The Rich and Taxes – Clinton’s lament
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took what appeared to be a coded swipe at Republican refusals to consider raising taxes in U.S. debt limit talks, saying on Tuesday that all leaders must make hard decisions to put their countries on the right track.
Clinton, a Democratic candidate for president in 2008 but now “out of politics” as top diplomat for her one-time rival President Barack Obama, sounded pointedly political as she recounted a meeting with an unnamed president facing serious fiscal challenges.
“Often times leaders are struggling to get the political support they need to make the hard decisions,” Clinton said at meeting on government transparency at the State Department.
“I met with a president of a country who’d been trying so hard to raise the tax revenues of his country and basically the rich of his country refused to pay anything for schools, for hospitals, for infrastructure. They just said no,” Clinton said.
“And this president is trying so hard because he knows that he will never be able to lift his people out of poverty, put them on the right track, give them opportunities, have an open opportunity society, unless he can deliver results.”
Clinton’s comments came as Obama and U.S. lawmakers wrestle over spending cuts and tax hikes to reach a formula that will allow a deeply divided Congress to increase the government’s borrowing authority by Aug. 2.
Republicans, under pressure from fiscal conservatives in their party, have rejected any tax hikes, complicating efforts to make a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
Clinton — who has described the ballooning U.S. budget deficit as a national security threat — has criticized countries ranging from Pakistan to Guatemala for failing to adequately tax their wealthiest citizens. But her comments on Tuesday carried plenty of domestic resonance as Washington remained focused on Obama’s debt talks with Republicans.
Clinton, who is in a pretty high tax bracket herself these days, said it was important to get the business community — in the mystery president’s country — to support efforts to grow more equitably, saying in some cases business people “may not fully grasp how important it is for their own self-interest to help make these investments in a better life in the future for their fellow citizens.”
A staunch defender of Democratic policies both as U.S. first lady and as a Democratic senator from New York, Clinton has at times dipped her toe back into the U.S. domestic political debate — most recently in hailing New York state’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.
PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS/Molly Riley (Hillary Clinton speaks at State Department event on July 12)