As most of you know, or should know, I was a Martin O’Malley supporter first, and then I flirted with supporting Bernie Sanders until I saw and heard his untenable position on guns. (And no, they have not “evolved.”) So, I have never been a die-hard Hillary Clinton supporter. However, I am a supporter of facts, and I keep seeing this video on my Facebook feed.
It’s Elizabeth relating a story about Hillary Clinton and “the bankruptcy bill.” It is always accompanied by an anti-Hillary rant intended to give the impression that Clinton was somehow “persuaded” by “Wall Street” to change her mind. In other words, it is essentially so-called “progressives” propagating the Republican lie, that Hillary is somehow dishonest.
The first thing to note here is that the video was recorded in 2004, long before Warren became a politician. The other thing to note is that Warren was wrong to have made the situation that simple. And that’s what this post is about. Hillary didn’t flip-flop and she did not become a “tool of Wall Street.” In fact, even the suggestion that Clinton may have changed her mind because “Wall Street” was now a constituency is far too simplistic for this situation.
There were THREE separate bills, first of all.
On the first one, President Bill Clinton pocket vetoed the bill after the Republican Congress passed it. The reason he did that was because there is a very strong likelihood that Congress would have overridden the veto, since it passed the House by voice vote and received 70 votes in the Senate. Therefore, after Hillary Clinton came back from her meeting with Warren, it is quite obvious she convinced her husband to kill it, which he did.
Soon after such a stinging defeat for Republicans, and with no one in the White House to pocket veto such a bill, the Republicans tried the same thing again. The second bill started out as largely the same bill, which would have made it very difficult for many working families to use bankruptcy to get out from under crushing debt. However, to claim that Clinton “voted for it” is simplistic and inaccurate.
What Hillary Clinton actually did was to improve the Senate version of the bill to the extent possible. She, Chuck Schumer and several other Democrats were able to amend the bill to eliminate a loophole that would have benefited the wealthy and to protect women and their doctors at family planning clinics. She also managed to add provisions to protect women whose ex-husbands were trying to use bankruptcy to avoid paying child support. She also pushed an amendment that would have eased the burden on poor people when it came to discharging credit card debt. Put simply, “she voted for it” is completely unfair and ultimately dishonest.
It didn’t matter, anyway. The bill passed the Senate with 83 votes, but the House version was completely different and they couldn’t reconcile them. Which makes the “she voted for it” even more unfair and more wrong. Her vote for it had zero impact on society, since it never became law. But here’s the thing, folks; there is a strong likelihood that the amendments she added to the bill prevented the reconciliation of the Senate and House bills, which means it can actually be said that she essentially prevented it from becoming law.
Again, the video was recorded in 2004, which means, as of the time Warren was speaking, no bankruptcy bill had even passed, as yet. The one that passed came in 2005. That year, Republicans had a larger majority than in 2001, and she voted for all of the same amendments that she had in 2001, but they were defeated. Clinton also supported a filibuster of that bill. She was in the hospital, tending to Bill after he had surgery, which is when the final vote was taken, but it was going to pass, anyway, so her vote wasn’t critical. Without her, it received 74 votes in the Senate and 302 in the House, so it was going to pass. Still, when she arrived back in the Senate, she read the following into the record, anyway:
Mr. President, while I strongly believe that Congress should act to fix the problems in our bankruptcy system, I also believe that this bill is misguided and deeply flawed.
This bankruptcy bill fundamentally fails to accord with the traditional purposes of bankruptcy, which recognize that we are all better off when hardworking people who have suffered financial catastrophe get a ‘‘fresh start. . .’’
It [Bankruptcy reform] should be about making sure that both large corporations and individual citizens are held to the same standards of responsibility and accountability.
This bill is flawed in a number of ways, but I want to begin by commenting on one of its most distressing elements. As many people know, I have long been concerned about the burdens placed on America’s families by a lack of health care insurance and by rising healthcare costs. In this bill, the Senate had an opportunity to take one important step to help citizens driven to the point of bankruptcy by unavoidable medical problems. Instead, the Senate rejected this opportunity to lighten the load on Americans dealing with the twin blows of medical and financial difficulties. The Senate’s failure to act is all the more striking to me today, because I must submit this statement into the Record while attending to a medical situation in my own family.
The world has changed since this bill was considered in 2001. During the past 4 years, workers have sustained unprecedented job losses, endured termination of pension plans, and faced wage cuts and elimination of health care and other benefits as a result of their employer’s bankruptcy. Many of these bankruptcies have been the direct result of wrongdoing by corporate mismanagement. The people who take the biggest hit when big companies go bankrupt aren’t the top executives, but the ordinary employees whose pensions and healthcare coverage disappear overnight.
And to make matters even worse, yesterday the Senate, again led by the Republican leadership, rejected an amendment offered by Senator Kennedy, which would have outlawed unlimited homestead exemptions. This would have prevented the wealthiest Americans from avoiding responsibility by hiding their assets from creditors.
The Senate also rejected an amendment that was intended to reinsert language that had been in the legislation the Senate passed in 2001, which would have prevented the discharge in bankruptcy of all liability for willful violation of protective orders and violent protests of providers of lawful services, such as reproductive health services.
Even though this language was in the 2001 Senate-passed bill, it is conspicuously absent from the bankruptcy bill that the Senate is now considering 4 years later.
Because of unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, I will not be present when the Senate votes on final passage of this bill today. But were I able to be here, I would vote no, because this bill is clearly not in the best interests of the American people. (Source)
Seriously, does that sound like someone who had changed her mind about what Warren said? The truth is, no it’s not.
When evaluating someone’s voting record, it’s always important to look at all of the circumstances, and this is one example of why that is so. It is simply untrue and purely cynical to suggest that Hillary Clinton switched on “the bankruptcy bill” for many reasons. One is, there is no “THE” bankruptcy bill. Another is, if she amended the bill to alter it significantly, that means she voted for a completely different bill. Also, it’s possible to vote for a bill that you know the House won’t go along with. And unless the Senate and House bills match, it doesn’t pass.
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