Conventional wisdom holds that the Democratic Party is due for a serious debate between its business-friendly “neoliberal” wing and those who embrace a more populist economic message.
During the Obama era, this longstanding division has simmered just below the surface as the party tried to present a united front in the face of tea party attacks and unprecedented obstruction from congressional Republicans. But with the end of the Obama presidency near, many expect the rift to create a major struggle over the party’s future.
The debate may begin during the 2016 Democratic primaries. While Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) had long insisted she won’t run, in an October interview with People magazine, Warren left the door open to a potential White House bid. And on Tuesday, Robert Costa reported for The Washington Post that if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) chooses to run, he’ll do so with the support of Tad Devine, “one of the Democratic Party’s leading consultants and a former high-level campaign aide to Al Gore, John Kerry, and Michael Dukakis.”
But what of Hillary Clinton’s own recent flirtation with populist rhetoric? In May, she gave a speech slamming income inequality that would have made the Occupy Wall Street movement cheer.
In Tuesday’s Politico, William D. Cohan, author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World, wrote that Wall Street’s movers and shakers don’t take Clinton’s newfound populism seriously:
Down on Wall Street they don’t believe it for a minute. While the finance industry does genuinely hate Warren, the big bankers love Clinton, and by and large they badly want her to be president. Many of the rich and powerful in the financial industry—among them, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, Tom Nides, a powerful vice chairman at Morgan Stanley, and the heads of JPMorganChase and Bank of America—consider Clinton a pragmatic problem-solver not prone to populist rhetoric. To them, she’s someone who gets the idea that we all benefit if Wall Street and American business thrive. What about her forays into fiery rhetoric? They dismiss it quickly as political maneuvers. None of them think she really means her populism.Although Hillary Clinton has made no formal announcement of her candidacy, the consensus on Wall Street is that she is running—and running hard—and that her national organization is quickly falling into place behind the scenes. That all makes her attractive. Wall Street, above all, loves a winner, especially one who is not likely to tamper too radically with its vast money pot.
According to a wide assortment of bankers and hedge-fund managers I spoke to for this article, Clinton’s rock-solid support on Wall Street is not anything that can be dislodged based on a few seemingly off-the-cuff comments in Boston calculated to protect her left flank. (For the record, she quickly walked them back, saying she had “short-handed” her comments about the failures of trickle-down economics by suggesting, absurdly, that corporations don’t create jobs.) “I think people are very excited about Hillary,” says one Wall Street investment professional with close ties to Washington. “Most people in New York on the finance side view her as being very pragmatic. I think they have confidence that she understands how things work and that she’s not a populist.”
There’s much more to the story — including the key role an MorganStanley exec is playing in her all-but-official campaign. Read the rest at Politico.