Pundits and analysts — as well as the candidate herself — agree that Hillary Clinton won Monday night’s debate. But another winner may have been Wall Street, a subject the candidates more or less managed to avoid despite recent public scrutiny of the financial sector. It was former Democratic primary candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who, while no longer able to take the debate stage, pledged Sunday to keep big banks in check.
As POLITICO Chief Economic Correspondent and Morning Money columnist Ben White noted in his debate analysis Tuesday morning, “Wall Street” was only uttered two times during the debate. In one instance, Clinton took aim at Republicans’ lenient financial regulation policies. In the other, she claimed Donald Trump “owes $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks.”
Neither candidate described reforms they would enact to curtail the sort of behavior that led to the 2008 financial crisis. Instead, they focused their economic discussion on broad-based appeals, with Trump disparaging the sluggish pace of the recovery and accusing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen of political bias. For her part, Clinton decried what she called “Trumped up trickle down” economics.
There was no mention of finance giant Goldman Sachs’ urging investors to “vote with their wallets.” Nor was there any talk of Wells Fargo, which was fined $185 million for creating fake customer accounts, took a widely-publicized verbal beating from the Senate banking committee last week and still faces a House hearing and a Justice Department investigation. Six Wells employees filed a class action lawsuit Monday against the bank, alleging that they and many others were penalized for refusing to open fraudulent accounts.
However, separate from Hofstra University and the hype surrounding the debate in Hempstead, New York, Sanders took to Twitter and appeared Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation to rail against the financial industry’s political influence.
“We certainly have seen, on the democratic and republican administrations, what Wall Street CEOs have done to our economy,” Sanders told host John Dickerson when asked whether he would support a push by fellow Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren to prevent leaders of companies like BlackRock and Morgan Stanley from taking cabinet positions. “We don’t need more Wall Street CEOs in any administration. We need people in the administration who will stand with working families and the middle class, and I will do everything that I can to see that those are the people appointed in a Clinton administration.”