The stock market’s weeklong case of the heebie-jeebies over the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency further underscores an uncomfortable truth for Bernie Sanders, Elisabeth Warren and other progressives: Hillary Clinton is the undeniable candidate of Wall Street.
Stocks have been in retreat today for the past week, and the so-called “fear gauge”—the VIX index that measures market volatility—is at its highest point since June. One big market worry is how a President Trump, who has talked tough about renegotiating trade deals, could affect global commerce.
Meantime, good soldier Sanders is hanging in there with his former rival for the Democratic presidential nomination despite predictions by Donald Trump that he would abandon Hillary Clinton. He is scheduled to barnstorm North Carolina with her today and stump for her in Iowa over the weekend.
Campaigning yesterday in Milwaukee for Clinton and progressive Russ Feingold, the former Wisconsin senator who is running against GOP incumbent Ron Johnson, Sanders said, “On the day after [a Clinton victory], we begin the process of taking on the billionaire class and transforming this country into the kind of country you and I know we can become."
Sanders, who built his insurgent candidacy in part on promises to rein in Wall Street, never mentioned that the big banks, hedge funds, and other financial interests have poured more than $78 million into Clinton coffers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. If you toss in donations from insurance and real estate, that number rises to more than $105 million.
By contrast, the Trump campaign and related political action committees (PACs) have gotten less than $1 million in donations from the securities and investment community. Even adding in contributions from insurance and his original business, real estate, Trump’s take is political chump change --a paltry $5.2 million.
If money talks, what it’s saying is: “I'm with her.”
And why wouldn’t it be? As a two-term senator from New York, she was a reliable ally of the financial community, and Goldman Sachs and others paid her handsomely. In fact, The New York Times says Hillary and Bill Clinton have raked in about $120 million in Wall Street speaking fees since 2001.
In one of those speeches hacked from the email of her campaign chief, John Podesta, Clinton said that politicians need both public and private policy positions. Translation: Don’t believe everything I have to say to get elected.
Responding to the speeches that revealed what The Times called “an easy comfort with the titans of business,” Sanders said in a statement in early October, "Whatever Secretary Clinton may or may not have said behind closed doors on Wall Street, I am determined to implement the agenda of the Democratic Party platform which was agreed upon by her campaign. Among other things, that agenda calls for breaking up the largest financial institutions in this country, re-establishing Glass-Steagall and prosecuting those many Wall Street CEOs who engaged in illegal behavior."
If Clinton wins and the Democrats capture control of the Senate, those lofty progressive goals could be doubly elusive. A Democratic Senate would likely see Senator Chuck Schumer of New York installed as Majority Leader.
Schumer, who has taken in more than $3 million in campaign donations from the finance industry this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, has been called by The Times “Wall Street’s best friend on Capitol Hill.”