Hillary Clinton had a good weekend, almost by default, as her opponent in the presidential race continued his rolling meltdown over his taxes and his attacks on a former beauty queen. But in a speech in Ohio Monday, she went out of her way to hit themes that sounded very much like those heard from her closest competitor in the Democratic primary, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, suggesting she remains concerned about her ability to capture some of the enthusiasm he was able to stir up among younger voters.
Clinton spent considerable time and energy discussing the scandal enveloping Wells Fargo Bank, which created millions of accounts without the knowledge of the account holders, and then profited by charging customers late fees on accounts they didn’t know existed.
“Look at Wells Fargo. Really shocking, isn’t it?” she said. “One of the nation’s biggest banks, bullying thousands of employees into committing fraud against unsuspecting customers, secretly opening up millions of accounts for people without their consent, even their knowledge, misusing personal information, and then sticking customers with hidden fees. It is outrageous that eight years after a cowboy culture on Wall Street wrecked our economy, we are still seeing powerful bankers playing fast and loose with the law.”
Clinton went on to sing the praises of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was developed to root out practices like those revealed at Wells. She also advocated bringing an end to complex customer agreements that lock customers into mandatory arbitration of any claims against the bank. Though nominally neutral, the arbitration process in claims against financial services firms is notoriously tilted in a way that disadvantages the customer.
“We are not going to let companies like Wells Fargo use these fine print ‘gotchas’ to escape accountability,” she said.
Clinton also reiterated her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the massive Pacific trade deal that both Sanders and Trump have vocally attacked. She went so far as to assure people that she wouldn’t change her mind about opposing TPP if she is elected -- apparent push-back against persistent claims from critics that her current stance against the deal is simply political opportunism, and will be adjusted once she doesn’t have to face voters.
The remarks, coming just a week after she easily won the first presidential debate against Trump, of course contained plenty of comments about the GOP nominee. Especially after the revelation, from a New York Times story over the weekend, that he claimed a $916 million dollar loss on his taxes in 1995.
“Well, then you all know that in the debate he said it was smart to avoid paying taxes,” she said. “Yesterday, his campaign was bragging it makes him a genius. Here’s my question: What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a single year? This is Trump to a T. He’s taken corporate excess and made a business model out of it. He abuses his power, games the system, puts his own interests ahead of the country’s. It’s Trump first and everyone else last.”
She added, “It doesn't look like he paid a dime of federal income tax for almost two decades. Now, while millions of American families, including mine and yours, were working hard, paying our fair share, it seems he was contributing nothing to our nation. Imagine that. Not fair. Nothing for Pell grants to help kids go to college. Nothing for veterans. Nothing for our military.”
On Monday night, Trump was expected to deliver remarks that would, at least in part, contrast his career in business with Clinton’s lack of private sector experience.