Over the course of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton hasn’t had a whole lot to say about the Federal Reserve or monetary policy in general, which is why it was all the more interesting to see the Democratic frontrunner’s campaign yesterday endorse a change long sought by progressive activists. The Washington Post reported:
The Fed is led by a seven-member board of governors based in Washington and a dozen regional bank presidents based across the country, from New York to Kansas City to San Francisco. The governors are nominated by the White House and approved by the Senate, but regional bank presidents are selected by their boards of directors, whose occupants are chosen by the banking industry and by the Fed governors in Washington.In a statement to The Washington Post, Clinton’s campaign said she supports removing bankers from the boards of directors and increasing diversity within the Fed.
In a written statement, a campaign spokesperson told the Post, “The Federal Reserve is a vital institution for our economy and the well-being of our middle class, and the American people should have no doubt that the Fed is serving the public interest. That’s why Secretary Clinton believes that the Fed needs to be more representative of America as a whole and that commonsense reforms – like getting bankers off the boards of regional Federal Reserve banks – are long overdue.”
This brings Clinton in line with Bernie Sanders, who endorsed this policy late last year, saying he wants a system in which “the foxes would no longer guard the henhouse.”
The statement also came the same day Clinton wrote an op-ed for the Washington Informer, an African-American newspaper, vowing to be a “vocal champion” for D.C. statehood.
“In the case of our nation’s capital, we have an entire populace that is routinely denied a voice in its own democracy,” Clinton wrote, adding, “Washingtonians serve in the military, serve on juries, and pay taxes just like everyone else. And yet, they don’t even have a vote in Congress.”
Earlier this week, Clinton also emphasized her support for a “public option” in health care coverage, including a possible Medicare buy-in policy.
The broader pattern matters, and it’s not altogether expected.
When Clinton’s campaign got underway nearly a year ago, the former Secretary of State started laying out her platform, and on a variety of issues – immigration, criminal-justice reform, expanding voting rights, etc. – the Democrat not only endorsed progressive ideas, she endorsed an agenda that was even more ambitious and further to the left than many expected.
At the time, of course, the question that loomed over the race dealt with motivation: was Clinton throwing her support behind a series of bold proposals because she was worried about Bernie Sanders, or was she serious about these plans? It’s one thing to make appeals to the left as the Democratic race gets underway, but would Clinton follow through when she shifts her attention to the general election?
The answer to these questions is coming into sharper focus. While the Democratic race still has some primaries to go, the delegate math suggests Clinton is well positioned to prevail, and she’s already begun shifting her attention to Donald Trump and the fall election. If the cynics were correct, this would be about the time we’d expect to see Clinton move gradually towards the center, eschewing some of her more progressive goals.
Except this week, we’re seeing the opposite, with Clinton backing Sanders-endorsed changes to the financial industry and touting her support for a public option.
Maybe Clinton is hoping to win over Sanders’ ardent fans who aren’t yet ready to back her candidacy in the fall. Maybe she believes these progressive goals are popular enough with the American mainstream that she’s not really taking much of a risk. Maybe she actually believes what she’s saying and none of this is calculated in any meaningful way.
Whatever the motivation, Clinton may be focusing her attention on the general election, but many of her key progressive ideals, at least for now, remain very much intact.