10:15 GMT19 September 2020
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    Despite Hillary Clinton's decry of the pay of Manhattan hedge fund managers and wealthy executives, those on Wall Street who long have been connected to her fundraising networks are not worrying about their take-home pay just yet.

    "Families have fought their way back from tough economic times. But it’s not enough – not when the average CEO makes 300 times what the average worker makes," Clinton wrote in her first fundraising note to supporters on Monday.

    The next day, during a campaign speech in Iowa, she said "There's something wrong" when "hedge fund managers pay lower taxes than nurses or the truckers I saw on I-80 when I was driving here over the last two days."

    Back in Manhattan, hedge fund managers are calling Clinton's political rhetoric just that.

    It is "just politics," one major Democratic donor on Wall Street told Politico, explaining that some Clinton supporters on Wall Street doubt that she would push hard for closing the carried interest tax loophole as president, a policy she promoted when she last ran in 2008.

    "The question is not going to be whether or not hedge fund managers or CEOs make too much money," a separate Clinton supporter and hedge fund manager told Politico. "The question is how do you solve the problem of inequality. Nobody takes it like she is going after them personally."

    As for those who are going after Clinton personally, critics are quick to point out that she recently was making around $200,000 per speech, and represented Wall Street's interests during her days as a New York senator.

    Said Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Short:  "It's hard to take Hillary Clinton seriously when she charges over four times what the average person makes to give a 90 minute speech, and when the Clintons' own income has exceeded the CEO pay she now decries. There are clearly no limits on phoniness and hypocrisy for Clinton's campaign."

    But Clinton's message comes as no surprise to many, including Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, a veteran of Bill Clinton's White House who now advises billionaire environmentalist hedge fund manager and donor Tom Steyer.

    "The fact is that any Democrat running for president would talk about this. It's as surprising as the sun rising in the East," Lehane was quoted as saying by Politico.

    One of Clinton’s leading donors in New York’s financial community said that while financial inequality will be a major issue in the upcoming campaign and it is largely agreed that it needs to be addressed, Clinton does not intend to level the playing field at the expense of the wealthy.

    "She's not saying that a hedge fund manager shouldn't be making what they're making. Just that someone in another job shouldn't be making 300 times less," the donor said.

    Clinton's message may be so unsurprising because it falls in line with a position she has maintained since before her last presidential bid.

    "Let's finally do something about the growing economic inequality that is tearing our country apart," said Clinton in June 2007. "The top one percent of our households hold 22 percent of our nation's wealth. That's the highest concentration of wealth in a very small number of people since 1929, so let's close that gap."

    Still, some liberal Democrats remain unconvinced by Clinton's language, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio – Clinton's former Senate campaign manager who has so far declined to endorse her for president – and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is considering a presidential bid of his own.

    Perhaps Clinton can stir up fervor with the $2 billion she is expected to raise between now and November 2016 – some of which will certainly be donated by the hedge fund managers and CEOs she has called out.

    Tags:
    hedge funds, fundraising, presidential campaign, tax breaks, Republican National Committee, Wall Street, Bernie Sanders, Bill de Blasio, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, New York City, New York, Manhattan, Iowa, United States
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