Exasperation in Three Acts: Act 1 -- Mrs. Clinton Speaks Out
Yesterday, Hillary Rodham Clinton blasted corporate executives and hedge fund managers for their excessively large levels of remuneration. Among other things, she said, “There’s something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the typical worker.” Former President George W. Bush said something similar in a Wall Street Journal interview in 2008: “Now, do I think some of the salaries are excessive at the top? I do. I do, and I've spoken so publicly.”
Politicians have been railing against the high levels of executive compensation for more than two decades. They’ve complained vociferously about the remuneration of top hedge fund and private equity managers. However, they’ve done nothing more than talk about it. Meanwhile, they’ve set up PAC and super PACs to solicit donations from these folks, and spent hours and hours on the phone and at cocktail parties wooing corporate executives and hedge fund managers. Hillary Rodham Clinton is simply the latest politician to denounce executive and hedge fund compensation, while continuing to work the phones.
Attacking executive compensation and hedge fund managers is part of the “great understanding” that I wrote about yesterday. Mrs. Clinton’s donors completely understand that she has to pander to her progressive base. They are even willing to accept a few more rules requiring more disclosure about the wealth and fringe benefits of executives and/or money managers. After all, disclosure is wholly ineffective in stanching the upward spiral of executive compensation.
Less than two years ago, Mrs. Clinton accepted six-figure speaking fees to address KKR, Carlyle, and Goldman Sachs. It’s hard to imagine that her attack is anything more than rhetoric.