John L. Micek, 8/24/2016 [Archive]

Hillary Hardly a Champ for the Working Class

By John L. Micek

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton is the fiery champion of the working stiff.

"We are going to tax the wealthy who have made all of the income gains in the last 15 years: the superwealthy, the corporations, Wall Street," Clinton said during a rally in Cleveland earlier this month.

"They're going to have to invest in education, in skills training, in infrastructure, because we have to grow this economy," she continued. "We do need to have the resources to do that. I will not raise taxes on the middle class. The middle class has to catch up to where they were before the Great Recession."

Behind closed doors, however, Clinton remains very much a part of the nation's economic elite, rubbing elbows with the same power donors who would be hit by the very tax hikes she wants to implement.

In the last three weeks alone, Clinton's campaign has winged it from Cape Cod to Beverly Hills, raising a staggering $32 million in her race against Trump and for the Democratic cause more broadly, according to a published report.

Most of those were high-dollar events where the minimum entry price was often an eye-watering $50,000, The Washington Post reported.

Put another way, that's a little less than $53,657 that the typical American family earned in 2014, according to U.S. Census data.

Do you have $50k jingling around in your pocket to drop on a little quality time with a woman who might end up the next Leader of the Free World?

I sure don't.

But maybe breaking the bank and taking out a second mortgage would be worth it if it meant being serenaded by soul legend Aretha Franklin, as was the case at a $25-grand-a-head Clinton event in Detroit not long ago.

The campaign says Clinton continues to raise much of her money from small donors. But in politics, as in life, appearances often speak louder than words.

In case you think Clinton and the Democrats are alone in their vigorous shaking of the money tree, they're not.

As The Post notes, Trump also spent the dog days of August trying to fill his coffers as he held about two-dozen events with big-shot donors.

But unlike Clinton, Trump doesn't have three decades' worth of networking and the kind of connections to the donor class as his opponent.

And that shows.

Despite raising $80 million in July, Trump still lags the former Secretary of State in the Donor Election.

Clinton's campaign started July with $44 million cash on-hand and raised another $90 million on top of that last month, The Los Angeles Times reported.

And that's irresistible fodder for Trump who, despite living in a gold-plated penthouse high above Manhattan, has been able to paint Clinton as owned "lock, stock and barrel" by her donors.

"She will do whatever they tell her to do," Trump said at a recent rally.

If that line sounds familiar, it's mostly because it's the same argument that supporters of former candidate Bernie Sanders made during the primary season. And it's the one many of his supporters made during last month's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

That's a tough charge for Clinton, with long history of cozy relations with Wall Street and big-ticket speeches, to parry effectively.

It's become even harder recently as she's found herself contending with damaging email dump after damaging email dump detailing how powerful friends and donors to her family's foundation got a sympathetic ear at the State Department during her four years there.

So when Clinton called in July for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that now allows for pretty much unlimited corporate and union spending on elections, the Defender of the Proletariat pose rings a tad hollow.

And, yes, there is an argument to be made that Clinton's only playing by the rules as they currently exist and that she needs to raise as much as possible so she can win and eventually change them as president.

But funny things happen when people get into power - or, in Clinton's case, back into power. Reformers become cautious incrementalists. And vows to plug the geysers of cash get overridden by the political self-preservation instinct.

And that's the difficult line that Clinton is walking right now.

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© Copyright 2016 John L. Micek, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at jmicek@pennlive.com.

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