Hillary Clinton

GE CEO Fighting Back on Bernie Sanders' Anti-Corporate Rhetoric

While Hillary Clinton starts to call into question whether Sanders understands banking policy.

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State

More than two months after the first nominating contests of 2016, Hillary Clinton, who was once considered a virtual shoe-in for the Democratic nomination, is still facing an opponent, one whose won five of the last six contents and amassed more than 1,000 delegates.

Clinton spent 2015 lurching leftward, adopting what she believed to be the most attractive Sanders talking points for the Democratic base. It was not enough to put Sanders away. Now for a different tactic. In recent days, Clinton has called into question whether Sanders understands how Dodd-Frank works.

Sanders, meanwhile, suggested Clinton wasn't qualified to be president because of donations from Wall Street, which he called "an entity whose greed, recklessness and illegal behavior helped destroy our economy." Wall Street, of course, is a street in Manhattan where the New York Stock Exchange and a metonym for the entire financial and investment industry, not a singular "entity" the way, say, Washington as a metonym for the federal government could be.

And yesterday, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt penned an op-ed for the Washington Post slamming Sanders for his attacks on corporate America, and specifically the claim that corporations were "destroying the moral fabric" of the country.

Immelt, of course, is an imperfect messenger for this kind of defense. GE has in recent years, under Immelt's leadership, been a major recipient of corporate welfare and practitioner of crony capitalism. The toxic relationship between big government and big rent-seeking corporations has, thanks to low-information voters and misleading rhetoric, directed resentment not toward crony capitalism but free markets.

Sanders' critique of corporations rarely focuses on the role government plays in undermining free markets and suppressing competition—after all, he wants an even bigger role for government—and instead on those market forces that drive prosperity.

"GE has been in business for 124 years, and we've never been a big hit with socialists," Immelt writes in his Washington Post op-ed. "We create wealth and jobs, instead of just calling for them in speeches.

Immelt also responded to Sanders' rhetoric about U.S. companies operating overseas. "Sanders says that he is upset about GE's operations abroad—as though a company that has customers in more than 180 countries should have no presence in any of them," Immelt writes, pointing out that such a presence supports exports of American goods, supports manufacturing in the U.S. (which is alive and well), as well as global supply chains that also rely on thousands of other U.S. companies.

Immelt also called the U.S. tax code outdated and pushed back against Sanders' claim that GE pays no taxes, pointing out it pays billions to all levels of government and has called for "comprehensive tax reform" even if that meant higher taxes. "It's easy to make hollow campaign promises and take cheap shots in speeches and during editorial board sessions, but U.S. companies have to deliver for their employees, customers and shareholders every day" Immelt writes, referring to a New York Daily News interview with Sanders where the senator showed little understanding of what kind of policies would be required to execute his rhetoric. "GE operates in the real world."

Immelt's op-ed follows a Vox piece criticizing Sanders' anti-trade stance (which despite different flavored rhetoric is very similar to Republican frontrunner Donald Trump's). Perhaps it signals the start of a spell breaking. Anti-trade rhetoric has been a big hit this election cycle for the major party candidates, exploiting Americans' economic illiteracy to drum up fear about the U.S. losing its prosperity to foreign countries as if economic growth were a zero-sum game. It's the product of decades of economically illiterate rhetoric from politicians. The worse the major party candidates keep looking overall, the better chance there may be of a Libertarian or other third-party candidate offering free trade the defense it deserves.

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    1. Only Ed can tow the lion.

        1. I had some sole last night. Delish.

          1. With a nice white whine courtesy of Winston Vineyards?

      1. Their not sending there best grammaticians.

  1. Uh…. thanks Jeff, I think…

  2. The bipartisan establishment frantically mounts Operation Save Hillary.
    Reason dutifully tags along.

    1. …by critiquing GE, cronyism, an avowed socialist, know-nothing voters, and the tax code. They’re neck-deep in Hillary backers there at Reason,

      1. Be gentle with SIV. He’s a Trump supporter.

        1. You have to be careful with his butt. It’s perma-hurt.

          1. A bee bit his bottom and now his bottom is big.

            1. Bees don’t bite you blithering dunderhead!

            2. So he was literally nipped in the butt.

            3. It’s OK, SF…I got the reference, even if these other heathens didn’t.

              1. I hate them so much, Jimbo.

                1. Simpson’s references are like the matzoh ball soup of references.

        2. Be gentle with SIV. He’s a Trump supporter.

          Isn’t SIV’s pet issue (the one he honors by naming himself Single Issue Voter) cockfighting?

          What’s Trump’s position on cockfighting?

    2. That someone could read this blog post as pro-Hillary is how I know existence is meaningless.

      1. Oh, have no doubt that Immelt is a big fan of corporate cronyism, and he knows which candidate will give his company, and thus by extension himself, the biggest bang for the buck, so while the article doesn’t necessarily go there, the fact that GE is involved kind of makes the case for that stance…

        1. Immelt’s WaPo piece could obviously be read as pro-Hillary. But this post starts out by calling Hillary a floundering panderer.

          1. But this post starts out by calling Hillary a floundering panderer.

            Considering she’s rather literally femme-Nixon (NiXXon) I’d say yeah, that’s pretty favorable or pro-, yeah.

            1. Or a pandering flounder.

      2. how I know existence is meaningless.

        +1 Sartre

    3. I literally can’t even.

  3. Saw this earlier; good to see you guys covering it.

    I’m liking Immelt more than I used to.

    1. Pointing out typos? Is that how you get your kicks?

      1. Well, let me tell you something, funny boy. Y’know that little stamp, the one that says “New York Public Library”? Well that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole hell of a lot.

        Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I’ve seen your type before: Flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. What’s this guy making such a big stink about old library books?

        Well, let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we’re too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a book, right now, in a branch at the local library and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees on the Cat in the Hat and the Five Chinese Brothers? Doesn’t HE deserve better?

        Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you’d better think again. This is about that kid’s right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or: maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld; maybe that’s how y’get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well I got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time is over.

        1. Tropic of Capricorn!

  4. While Hillary Clinton starts to call into question whether Sanders understands banking policy.

    This goes back to what commenter John said in yesterday’s Bernie thread. If Hillary is only now questioning what Bernie knows about banking policy, that suggests that she’s philosophically meandering around, trying to justify giving away shit to constituents. It’s clear Bernie has no idea how simple economics work, let alone banking policy.

    As John said, Bernie has forced the question on mainstream democrats “Why not socialism?”, and given all the shit we’ve heard over the last ten or so years out of mainstream Democrats, they seem to be shoe-gazing while trying to come up with an answer.

    1. I’d be careful if I was HIllary, or someone is going to ask if she understands banking policy.

      1. She understands that constituents she wants to give shit to don’t like Bernie’s banking policy. This is the only reason she’s questioning Bernie’s banking policy. Otherwise, if Hillary believed everything the Democrats purport to believe, Bernie’s socialist policies would be the final resting place.

      2. If you were Hillary I would hope you’d have the decency to feed yourself feet-first into a woodchipper, metaphorically speaking.

      3. I’d be careful if I was HIllary, or someone is going to ask if she understands banking policy.

        The fact that a ‘free markets and free minds’ publication managed to put ‘GE’, ‘Hillary Clinton’, and ‘crony capitalism’ into an article and that, somehow, that article is about/impugning Bernie Sanders and/or GE makes me think she may be, just *may be*, beyond questioning.

      4. Her answer would be something like this: “Well, I was the senator from New York so of course I know banking policy in great detail.” The reporter would then dutifully not ask any further questions.

    2. commenter John

      Ooh, what’s my epithet?

      1. Are you sure you want to know?

      2. You…you mean besides worst?

        1. That’s THE worst, mister!

          1. Nicole: the worst, or THE worst?

      3. I go with “nihilistic bitch”….

        1. I was contending for that title. 🙁

    3. Hillary has been meandering around criticizing Sanders too hard because she doesn’t want to alienate his supporters going forward to the general election.

      I agree with your last paragraph.

      1. Hillary has been meandering around criticizing Sanders too hard because she doesn’t want to alienate his supporters going forward to the general election.

        But that’s the thing. She’s meandering around because if she uses… Republican talking points to show how Sanders’ retarded economics won’t work… that’ll alienate his supporters who have essentially said, “Yeah, why not socialism?”

        I don’t agree with a lot of what John says, but he really nailed that one, and credit’s due.

  5. It’s the product of decades of economically illiterate rhetoric from politicians.

    Actually, it goes thousands of years and pervades all cultures. China had anti-trade policies back to Hu?ngdi (the Yellow Emperor). Greece and Persia had import restrictions. So did Venice, probably the greatest trading city of the Middle Ages.

    It really wasn’t until Adam Smith and David Ricardo that the benefits of trade began to be understood.

    1. Actually, it goes thousands of years and pervades all cultures. China had anti-trade policies back to Hu?ngdi (the Yellow Emperor). Greece and Persia had import restrictions. So did Venice, probably the greatest trading city of the Middle Ages.

      Yeah, but the libertarian Mongols came in for a while, kicked ass and opened China up to trade.

      1. Then Donald Tang built his shitty wall and made the Mongorians pay for it, thus making China great again.

        1. My shitty hair! My shitty hat!

    2. A lot of the authorities also made kickbacks allowing smuggling.

    3. Eh. Governments impose restrictions. Perhaps it’s naive to think they are concerned about the benefits when they just want their kickbacks.

  6. I’d be careful if I was HIllary, or someone is going to ask if she understands banking policy.

    “It pays the speaking fee, or it gets the hose bank examiner.”

  7. The toxic relationship between big government and big rent-seeking corporations has, thanks to low-information voters and misleading rhetoric, directed resentment not toward crony capitalism but free markets.

    Low-information? A shot across the bow of the 99% by Krayewski.

    1. A new test for suffrage: one random econ 101 question. I bet you’d eliminate 85% of the electorate.

  8. “Immelt’s op-ed follows a Vox piece criticizing Sanders’ anti-trade stance (which despite different flavored rhetoric is very similar to Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s). Perhaps it signals the start of a spell breaking. Anti-trade rhetoric has been a big hit this election cycle for the major party candidates, exploiting Americans’ economic illiteracy to drum up fear about the U.S. losing its prosperity to foreign countries as if economic growth were a zero-sum game.”

    Nah, if Bernie and Trump weren’t threats to Hillary nobody in the mainstream would defend trade at all.

    1. if Bernie and Trump weren’t threats to Hillary nobody in the mainstream would defend trade at all.

      Exactly.

      this is all bullshit posturing to wean people in the middle away from the kooks on the fringe. As soon as the competition is tamped down, the ‘centrists’ will start offering everyone free shit and ranting about companies not paying their “fair share”

      1. The circle, the circle of liiiiifffe ??

        1. Darth Vader should’ve won the Oscar for that performance.

  9. Speaking of the meaninglessness of existence… y’all be sure to sample the heaping helpings of monumental ignorance and stupidity on offer at the WaPo comments for Immelt’s piece.

    Holy fuck.

    1. “Is it possible that existence is our exile and nothingness our home?”

      1. Shouldn’t that be “exile is our existence and nothingness our home”?

    2. Wha? You mean this doesn’t convince you to vote for Bernie?

      billwilson18041
      2:10 PM EDT
      One of the first things destroyed by multinationals is the idea that work is one of the intrinsic needs everyone needs. The idea out of the neighborhood and out of the country corporations can use our air, land, and water free and then move seems coming to an end unless we get more of the corporate socialism Hillary and Republicans fight to represent. Bernie says enough. This is a country of, by, and for the people and people power can only be denied so long.

      1. It’s certainly attempting to convince me to vote Goebbels.

      2. Wow.

        1. GE is still based in the United States, has multiple locations like Vermont.
        2. GE sells all over the world thus operations all over the world make sense
        3. The first sentence makes no sense to me….what does this mean?
        4. Corporations who are made up of citizens (not robots or aliens) do not use air, land and water for free.
        5. How does one own air?
        6. What is up with bernie sanders supporters who hate these corporations so much want to force them to say here?

  10. The same GE that built gatling guns in Burlington, VT, which protestors tried to shutdown because the guns were being used on socialists in South America but the Mayor of Burlington called the police out to arrest the protestors on the grounds that they were keeping people from getting to work?

    Didn’t that mayor go on to higher levels of government?

  11. “GE has been in business for 124 years, and we’ve never been a big hit with socialists,” Immelt writes in his Washington Post op-ed. “We create wealth and jobs, instead of just calling for them in speeches.

    Feel the burn!

  12. Calling Bernie economically illiterate is overstating his expertise on the subject.

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