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Clintons Embrace de Blasio's Inequality Rhetoric, Goldman Sachs' Speakers Fees

Steve Sands

December 11, Politico:

On a recent afternoon, executives at Goldman Sachs invited a few hundred major investors to the Conrad Hotel in lower Manhattan. The bankers and their guests filed into a large room and turned their eyes to Hillary Clinton…Clinton offered a message that the collected plutocrats found reassuring, according to accounts offered by several attendees, declaring that the banker-bashing so popular within both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish…What the bankers heard her to say was just what they would hope for from a prospective presidential candidate: Beating up the finance industry isn’t going to improve the economy—it needs to stop. And indeed Goldman’s Tim O’Neill, who heads the bank’s asset management business, introduced Clinton by saying how courageous she was for speaking at the bank. (Brave, perhaps, but also well-compensated: Clinton’s minimum fee for paid remarks is $200,000).

Certainly, Clinton offered the money men—and, yes, they are mostly men—at Goldman’s HQ a bit of a morale boost. “It was like, ‘Here’s someone who doesn’t want to vilify us but wants to get business back in the game,’” said an attendee. “Like, maybe here’s someone who can lead us out of the wilderness.”

January 1, remarks by Bill Clinton at swearing-in of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio:

I strongly endorse Bill de Blasio’s core campaign commitment that we have to have a city of shared opportunities, shared prosperity, shared responsibilities. We are interdependent—look around, we can’t get away from each other. We have to define the terms of our dependence. This inequality problem bedevils the entire country and…much of the world. But it is not just a moral outrage, it is a horrible constraint on economic growth…We cannot go forward if we don’t do it together…and I am very grateful that all of us in our many different backgrounds are committed to supporting our new mayor….in this great endeavor. This is a gift we can give not only to New Yorkers …but to the country and indeed increasingly to the entire world. We are going to share the future. We need to share it in a positive way.

It is no mystery why the Clintons were so eager to assume a prominent role at de Blasio’s inauguration, at a time when there is on the Democratic Party’s liberal wing no small amount of ferment and disquiet over the prospect of another Hillary Clinton presidential run. And yes, the Clintons do have a personal history with de Blasio, and yes, they are hardly alone among Democrats in having a complicated relationship with Wall Street. Still, the transparence and brazenness of their rhetorical shift in just a matter of weeks is a marvel. Two months ago, Hillary Clinton was reassuring bankers unnerved by populist share-the-wealth demands that have, of late, been coming from no one so forecefully and effectively as from Bill de Blasio, whose first order of business as mayor is to hike taxes on the city’s wealthiest. Barely had the tablecloths been laundered from that event when Hillary and Bill Clinton were on hand to celebrate the inauguration of that very same rabble-rouser with a ringing endorsement of the inequality talk that has the bankers so discomfited.

You might call it a Tale of Two Speeches. Except there was a third—Hillary Clinton appeared at another recent Goldman Sachs event as well, for a total take of $400,000 from a few hours of speaking. Or as one might also call it, "shared opportunities."