Hillary Clinton offered her vision Monday of a “growth and fairness economy,” saying that her agenda would boost Americans’ incomes and push companies to share profits with their employees.
“I believe we have to build a growth and fairness economy. You can’t have one without the other,” she said during remarks at the New School in New York City.
The 2016 Democratic candidate said that incomes have stalled even as corporate profits have skyrocketed, creating inequality that is “a drag on our entire economy.”
“Wages need to rise to keep up with costs,” she said. “Paychecks need to grow. Families who work hard and do their part deserve to get ahead and stay ahead.”
She took an explicit shot at Republican rival Jeb Bush, directly referencing his statement last week that Americans “need to work longer hours.”
“Well, he must not have met very many American workers,” she said. Referencing nurses and fast food workers with grueling schedules, she added: “They don’t need a lecture. They need a raise.”
She also mentioned by name Republican candidates Sen. Marco Rubio, whose tax plan she derided as a “budget-busting giveaway to the super wealthy,” and Gov. Scott Walker, whose fights against labor unions in Wisconsin she branded as “mean-spirited and misguided attacks.” Walker is slated to formally announce his run later Monday in Wisconsin.
In a statement, Bush spokesperson Allie Brandenburger said that Clinton "is proposing the same failed policies we have seen in the Obama economy."
"Americans want to work and want the opportunity to achieve earned success for their families, but Secretary Clinton’s antiquated proposals protect the special interests that want to stifle American ingenuity and 21st Century companies like Uber that are creating jobs," Brandenburger said. "Governor Bush believes harnessing innovation and fostering technology can help us grow at 4 percent once again."
Walker also responded, tweeting:
During her remarks, Clinton also called for companies to expand profit-sharing with their employees, pledging to change the tax code to incentivize such moves.
“Studies show profit-sharing that gives everyone a stake in a company's success can boost productivity and put money directly into employees' pockets. It's a win-win,” she said.
And she promised to “break down barriers to joining the workforce – especially for women.”
The Democratic frontrunner did not explicitly mention progressive rivals like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has won accolades from the party’s left wing for his criticisms of Wall Street and big banks.
But she vowed to go beyond the Obama-backed Dodd-Frank banking reforms to “rein in excessive risk on Wall Street,” and she called for prosecution of “criminal behavior” of culpable individuals in the banking industry.
Clinton declined to propose some of the more liberal ideas embraced by her two principal opponents, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. She did not call for breaking up large banks on Wall Street, making college tuition free, increasing Social Security benefits or restoring banking regulations known as Glass–Steagall that were mostly repealed by her husband.
Larry Mishel, head of the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said that he had hoped to hear a pitch from Clinton for reining in the financial sector even more.
“I would have liked to see policies which shrunk the financial sector and restrained their pay, along with efforts to restrain executive pay. We won’t be able to raise the middle if the bulk of the income is grabbed by the top," he said.