Thomas Friedman's Advice to Clinton: Shift Right

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  August 11, 2016

Thomas Friedman's Advice to Clinton: Shift Right

Former financial regulator Bill Black describes some of Hillary Clinton's statements on economic policy as 'incredible nonsense'
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William K. Black, author of THE BEST WAY TO ROB A BANK IS TO OWN ONE, teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC). He was the Executive Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention from 2005-2007. Black was a central figure in exposing Congressional corruption during the Savings and Loan Crisis.


SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore and this is also the Black Report on the Real News Network.

Donald Trump presented his economic plan on Monday in Detroit, and on Thursday Hillary will present her economic plans in Detroit as well. In the lead up to Clinton’s presentation, prominent New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman advised Clinton to pursue, and I quote here, “A real pro-growth, startup deregulation and entrepreneurship agenda.” Also, she should reject Sanders’s anti-free trade approach to economic issues, according to Friedman. This is how Clinton can siphon off business Republicans from Donald Trump, he advises.

Joining us now to discuss all of this about Thomas Friedman’s recommendations to Hillary Clinton is Bill Black. Bill is an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri Kansas City. He’s a white-collar criminologist and a former financial regulator and the author of, the Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One.

Thanks so much for joining us, Bill.


PERIES: So let’s begin, Bill, with taking apart Friedman’s recommendations. What is he exactly asking her to do?

BLACK: Oh, it’s Friedman so there’s no exact. It’s columns that are going to consist entirely of slogans. So the slogans that he thinks are important here are socialism is the best way for making everyone equally poor, and capitalism makes everyone unequally wealthy, and such. Those types of things.

So his overall recommendation in two columns to Hillary is that the way to beat Donald Trump is to go to the right of the Republican Party platform on economic issues. And as you said the two big, big things that he wants is deregulation and he wants the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Now the setting for all of this is, as he explains in one of his columns, is that there are web people, see the webbing, and then there are wall people. Web people are good, they like the web and they’re constantly learning. Then there are wall people who are bad. They are lazy, they’re not very bright. They don’t want to spend their time between 10 o’clock and midnight after they’ve put the kids to sleep studying on the web.

He says the future is going to be all about the web people and the key is that Hillary needs to turn her back on the wall people. Embrace the web people, this continuous learning stuff.

PERIES: And so Hillary Clinton is of course expected to give her speech tomorrow, and it seems to me that we really need to distinguish between the official Republican and Democratic economic platforms, but we also need to take a look at track records. Now, Hillary Clinton, as we all know, has recently moved a little bit to the left when it comes to TTIP or TPP, or even NAFTA. But particularly on TPP.

So do you think that she’s going to stick with this alignment or is she going to take on Trump? Because Trump himself has indicated in his speech on Monday that if he’s elected he’s going to renegotiate all these deals like NAFTA, or if it’s not in favor of the U.S., he’s prepared to walk away from these deals. So first of all, where is Hillary Clinton on all of this and is where she is truly far apart from Trump?

BLACK: So a number of Hillary supporters are saying she doesn’t believe a word of this trade stuff, and after the election like President Obama she’ll do a flip. Now her--probably the person she was closest to with the possible exception of Bill, [McCallath] floated a trial balloon that lasted only an hour. And the trial balloon was oh, this is nuts. Hillary will just say I’m going to improve the Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, and then she’ll go ahead and sign it, and that was of course before the convention.

There was going to be a revolt of the Sanders folks, and the rest of the Clinton campaign came out within literally 90 minutes and said no, no, no, no, no, Hillary really, really now opposes these deals. But to go back to of course Friedman first and then fit this in. Friedman, who says that the key is to learn or be a lifetime learner, is the person who never learns. Right? The person who is still saying deregulation after deregulation has been tried three times and produced ever growing disasters from the savings and loan debacle. The $150 billion to the Enron era fraud set in conjunction with the dot com stuff caused a $7 trillion loss in market capitalization up to the current crisis that caused $24.3 trillion.

Every one of these trade deals has failed to have the supposed job creation effects in the United States and has had the effect often of driving down effective regulation, and of course Friedman never learns from any of these things. Trump’s plan by the way, except on TPP, went back completely to Republican orthodoxy. So it, I think you will see Clinton attack it as one bailout after another of the rich, which it is. But I think she’ll also attack it as dangerous, as creating deficits, and this is--from this phony thing that said Bill Clinton’s surpluses were a wonderful thing for the economy and show he’s virtuous.

No such thing. They were very harmful for the economy. Helped create the great recession and reflects absolute economic illiteracy that you should have a bunch of surplus in the contexts of the United States. And we know she’s learned nothing because it’s only a few weeks ago when people said well why don’t, with these really low interest rates, do you have a much bigger program of infrastructure?

You can see how many people dropped out of the labor force. A point that Trump makes. So while we have a low unemployment rate, we actually have an enormous reserve army of not officially unemployed, right? Who are off the roles of the unemployed because they’re so discouraged that they’ve given up even looking for work and therefore aren’t counted.

And Hillary’s response is, we can’t do that. That would make us the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe. Right? Hyperinflation. Just incredible nonsense again showing that she hasn’t learned anything about economics, anything about modern monetary theory.

PERIES: Speaking of monetary theory, one of Freedman’s most specific recommendations is that Clinton needs to address Democratic Party’s anti-banking sentiments and I think here I think what he means is regulations. Which is one of your expertise of course. So give us a sense of the kind of financial deregulation Trump is going to be engaged in and is it true the attacks Friedman is making on Hillary here?

BLACK: So we don’t know of course what Trump will do which is a typical thing with Trump. I’m going to cut it really, really big, really big. You know, 75%. Well okay, so what does that mean? Ah, well, but don’t worry, it’ll be great. I’ll hire the best people and such. Obviously not people like me. So we don’t know. It’s the usual thing with Trump. It’s all hot air. Other than he is saying that he wants to do lots of deregulation. Hillary wants to do deregulation as well on finance and she too hasn’t specified what she wants to roll back.

Her vice presidential selection Tim Kaine is very big in--again he, like Hillary, like Bill, Gore, and Vilsack, who is the other people on the shortlist for vice president, all of these people are alums of the democrat leadership council. The far right Wall Street end of the party. So they have wanted historically to gut effective regulation and supervision and criminal enforcement of the laws. Kaine wanted a very substantial rollback of Dodd-Frank and he also refused to support initiatives by the consumer finance protection bureau to crackdown on the abuses of the predatory payday lenders.

So we know that within the administration is one of the strongest voices in the Democratic Party for Wall Street. Obviously if the Vice President ends up the President through death, he will be a real partisan. But most people think that Hillary’s selection of Kaine and Vilsack as the number two in that pool demonstrate that she hasn’t changed at all. That she’s still a big believer in financial deregulation just like Thomas Friedman.

PERIES: All right, Bill, I thank you so much for you joining us today. I’m looking forward to your report next week.

BLACK: All right. Thank you.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.




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