Conservative organizers have limited options. They've been baiting progressives on Clinton's finances in a bid to turn those voters against the prospective nominee, as Ashley Parker and Nick Corasaniti reported in The New York Times over the weekend. Those might be the constituents who are most concerned about Clinton's speaking fees, but they are likely to support her anyway if she wins the nomination.
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What's in Wonkbook: 1) The Clintons' finances 2) Opinions, including Beinart and Gerson on Iraq 3) Christie changes his position on immigration, and more
Chart of the day: Employment is recovering fastest in high-skill jobs for those with at least a bachelor's degree, meaning fewer college-educated baristas. Ylan Q. Mui in The Washington Post.
1. Top story: A closer look at the Clintons' finances
The State Department will release the former secretary's emails in January. "The State Department is proposing a deadline of January 2016 to complete its review and public release of 55,000 pages of emails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exchanged on a private server and turned over to her former agency last December. The proposal came Monday night in a document related to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit... The controversy over Clinton’s private email account led to a turbulent start for her presidential campaign, which she announced last month. She has said she wants the emails public and is eager for State to release them as quickly as possible." Josh Gerstein at Politico.
New disclosures show the Clintons have made $25 million giving speeches since January 2014. "While Bill Clinton’s lucrative speaking career since leaving the White House in 2001 has been well documented, the new disclosures offer the first public accounting of Hillary Clinton’s paid addresses since she stepped down as secretary of state. And they illustrate how the Clintons have personally profited by drawing on the same network of supporters who have backed their political campaigns and philanthropic efforts — while those supporters have gained entree to a potential future president." Matea Gold, Rosalind S. Helderman and Anu Narayanswamy in The Washington Post.
Hillary Clinton took speaking fees from firms seeking to influence her. The money she made giving speeches "didn't go to help disease-stricken kids in an impoverished village on some long-forgotten patch of the planet. Nor did it go to a campaign account. It went to Hillary Clinton. Personally. The latest episode in the Clinton money saga is different from the others because it involves the clear, direct personal enrichment of Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate, by people who have a lot of money at stake in the outcome of government decisions. Her federally required financial disclosure was released to media late Friday... There's a reason government officials can't accept gifts: They tend to have a corrupting effect. True, Hillary Clinton wasn't a government official at the time the money was given. But it is very, very hard to see six-figure speaking fees paid by longtime political boosters with interests before the government — to a woman who has been running for president since the last time she lost — as anything but a gift." Jonathan Allen at Vox.
BEINART: Republicans are answering the wrong question about Iraq. "The easy question is whether Bush should have invaded given what he thought he knew then: that Iraq did have WMD. It’s easy because, with the exception of Rand Paul, virtually all the major Republican candidates claim Bush was right. ... George W. Bush was not forced to invade Iraq because of the weight of objective evidence about WMD. He and his top advisors shamelessly hyped that evidence to justify a war they were seeking an excuse to launch. And in the hysterical aftermath of September 11, Congress was too cowed to effectively challenge them. But even this, in some ways, misses the point. Because even if the intelligence on Iraqi WMD had been stronger, the Iraq War would still have been a colossal mistake. Let’s imagine that Bush had possessed irrefutable proof that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons. Those weapons would still have presented no grave threat to the United States." The Atlantic.
GERSON: How can Republicans show they won't repeat Bush's mistakes? "A Republican nominee will also need to demonstrate that he or she has learned lessons from the United States’ experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is obviously true that occupation and reconstruction proved tragically difficult and unsustainable. And Republican candidates should say this. They should set the bar for intervention high. But they also need to describe how they would return to the strategic offensive within the boundaries of this recognition. For the foreseeable future, the United States will need to preempt threats from afar, by aggressively strengthening allies and proxies, and by employing advantages in air power, Special Operations, human intelligence gathering, digital surveillance and cyberwarfare." The Washington Post.
NOAH SMITH: Most wealthy countries also happen to have big governments. "Are we supposed to believe that rich countries are rich in spite of the fact that they all have big governments? Should we believe that government is a parasite that always, without fail, finds a host in the body politic of every single country that reaches first-world status? Or should we conclude that big government is a necessary ingredient for countries to get rich? ... Public goods boost economic activity. Governments that are more effectively able to tax and regulate economic activity... are able to provide more public goods, and therefore to outgrow countries with weak states. In other words, big government is good." Bloomberg View.
LURIE: Reforming the criminal justice system will cost money. "There’s plenty of discussion on how much mass incarceration costs and how much we could save, but, with some exceptions, there isn't much in the way of considering preemptive changes to economic conditions, making the case for unpopular penal reform to reduce incarceration, supporting spending to improve conditions of incarceration, or dealing with the major costs of investing in feasible alternatives to incarceration. ... Political and organizational power-players have bought in to an agenda of austerity, addressing size rather than nature, isolating silos rather than implicating systems. This could be a policy tragedy for everyone: The narrative excludes vital fixes and alternatives to a justice system that require more resources, not less, and it ignores the proactive governance needed to transform the background conditions that foment crime in the first place." The New Republic.
GILBERT: The United Kingdom must build more houses. "It has been a year since Bank of England Governor Mark Carney called surging home prices 'the biggest risk to financial stability.' With the election out of the way, there's nothing on the horizon to put the brakes back on London property prices, which is still very much an investment of choice for the world's wealthy. With wage growth still lackluster, further gains in real-estate prices throughout the U.K. will make home ownership unfeasible everywhere. The solution isn't difficult: Build more houses. ... Nor is there much disagreement about why supply is failing to match demand: The planning laws in this small, crowded island are byzantine, uncoordinated and, in many cases, unnecessarily restrictive." Bloomberg View.
HILTZIK: Free-trade legislation will be partly paid for with Medicare funds. "That's the only conclusion one can draw from a provision slipped into a measure to extend and increase the government's Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which provides assistance to workers who lose their jobs because of trade deals. The measure, introduced by Rep. David Reichert (R-Wash.), proposes covering some of the $2.7-billion cost of the extension by slicing $700 million out of doctor and hospital reimbursements for Medicare. The plan on Capitol Hill is to move the Trade Assistance Program expansion in tandem with fast-track approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, possibly as early as this week." Los Angeles Times.
Legitimate criticisms of the trade deal can't be aired publicly, writes veteran trade wonk Michael Wessel, who has been cleared to review portions of the deal under negotiation. "So-called 'cleared advisors' like me are prohibited from sharing publicly the criticisms we've lodged about specific proposals and approaches. The government has created a perfect Catch 22: The law prohibits us from talking about the specifics of what we’ve seen, allowing the president to criticize us for not being specific. Instead of simply admitting that he disagrees with me—and with many other cleared advisors—about the merits of the TPP, the president instead pretends that our specific, pointed criticisms don’t exist. What I can tell you is that the administration is being unfair to those who are raising proper questions about the harms the TPP would do." Politico.
Growth statistics understate the power of the economy to fill our needs, writes a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Martin Feldstein. "Does a restaurant meal with a higher price tag than a year ago reflect a higher cost for buying the same food and service, or does the higher price reflect better food and better service? Or what combination of the two? Or consider the higher price of a day of hospital care. How much of that higher price reflects improved diagnosis and more effective treatment? And what about valuing all the improved electronic forms of communication and entertainment that fill the daily lives of most people? In short, there is no way to know how much of each measured price increase reflects quality improvements and how much is a pure price increase. Yet the answers that come out of this process are reflected in the consumer-price index and in the government’s measures of real growth. This is why we shouldn’t place much weight on the official measures." The Wall Street Journal.
The Greek financial system is fast approaching a crisis. "Greek banks are running short on the collateral they need to stay alive, a crisis that could help force Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s hand after weeks of brinkmanship with creditors. As deposits flee the financial system, lenders use collateral parked at the Greek central bank to tap more and more emergency liquidity every week. In a worst-case scenario, that lifeline will be maxed out within three weeks, pushing banks toward insolvency, some economists say. ... European policy makers are losing patience with Tsipras who said as recently as May 14 that he won’t compromise on any of his key demands. He’s planning to force a discussion of Greece at a summit of European Union leaders in Latvia that begins on May 21." Nikos Chrysoloras and Vassilis Karamanis for Bloomberg.
Christie no longer supports a path to citizenship. "By his own admission, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has changed his tune. On Monday, Christie said that he now opposes providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, something he supported as recently as 2010." Terrence Dopp for Bloomberg.
Jeb Bush does not believe there is a constitutional right to gay marriage. "Bush said in a weekend radio interview that he does not believe the Constitution grants a right to gay marriage, emphasizing his support for 'traditional marriage.' The Supreme Court is expected by the end of June to make a landmark ruling that could make gay marriage the law of the land or return the decision to individual states. ... The former Florida governor has not formally declared that he is running for the Republican 2016 presidential nomination, although he said in December he would explore a run for the White House. ... Bush also said in the radio interview that Christian business owners should be able to refuse, "if it's based on a religious belief," to provide services to same-sex couples." Elvina Nawaguna for Reuters.