Hillary Clinton pushed back on Bernie Sanders’ accusations about her relationship with the financial industry in a Thursday interview with Business Insider.
Business Insider CEO and editor in chief Henry Blodget asked Clinton about Sanders’ frequent criticism of her ties to Wall Street and it is so demonized in the first place.
“Why is it so bad to be close to Wall Street?” Blodget asked during the interview in at Purchase College in New York.
“I never can really tell what he’s talking about,” responded Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, of her sole remaining primary rival. “It’s just one of these sort of attacks that he pulls out all the time.”
The two Democratic candidates are locked in tight battles in the next two primary states of Wisconsin, which votes Tuesday, and New York, which votes April 19 and holds particular significance for both. Sanders, who was born in Brooklyn, is vying to cut into Clinton’s double-digit advantage in her adopted home state.
Watch Clinton’s comments below:
Sanders has made Clinton’s perceived coziness with the financial industry a signature criticism on the campaign trail.
Clinton received hefty paychecks for private speeches to investment-banking firm Goldman Sachs after leaving the State Department in 2013. Clinton and her campaign have maintained that the practice is relatively commonplace for major public figures.
Sanders has recently incorporated his criticism of Clinton’s Wall Street appearances into his stump speech. And he has called on her to release the transcripts of those speeches.
“She has given a number of speeches behind closed doors to Wall Street,” Sanders said at a rally last month. “She has been paid $225,000 per speech. I kind of think if you’re going to be paid $225,000 for a speech, it must be a fantastic speech, a brilliant speech which you would want to share with the American people.”
Sanders has also mocked the idea that Clinton and her allies would not be swayed by contributions from the financial industry to the former secretary of state’s allied super PAC.
Clinton has declared that she will rein in the financial industry by increasing the number of federal prosecutors to investigate white-collar crime, eliminating the carried-interest tax loophole, and establishing a “risk fee” to discourage banks from taking on short-term, risky moves that result in massive gains or losses.
On Thursday, the line of criticism appeared to strike a nerve for Clinton, who engaged in a confrontation with a climate-change activist who questioned whether she would “reject fossil-fuel money” in her campaign.
“I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I’m sick of it,” she said.
In her interview with Business Insider, Clinton placed much of the blame for the 2008 financial crisis on the Bush administration’s deregulation of the financial industry. She said the US needs to strike a balance between allowing financiers to help grow the economy while punishing “bad actors.”
I don’t think anybody would argue that during the eight years leading up to the Great Recession a lot of bets were made, risks taken, that weren’t good for the economy. And I don’t think all the blame lies with Wall Street.
I think a lot of the blame lies with the Bush administration. They went back to trickle down economics. They took their eye off the mortgage market. They took their eye off the finance markets, and we ended up in a big mess.
“I think there were bad actors in the government and bad actors in the finance, mortgage, markets industries that need to be called out and held accountable,” she continued. “But you also have to make sure that you’ve got the credit flowing, the financial instruments, that are going to enable Main Street to be successful.”
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