “public-private partnerships.” Ka-ching.

… channel those funds2 to finance world-class airports, railways, roads, bridges and ports.

1 Of course, since the United States, a currency issuer, “must” balance its budget, there’s no alternative but to seek private capital for public goods. Ka-ching, and especially ka-ching for the Clinton network as it “channels” the funds. See, if Wall Street will just stop reacting, and look at how Chicago works under Rahm, they’ll see they don’t really have to worry much about the whole wage thing at all. Ka-ching. Ka-ching.

And let’s built those faster broadband networks and make sure there’s a greater diversity of providers so consumers have more choice.1

1 Can-kicking. How fast? Where? Who does the building? What about anti-trust?

And really, there’s no excuse not to make greater investments in cleaner renewable energy right now.

Our economy obviously runs on energy, and the time has come to make America the clean-energy superpower. I advocate that because these investments will create millions of jobs, save us money in the long run and help us meet the threats of climate change.1

1 Can-kicking. What on earth can “these investments” mean?

And let’s fund the scientific and medical research that spawns innovative companies and creates entire new industries, just as the project to sequence the human genome did in the 1990s and President Obama’s initiatives on precision medicine and brain research will do1 in the coming years.

1 Can-kicking. We don’t know what Obama’s initiatives will do, and plenty fall flat.

I will set ambitious goals in all of these areas in the months ahead.1

1 Can kicking. The very definition. Everything Clinton will propose in the coming months is sitting, right now, in some drawer or server at the Center for American Progress. Why not be specific now? No good reason I can think of.

But today, let me emphasize another key ingredient of strong growth that often goes overlooked and undervalued: breaking down barriers1 so more Americans participate more fully2 in the workforce, especially women.

1 Can-kicking. What barriers? My prediction: Anything programmatic will be Dick Morris-style “small ball,” at the school uniforms level of triviality.

2 Can-kicking. What does “participate more fully” mean?

We are in a global competition, as I’m sure you have noticed. And we cant afford to leave talent on the sidelines. But that’s exactly what we’re doing today. When we leave people out or write them off, we not only shortchange them and their dreams, we shortchange our country and our future.

The movement of women into the American workforce over the past 40 years was responsible for more than $3.5 trillion in economic growth. But that progress has stalled.

The United States used to rank 7th out of 24 advanced countries in women’s labor force participation. By 2013, we had dropped to 19th. That represents a lot of unused potential for our economy and for American families.

Studies show that nearly a third of this decline relative to other countries is because they’re expanding family-friendly policies like paid leave and we are not.1

1 Small ball. If Clinton really wants to help American women she could (a) propose a Post Office Bank so every woman could have their own bank account, and (b) propose a Jobs and Basic Income Guarantee that, in essence, would pay for unpaid housework and childcare. Those measures would help women more than anything mentioned here — and every “American” citizen, too, whether middle class or blue collar or skilled or in a family or not in a family and whether Clinton talked to them or not.

We should be making it easier for Americans to be both good workers and good parents and caregivers. Women who want to work should be able to do so without worrying every day about how they’re going to take care of their children or what will happen if a family member gets sick.

You know, last year –

– last year while I was at the hospital here in Manhattan, waiting for little Charlotte to make her grand entrance, one of the nurses said, thank you for fighting for1 paid leave. And we began to talk about it. She sees firsthand what it means for herself and her colleagues as well as for the working parents that she helps take care of.

1 I hate that locution. Democrats always “fight for.” They very rarely deliver

It’s time to recognize that quality, affordable childcare1 is not a luxury. It’s a growth strategy. And it’s way past time to end the outrage of so many women still earning less than men on the job and women of color making even less2.

1 Can-kicking. What’s “quality”? What’s “affordable”? Public or private? Free at the point of service, or fee-driven?

2 Can-kicking. Where’s the beef? Let’s make it easy and start with the CEOs. How does Clinton propose to ensure that men and women are equally represented in the C-suites, and “earn” the same?

You know, all this lost money adds up. And for some women, it’s thousands of dollars every year. Now I am well aware that for far too long these challenges have been dismissed by some as women’s issues.1 Well, those days are over.

1 Not by me (although you will note that the Post Office Bank and a Jobs and Income Guarantee really would benefit everybody, starting with the ability for a woman to leave one situation easily and seek another).

Fair pay and fair scheduling, paid family leave and earned sick days, childcare are essential to our competitiveness and our growth. And we can do this in a way1 that doesn’t impose unfair burdens on businesses, especially small businesses. As president, I’ll fight to put families first, just like I have my entire career.

1 Can-kicking. How do we know “we can do this in a way”?

Now beyond strong growth, we also need fair growth1 and that will be the second key driver of raising incomes. The evidence is in. Inequality is a drag on our entire economy. So this is the problem we need to tackle. Now, you may have heard Governor Bush say Americans just need to work longer hours. Well, he must not have met very many American workers.

1 Again, poor sign-posting. This is the second item in the growth trichotomy, though you may have missed it in the haze.

Let him tell that to the nurse who stands on her feet all day, or the teacher who in that classroom or the trucker who drives all night. Let him tell that to the fast worker2 marching in the streets for better pay. They do not need a lecture. They need a raise.3

1 Glictch. “Fast [food] worker.”

2 You will note, from Table 2, that one dollar figure that Clinton does not mention is a $15/hour minimum wage. That’s a very specific policy Clinton could support in this speech. She does no such thing. What does that tell you?

3 Can-kicking. How much?

The truth is the current rules for our economy do reward some work, like financial trading, for example much more than other work, like actually building and selling things, the work that has always been the backbone of our economy. To get all incomes rising again, we need to strike a better balance. If you work hard, you ought to be a fairly1. So, we do have to raise the minimum wage2, and implement President Obama’s new rules on overtime, and then we have to go further.

1 Glitch. “Ought to be fairly treated”?

2 Can-kicking. How much?

I will crack down on bosses who exploit employees by mis- classifying them as contractors or even steal their wages.1To make paychecks stretch, we need to take on the major strains on family budgets. I will protect the Affordable Care Act and build on it to lower out-of-pocket health care costs.

1Can-kicking. It’s good that Clinton mentions this problems, but what does “crack down” mean? Jail time?

1 Pathetic. Clinton claims to make decisions on evidence, and ignores single payer. And as if out-of-pocket costs were the only problem, and narrow networks, high deductibles, and asset seizure under Medicaid didn’t exist!

And to make prescription drugs more affordable.1 We will help families look forward to retirement by defending and enhancing Social Security2 and making it easier to save3 for the future. Now, many of these proposals are time-tested and more than a little battle scarred. We need new ideas, as well, and one I believe in and will fight for is profit-sharing. Hard-working Americans deserve to benefit from the record corporate earnings they help produce.

1Can-kicking. What does “more affordable” mean? Which drugs?

2Can kicking. What does “defend and enhance” mean? How about making benefits age neutral and lowering eligibility to 60?

3Can-kicking. What does “easier to save” mean? Sounds another scheme for fees to Wall Street, to me. And if Clinton really wants to make it easier to save, a Post Office bank is a fine option.

So, I will produce ways to encourage companies to share profits1 with their employees. That is good for workers and good businesses. Studies show that profit sharing that gives everyone a stake in the company’s success can boost productivity and put money directly into employees’ pockets. It’s a win-win. Later this week2 in New Hampshire, I will have more to say about how we do this.

1 I will await the detail, but why not take the cut from the top line, not the bottom? Especially since — as any crooked Hollywood accountant knows — the bottom line is easy to game.

2Can-kicking, albeit for a brief period.

Another priority must be reforming our tax code. Now, we hear Republican candidates talk a lot about tax reform. But take a good look at their plans. Senator Rubio’s would cut taxes for households making around $3 million a year by almost $240,000, which is way more than three times the earnings of a typical family.

Well, that is a sure budget busting giveaway to the super wealthy, and that’s the kind of bad economics you are likely to hear from any of the candidates on the other side. I have a different take…

… guided license principles1. First, hard-working families need and deserve tax relief and simplification2. Second, those at the top have to pay their fair share. That’s why I support the Buffet Rule3, which makes sure millionaires do not pay lower rates than their secretaries. I have called for closing the carried interest loophole, that lets wealthy financiers pay an artificially low rate.4

1 “Take guided license principles” is surely a glitch.

2 Unclear constituency (“hard-working families”). And can-kicking. What relief, and what simplification>

3 Hazy, in Clinton’s usage. The issue isn’t whether Buffet’s rate is less than his secretary’s, but what the rate for people with Buffet’s income should be. “Confiscatory” springs to my mind, though doubtless not to Clinton’s. Or how about reverting to rates under that Communist, Dwight D. Eisenhower?

4 UPDATE ZOMG! How could I have missed the “carried interest” principle? Well, partly because “I have supported” isn’t equivalent to “support”, partly because Clinton doesn’t give any dollar figure for revenue raised, but, on consideration, mostly because I’m uncertain taht the tax code is the right place to look for solutions here (as opposed to the criminal justice system).

And let’s agree that hugely successful companies that benefit from everything that America has to offer, should not be able to game the system and avoid paying their fair share1 , especially while companies who can’t afford high-priced lawyers and lobbyists end up paying more.

1 Can-kicking applause line.

CLINTON: Alongside tax reform, it’s time to stand up to efforts across our country to undermine worker bargaining power, which has been proven again and again to drive up wages.1 Republican governors like Scott Walker have made their names stomping2 on workers’ rights, and practically all the Republican candidates hope to do the same as president. I will fight back3 against these mean-spirited, misguided attacks. Evidence –

1 Presumably Clinton means that “bargaining power” drives up wages, and not “efforts to undermine.”

2 There’s only one writer I know of whose been using “stomping” together with “Walker” consistently for months. Just saying.

3 Can-kicking. Say, how’s card check coming?

– evidence shows that the decline of unions may be responsible for a third of the increase of inequality among men, so if we want to get serious1 about raising incomes, we have to get serious about supporting union workers.

1 Can-kicking. What does “get serious” mean?

And let me just say a word here about trade. The Greek crisis as well as the Chinese stock market have reminded us that growth here at home and growth an ocean away are linked in a common global economy. Trade1 has been a major driver of the economy over recent decades, but it has also contributed to hollowing out our manufacturing base and many hard-working communities2.

1 “Trade,” like “growth” has no agency. Trade doesn’t drive anything. For example, “trade” didn’t “hollow out” factories. The owners and investors of private equity firms did.

2 Another unclear constituency!

So we do need to set a high bar for trade agreements. We should support them if they create jobs, raise wages and advance our national security. And we should be prepared to walk away if they don’t.1 To create fair growth, we need to create opportunity for more Americans.

1 Not a word on loss sovereignty under ISDS. What does that tell you?

I love the saying by Abraham Lincoln who, in many ways, was not only the president who saved our union but the president who understood profoundly the importance of the middle class and the importance of government playing its role in providing opportunities. He talked about giving Americans a fair chance in the race of life. I believe that with all my heart, but I also believe it has to start really early, at birth.

High quality early learning1, especially in the first five years, can set children on the course for future success and raise lifetime incomes by 25 percent. And –

1 Can-kicking. Just as with child care, so with early learning. Public or private? Free at the point of service, or fee-driven? And notice that, unlike childcare, Clinton does not say that early learning should be “affordable.” What does that tell you?

– and I’m committed1to seeing every 4-year-old in America have access to high quality pre-school in the next 10 years. But I want to do more. I want to call for a great outpouring of support from our faith community, our business community, our academic institutions, from philanthropy and civic groups and concerned citizens, to really help parents, particularly parents who are facing a lot of obstacles, to really help prepare their own children in that 0 to 4 age group.2

1 Can-kicking. What does “high quality” mean?

2Just for the record, I don’t hate children, or women. It’s just that I don’t interpret vaguely helpful gestures as actual intent to help, as Clinton and Democrats generally seem to do.

Eighty percent of your brain is physically formed by the age of 3. That’s why families like mine read, talk and sing endlessly to our granddaughter. I’ve said that her first words are going to be enough with the reading and the talking and the singing.1

1 Here again, the haze disappears from Clinton’s language.

But we do it not only because we love doing it, even though, I’ll admit, it’s embarrassing, you know, reading a book to a two-week-old or a six-week-old or a 10-week-old, but we do it because we understand it’s building her capacity for learning. And the research shows by the time she enters kindergarten, she will have heard 30 million more words than a child from a less advantaged background.1

1 Again, I don’t hate children. And my mother read to me (the encyclopedia). So what Clinton is saying resonates with me as a private person. But not as a citizen!

Think of what we are losing because we’re not doing everything we can to reach out to those families, and we know, again, from so much research here in the United States and around the world that that early help, that mentoring, that intervention to help those often stressed-out young moms understand more about what they can do and to avoid the difficulties that stand in the way of their being able to really get their child off to the best possible start.

We also have to invest in our students and our teachers at every level, and in the coming weeks and months, I will lay out specific steps1 to improve our schools, make college truly affordable2 and help Americans refinance their student debt3.

1, 2, 3 Can-kicking. Shocking from a supposed policy wonk. What does “improve” mean? What does “truly affordable” mean? Free? What does “refinance student debt” mean? Not a jubilee, I trust?

And let’s embrace –

– let’s embrace the idea of lifelong learning. In an age of technological change, we need to provide pathways to get skills and credentials for new occupations and create online platforms to connect workers to jobs.

There are exciting efforts underway and I want to support and scale the ones that show results.

As we pursue all these policies, we cant forget our fellow Americans1 hit so hard and left behind by this changing world from the inner cities to coal country to Indian country.

1 Unclear constituency. Are the “inner cities,” “coal country,” and “Indian country” all “hard-working families” like the Waltons?

Talent is universal; you find it everywhere. But opportunity is not. There are nearly 6 million young people aged 16 to 24 in America today who are not in school or at work. The numbers for young people of color are particularly staggering.

A quarter of young black men and nearly 15 percent of all Latino youth cannot find a job. We’ve got to do a better way of coming up to match the growing middle class incomes we want to generate with more pathways into the middle class.1

1 This isn’t even kicking the can; it’s waving at it. How about a Jobs and Income Guarantee?

I firmly believe that the best anti-poverty program is a job but that’s hard to say if there aren’t enough jobs for people that were trying to help lift themselves out of poverty.

That’s why Ive called for reviving the new markets tax credit and empowerment zones1 to create greater incentives to invest in poor and remote areas. When

1 Oh no. Enterprise zones. Oh no. The one time she gets specific….

– when all Americans have the chance to study hard, work hard and share in our country’s prosperity, that’s fair growth. It’s what I’ve always believed in and it’s what I will fight for as president.

Now the third key driver of income, alongside strong growth and fair growth, must be long-term growth. Too many pressures in our economy push us toward short-termism. Many business leaders see this. They’ve talked to me about it.

One has called it the problem of quarterly capitalism. They say everything is focused1 on the next earnings report or the short-term share price and the result is too little attention on the sources of long-term growth: research and development, physical capital and talent.

1 Lack of agency. Who did the focusing?

Net business investment, which includes things like factories, machines and research labs, have1 declined as a share of the economy.

1 Glitch: Should be “has declined.”

In recent years some of our biggest companies have spent more than half their earnings to buy back their own stock and another third or more to pay dividends. That doesn’t leave a lot left to raise pay or invest in the workers1 who made those profits possible or to make new investments necessary to ensure a company’s future success.

1 ZOMG!!! “Workers.” Could that be the common thread between “Americans,” “Americans I have talked to,” “hard working families,” etc? Could it be that “the economy” is not “delivering” for workers? Na.

These trends need to change. And I believe many business leaders are eager to embrace1 their responsibilities, not just to today’s share price but also to workers, communities and ultimately to our country and, indeed, our planet.

1 Surely if this were going to happen, it would already have happened? I mean, are these business leaders somehow helpless? Shouldn’t the Chamber of Commerce be handling this, if “business leaders” wanted it handled? And please: Let’s not confuse buying the influence that the Clinton Foundation is peddling with “embracing responsibility.”

Now I’m not talking about charity; I’m talking about clear-eyed capitalism.1 Many companies have prospered by improving wages and training their workers2 that then yield higher productivity, better service and larger profits.3

1 Hazy. Capitalism doesn’t have clear eyes; capitalists do. Lack of agency. How did capitalists lose their clear sight?

2 “Workers” again. It’s certainly interesting that the term only occurs to Clinton in the context of “clear-eyed capitalism” and nowhere else.

3 Can-kicking. Presumably “companies” — Clinton nowhere mentions co-ops –stopped investing in that fashion, either because profits were higher elsewhere, or because our locust-like finance sector ate them up. I don’t see anything programmatic from Clinton that addresses this; she seems to be relying on a change of heart (“eager to embrace”) by “business leaders.” This is clear-eyed?

Now it’s easy to try to cut costs by holding down or even decreasing pay and other investments to inflate quarterly stock prices but I would argue that’s bad for business in the long run and it’s really bad for our country.

Workers are assets.1 Investing in them pays off; higher wages pay off. Training pays off. To help more companies do that, I proposed a $1,500 tax credit for every worker they train and hire.2 And I will soon be proposing3 a new plan to reform capital gains taxes to reward longer-term investments that create jobs, more than just quick trades.

1 Actually, no. Workers are people.

2 Dick Morris-style small ball.

3 Can-kicking.

I will also propose1 reforms to help CEOs and shareholders alike to focus on the next decade rather than just the next day.

1 Can-kicking.

Making sure stock buybacks aren’t being used only for an immediate boost in share prices; empowering outside investors who want to build companies, but discouraging cut and run shareholders who act more like old-school corporate raiders. And nowhere will the shift from short-term to long-term be more important than on Wall Street.

As a former senator from New York, I know firsthand the role that Wall Street can and should play in our economy, helping main street grow and prosper, and boosting new companies that make America more competitive globally.

But as we all know in the years before the crash, financial firms piled risk upon risk1 Can-kicking., and regulators in Washington either could not or would not keep up. I was alarmed by this gathering storm and called for addressing the risks of derivatives, cracking down on subprime mortgages and improving financial oversight.2

1 True, in the sense that CDOs piled risk upon risk. False, in that it ignores the role of accounting control fraud, emanating from the very same C-suites where Clinton now assures us executives are “eager” to “embrace” their responsibilities.

1 I haven’t seen Clinton support Warren and McCain’s bill to restore Glass-Steagall, which Clinton I, under the influence of the Rubinite wing of the Democrats, signed out of existence. Like the $15/hour minimum wage, this is a very concrete proposal, already in play, that Clinton could easily support. She does not. What does that tell you?

Under President Obama’s leadership we have imposed tough new rules1 that deal with some of the challenges on Wall Street. Those rules have been under assault by Republicans in Congress and those running for president. I will fight back against these attacks and protect the reforms we have made. We can do that, and still ease burdens on community banks to encourage responsible loans to local people and businesses they know and trust.

1 If you think Dodd-Frank is tough, perhaps.

We also have to go beyond Dodd-Frank. Too many of our major financial institutions are still too complex and too risky. And the problems are not limited to the big banks that get all the headlines. Serious risks are emerging from institutions in the so-called shadow banking system, including hedge funds, high-frequency traders, non- bank finance companies. So many new kinds of entities, which receive little oversight at all.

Stories of misconduct by individuals and institutions in the financial industry are shocking. HSBC allowing drug cartels to launder money, five major banks pleading guilty to felony charges for conspiring to manipulate currency exchange and interest rates. There can be no justification or tolerance for this kind of criminal behavior.1

1 All of which happened on Obama’s watch, as Clinton fails to mention.

And while institutions have paid large fines and in some cases admitted guilt, too often it has seemed that the human beings responsible get off with limited consequences or none at all, even when they have already pocketed the gains. This is wrong, and on my watch it will change.1 Over the course…

1 Can-kicking. Change how? What will be the “consequences”? Clinton mentions “criminal behavior,” but mentions nothing about criminal behavior on Wall Street that led to the Crash; if any Clinton staffer has gotten this far, see the link to “accounting control fraud” above. What about crimes for which the statute of limitations has passed? How about a Truth Commission for that?

… over the course of this campaign, I will offer plans1 to rein in excessive risks on Wall Street and ensure that stock markets work for everyday investors2, not just high-frequency traders and those with the best or fastest connections. I will appoint and empower regulators who understand that too big to fail is still too big a problem. We will ensure…

1 Can-kicking.

2 “Everyday Americans” has apparently been abandoned, but now we have “everyday investors.”

We will ensure1 that no firm is too complex to manage or oversee. And we will also process2 individuals as well as firms when they commit fraud or other criminal wrongdoing.

1 Can-kicking.

2 Hazy. “Process” is not the same as “indict and convict.”

When the government recovers money from corporations or individuals for harming the public, it should go into a separate trust fund to benefit the public1 . It could, for example, help modernize infrastructure or even be returned directly to taxpayers.

1 Bad idea, even if punishing the crooks makes it sound good. Ferguson’s law enforcement for profit movie did not end well. Law enforcement for profit will not end well at the Federal level, either.

Now, reform is never easy, but we’ve done it before in our country, and we have to get it right this time. And yes, we need leadership from the financial industry and across the private sector to join with us.

Two years ago, the head of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Terry Duffy1, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that really caught my attention.

1 Fortunately, Gawker comes to our rescue. “Wall Street Guy Writes a Bunch of Hilarious Lies”. For example:

2. “As the U.S. economy slowly recovers, maybe working in finance will also recover some of its attraction for graduates. But I worry that it won’t—that Wall Street has suffered reputational damage, thanks to a few bad actors.”


He wrote, and I quote, “I’m concerned that those of us in financial services have forgotten who they serve and that the public knows it. Some Wall Streeters can too easily slip into regarding their work as a kind of moneymaking game divorced from concerns of the Main Street,” unquote.

I think we should listen to Terry Duffy.1Of course, long-term growth is only possible if the public sector steps up as well.

1 UPDATE And I think I know why. Bloomberg:

Duffy may be a registered Republican, but he is a Clinton supporter as well. He endorsed Clinton in her 2008 run, saying, “We need a president like Hillary Clinton who understands the important role that financial markets play in our global economy.” He added, “Like no other candidate, Hillary Clinton crosses party lines to combine the visionary leadership and pragmatic problem-solving skills that this country needs in its President.” He gave the maximum contribution of $4,600 to her 2008 campaign.


So it’s time to end the era of budget brinkmanship1 and stop careening from one self-inflicted crisis to another. It’s time to stop having debates over the small stuff and focus how we’re going to tackle the big stuff together.2

1 It’s actually time to end the era where government is like a household, but you’d never know that from Clinton.

2 Like TPA?

How do we respond to technological change in a way that creates more good jobs than it displaces or destroys? Can we sustain a boom in advanced manufacturing? What are the best ways to nurture startups1 outside the successful corridors, like Silicon Valley?

1 Startups aren’t nurtured. They’re funded, mostly by all the free money that’s sloshing about from QE.

Questions like these demand thoughtful and mature debate from our policymakers and government, from our leaders in the private sector, our economists, our academics, others who can come together to the table and on behalf of America perform their patriotic duty to make sure our economy keeps working and our middle class keeps growing.

So government has to be smarter, simpler, more focused itself on long-term investments than short-term politics and be a better partner to cities, states and the private sector. Washington has to be a better steward of America’s tax dollars and Americans’ trust. And please, let’s get back to making decisions that rely on evidence more than ideology.

That’s what I’ll do as president. I will seek out and welcome any good idea1 that is actually based on reality2.

1 Except single payer, which must never be mentioned. Billions of dollars to save the country, thousands of lives, works in Canada…

2 “Alternate reality.” Fixed it for ya.


I want to have principled and pragmatic and progressive policies that really move us forward together, and I will propose ways to ensure that our fiscal outlook is sustainable, including by continuing to restrain health care costs, which remain one of the key drivers of long-term deficits.

I will make sure Washington learns from how well local governments, businesses and nonprofits are working together in successful cities and towns across America.

You know, passing legislation is not the only way to drive progress. As president, I will use the power to convene, connect and collaborate to build partnerships that actually get things done, because above all, we have to break out of the poisonous partisan gridlock and focus on the long-term needs of our country.


I confess, maybe it’s the grandmother in me, but

I believe that part of public service is planting trees under whose shade you’ll never sit1 , and the vision I’ve laid out here today for strong growth, fair growth and long-term growth all working together will get incomes rising again, will help working families get ahead and stay ahead. That is the test of our time.

1 I actually like this…

And I’m inviting everyone to please join me to do your part. That’s what great countries do. That’s what our country always has done. We rise to challenges. It’s not about left, right or center; it’s about the future versus the past.

I’m running for president to build an America for tomorrow, not yesterday, an America built on growth and fairness, an America where if you do your part, you will reap the rewards, where we don’t leave anyone behind.

Thank you all. Thank you. I just want to leave you with one more thought. I want every child, not just the granddaughter of a former president or former secretary of state, but every child to be able to reach for her God-given potential. Please join me in that mission — let’s do it together.

Thank you all so much.

* * *
Dearie me. That wasn’t easy. Sorry to takeaway has to grow organically out of the text, but when Clinton speaks, watch for:

1) Haziness: What does this mean?

2) Lack of agency: Who’s responsible?

3) Unclear constituencies: Who benefits?

4) Kicking the can: What’s the program?

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Try clearing your cache. Something went pear-shaped about the time I pressed the submit button, but there’s only one now (and comments are on).

      2. Lambert Strether

        Yes, it’s definitely the browser cache; I cleared mine and it was fine. Thanks!

  1. MRW

    Well, that was some tour de force, Lambert.

    The bottom line is that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She doesn’t understand how the federal economy works. Period. Her husband road into DC as the ex-governor of a state where he proudly balanced the state budget, and rightfully should have. Mrs. Clinton retains that mindset. Greenspan and Rubin met with her husband two weeks before he was inaugurated and told him there wasn’t enough money in the federal kitty to enact his social programs—we were ‘running out of money’—so Clinton should just let the ‘free market’ handle the economy, and the hayseed fell for it. [Adam Curtis has Rubin on tape describing this.] Greenspan had been chair of the Fed at that point for five years. Either he lied to an incoming president—treasonous if said to an inaugurated president—or he had no business being anywhere near the Federal Reserve.

    I would like to see a female president but this isn’t the one. She’s smart, but she doesn’t know the basics of the office she’s “fighting” for.

    BTW, this was a great line:

    Democrats always “fight for.” They very rarely deliver.

    1. MRW

      Just to clarify, for anyone who is new to this blog: the US federal government cannot run out of money. It issues its own currency. State and local governments can run out of money because they need income to survive, just like businesses and households. State and local governments, businesses, and households use the currency; they can’t issue it themselves.

      Mrs. Clinton does not understand this, so she is incapable of understanding the enormous implications of what the federal economy can do to serve the people it is meant to serve.

        1. david s

          I think the Clintons and the DNC know that deficits aren’t necessarily a bad thing, and that the Federal Government can’t run out of money.

          But deficit reduction, surpluses, and balanced budgets sell because the average Joe out there has no idea how the economy works.

          That’s all that matters in politics.

          1. Dave

            Our trade partners care. We buy products made in China by Chinese laborers under poor working conditions, long hours, low wages and they live in a cities with tremendous water, ground, and air pollution. We get to buy these products with dollars created out of thin air. This is not lost on them and won’t continue indefinitely.

            1. Fool

              “laborers under poor working conditions, long hours, low wages and they live in a cities with tremendous water, ground, and air pollution.”
              -sounds like American laborers!

              “We get to buy these products with dollars created out of thin air.”
              -so go buy some GOLD, genius.

              1. MRW

                Actually, the US federal government gets to buy things with “dollars created out of thin air.” The private sector doesn’t; it has to earn that money.

                Why would anyone in their right mind buy gold? If you bought gold in 2011 when it was ~$1900/ounce you would have lost 1/3 of your investment.

                Gold doesn’t pay interest, and it’s not risk-free. Buy treasury securities: risk-free and they pay interest.

            2. hardWorkingBee

              “We” don’t buy those low-quality, crappy, Chinese-made goods. Capitalists buy them for a pittance and then they sell them to us with a huge markup.

              From my personal experience, I bought my first American-made fridge 22 years ago for around $800 at the time, never had to have it repaired until it died two years ago. Then I bought my second Chinese-made one (both were about the same size in cubic feet) for $1300. I already had to have it replaced by another one (good thing it was still under warranty) and had it repaired 3 times after that. Chinese crapification is a beautiful thing indeed.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Well, it sure didn’t help in 2000. The deficit neutral aspects of ACA haven’t helped it’s popularity. No politician brings up TARP or the GM bailout which have been paid back. I would contend Americans don’t care and never list it as a concern. Rather the deficit is a tool of the political class because it shuts people up as they are intimidated by the size of the deficit.

          3. jrs

            As for as speech making maybe, but as far as actually policy, are you arguing the average Joe has any influence?

          4. redleg

            The Clintons probably know that the Federal Government can’t run out of money, but they do realize that there has to be obfuscation involved in how that money gets to their actual constituents – Blankfein, Dimon, etc. Therefore speeches like this.

    2. dcblogger

      Well, that was some tour de force, Lambert. I second this. Brilliant deconstruction.

    3. Jerry Denim

      “Adam Curtis has Rubin on tape describing this.”

      Now that is really interesting. You gotta a link to that by chance?

      1. Galleta

        I believe MRW is referencing the final part of Curtis’s 2000 documentary “The Century of the Self”. That fourth section is called “Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering”. You should be able to find it online, and I highly recommend it. Reich mostly talks there about the reduction of politics to lifestyle marketing via Dick Morris and the realities of Wall St power. Check out also a wide-ranging 2000 interview with PBS Frontline.

        In both, the context is Greenspan coming to Clinton and saying there’s no money for the domestic programs and investment he promised right after his election. He also identifies Rubin as a powerful, effective vector for Wall Street throughout the PBS interview, though is careful not to caricature him.

      2. MRW

        I may be repeating myself here. First, I saw my comment published, then it disappeared. But just in case, I’ll redo it.

        My reference was to Part 2 of Adam Curtis’ The Trap series: The Trap – The Lonely Robot (Vimeo has a better copy than youtube)

        Rubin is around 12:20 minutes, but if you have the time watch from the beginning to get a sense of where Curtis is going with it.

    4. Crazy Horse

      What is the point, Lambert? Anyone with a functioning brain cell knows that the correlation between what a candidate for President of the USA says to the public and what they actually do is purely coincidental. As one should expect in a sham democracy where the only accountability is to the Malignant Overlords who own the candidates.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Alas, not every voter displays your level of sophistication. This post is ammo for you to use with them, whenever they say “But Clinton said _____.”

  2. Oldeguy

    Bravo, Mr. Strether; this is the kind of BS-O-Meter analysis the MSM could and should be doing.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks. Man, that was brutal. After awhile, I had to downplay the color coding and just knock down the bullshit in footnotes.

      Back in my debating days, we’d call that speech a spread — too much, too fast to catch it all!

      1. MRW

        Hey, Lambert. Next time increase the transparency on the colors. ;-) iPads—I’m traveling—are unforgiving with display colors unless the content creator does it.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Thanks for the tip!

            (Never gotten that feedback before, and I’ve used the colors a lot, so what that must mean is that we’re getting more — at least one more — serious reader on mobile.)

            1. Tertium Squid

              I think the problem is the text color on the glossary, not the shading itself. Looks like your font color is lighter grey and not black.

              1. different clue

                I think I agree. The words seem to be in paler letters this time. In previous times the color bars contained words in strong black letters easy to read. This time the brown and the purple bars appear to not have any letters in them at all without painful squinting . . . after which I still can’t read them.

              2. Cujo359

                I definitely agree. Making text color work with the background color you’ve chosen is good practice.

                For what it’s worth, those colored text fields are hard to read on my laptop computer’s screen, too.

            2. hunkerdown

              I see you’re setting the background color but not the text color. Did your web dev lighten up the default text color of the contents of table cells since the last time you ran the magic markers? Lightening up text that isn’t prose seems to be a common design idiom these days; you may need to override that.

              (Hah, originally typed “magic markets” there. In typo, veritas…)

  3. Tertium Squid

    So, Hillary said the word growth dozens of times.

    Lambert pointed out the cart-and-horse situation here:

    “More growth means more jobs and more new businesses.”

    Do words not have meanings anymore, just emotional affect? Or is this some kind of epistemic giveaway about the inscrutable ways of the great god of commerce?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Many words are just placeholders or phrases her followers can repeat when questioned. After all, Hillary can’t just say she needs the White House life.

      Given her cronies and record what can Hillary say? She isn’t going to be more generous than Mr. Burns (who tried to buy Homer Simpson off with $2000 in 1992 money), she can’t point to her own accomplishments (Hillary has no statues in Libya), and Bill’s accomplishments simply sacked as well as ushering GOP rule.

      Like Obama, Hillary will mention a few social issues which poll well and hope no one listens. My guess is she will bring up Palin when Trump dies down.

    2. hunkerdown

      Yes on both counts. Archdruid Greer described it as small talk.

      I expected to see such Whig Theory shibboleths like “the past versus the future” marked as civil religion rather than dead metaphor/cliché. The “clash of civilizations” posturing is, sadly, far from dead.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yes, the sheer weight of numbers meant I couldn’t be as judicious as I normally like to be.

        But also, after doing a lot of close reading, it all started to sound like an undifferentiated mass of cliches. A “wall of sound,” one commenter called it.

  4. Juan

    Clinton: “We can’t create enough jobs and new businesses without more growth”

    Analysis: “Odd, perhaps even a category error. I would have thought that jobs and new businesses (in their aggregate and including network effects) created growth, and not the other ay around. The abstract (“growth”) creates the concrete (“new businesses”).”

    Perhaps Clinton here is signaling her intent to continue pursuit of the neo-liberal trade agenda? It appears to me that she has made a cryptic argument that external growth (expansion of international trade) is necessary to internal growth (domestic business and job creation).

    1. Brindle

      What does this “growth”, which precedes jobs and new businesses look like? Clinton’s “growth” apparently is something not present in our communities, it is something that arrives—maybe like what a young Steve McQueen was running from in “The Blob”.

      1. Juan

        Right – and what kind of “growth” could arguably precede the creation of domestic businesses and jobs? Trade. Hence, my translation of Clinton’s quote: “we can’t create enough jobs and new businesses without expanding international trade.” So “growth” refers to the growth or expansion of international trade.

        If I am right, the deliberate obfuscation may be due to the number of democrats (particularly in the ever more influential progressive wing of the party) outright against or highly skeptical of international trade agreements. Why, then, would she include language that, if directly stated, would disappoint her “base”? She knows that the true message will be lost on her “base” but not the intended recipients of the message (contributors to the clinton campaign).

    2. hidflect

      Sounds like she’s prepping to hand over more natural habitat to industry. That’s your “growth” right there that can allow more jobs and new businesses.

    3. Crazy Horse

      “Growth” in the capitalist context consists of economic thru-put with waste as the end product at the sphincter. That is why military spending is the perfect form of growth for a mature capitalist economy like that of the US. Of course continued exponential growth at any rate is mathematically impossible in a finite world. For a candidate spouting meaningless words that have been imbedded in the minds of their serfs it is simply another form of soma.

      The fact that we have reached the end of actual growth in affordable fossil fuel energy —- the lifeblood of industrial society— probably never even occurs to a tool like Hellary. But the real world doesn’t care what silly games humans play.

  5. jrs

    “”“shadow” and “long-term” are not commensurate: “Shadow,” though a dead metaphor, at least nods toward the real-world, but “long-term” is just a stale bureaucratic formula. And we move from the space in which shadows appear, into time, the realm of the “long term,” and finally the visual field of the photographer or optometrist, with “come into focus.””

    Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.

  6. Tyler

    So she’s economically illiterate and a foreign policy hawk. Big whoop. She’s a woman with a D next to her name, and that’s all that matters to tens of millions of American suckers.

    Like the Obama presidency, half of the public would view her presidency as a success, regardless of the facts.

    1. Jerry Denim

      “Like the Obama presidency, half of the public would view her presidency as a success, regardless of the facts.”

      Ha! That’s rich but so true. I was banned from an acquaintance’s Facebook page last week for dumping cold hard factual water on his Obot cheerleading posts. No commentary, just links. Some people (like most of them apparently) like to build a nice happy little world view for themselves with their own set of binary bad guys and heroes. They vigorously police their self-imposed ignorance with the fervency of a true fanatic. These people are easily frightened and do not want to accept any responsibility as citizens beyond identifying with personality cults. Thinking critically, staying informed, activism. That’s too much work and too much of a downer for most I guess.

  7. DJG

    Glad to hear that you don’t hate children, Lambert “W.C. Fields” Strether: I think, though, that most of that “30 million words” stuff is just a load of the latest child-raising fad. There is some research behind it, but not enough to base public policy on.

    As a free lance for some twenty years, I am impressed by her absolute incomprehension of how the U.S. economy structured. Most Americans have lousy corporate jobs or contracts with some lousy corporate employer. The idea that the U.S. supports the doughty free lance and resourceful small businessperson is silly. (I have paid my extra Social Security tax for years, which is not exactly a hundred bucks a year, and then there’s health insurance for the free lance or small business–ever a joy.)

    Naked Capitalism may have given this link to the CEPR analysis originally, but I was struck by how hierarachical and sclerotic the U.S. economy is. Sixty percent of new jobs come from small businesses? According to these figures, there aren’t enough small businesses to create said jobs:

    An International Comparison of Small Business Employment
    John Schmitt and Nathan Lane August 2009
    Center for Economic and Policy Research

    • The United States has the second lowest share of self-employed workers (7.2 percent) – only Luxembourg has a lower share (6.1 percent). France (9.0 percent), Sweden (10.6 percent), Germany (12.0 percent) the United Kingdom (13.8 percent), Italy (26.4 percent) and 14 other rich countries all have higher proportions of self-employment.
    • The United States has among the lowest shares of employment in small businesses in manufacturing. Only 11.1 percent of the U.S. manufacturing workforce is in enterprises with fewer than 20 employees. Eighteen other rich countries have a higher share of manufacturing employment in enterprises of this size, including Germany (13.0 percent), Sweden (14.4 percent), France (18.0 percent), the United Kingdom (18.1 percent), and Italy (30.9 percent). Only Ireland (9.6 percent) and Luxembourg (8.5 percent) have a lower share of manufacturing employment in enterprises with fewer than 20 employees. (Raising the cutoff for a small business to fewer than 500 employees does not significantly alter the relative position of the United States.)
    • U.S. small businesses have a much lower share of employment than the comparison economies do in the two high-tech fields for which the OECD publishes data: computer- related services and research and development.

    Looks like she has some “growing” of an economy to do. Enough for now. Thanks for slicing up the speech. I have to go convert the hall closet into a luxury suite for AirBnB.

    1. jo6pac

      LOL and Thanks for helping the new Amerikan economy grow.

      I have to go convert the hall closet into a luxury suite for AirBnB.

    2. jrs

      Maybe not being an entrepreneur is another one of those things the victims are supposed to blame themselves for. To be added to:

      “well I shouldn’t have gotten a liberal arts degree, it’s my fault I’m homeless”
      “well I should have known this career was going away, it’s my fault I can’t find work”
      “well I should have been an entrepreneur, it’s my fault I’m in a job where I haven’t gotten a raise in decades”

      Sue an economy where more people did have the ability to opt out via entrepreneurship of the corporate juggernaut (or via worker co-ops or via a B.I.G etc.) might be a better one. This is not that economy.

  8. Uahsenaa

    I think the single mother anecdote is far more weaselly than it may first appear. It reeks of moral hand-wringing what with its tone of “she’s more than willing to suffer being yelled at and spat on, but let’s please try not to stone her to death.” Another way of saying the above without subtly nodding to how “we all hate dem welfare queens” would be, “she raises three kids, works 60 hours a week, and yet makes just barely enough to get by.” Simple language would make a simple point without needing to imply that people whose lives are shit deservedly suffer for their poverty.

    1. Uahsenaa

      Personally, no I don’t, because they don’t contain any language that would imply some other, less forgiving interpretation of their situation, and grandmothers taking care of their grandkids and men who own bowling alleys have historically not been denigrated for the socioeconomic conditions in which they find themselves. Single mothers have, and the “she doesn’t expect things to come easy” reads as a nod in that direction. Others may disagree.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Not sure I quite agree, but I think you’re onto something. For me the “works 60 hours a week” is a tell. It’s a sign of the warped morals of political discourse in this country that she needs to work that much to be a sympathetic figure. If she worked only 20 hours a week, she’d somehow be a lazy bum.

        The reality is that it’s not really possible to be an effective parent and work a 60 hour week. In any case, Americans have been trained to think, in knee-jerk fashion, “well, she shouldn’t have had 3 kids!” That kind of thing takes years of grooming from bad TV/radio shows and other forms of conservative propaganda.

        1. hunkerdown

          A case could be made that bringing children into a world characterized by a vicious circle of scarcity and competition is abusive and egoist, and everybody everywhere should be breeding below replacement, if at all.

          To me, it’s not a question of whether the masochistic single mother can afford it in the singular (as it always is with neoliberals), or even whether Mother Earth can afford it (even though those who account are positionally motivated to create the most credible impression of solvency possible). It’s whether a society structured as a Ponzi scheme, of which private central banking seems a sufficient if not necessary condition, ought to be a going concern at all.

        2. jrs

          It has to be 60, if it was 45 or 50 it would hit entirely too close to home for every professional working woman out there – but that’s what a “high skilled” white collar job often demands. Those “high skilled” workers whom the economy “works for” might realize they are actually getting horribly screwed! Maybe not relative to precariat workers, but regardless.

          Really though, why are people working more than 40? And if I had my way we’d have a 30 hour workweek. But drawing the line at 40 shouldn’t even be controversial. Alright if I have to given grudging praise to a fundementally evil man, Obama’s overtime stuff may actually help some here.

        3. jrs

          Although maybe the rest of the world if they are unfortunate enough to hear these speeches, or the parts of the world that might be somewhat decent anyway, get an idea what a heckhole the U.S.A. actual is. Wait people are working 60 hour weeks there? Come to think of it there are lots of parts of the speech like that.

        4. Uahsenaa

          Well, the 60 hrs. was supplied by me, since Clinton doesn’t really include many details in her anecdote. If she were to say something like I have above, obviously it would be whatever the number of hours this woman happens to work are. That said, 60 is by no means absurd. When you’re working at minimum wage, for instance (I have no way of knowing if that’s the case here), or just above, you’re often in the territory where employers are trying to keep your hours just below the threshold for “full time status,” often in the low 30s/wk, but at such a low wage, that’s nowhere near enough money to survive. So, people quite often take another of these “part time” jobs to make ends meet, meaning, yes, you might very well find yourself working 50-60 hours a week just to make 20-30K per year.

          And it makes parenting a nightmare. You quite often find yourself in the difficult situation where, you could work more to bring more money in, but end up blowing most of that extra income on childcare while you work. Nevertheless, you do it, otherwise you’re not paying rent or the heating bill that month.

        5. KatieO

          mebbe im crazy,but,like Kafka’s metamorphosis I feel like it was subtle.i woke up one day around 2000 and the awarded presidency ushered in the Horror,it just keeps going downhill as we seem to be stuck in flypaper and cant free ourselves.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Ah, well put. “All those single mothers, always expecting something for nothing.”

        I can see how the language would have been put in by consultants or staffers — “gotta make sure we don’t alienate the finger-waggers!” — but then again, that’s really the point, isn’t it?

        1. Uahsenaa

          Oh, absolutely, and I don’t mean to detract from what is wonderfully done, if ultimately exasperating. I suppose we could spend years mining all the ways this speech slyly winks to the plutocrats to let them know none of this has any real teeth.

  9. blurtman

    Yes, but she shakes her head dramatically when she says “Basta!”

    She is really bad theater.

  10. TG

    Wow. That is an impressive analysis. I am almost awed with the Clinton campaign staff, it must take a lot of work to put together nonsense like this! I bet not just anyone can do this.

    And yet, I propose that you are over-thinking the issue. The point, surely, is that her words are meaningless. Analyzing them for content is like looking for patterns in clouds, or assigning meaning to the chirping of insects or the static of a radar-jammer. The way to analyze a politician’s record, is to analyze their record. Their words are wind. As thoughtful as this analysis is, I suggest that it still falls into the trap of actually paying attention to anything that someone like Hillary Clinton says.

    If I were sovereign I would ban debates and ads and position papers, and only allow the record of people competing for high office to be discussed. (People competing for low offices could partially avoid this, because you need to start somewhere and they need to build a record). I know, not practical, but you get the idea.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yep. They can crank it out by the yard, can’t they? However, we can’t just assert her words are like clouds; we have to prove it; that was the point of the post, and there was a lot of labor in that…

      1. peter

        Yes, and it goes beyond just words. It’s the whole context in which those words are presented, the body language and paraphernalia (there has to be very enthusiastic and flag waving crowds, for example, and party atmosphere). It’s not very different from a new pop band being marketed on MTV, with video clips always containing a crowd of super fans to provide legitimacy and cover. Don’t listen to our shitty song. Look at how cool we look and don’t you want to belong as well?
        I once read about these speech evaluation devices provided to test subjects. Basically you could dial a knob up and down, based on how much you liked what was being said at any moment during a speech. That way they could measure the impact of certain phrases or phrasing, intonation, etc and scrap or rewrite stuff. So there’s ‘feel-good’ science behind it and the true content hardly matters at all.

    2. Adrienne Adams


      Clinton’s words most definitely have meaning, in the sense that they were carefully chosen and put together in very calculated ways. I have only read this post once and it deserves a second reading, but here are a couple quick takeaways:

      1) Numbers that are not numbers (“35 million,” etc.) produce a lot of noise and make the speech seem more economic-y than it really is.

      2) Can-kicking ensures that no one will remember this speech for more than about 5 minutes, and nothing in here will come back to haunt her.

      3) Weasel-words and lack of agency reinforce both 1) and 2), in that there the speech produces a soothing wall of sound that precludes anyone really listening to what is not being said.

      Lambert, thank you for this masterful & exhaustive undertaking!

      1. flora

        “most definitely have meaning”

        Yes. Suppose her she gave a speech that was aimed at her financial backers, designed to show they could trust her to deliver for them, and at the same time show she would undercut the Democratic base voters who want to change the rules of the game. How would that hypothetical speech be different from this speech?
        “we can’t go back to the old policies that failed us before”. like Glass-Steagall?

  11. flora

    Thanks, Lambert. Did a Republican write this speech? Every time she said “growth” I heard “trade agreements”.

    1. Rhondda

      Me too. I kept thinking, “This is ‘code’ for TPP, TISA…”
      I also can’t help thinking about these agreements re sovereignty, law and what we’ve seen unfolding re Greece.

  12. optimader

    You know, over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to listen to Americans’ concerns…

    months? How long has she been living off the taxpayer dole? She has only just started “listening”? Mayhaps this is why she remains tone deaf, she has only just now started “listening”.

    1. flora

      yes. This speech is classic Bill Clinton “I feel your pain” – as delivered by Herbert Hoover.

      1. Ulysses

        Her handlers dare not dream that she will ever be as charismatic and inspirational as good ol’ HH!!

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Tax credit of $1,500 for each worker trained and hired.

    Maybe Japan can use this idea.

    “We will train and hire more geisha girls. Tourists are coming!”

    Apparently, one used to be able to buy one’s favorite geisha, years ago.

  14. MRW

    The tacit pedestal of ideas she’s standing on are her husband’s accomplishments. That’s her chummy association with the American people, her ‘the good times are going to roll again with me’ sense of confidence.

    I agree with Lambert. It was her husband’s policies that got us into this financial mess, delayed as Kelton has noted repeatedly, by the dotcom and housing bubbles. Democrats don’t understand this, and the majority of progressives who are backing her refuse to.

    Go after her husband’s legacy and she will be flailing for support.

    1. different clue

      Very regrettably, blogger Riverdaughter at The Confluence is one of those Democrats who displays a near-Obamaform loyalty to the Bill Clinton legacy. She does let commenters argue against that view without censorship, however; which is a good thing.

  15. Chris in Paris

    Reminds me of the lyric in “Watching the Detectives”: (s)he can’t be wounded because (s)he’s got no heart.

  16. grayslady

    Excellent analysis, as usual, Lambert. My general impression: This was a Republican/Libertarian speech, peppered with pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps references (no mention of the elderly, the unemployed, the poor), especially praising the “shafting” economy (thank you, Yves, for a great term), as though this is vibrant and innovative rather than truly desperate. The only difference between Clinton and the Repubs is that she praised her husband and Obama rather than Reagan.

    Lambert, you really hit most of the squishy initiative language typical of a worthless pol, but here are some errors/omissions that struck me:

    1. Small businesses don’t need more tax credits. They need more revenue.
    2. No mention of using a greener economy to create jobs.
    3. As mentioned previously, no consideration for the elderly and their economics, such as Social Security and Medicare.
    4. Hillary clearly supports trade agreements like NAFTA and TPP, in spite of the word dance she engaged in on TPP. That being the case, she is out-and-out lying when she says she’s going to reduce drug prices, since TPP clearly goes the other way by showering pharma with cash.
    5. I could be wrong, but I don’t think Obamacare has signed up 16 million new customers, and, if so, it certainly hasn’t provided them with “health care”, only with health insurance.
    6. Profit sharing and paid leave sound nice, but only if you have a full-time job. We don’t even have paid sick leave guaranteed for most full-time workers. These are more so-called benefits that sound Republican lite, since most people I know who are over age 50 either can find only part-time jobs or have invented jobs, after being fired, that still don’t provide enough to live on.
    7. Wall Street has never helped Main St. She is either clueless of deliberately lying. Main St. has historically been helped by credit unions and community banks.
    8. More regulations, but no talk of enforcement.

    I could go on, but it’s just too depressing.

    1. grayslady

      The errors/omissions weren’t yours, but hers, in case there was any question.

      Also, if I am allowed another beef or two:

      1. If you’re going to talk about broadband, come out in support of community networks.
      2. On the subject of communication, I want to hear some candidate support keeping POTS–to this day, the most reliable phone communication system ever. Not everyone needs speed or gadgets over reliability and clarity.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Gawd knows I tried but there was so damn much. Thanks for adding these points, and I hope other readers will put on their yellow waders and come up with other material I missed.

    3. KatieO

      the TPP will kill a lot of people due to higher drug prices,and manipulation of companies making generic. Higher prices, they are already at gouge level. Death panels if you will.

  17. ekstase

    I’d like to imagine that in some previous life she was enrolled in a class of yours, and you were grading her paper. I don’t want to think it could be a future life, because you shouldn’t have to go through that again. (That was brutal, but in a good way.)

  18. Fool

    Two things:

    First of all, Lambert, I owe you a sincere apology for my comments the other day. This post was downright delightful — so much so I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant — and I just needed to get that off my chest.

    Second, you may want to find a way to get some of this up on Genius. Hillary’s try-hard hip-hipster campaign is annotating all her empty, platitudinous nonsense on Genius to appeal to its (imaginary) base of “millennials” *. This would be a good antidote. Yes, kids these days may suck, but they will have an important role to play.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Genius is a great idea — annotation is something I enjoy, as you can see — but I’m not sure it makes sense to silo our content like that. I wish WP had a genius plugin.

      Thanks for the kind words. I accept your apology.

  19. Carla

    Is it heresy to say I missed the Water Cooler?

    I can see, Lambert, that you would never have time to do both. Maybe I just needed a plant antidote to Hillary…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Water Cooler is up now. I seriously underestimated the time it would take to get through this. I really ought to give a couple of days to it, solid.

  20. rich

    Hillary Clinton Blasts High Frequency Trading Ahead of Fundraiser with High Frequency Trader

    One of the most entertaining angles of the imperial spectacle known as the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign, has been watching Hillary Clinton, the consummate insider, pretend to be an outsider. The fact that anyone eats this up is a testament to the epic stupidity and ignorance of the American public.

    In her latest attempt at faux populism, Her Highness was found criticizing high frequency traders, as well as other Wall Street “fat cats,” with whom she is extremely cozy, during a speech at the New School. Her next stop? A fundraiser thrown by a high frequency trader.

    From the Weekly Standard:

    1. different clue

      Only that part of the public which eats this up. Not that part of the public which merely sniffs at it and wrinkles its nose.

  21. Gabriel

    First, and to repeat what others have said: damn lambert!, amazed you made it through the thing. I usually don’t read these things, so unprepared for such an unremitting mass of trash, and with *so* many undergrad-composition errors (“the people that I represented in New York and the stories that they told me, and that I worked with them to improve“).

    May I submit three more general additional observations on Clintonian rhetoric?

    I. Back when he was sane, Lee Siegel wrote an excellent negative review of a Barbara Kingsolver book, where he quotes this sentence

    It matters to me … that we citizens of the U.S. bought guns and dressed up an army that killed plain, earnest people in Nicaragua who were trying only to find peace and a kinder way of life.

    and comments,

    Why are all the good, murdered Nicaraguan people “plain” and “earnest”? If some of them had been complicated and ironic, then would caring readers have regarded killing them as a public service? And if the Nicaraguan peasantry really had been behind the Sandinista revolution, would it have been because they were trying to find “a kinder way of life,” and not because the revolution offered peasants ownership of their land and the freedom to decide for themselves whether to be kind or unkind?

    You see the same thing in how Clinton only mentions little people if they’re Stakhanovite exemplars such as

    A single mom talked about juggling a job and classes at community college while raising three kids


    The grandmother who works around the clock providing child care to other people’s kids.

    .The single mother who works one good job and the grandmother content to live on Social Security, on the other hand, can go f*ck themselves.

    II. “Dreams” are what little people have.

    I met the daughter of a U.S. President who dreamed of attending Stanford, Oxford, then landing a job at 23 with McKinsey and two years later moving to the exciting field of private equity with the Avedon Group and its focus on “distressed securities”.

    III. I was badly wrong-footed by the second sentence here,

    It’s time to recognize that quality, affordable childcare is not a luxury. It’s a growth strategy.

    Someone should do a Hillary version of those parodies like Eisenhower delivering the Gettysburg address. Let’s start with Declaration of Independence:

    Studies show that all hardworking people empower themselves by making certain basic bargains with the marketplace, that among these bargains are a job that provides for a secure retirement, the challenge to unleash innovation, and being empowered by advances in technology and global trade to get ahead and stay ahead.

  22. Jeremy Grimm

    Yellow waders? Lambert — you must have very long legs!

    As I read Clinton’s speech the very first thing that came to mind was Mayor Cole’s (Bill Murray) speech from the kids’ movie “City of Ember” — but of course Bill Murray is much funnier than Hillary Clinton and his speech writers know how to keep his material lean:

    “These are trying and troubled times. Our problems are grave. We need answers. But beyond answers — more important than answers — we need solutions. And in order to find those solutions … I propose we launch a thorough investigations.”

    “I hereby declare the creation of a task force … to investigate the blackouts. Do I have volunteers?”

    “Today we, the people … stand united against the darkness.”

  23. Adrienne Adams

    “benefiting high skilled workers, but displacing and downgrading blue-collar jobs”

    In addition to Lambert’s observation “the first are people; the second is an abstraction” I’ll add that Clinton assumes that blue-collar = low skill. This is a common misperception among the clean-fingernail crowd, but next time one needs one’s Bentley’s brakes fixed or one’s roof re-Spanish-tiled, one might pay attention to the skills that are brought to the task.

    What we used to call blue-collar work, aka factory work, is all done by robots now. Or Laotian children.

    1. jrs

      Really it’s worse than that, it’s more elitist than that:

      “You know, advances in technology and expanding global trade have created new areas of commercial activity and opened new markets for our exports. Too often they are polarizing our economy, benefiting high skilled workers, but displacing and downgrading blue-collar jobs and other mid-level jobs that used to provide solid incomes for millions of Americans.”

      High skills is the counter here to not just blue collar but mid-level jobs. So the only job that Clinton considers “high skilled” is what upper management? Mid-level jobs are now “low skilled”? Is she just entirely out of touch? Or is she admitting, yea if you don’t have a professional graduate degree you’re basically screwed.

  24. Torsten

    Thanks a million, Lambert!

    I’ve been to NC too infrequently these last few months, but whenever I am forced to contemplate the sorry state of macro-everynomics, I seek you and Yves out for a lone voice of sanity.

    Like many commenters on this thread, I want to spare you the chore of donning the yellow waders. “Lack of agency” says it all for me: Says Hillary, “This is all nobody’s fault. All we need is a few abstract solutions to abstract problems.” BS, of course. Spare yourself the humiliation of the waders, Lambert; turn it over to the commentariat before setting out again to clean out these Stygian stables.

    I note with regret the curtailment of comment you and Yves have been forced to adopt. With great respect for all you waded through on this post, what I valued most were a number of the comments, which I would like briefly to acknowledge below. No doubt for newbies it was necessary for you to call out the main themes, such as “agency” and “can-kicking”, but I, and most veteran commenters, knew Hillary would weasel-word and can-kick before you called it out. IMHO, you only needed to label it, to announce the main themes, long enunciated here and on NC, so that the commentariat could elaborate.

    Herewith, by way of a commentary summary, the comments I personally found most illuminating:

    MRW/Galleta: on Rubin and Greenspan spinning Slick Willy: “I believe MRW is referencing the final part of Curtis’s 2000 documentary “The Century of the Self”. We’ve known Greenspan and Rubin were rotters for a long time, but it is important to have such documentary evidence tying them to the Clinton (I almost typed “Clingon”) machine. No doubt you and Yves have this link in your compendious linkography, but for the rest of us it’s invaluable to have links and references like this searchable and available on NC.

    Juan, on “Growth”:

    Clinton: “We can’t create enough jobs and new businesses without more growth”:

    Analysis: “Odd, perhaps even a category error. I would have thought that jobs and new businesses (in their aggregate and including network effects) created growth, and not the other ay around. The abstract (“growth”) creates the concrete (“new businesses”).”

    Like I said, I’ve been away from NC for awhile, but I don’t recall seeing this theme quite so plainly enunciated. What’s real and what’s theoretical/accounting frauld?: jobs? or “growth”?

    DJG: on the “secular religion” references to “small business”: According to these [CEPR] figures, there aren’t enough small businesses to create said jobs. These are powerful numbers that I had missed. I wish DJG would provide the link back to CEPR.


    * [Yes!] on the omission of references to green economy.
    * “5. I could be wrong, but I don’t think Obamacare has signed up 16 million new customers, and, if so, it certainly hasn’t provided them with “health care”, only with health insurance.”

    As with “jobs” above, these are “missing numbers” that the electorate should demand the advocates of present policies provide. Obamacare has been your beat, Lambert, and you’ve been all over it. Don’t let it pass. These hard numbers are far more imporatant than the astroturfing on Genius:

    Fool pointed to Hillary’s astroturfing on Genius. I don’t think NC or the Water Cooler or Corrente should get mixed up in these “social netf*cking” websites. Hillary has a paid army of trolls to feed those sites. NC appeals to opinion leaders. Our faith is that The Truth Will Out. This is a slow and painful process, but it is a True process. Fool was right to alert us to Hillary’s astroturfing effort, but trying to make astroturf green is a fool’s errand.

    greylady made a few other good points that you acknowledged:

    6. Profit sharing and paid leave sound nice, but only if you have a full-time job.
    1. If you’re going to talk about broadband, come out in support of community networks.

    The last is near and dear to my heart. In the marketplace of ideas, centralization of information is not conducive to Truth; it is only conducive to propaganda.

    Thanks again for everything you do, Lambert!

    1. Fool

      No it’s not. Surely this annotation with enough critical mass could achieve a comparable visibility to what’s “annotated” by Hillary’s “paid army of trolls”. Then people can read for themselves — but you may be too chill to “get mixed up in these ‘social netf*cking’ websites.”

  25. crittermom

    Excellent post! Really appreciate all the effort that went into it. (I’m still howling over the comment by her, of, “executives who are eager to embrace their responsibility”. Seriously?! Ya mean, like, uh, bank execs? Seems to me their only responsibility as they see it, is to line their pockets with money ill gotten from stealing our homes, pension funds,…). Does she really think we haven’t been paying attention?
    Thoroughly enjoyed the post, tho’ none of her BS surprised me at all. Empty words, meant to pacify & excite those who would walk off a cliff if on the edge, if she shouted “march forward for a better tomorrow”.
    Great comments from readers, as well.

  26. Rosario

    Thanks for the dissection Lambert, I really enjoy these. I need it for my own thoughts as well. The language used truly conveys the (tiny) breadth of the viewing window for her and her staff. Though she is purchasing the best modern marketing can provide, money often fuels a truly sorry sort of inspiration.

    Speaking of tax reform, how about putting an ever so small tax on financial transactions? Putting the brakes on the financial economy AND securing public revenue. No way, she’s got to set herself apart from Bernie, she has got to forge her own path…heh.

  27. aletheia33

    thank you lambert for your hard, hard work.

    i would like to see juxtaposed to this one an analysis of one of bernie’s speeches. is he using similar devices but to better effect? is he using different devices, to better effect? are the numbers he quotes more solid–by how much? and so on.

    even analyzing whatever he’s doing “right”, right now, would be useful. and if he hangs in long term, an analysis now would serve as a benchmark for later comparison if his speeches acquire spin doctors.

  28. Steven Greenberg

    Dark characters (black) against a dark background (brown) are unreadable. At least if I select the brown sections, my browser reverses colors enough to read what is there. It is a pain to have to do this with every brown section. Light tan would have been a much better choice than dark brown.

  29. Min

    Many thanks, Lambert! :)

    Minor problem: I find the brown highlights difficult to read.



    Where’s the beef?

    I’m sorry, Dave, I am currently unable to provide any information on country of origin.

  30. Paul Ruschmann

    Wonderful job, Lambert. I’ve sent this to my friends.

    I have just one eensy criticism. You missed a few dead metaphors and cliches in her speech, including these: “engine of strong growth” (dated), “That will be my mission” and “key driver” (PowerPoint English); “embrace” (overused); and “reach out to those families” (unless you’re a member of the Four Tops, stop using “reach out”).

    But yeah, you banged it out of the park and off the facing of the upper deck.

  31. frosty zoom

    oh, there’s plenty of beef. unfortunately, it’s country of origin is not allowed to be labelled.

  32. Synoia

    Clinton’s Speech on “The Economy”: Where’s the Beef?


    Clinton’s Speech on “The Economy”: Where’s the Pork?

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