In this heated election season, presidential candidates are flooding the airwaves with urgent appeals that voters cast ballots in their favor under promises of social progress and economic prosperity. Democratic Party frontrunner Hillary Clinton made her contribution to this media frenzy in New York City this past week in an appearance on the popular radio program The Breakfast Club.
One particular moment in this half hour interview stood out. When questioned on an item that she could do without, the former Secretary of State answered that she carries “hot sauce in her bag”, an obvious reference to Beyoncé’s hit single “Formation.” This response provoked Breakfast Club DJ Charlemagne the God to note that many would view her comment as “pandering to Black people.” As if unbothered by the clear implications of his observation, Clinton jovially shot back, “Is it working?”
Perhaps statements of this kind could be dismissed as another example of an “out of touch” politician or a badly timed “gaffe”, but when we take a serious look at the economic policies that Clinton endorses, and more specifically their impact on the Black community, we uncover some disturbing truths about our political culture. Below is a list of three other things that can be found in Secretary Clinton’s “bag” that it would be useful to know about.
1. Repeal of the Glass Steagall Act
In 1999 the Clinton administration repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, an act passed after the Great Depression to separate commercial from investment banks. This arrangement was designed to serve as a safeguard against any future financial collapse. Many credible economic analysts and scholars point to the repeal of this act as helping to lay the groundwork for the 2008 financial crisis. Clinton supported the repeal despite the fact that the policies it engendered led to “the largest setback in racial wealth equality in the United States over the last quarter century.”
2. Welfare Reform Laws
Among the most damaging economic policies of the second half of the 1990s were the Welfare Reform policies of the Clinton administration. Under the guise of “reform” these laws intensified the social strife for many Black families in the US. Key to this policy was the replacement of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) which imposed “strict work requirements, a five-year lifetime limit on assistance, and sanctions that [could] push people off the rolls” (Collins and Yeskel, 118). As the Nation magazine reports, “The Clintons have championed welfare reform for over 20 years—even as study after study has shown that it has severely harmed poor families, and driven a historic number of Black and Latino children into deep poverty.”
3. Campaign Ties with JP Morgan Chase
When it comes to Clinton’s economic worldview, it is no great secret that she is a beloved ally of Wall Street. Speaking fees at her closed door gatherings with banking giants like Goldman Sachs have passed an astonishing $200,000. Less noted is the fact that she receives large sums in campaign contributions from JP Morgan and Chase. According to Atlanta Blackstar, “[JP Morgan] has been accused of discriminatory practices by both the city of Miami and the city of Los Angeles after it was revealed that the nation’s largest bank pushed Black and Hispanic borrowers toward risky home loan products.” OpenSecrets.org, a website that tracks campaign contributions to presidential candidates, lists JP Morgan Chase as one of Clinton’s top contributors having donated $180,461 to her campaign committee.
Certainly knowledge of these policies complicate an otherwise pleasant picture of a former Secretary of State who is so “in touch” with the Black community that she “carries hot sauce in her bag,” but these are the kinds of substantive conversations we should be having in the African American community, and in all communities generally, if we have any hope of reversing the troubling tide of economic injustice and bigotry.
Watch Clinton’s full interview on The Breakfast Club below.
What are your thoughts on this topic?