Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton: She Works Hard for the Money

It's time for the former secretary of state to learn Economics 101.

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In the autumn of his life the late George McGovern, who as a senator and presidential candidate was a proud tribune of the proletariat, became a tribune of capital as well. In 1992 he penned a column for The Wall Street Journal, relating the difficulties he had encountered trying to run his own business.

Many of those difficulties, he found, stemmed from "federal, state, and local rules"—"'one-size-fits-all' rules for business ignore the reality of the marketplace." The "concept that most often eludes legislators," the liberal lion lamented, is the cost imposed on consumers by "public regulation and government reporting requirements."

McGovern admitted that he came to this wisdom late, but suggested late was better than never. Perhaps Hillary Clinton shares that view, as she tries to convey to the masses her hard road to personal riches.

The Clintons have done quite well for themselves in recent years. They are worth at least $100 million, and Hillary—who travels by private jet and says she hasn't driven a car since 1996—rakes in $200,000 per speech. This has led to some amusing spin. Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist, recently told The Washington Post: "I hope Hillary never apologizes for trying to earn a living." A living.

Hillary herself has tried to dispel the notion that she has it made in the shade. Over the weekend she told London's Guardian that she and Bill "pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names. And we've done it through dint of hard work."

Comments like that make Democratic strategists wince. They fear she is beginning to sound too much like Mitt Romney, who in early 2012 casually mentioned that his wife drove "a couple of Cadillacs." Just like reg'lar folks. Is Clinton losing touch with the common man? Will she be able to relate to the proles on the campaign trail?

It's a fair question, but probably an overblown one. Voters and the establishment media tend to think of the Republicans as the party of and for the rich. They don't much mind rich Democrats—so long as those Democrats support policies that ostensibly benefit the little people.

Lady Hillary's comments betray more than an unfamiliarity with the great unwashed, however. They also show how little she understands people of her own economic class.

Clinton thinks she is "unlike a lot of people who are truly well off" because, first, she pays ordinary income taxes. The insinuation seems to be that most of the 1 percent come from old money, live off their inheritance, or have arranged their affairs to take advantage of lower capital-gains rates. But that's not so.

One in eight Americans will spend at least one year among the "1 percent," according to Marketplace.org. And at some point during their lives, one in five Americans will number among the richest 2 percent. Far more will qualify for membership in the top 10 percent. And only a small number will stay poor over the course of their whole lives.

Many well-off people hold high positions in the corporate world. And a principal reason they pay capital-gains taxes on much of their income is that they are paid in large part with stock instead of cash. Why? Not to dodge a higher tax rate. The point is accountability: to tie corporate executive pay to company performance.

Hillary also seems to think she is different because she made her money through "hard work." Some hourly laborers might care to dispute that: Writing books and giving speeches seems like pretty soft duty compared with digging ditches and changing bedpans.

True, public officials work long days—and nights and weekends, too. But then so do lots of other rich people. Doctors and lawyers—especially the better-paid ones—put in grueling hours. So do corporate execs. The competition for the top of the economic heap is fierce, and the people who get there tend to be drivers, not slackers. Most of the people on the Forbes 400 list "scrapped their way onto our list through their own efforts," the magazine reports. Most of them didn't get to bring home a Rolodex from the Oval Office, either.

Sure, America does have its share of the idle rich—and yes, income inequality has increased somewhat in recent decades. Yet for much of her career Hillary Clinton seems to have thought the story stopped and ended there: that economics was a zero-sum game in which one person's gain was another's loss—and so, as she once said, society had to "take things away from" the rich for "the common good."

Now that she's rich herself, she seems to be waking up to the realities of how people get that way. Thus far she thinks she's exceptional. But with enough time and experience perhaps she, like McGovern, will lose her ideological blinders and see the light.

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  1. OT: Fuck off, slavers.

    Supremes say “Oh, go get a warrant, fer cryin’ out loud!”

    http://live.scotusblog.com/Eve…..ne_25_2014

      1. Cell phones “are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.”

        I do hope that was a quote taken from the opinion. Do we know who wrote the opinion in Riley?

        1. Yes, and it was Mr. Chief Justice Penaltax, perhaps atoning for his previous sins.

          1. I just found the text of the opinion. I’m going off to read it now.

            1. *My supervisor told me I was required to take a lunch. Oh well, I guess everyone will have to wait.

        2. Hey, it’s 8(+1)-0 (Alito has a concurring opinion, the rest signed on the main opinion)

          And the Martian line is on page 9.

          1. Aww, there’s a footnote which translates explicitly to “This opinion is not to be regarded as precedent for the NSA cases”

            Because the United States and California agree that these cases involve searches incident to arrest, these cases do not implicate the question whether the collection or inspection of aggregated digital
            information amounts to a search under other circumstances.

            Bastards.

            1. At first glance, I thought that you wrote NASA.

          2. Alito’s concurrence was disappointing – he really wanted to fellate the cops, but it was just too much – so he throws in dicta saying there should be no limits on search incident to arrest to preserve evidence…bah!

  2. Speaking of money this handy graphic from a lefty friend’s FB page reminds me that lefties don’t really understand how debt works.

    1. I guarantee that 40 trillion doesn’t include all the leverage that the banks have outstanding.

  3. “But with enough time and experience perhaps she, like McGovern, will lose her ideological blinders and see the light.”

    Don’t count on it. She is already where McGovern was, roughly, in age, yes?

  4. Hillary still tried to portray herself as an average American working to make ends meet.

    And the Faithful just lap it up and cry out for more.

  5. perhaps she, like McGovern, will lose her ideological blinders and see the light.

    Not unless she gets a real job.

    1. In the case of Hillary, there is no fucking way she will ever change her views on this. Bill I could see making an adjustment in views, but not her.

  6. Corporate executives can’t be paid in stocks (thus supposedly tying their pay to performance) and still pay the same income tax rate as anyone else? That’s a pretty slippery defense of capital gains rates there. As in, not one at all.

    It’s good to know that after all this time of being told that pay isn’t actually related to the amount of work (and that’s a good thing), and that the market rate for things (like speeches) is what it is, now it’s all different because the Clintons are doing it.

    1. Wow. That’s a whole lot of stupid to pack into two short paragraphs. How do you do it?

      1. Well, if you turn the straw men so they’re front to back, you don’t have to leave space for the shoulders and then you can cram one in with every third word. But only someone with Tony’s massive straw man experience should attempt such a trick.

    2. You and Hinkle are both wrong. Those who receive stocks as compensation owe income taxes on the fair market value at the time of receipt, minus any costs (option prices). This is regardless of whether you sell the shares and take the proceeds. Capital gains only applies to any increase in value afterwards, assuming that the stocks are held past the short-term period.

    3. She went, she bombed, they died and she cackled, and now someone complains that she wasn’t paid enough for slaughtering little kids?

    4. Hinkle got his tax law wrong, so you can stop worrying about that.

    5. Defense of what? Both nominal and integrated capital gains are significantly above OECD averages. Integrated capital gains (capital gains plus corporate tax) are above income tax and among the highest in the world.

  7. I like the way some Reason writers take politicians at their word. I doubt HRC really thinks she is like the average American, she’s just following the playbook.

    And on this: Is Clinton losing touch with the common man?

    I’m not sure she was ever in touch with the common man. Bill, yes; Hillary not so much.

    1. Bill was more in touch with the common woman.

      1. “Oh, there was a hanging curve and BP smashes it out of the park….folks, it was only a matter of time!”

  8. It’s good to know that after all this time of being told that pay isn’t actually related to the amount of work (and that’s a good thing), and that the market rate for things (like speeches) is what it is, now it’s all different because the Clintons are doing it.

    Try telling the voices in your head to shut the fuck up.

    Which character in The Little Red Hen does Hillary remind you of, Tony?

    1. Unlike a lot of rich Republicans, she did actually work for her money. Even if the work consisted of parlaying her fame into book sales and speaking fees–you’ve no doubt defended the compensation for much less productive work before (like, say, being born to a rich guy who’s now dead).

      1. no one has criticized the compensation, per se, but you already know that. Her self-characterization as some schlub trying to get by is bit, shall we say, full of shit. But you, predictably, rush to defend it.

        1. A handy cheat sheet covering the trolls:

          Tony: Attacks straw men.

          Buttplug: Attacks Team Red in a way that would be a tu quoque fallacy even if this were a Team-Red site.

          Alice: Just generally evil.

          1. And they all want cake.

      2. Unlike a lot of rich Republicans, she did actually work for her money.

        LOL

        1. Didn’t you see that episode of Dirty Jobs where Mike Rowe had to sit at the head table and eat shitty chicken before having to yap for an entire hour or so?

          It was truly revolting to think that some people are forced to do that for a measely $200K. I bet they wish they had studied something different in college and had better options available to themselves…

      3. Tony|6.25.14 @ 11:09AM|#
        “Unlike a lot of rich Republicans, she did actually work for her money.”

        I guess if you call putting up with slick Willie “work”, you could say that.

        1. Why do you think they call it a blow “job”, if it isn’t work?

      4. “Unlike a lot of rich Republicans, she did actually work for her money.”

        Cattle futures.

        How soon we forget.

      5. Alpha Pimpette Bitch Ho workin’ hard for the War/Bankster/Police State. That’s the hardest she’s ever worked.

      6. “Unlike a lot of rich Republicans, she did actually work for her money.”

        Face Palm Tony strikes!

      7. Oh, yes, accumulating and cashing in on political favors is God’s work, eh, Tony?

        I really am trying to figure out if you’re more stupid or douchey.

        1. I’ll add that inhereted money is probably purer than Ms. Clinton’s. At least the process of inheretance doesn’t involve net wealth destruction.

  9. Those who receive stocks as compensation owe income taxes on the fair market value at the time of receipt

    You’re muddying the narrative.

    1. Well excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse meeeeeeeeeee

  10. she did actually work for her money.

    If people are willing to pay money to listen to her, that’s their lookout. Value is subjective. Willing buyer, willing seller- YMMV.

    She sounds ridiculous when she tries to pretend she’s just plain folks Hillary Sixpack, scraping by on the pittance she makes down at the sausage factory.

    1. She sounds ridiculous when she tries to pretend she’s just plain folks Hillary Sixpack, scraping by on the pittance she makes down at the sausage factory.

      Which was the main point that Tony completely missed. Or ignored. Or is too fucking stupid to understand.

      1. you act as though it can’t be all three.

    2. It is important to not lose sight of the fact that she is not being paid $200,000 per speech because of the brilliance or poetry of her speeches. They are as awkward, clunky, and content-free as anything you will hear come out of a politician’s mouth. People pay $200,000 because of her implied power and authority, and that of her husband the former president. She is selling access to power and government rents, not her mellifluous voice and brillant turns of phrases.

      1. If there were an Olympic Coat Tail Riding event, she’d have the gold.

    3. “If people are willing to pay money to listen to her, that’s their lookout.”

      Not sure I buy this. How much of her speaking fee comes from people being genuinely interested in what she has to say versus how much comes from people trying to influence policy by gaining access to the Clintons’ ear?

    4. I agree that to the extent she is trying to pretend to be working class, or trying to cover up the fact that they’re incredibly wealthy, that’s foolish because obviously nobody will buy it.

      Now good luck keeping this Hillary as Mitt thing going till Nov. 2016.

      1. Tony|6.25.14 @ 4:26PM|#
        …”Now good luck keeping this Hillary as Mitt thing going till Nov. 2016.”

        True. Mitt isn’t nearly as obnoxious as that bitch.

    5. “If people are willing to pay money to listen to her, that’s their lookout. Value is subjective. Willing buyer, willing seller”

      It’s everybody’s business when what she is selling is power and political influence, i.e., corruption.

  11. Hlll doesn’t understand eceonomics?

    What difference, at this point, does it make?

    1. It makes a big difference if she runs for president and gets elected.

  12. “Many well-off people hold high positions in the corporate world. And a principal reason they pay capital-gains taxes on much of their income is that they are paid in large part with stock instead of cash.”

    Uh, this is pretty much wrong. Most executives that get stock options receive non-statutory stock options. They pay ordinary income tax on those. There is another kind called an incentive stock option, where you can pay capital gains rates if you hold the stock for at least a year and jump through a bunch of hoops. Incentive stock options have really bad AMT consequences though, and the qualifications on them generally make them unpopular.

    1. This. I learned it the hard way during the dotcom bust when my taxes owed exceeded the value of the stock I held. I knew people who went bankrupt because of it.

  13. By the way, does Hillary really want us to believe she isn’t getting any capital gains or dividends off that $100M stash she’s got? If that’s the case, then she and Bill are some of the most incompetent investors in history.

    1. Well, you know how Condi Rice isn’t an “authentic black woman” since she’s not a D, right?
      Well, Shil and Willie aren’t really “rich” people since they are Ds.

  14. I work hard too, where is my $100M.

    1. Shit, I was working just this morning until I started reading H&R instead!

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