Clinton Promises to 'Make the Wealthy Pay' and Make 'Companies Share Profits'

By Susan Jones | October 14, 2015 | 5:53am EDT
Hillary Clinton speaks during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

( - The very wealthy Hillary Clinton took aim at very wealthy Americans in the first Democrat debate Tuesday night, saying that success is good, but only to a point.

She promised to "make the wealthy pay" for the government programs she favors, including paid family leave; and she said she will find ways to make "companies share profits with the workers who helped to make them."

At the very beginning of the debate, Clinton introduced herself as "the granddaughter of a factory worker" to establish her credibility with the middle class.

Later, debate moderator Anderson Cooper challenged her on that point, noting that Hillary and her husband Bill "are part of the one percent."

"Well, you know, both Bill and I have been very blessed," Clinton responded. "Neither of us came from wealthy families and we've worked really hard our entire lives. And I want to make sure every single person in this country has the same opportunities that he and I have had, to make the most of their God-given potential and to have the chances that they should have in America for a good education, good job training, and then good jobs."

Hillary said the "center" of her campaign will be how to raise wages: "Yes, of course, raise the minimum wage, but we have to do so much more, including finding ways so that companies share profits with the workers who helped to make them."

(Many publicly held companies do share profits with anyone, including workers, who buys their stock. Clinton apparently was talking about higher wages for people who work at those companies.)

"And then we have to figure out how we're going to make the tax system a fairer one," she continued. "Right now, the wealthy pay too little and the middle class pays too much. So I have specific recommendations about how we're going to close those loopholes, make it clear that the wealthy will have to pay their fair share, and have a series of tax cuts for middle-class families."

Clinton also called for paid family leave -- insisting that she'll make wealthy people pay for it: "We should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain, 'big government this, big government that,' that except for what they want to impose on the American people. I know we can afford it, because we're going to make the wealthy pay for it. That is the way to get it done."

Later, on the topic of capitalism, Clinton defended America's economic engine -- but only so far, indicating that capitalism is a good thing, unless "a good living" produces inequality.

"When I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families."

But then Clinton said it is necessary to "save capitalism from itself."

"And it's our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn't run amok and doesn't cause the kind of inequities we're seeing in our economic system.
But we would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history of the world."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), following up on Clinton's point, said the United States is "a great entrepreneurial nation. We have got to encourage that. Of course, we have to support small- and medium-sized businesses.

"But you can have all of the growth that you want and it doesn't mean anything if all of the new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. So what we need to do is support small and medium-sized businesses, the backbone of our economy, but we have to make sure that every family in this country gets a fair shake, not just for billionaires."

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