Elizabeth Warren on Hillary’s hypocrisy (2004)
BILL MOYERS: You tell a story that to me
illustrates what has happened to our political system, in regard to the middle class in regard to democracy in the country as a whole. And
It involved Hillary Clinton.
ELIZABETH WARREN: I had written an op-ed about
a piece of pending bankruptcy legislation.
The credit card companies have been pushing to try to tighten the bankruptcy laws
Sort of like locking the doors to the hospitals, and then claiming nobody’s sick in America.
So they were trying to get the bankruptcy laws
Constricted, so that fewer families could get in.
Why? Because you can make more money if those families don’t go into bankruptcy – if you’re a credit lender.
Mrs. Clinton evidently saw – she was then first lady; this is in the late 1990s – Mrs. Clinton saw
the piece. And I got a call from the White House.
And they said Mrs. Clinton was going to be in town to give a speech in Boston
and would I come and meet with her?
I said sure!
So I put together all my files,
I show up at the appointed place,
after she’s finished her speech, we’re ushered
into a tiny little room somewhere in the bowels of this hotel.
Just the two of us; they closed the door.
Mrs. Clinton sits down, we have hamburgers and French fries.
And she says “tell me about bankruptcy”. And I got to tell you, I never had a smarter student.
Quick right to the heart of it.
I go over the law – it’s a complex law – went over the economics,
showed her the graph, showed her the charts, and she got it.
Within 20 minutes she could play with the rest of it.
“Well, then that will means this parts happened. That will mean this has happened.”
I said yes, that’s right. And at the end of the conversation
Mrs. Clinton stood up, she said “let’s get our picture taken”, which we did. And she said
“Professor Warren, we’ve got to stop that awful bill”, referring to this bankruptcy bill that’s sponsored by the credit card companies.
And when Mrs. Clinton came back with a little better understanding of how it all worked,
they reversed course and they reversed course fast. And indeed, the proof is in the pudding.
The last bill that came before President Clinton was that bankruptcy bill,
that was passed by the house in the senate in 2000,
and he vetoed it. And in her autobiography
Mrs. Clinton took credit for that veto, and she rightly should.
She turned around a whole administration on the subject of bankruptcy – she got it.
BILL MOYERS: And then?
ELIZABETH WARREN: One of the first bills that came up
after she was Senator Clinton – was the bankruptcy bill.
This is a bill that’s like a vampire.
It will not die. There’s a lot of money behind it. Her husband had vetoed it
very much at her urging.
BILL MOYERS: And?
ELIZABETH WARREN: She voted in favor of it.
BILL MOYERS: Why?
As “Senator Clinton” the pressures are very different.
It’s a well-financed industry.
A lot of people don’t realize that the industry that gave the most money to
Washington over the past few years was not the oil industry, was not pharmaceuticals,
it was consumer credit products. Those are the people the credit card companies have been giving money.
And they have influence.
BILL MOYERS: And Mrs. Clinton was one of them, as senator.
ELIZABETH WARREN: She she has taken money from the groups, and more to the point,
she worries about them as a constituency.
BILL MOYERS: So what does this mean? These millions of people out there and the politicians
cavort in front of us favoring the middle class, and then
beholden to the powerful interests that undermine the middle class. What does it say about politics today?
ELIZABETH WARREN: You know, this is the scary part about
democracy today. We’re talking again about
the impact of money.
The credit industry on this bankruptcy bill has spent tens of
millions of dollars lobbying, and as their profits grow they just throw more into lobbying for how they can get laws
that will make it easier and easier and easier to drain money out of the out of the pockets of middle-class families.