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Could Joe Stiglitz be part of another Clinton administration?

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4 October 2016 17:31

A leaked audio recording of Hillary Clinton talking frankly earlier this year about Bernie Sanders' younger supporters as 'the children of the great recession' has been seized upon by her opponents. Here's conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt addressing those who were the subject of Clinton's remarks:

“Bernie Sanders is the real deal,” you thought, but Clinton just thought you hopelessly naive, underemployed at best with few prospects, and oppressed by Obamacare premiums that no one expected to have to pay. You, said Clinton, wanted free stuff. You, said Clinton — in so many, many words — are not so bright.

While Ezra Klein, writing on Vox, reckons Clinton wasn't mocking anybody, he argues the most illuminating comments in the audio were those made by Clinton about herself, and her struggle to inspire disheartened millennials. Here's an excerpt:

“It is difficult when you’re running to be president, and you understand how hard the job is,” she says in the audio. “I don’t want to overpromise. I don’t want to tell people things that I know we cannot do.” This, more than anything else, is her critique of Sanders, and her explanation of his success. “There’s just a deep desire to believe that we can have free college, free health care, that what we’ve done hasn’t gone far enough, and that we just need to, you know, go as far as, you know, Scandinavia, whatever that means, and half the people don’t know what that means, but it’s something that they deeply feel.”

Given the polls have swung back to favour Clinton more strongly again, and that Donald Trump appears to be set on yet another round of self-sabotage, it's worth considering whether Clinton has any sympathy with the deeply-held view of many Sanders supporters that more market intervention is required to right wrongs. In the leaked video, Clinton describes herself as occupying the space from the 'center-left to the center-right'. However, given she has already moved away from free market orthodoxy by pledging to ditch the Trans Pacific Partnership, how much further left might a Clinton administration drift?

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair thinks Joseph Stiglitz, the outspoken economist, Nobel Laureate, and one-time chairman of President Bill Clinton's Council of Advisors, has the ear of Hillary Clinton, as discussed in this fascinating interview with Politico's Glenn Thrush, (you can listen to the podcast or read the transcript).

Blair says:

Hillary Clinton has become very close to Joseph Stiglitz, who is one of the individuals, kind of an avatar of that movement, and she has clearly been moved to the left by Bernie Sanders.

This is a good thing, says Blair who, in the face of increasing popularity of ultra nationalist forces across the globe wants the centre to 'regain its muscularity'. We don't know how close he is to either Stiglitz or Clinton but those interested in the Stiglitz blueprint for change should look up this report: Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity, authored last year by Stiglitz in his role as The Roosevelt Institute's chief economist (and later turned into a book with the same title). The report's central theme is that the 'runaway flood of wealth to the top one per cent' should be reined in through such measures as more controls on Wall Street, higher taxes on the wealthy, a $15 minimum wage, paid sick leave, immigration reform and avoiding some trade deals ie those slanted toward corporate interests.

Interestingly the report was co-launched by Elizabeth Warren, the popular Senator who has provided invaluable support to the Clinton campaign, taking Donald Trump on in lively Twitter exchanges, as well as criss-crossing the country in support of the Democrat candidate. Warren has long been a Stiglitz fan, asking in this speech in mid last year (as reported by Time):

How would the world be different today if, when the economic crisis hit [in 2008], Joe Stiglitz had been Secretary of the Treasury?

There has been plenty of speculation about how much influence Warren would have on a Clinton administration. That could extend to advocating for her good friend Joe. How the push by progressives for rapid and drastic change will match up against Clinton's careful advance of what Klein describes as 'modest victories' should be fascinating to watch.

Photo courtesy of Twitter user UNIDO

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