May 16, 2014

Warren Slams Democrats (Like Hillary/Biden) For Supporting Bankruptcy Bill

Speaking at the JFK Library in Boston earlier today, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was asked about Democrats that supported a Bush-era bankruptcy bill that won bipartisan support. Warren began her impassioned 5-minute answer by saying, “God, it was awful,” before hammering Democrats, like Clinton and Biden, for surrendering to an “army of lobbyists” and inspiring her fight for consumer advocacy.

In her previous book, The Two Income Trap, Warren singled out Clinton for criticism among Democrats that supported the bankruptcy bill, saying she “could not afford such a principled position,” and noted the contributions she received from banking and industry executives:

In the spring of 2001, the bankruptcy bill was reintroduced in the Senate, essentially unchanged from the version President Clinton had vetoed the previous year. This time freshman Senator Hillary Clinton voted in favor of the bill. Had the bill been transformed to get rid of all those awful provisions that had so concerned First Lady Hillary Clinton? The bill was essentially the same, but Hillary Rodham Clinton was not. As First Lady, Mrs. Clinton had been persuaded that the bill was bad for families, and she was willing to fight for her beliefs. Her husband was a lame duck at the time he vetoed the bill; he could afford to forgo future campaign contributions. As New York’s newest senator, however, it seems that Hillary Clinton could not afford such a principled position. Campaigns cost money, and that money wasn’t coming from families in financial trouble. Senator Clinton received $140,000 in campaign contributions from banking industry executives in a single year, making her one of the top two recipients in the Senate. Big banks were now part of Senator Clinton’s constituency. She wanted their support, and they wanted hers—including a vote in favor of “that awful bill.”

During the 2008 Democratic primaries, Clinton under fire from President Obama, said she regretted her previous support for the bankruptcy bill:

Sen. Hillary Clinton is on the defensive for another vote aligned with President Bush early in her legislative career: this one for a measure to make it more difficult to erase personal debts through bankruptcy. As the focus of debate for presidential candidates shifts from Iraq to the economy, Sen. Barack Obama has stepped up criticism of Sen. Clinton’s 2001 bankruptcy vote, just as he has hammered her for her 2002 vote authorizing the Iraq War. The Illinois Democrat is citing Mrs. Clinton’s bankruptcy vote as an example of why he is better-suited to protect consumers in an increasingly uncertain economic time. And just as Mrs. Clinton has tried to distance herself from her Iraq vote, she has said she regrets her bankruptcy vote and wishes she could have it back.