Hillary Clinton on Corporations
Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY)
I have a plan to take away $55 billion of the giveaways and the subsidies that the president and Congress have lavished on the drug companies and the oil companies and the insurance companies and Wall Street. And I have a plan to give that money back--give it back in tax cuts to the middle class--to people who deserve it, who have been struggling under this president, who feel invisible, who feel like they’re not even seen anymore.
Now, obviously, I can’t do this alone. I can only do it if I get people who believe in me and support me and who look at my track record and know that I’ve spent a lifetime trying to empower people, trying to fight for them.
And I will turn this economy around. We will get back to shared prosperity and we will see once again that we can do this the right way so it’s not just a government of the few, by the few and for the few.
It’s true that Clinton sat on the Wal-Mart board for six years while her husband was governor of Arkansas, where the chain has its corporate headquarters. She was paid about $18,000 a year for doing it. At the time, she worked at the Rose Law Firm, which had represented Wal-Mart in various matters.
But according to accounts from other board members, Clinton was a thorn in the side of the company’s founder, Sam Walton, on the matter of promoting women, few of whom were in the ranks of managers or executives at the time. She also strongly advocated for more environmentally sound corporate practices. She made limited progress in both areas. In 2005 she returned a $5,000 contribution from Wal-Mart, citing “serious differences” with its “current” practices.
A: I’m very concerned about this. About a month and a half ago, I raised this concern because these are called sovereign wealth funds. They are huge pools of money, largely because of oil and economic growth in Asia. And these funds are controlled often by governmental entities or individuals who are closely connected to the governments in these countries. I think we’ve got to know more about them. They need to be more transparent. We need to have a lot more control over what they do and how they do it. I’d like to see the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund begin to impose these rules. And I want the US Congress and the Federal Reserve Board to ask these tough questions. I’d like to see us move much more aggressively both to deal with these sovereign wealth funds.
A: The reason we have such few recalls, even though they have been increasing because the evidence has been so overwhelming is because this administration has basically defanged the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They do not have any real appetite for going after these companies and countries that are flooding our markets with dangerous products, and that has to stop.
It’s true that Bush has made some controversial appointments to the CPSC. Congressional Democrats have opposed his choices several times, accusing his nominees of having conflicts of interest or being weak on product safety. CPSC is also widely reported to be understaffed and underfunded. During the Bush administration, the commission has gone from 480 to 401 full-time employees (including only one full-time toy tester).
But not all of this can be pinned on Bush. CPSC has been shrinking for decades. Between 1980 and 1982, during Ronald Reagan’s administration, the agency went from 978 employees (its peak number) to only 649. Even during Bill Clinton’s time in office, the agency went from 515 to 480 employees.
Let’s start by cleaning up the government, replacing this culture of corruption and cronyism with a culture of competence and caring again. Let’s stop outsourcing critical government functions to private companies that overcharge and underperform! Let’s close the revolving door between government and the lobbying shop, and let’s end the no-bid contracts for Halliburton and the other well-connected companies!
And how about the radical idea of appointing people who are actually qualified for the positions that we ask them to hold for us! Well, when I’m president, the entrance to the White House will no longer be a revolving door for the well connected, but a door of opportunity for the well qualified.
With utility rates in Arkansas skyrocketing, ACORN pushed through a ballot initiative requiring utilities to lower rates for residential users in Little Rock and to increase them for business. The measure passed.
Business fought back. The engine driving the challenge was the Rose Law Firm, which enlisted Hillary to help. Hillary could hardly decline to fight her friends, especially so early in her career. This was the by-product of Hillary’s choice to join Rose. She would advocate for clients who would be on the opposite sides of the causes she had formerly championed.
The winning brief was crafted by Hillary and a colleague. The judge embraced the theory--that the ordinance amounted to an unconstitutional taking of property.
Upon Bill’s election as attorney general, Hillary faced how to resume her legal career. She was now willing to consider corporate law. Bill recommended the Rose Law Firm.
Rose was the ultimate establishment law firm, representing the most powerful economic interests in the state. The most powerful argument against Hillary was that she was a woman. The firm’s partners were all white men, most of whom were already wealthy and graduates of the two Arkansas law schools. Hillary, with her Wellesley and Yale credentials and her view of the law as an instrument for social reform, would be a radical departure.
A: Well, it’s a mixed blessing. When Wal-Mart started, it brought goods into rural areas, like rural Arkansas where I was happy to live for 18 years, and gave people a chance to stretch their dollar further. As they grew much bigger, though, they have raised serious questions about the responsibility of corporations & how they need to be a leader when it comes to providing health care & having safe working conditions and not discriminating on the basis of sex or race. This is all part, though, of how this administration and corporate America today don’t see middle class and working Americans. They are invisible. They don’t understand that if you’re a family that can’t get health care, you are really hurting. But to the corporate elite and to the White House, you’re invisible. So we need to get both public sector and private sector leadership to start stepping up and being responsible and taking care of people.
General Motors had been one of Rose’s clients for many years. Mostly we defended it in liability cases. GM was gearing up for consumer lawsuits around the country arising from the discovery that Chevrolet engines were being put in Oldsmobiles--this was a major piece of national business that GM was handing over to Rose Law. The only problem was that GM expected the various state attorneys general to take the lead against the car company. In fact, a nationwide steering committee of AGs was being formed, and [Bill Clinton] was taking a high profile role in it.
This, of course, was the very scenario everyone dreaded. Hillary was in an awkward position. GM agreed to let us remain as council--provided that all files were locked in a cabinet in my office. Ultimately, the case was settled on a national level, so no real problem arose.
Other developed countries, like Japan & Germany, are more committed to social stability than we have been, and they tailor their economic policie to maintain it. We have chosen a different path, leaving more of our resources in the private sector.
As a society, we have a choice to make. We can permit the marketplace largely to determine the values & well-being of the village, or we can continue, as we have in the past, to expect business to play a social as well as an economic role. That means we have to look realistically at what government must require business to do, principally in the areas of health, safety, the environment [and so on].
The Du Pont Company was one of the first large companies to institute work-family programs such as job sharing and subsidized emergency child care. A study of employees confirmed the view that family-friendly policies are a good business practice.
On October 31, 1995, I hosted an event at the White House honoring 21 companies in the American Business Collaboration for Quality Dependent Care that have pledged to contribute $100 million for child and dependent care in 56 cities. All the companies participating believe in our theme: ‘Doing together what none of us can afford to do alone.’
Whether you own a business, represent one, lead a corporate office, or manage an association, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of AmericaSM provides you with a voice of experience and influence in Washington, D.C., and around the globe.
Our members include businesses of all sizes and sectors—from large Fortune 500 companies to home-based, one-person operations. In fact, 96% of our membership encompasses businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
"To advance human progress through an economic, political and social system based on individual freedom, incentive, initiative, opportunity, and responsibility."The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
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