What did Hillary Clinton say to the plutocrats?

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Hillary Clinton at a Clinton Global Initiatives meeting in 2014

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Hillary Clinton at a Clinton Global Initiatives meeting in 2014


What did Hillary Clinton say in her three 2013 speeches for Goldman Sachs that was worth $675,000 to hear?

So far she has refused to release the transcripts, but reporters for POLITICO interviewed members of the Goldman audience on what she said.

Clinton offered a message that the collected plutocrats found reassuring, according to accounts offered by several attendees, declaring that the banker-bashing so popular within both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish.

Striking a soothing note on the global financial crisis, she told the audience, in effect: We all got into this mess together, and we’re all going to have to work together to get out of it. What the bankers heard her to say was just what they would hope for from a prospective presidential candidate: Beating up the finance industry isn’t going to improve the economy—it needs to stop.


The crooked financial dealings of Goldman Sachs were an important factor in the financial crash of 2008.  The company wrote sub-prime mortgages its brokers knew could not be paid off, repackaged them to seem like secure investments and then after unloading them on gullible customers, made financial bets that they would become worthless.  Many people lost their homes and savings.

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone summed up the situation well.

The Clintons … have by now taken so much money that when they stand in a room full of millionaires and billionaires, they can use the word “we” and not have it sound odd.  The money has irrevocably moved them to that side of the rope line.  On that side of the line, public anger isn’t legitimate, but something to be managed and waited out … .

Source: Rolling Stone

Update 2/9/2016

Ben White of POLITICO wrote this about what Hillary Clinton said to Goldman Sachs.

When Hillary Clinton spoke to Goldman Sachs executives and technology titans at a summit in Arizona in October of 2013, she spoke glowingly of the work the bank was doing raising capital and helping create jobs, according to people who saw her remarks.

Clinton, who received $225,000 for her appearance, praised the diversity of Goldman’s workforce and the prominent roles played by women at the blue-chip investment bank and the tech firms present at the event.  She spent no time criticizing Goldman or Wall Street more broadly for its role in the 2008 financial crisis.

“It was pretty glowing about us,” one person who watched the event said. “It’s so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now. It was like a rah-rah speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.”

None of this is evidence of bribe-taking or payoffs for votes.   All she’s doing is telling Wall Street bankers that she’s their friend, and then going out on the campaign trail and telling the people that have been harmed by these Wall Street banks that she’s their friend.

The fact that she does not want to release the transcripts is evidence of what she did not say—the Goldman Sachs executives need to change their business practices.

Taking money from plutocrats is not something that she has to do, although she may think that she does.  Bernie Sanders showed that you don’t need big banks to write you $675,000 checks in order either to campaign or to have an acceptable standard of living.

Her defense is that what she does is normal in American politics.  This is true.  It is normal.  It is a normal practice that needs to be changed.


What Clinton said in her paid speeches by Ben White for POLITICO.  [added 2/9/2016]

Lament of the Plutocrats by Ben White and Maggie Haberman for POLITICO (2013)

Why Clinton can’t stop raising Wall Street cash by Ben White for POLITICO.

Why Hillary Clinton won’t release transcripts of her paid Goldman Sachs tapes by Chris Cillizza for the Washington Post.

The Vampire Squid Tells Us How to Vote by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

The Great American Bubble Machine by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone (2010)  Background on Goldman Sachs.

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