Warren Criticizes Clinton Record at Union Summit

AFL-CIO chief open to Warren 2016

Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren / AP
• January 7, 2015 12:35 pm


Insurgent progressive potential presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren took aim at the Clinton legacy during a major labor summit on Wednesday.

The Massachusetts senator slammed the deregulation of Wall Street under former President Bill Clinton’s watch and dismissed his contention that the "era of big government" was over, according to video obtained by America Rising.

"Pretty much the whole Republican Party, and if we’re going to be honest too many Dems, have talked about the evils of Big Government and called for deregulation," Warren told the AFL-CIO Summit on Raising Wages.

Clinton oversaw the repeal of the core of the Glass-Steagall Act, allowing financial institutions to operate as investment, insurance, and commercial banking operations. Warren blamed the withdrawal of such financial regulations for the 2008 market crash and economic recession.

"It all sounded good but what it was really about was tying the hands of regulators and turning loose big banks and giant international corporations to do whatever they wanted to do: turning them loose to rig the market and reduce competition; turning them loose to outsource more jobs; turning them loose to load up on more risks and then hide behind taxpayer guarantees; turning them loose to sell more mortgages and credit cards that cheated American families," Warren said.

Warren, a former Harvard bankruptcy law professor, helped oversee the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before being elected to the Senate in 2012. She has made perceived inequality and increased financial regulation the centerpiece of her campaign. Progressives hope to draft Warren to challenge presumptive candidate Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016.

Warren lumped the Clinton administration into her critique of Republican free market principles. She accused Washington of catering to the One Percent during the Clinton years, as well as under Republican administrations. She also issued veiled criticism against the Bush and Obama administrations for helping to bailing out companies that helped spur the crash.

"For more than 30 years Washington has far too often advanced policies that hammer America’s middle class even harder," she said. "Look at the choices that Washington has made, the choices that have left America’s working families in a deep hole, the choice to leash up the financial cops, the choice in a recession to bail out the biggest banks with no strings attached while families suffered," she said.

Warren’s appearance won high praise from AFL-CIO honcho Richard Trumka, who said that she embodied the ideals of organized labor.

"Her vision of a Raising Wages America embodies our highest ideals. Senator Warren is that rare political leader: she shares out values, she really connects with us, she is a genius when it comes to policy, and she is tough as nails when it comes to politics," Trumka said in prepared remarks according to CNN.

He later hinted to reporters he saw the Democratic nomination up for grabs in a contest between Warren and Clinton.

"I think that Hillary did an excellent job as secretary of state. I think she is very, very qualified to be president," Trumka said at a breakfast with reporters in Washington. "Would I say she is the favorite now? Yes. But I think anytime anybody believes there is going to be a coronation, that is dangerous for the candidate."

The Raising Wages summit could have major implications in the presidential primaries. An AFL-CIO release says that the union plans to replicate Wednesday’s event in each of the first four primary states, which could draw more attention to Warren among early voters.

"State federations of labor will hold Raising Wages summits in the first four presidential primary states—Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina—beginning in Iowa this spring," the release said. "These summits will bring together diverse voices to lay out the entire Raising Wages platform and establish state-based standards of accountability."