Hillary Clinton and some of her top surrogates on Capitol Hill launched a rhetorical assault against presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s economic policies on Tuesday.
Trump, for his part, began a more organized pushback campaign that could be further amplified in a Wednesday speech.
Clinton laid several reasons why she believes Trump can’t be trusted to manage the national economy, including his tax plan, his comments on the national debt, and his push to provide regulatory relief to major financial institutions. Her speeches are part of a series of anti-Trump addresses that began with her foreign policy remarks several weeks ago.
She noted that Trump’s economic proposals are hated in a nonpartisan way. They have drawn opposition from groups as disparate as major labor unions and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She also alluded to the real estate mogul’s business record, such as his controversial Trump University project and his spotty financial record with casino ownership in Atlantic City.
“Just like he shouldn’t have his finger on the button, [Trump] shouldn’t have his hands on the economy,” Clinton said after referring to her previous comments that Trump shouldn’t be trusted to command the country’s nuclear arsenal.
“Imagine him being in charge when your jobs and your savings are at stake,” she added. “Is this who you want to lead us in an emergency?”
She even attacked Trump on trade policy, a sensitive issue for her where Trump clearly believes he has the upper hand. Trump has broken with GOP orthodoxy in opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an administration-negotiated deal that Clinton once favored.
“I believe we can compete and win in the global economy,” Clinton said. “To do that, we should renegotiate deals that aren’t working for Americans, and reject any agreements – like the Trans-Pacific Partnership – that don’t meet my high bar for raising wages or creating good-paying jobs.”
Trump responded to Clinton’s attacks throughout her speech both on Twitter and through rapid response emails to the press. He criticized her economic proposals, President Obama’s record on economic issues, Clinton’s previous support for deals like TPP, and the status of the trade relationship with China.
Hillary Clinton surged the trade deficit with China 40% as
Secretary of State, costing Americans millions of jobs.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2016
In one statement, Trump’s campaign asserted that Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, supported policies that led to the 2007-2008 subprime mortgage crisis.
“First, Hillary Clinton fueled the mortgage meltdown, now she wants to bring in millions of low-wage workers to drive down salaries for the most vulnerable Americans — all to boost profits for her special interest donors,” Trump’s campaign said in an unsigned statement. “Not only did Bill Clinton push legislation that fueled the subprime lending crisis, but Hillary Clinton filibustered legislation to reform Fannie and Freddie Mae — institutions at the center of the Great Recession — which have been funneling hundreds of thousands to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Foundation.”
How can Hillary run the economy when she can't even send emails without putting entire nation at risk?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2016
Trump is scheduled to deliver a speech on the election on Wednesday, although it isn’t clear yet whether the address will deal with rebutting Clinton’s arguments on the economy.
Clinton’s remarks also provided a window into the future when a running mate joins her on the trail as an economic attack dog. Just hours before Clinton’s speech, delivered in Columbus, Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) took the rare step of devoting nearly half of his opening statement to attacking Trump at a hearing featuring Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
Brown, a populist Democrat who is believed to be in the running to be Clinton’s vice-presidential pick, pointed to Trump’s comments that he would like to replace Yellen as Fed chair and negotiate haircuts on the national debt.
“[For] those of use in the evidence-based world, the prospect of this nominee trading imagined for real authority gives added significance to what we do in Congress,” Brown, the ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, said. “That is true in general, and it is particularly true with maintaining the independence of the Federal Reserve and the other regulators of the financial services industry.”
Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who has met with Trump and also has been floated as a GOP running mate, was sitting a few seats away as Brown unloaded on Trump. He said he considered Brown’s remarks as a “campaign statement.”
“I thought that was somewhat unusual,” Corker told reporters after Tuesday’s hearing. “Usually the Banking Committee has not been about presidential elections.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachussets, another Democrat on the Banking Committee who is considered in contention to be Clinton’s running mate, backed up Clinton’s argument about Trump’s tax returns in a video that the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.Org posted Tuesday.
— MoveOn (@MoveOn) June 21, 2016
“If Donald Trump doesn’t even believe in paying his fair share for government, we shouldn’t put him in charge of government,” Warren said.
Clinton cited both Warren and Brown by name in her speech and applauded their work on consumer financial protection and trade policy, respectively.