During Thursday night’s Democratic debate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cited President Obama’s example to make the case that despite having the support of a super PAC, she wouldn’t be beholden to wealthy special interests if elected president.
In response to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders again hammering home the point that he’s the only candidate out of the two Democratic contenders to not have a super PAC working on his behalf, Clinton said Obama “was the recipient of the largest number of donations ever, [but] when he mattered, he stood up and took on Wall Street.”
But Clinton’s claim about Obama “taking on Wall Street” isn’t borne out by the numbers, which indicate prosecutions of financial and other professionalized crimes in the United States are at their lowest level in 20 years.
“He pushed through and passed the Dodd-Frank regulation, the toughest regulations since the 1930s,” she said. “So let’s not in any way imply here that either President Obama or myself would in any way not take on any vested interest, whether it’s Wall Street or drug companies or insurance companies or frankly the gun lobby, to stand up and do what’s best for the American people.”
Sanders used that opening to break out one of his tried-and-true refrains.
“Let’s not insult the intelligence of the American people,” he hit back. “People aren’t dumb.”
“Why in God’s name does Wall Street make huge campaign contributions? I guess just for the fun of it, they want to throw money around,” he said. “Why does the pharmaceutical industry make any contribution? Any connection to our people paying the highest amount of money for prescription drugs? Why does the fossil fuel industry pay huge amounts of money in contributions? Any connection to the fact that not one Republican candidate for president thinks and agrees with the scientific community that climate change is real and we have got transform our energy system?”
On the topic of Dodd-Frank, Sanders said he supported the legislation Obama signed into law in July 2010, but added that “it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.”
“Major banks have paid $2 billion in fines since the great crash,” he said. “No Wall Street executive has been prosecuted.”
Other evidence also shows Dodd-Frank has come up short. In the summer of 2015, five years after the Great Recession-inspired package of reforms became law, the five biggest banks controlled 44 percent of all U.S. banking assets — a greater concentration of financial power than existed before Dodd-Frank became law.