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Hillary's Economic Plan | The Nation

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The Notion

Unfiltered takes on politics, ideas and culture from Nation editors and contributors.

Hillary's Economic Plan

Okay, stop the complaints about Democratic presidential candidates who won't face up to the financial crisis bearing down the country. Hillary Clinton stood up and shook her finger at it, kind of like her husband does. Her response seems a little goofy and maybe a sign the boys in her "war room" are losing their grip. On the other hand, what she said is exactly what you would expect her to say.

Speaking at the University of Pennsylvania Monday [AP story by Charles Babington] Senator Clinton proposed the government provide mortgage companies with protection against lawsuits by other investors. Say what? Isn't that the old Republican chestnut called "tort reform?" Shouldn't she have saved this nugget until after she wins the nomination and starts moving to the right for the fall campaign?

Her logic is strictly from financial. "Many mortgage companies are reluctant to help families restructure their mortgages because they are afraid of being sued by the investment banks, the private equity firms and others who actually own the mortgage papers," Clinton explained. Good thought. Maybe she could send along a few security guards. I hear mortgage lenders are afraid of being tarred and feathered by those families who were conned into buying the sure-to-fail mortgages.

It gets better. Senator Clinton further proposes (actually urges our defunct President to appoint) "an emergency working group on foreclosures" to come up with some answers She doesn't exactly call this a "blue-ribbon commission" but that's the idea. Clinton nominates for this prestigious group her own financial patron and economics guru Robert Rubin of Citigroup and former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, also the former-former Fed chairman Paul Volcker.

Volcker is long retired and might be available, but Rubin is standing deep in the muck and debris at Citigroup, bailing furiously so it doesn't go the way of Bear Stearns. Greenspan was traveling abroad the other day when the New York Times tried to ask him to explain why he failed to prevent the Wall Street meltdown by regulating these financial high fliers before it was too late. Come to think of it, why didn't the New York Times ask that question when Greenspan was still chairman?

Senator Clinton should maybe include her husband on the expert panel since his presidency, coached by Rubin and Greenspan, laid the groundwork for our present mess.

As a window into the Clinton presidency-to-be, her remarks will reassure some. Others of us are retching on the lawn. There will be no surprises when she gets to the White House. Her long experience tells her to stick with her friends and make the same mistakes her husband made, all over again.

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