Clinton, Sanders Duel Over Who’s Tougher On Wall Street

During the debate on Thursday, Bernie again argued that Hillary was too close to the big banks—but Clinton dismissed that charge.

Clinton, Sanders Duel Over Who’s Tougher On Wall Street
Democratic Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Debate In Durham, New Hampshire [Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images]

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders spent much of Thursday’s Democratic debate trading jabs about which candidate is tougher on Wall Street.


“Let me just say this—Wall Street is perhaps the most powerful economic and political force in this country,” Sanders said, a point that the Vermont senator has repeatedly returned to during the course of the campaign. “In my view, the business model of Wall Street is fraud,” he thundered.

Both candidates grew heated as Sanders again lambasted Clinton’s ties to Wall Street, with the former Secretary of State asserting that the Sanders campaign had engineered an “artful smear” to paint her as being in the pocket of corporate donors. Clinton rejected the notion that she could be bought, assuring voters that “you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received.”

And Clinton was quick to point out that she, too, had come down hard on Wall Street—particularly prior to the collapse of the housing bubble.

“What I want people to know is I went to Wall Street before the crash,” she said. “I was the one saying, ‘You’re going to wreck the economy because of these shenanigans with mortgages.'” She also noted that Sanders, as a member of the House of Representatives, had once voted to loosen restrictions on swaps and derivatives, financial vehicles that were abused by Wall Street traders prior to the crisis since they increased the risk in the financial system.

Clinton noted that Wall Street was aware of her tough stance and her call for effective regulations, and that many hedge funds were putting their money on her Republican opponents as a result.

Even experts like Paul Krugman, noted Clinton, have praised her plan to rein in the big banks, deeming it even tougher than the plan put forth by Sanders. In its fact check, however, the New York Times said this wasn’t entirely true, since Sanders has also garnered support from many experts who approve of his plan.


Despite her comments about incurring the wrath of hedge funders, Clinton couldn’t deny that she has received more money from the financial services sector than any other presidential candidate in either party, according to the Times. But only about $3 million has been delivered directly to her campaign—a number that pales in comparison to the millions funneled into super PACs (both those for and against Clinton).

That said, Clinton has also accepted paid speaking gigs at banks like Goldman Sachs, and as we wrote recently, she accepts about $200,000 for each speech. In 2013, she was allegedly paid $3.15 million in total for speaking to a number of banks.

Later in the debate, when asked by moderators if she would make the transcripts of her paid speeches public, Clinton appeared evasive. “I will look into it,” she said. “I don’t know the status, but I will certainly look into it.”

About the author

Pavithra Mohan is an assistant editor for Fast Company Digital. Her writing has previously been featured in Gizmodo and Popular Science magazine.