By James Kwak
Hillary Clinton is competing for the nomination of a party whose progressive base thinks, with considerable justification, that her husband is to blame for letting Wall Street run amok—and that Barack Obama, under whom she served, did too little to rein in the bankers who torpedoed the global economy. On top of that, she faces a competitor who says what the people actually think: that the system is rigged, that big banks should be restrained, and that people should go to jail.
So she has no choice but to try to appear tough on Wall Street—but she has to do that without simply jettisoning twenty-five years of “New Democrat” friendliness to business and without alienating the financial industry donors she is counting on. So the “plan” she announced yesterday has two messages. On the one hand, she wants to show that she has the right approach to taming Wall Street. Unfortunately, it’s just more of the same: another two dozen or so regulatory tweaks, mainly of the arcane variety, that will produce more of the massive, loophole-ridden rules that Dodd-Frank gave us.
Or, that could be the point. Her second message is a promise to the financial industry that, instead of real structural reforms, she will continue the technocratic incrementalism of the Geithner era—which has left the megabanks more or less the way they were on the eve of the financial crisis. Maybe, for her base, that’s a feature, not a bug.
For more, see my latest column for The Atlantic.