Hillary Clinton: `Rich People Everywhere’

Photograph by Peter Foley/Bloomberg

Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, speaks at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative(CGI) in New York.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prefaced these remarks by saying she is “out of American politics:”

“There are rich people everywhere. And yet they do not contribute to the growth of their own countries.”

That, and her remark that she has been “preaching” around the world about “collecting taxes in an equitable manner.”

In the sound bite-clipping world of political campaigns, we’re wondering how long it will take Republican Mitt Romney to suggest that Clinton is part of President Barack Obama’s campaign attacking “success.”

The Democrat who challenged Obama for the party’s nomination in 2008, former senator from New York and former first lady was speaking yesterday at her husband’s Clinton Global Initiative in New York.  She was speaking about the responsibility of people throughout the world to help lift their own and others’ nations from poverty.

It would be impossible, still, for anyone not to hear her remarks in the context of a 2012 election campaign in which Obama has made Romney’s personal income taxes an issue — his 13.9 and 14.1 percent taxes paid during the past two years on investment income and many more years unrevealed. Impossible, also, not to think abut 2016.

“What Mitt’s tax returns tell us is he’s a successful businessman,” running mate Paul Ryan said at a local interview campaigning in Lima, Ohio, yesterday. “No. 2 — he’s very generous.” (Romney’s latest returns show $4 million donated to charity, so much so that he couldn’t claim it all as exemptions in order to keep his tax rate above his stated floor of 13 percent over the past 10 years.)

Ryan also said in Ohio that Romney’s plans for tax reform include taking more from people like him — eliminating some of the exemptions that benefit high-earners. They have left the specifics of that unstated, however, allowing Obama to contend that Romney’s proposed  tax cuts will end up taking more money from the middle class.

Whatever happens in this election, tax reform will remain a significant issue going forward.

“One of the issues that I have been preaching about around the world is collecting taxes in an equitable manner, especially from the elites in every country,” Hillary Clinton said yesterday to laughter. “You know I’m out of American politics, but ” — and she was interrupted by applause here — “it is a fact that around the world, the elites of every country are making money. There are rich people everywhere. And yet they do not contribute to the growth of their own countries.”

“They don’t invest in public schools, in public hospitals, in other kinds of development internally. And so it means for leaders telling powerful people things they don’t want to hear. It means being transparent about budgets and revenues and bringing corruption to light. And when that happens, we shouldn’t punish countries for uncovering corruption. We should reward them for doing so. And it means putting in place regulations designed to attract and protect investment.”

Romney, for his part, has accused Obama of belittling people who have done well in business. “President Barack Obama attacks success,”’ Romney said campaigning in Pennsylvania, “and therefore under President Barack Obama we have less success, and I will change that.”




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