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Read Hillary Clinton’s Speech Criticizing Donald Trump’s Business Record

29 minute read

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton hit rival Donald Trump’s personal business record and his economic proposals in a speech in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday.

The speech was part of a series criticizing the presumptive Republican nominee on various subjects. Here is a full transcript.

Wow, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you all. Wow, thank you.

It is – it’s wonderful to be back here in Columbus. I want to – I want to thank Whitney for not just her wonderful introduction, but for all the hard work that she has done to build her career and the very strong endorsement that she has given to Fort Hayes Career Center. Everyone associated with Fort Hayes, I want to thank you. This is exactly how we will create more good jobs with more opportunities for more people and it’s exciting to be here in a place that does just that.

I want to thank Governor Ted Strickland, who I hope is soon to be Senator Ted Strickland. Chairman David Pepper of the Ohio Democratic Party, Zach Klein, president of the Columbus City Council, John O’Grady, president of Franklin County Board of Commissioners, and all of you for being here with me. I have to say, I am pretty thrilled to be here for the first time speaking to any group like this as a grandmother of two now.

It was an exciting weekend. Chelsea and Mark had a little boy. And we are just truly over the moon. I have to confess, you know, I’ve talked so much about being a grandmother. Now I’m sure I’m going to be talking doubly about being a grandmother. New stories to tell.

It’s always great to be back in Ohio. And I want to talk about a challenge that Ohio families know well, growing our economy and making it work for everyone, not just those at the top. For more than a year now, I have been listening to Americans across our country. You’ve told me how the recession hit your communities, how jobs dried up, home values sank, and savings vanished. And I have seen how hard you’ve worked to get back on your feet. If we’ve learned anything about the economy over the past 20 years, it’s that a president’s economic decisions have real consequences for families.

President Obama was handed the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Thanks to his leadership and the hard work and resilience of the American people, we have seen more than 14 million private sector jobs created over the last 6.5 years. And here in Ohio, the auto industry made a strong comeback. And how appropriate, as we are here in the area where students learn about autos, learn about how they’re made and how they work.

So we know people are working harder and longer just to keep their heads above water and to deal with the costs, the everyday costs, the costs of basics like child care and prescription drugs that are too high. College is getting more expensive every day and wages are still too low and inequality is too great. Good jobs in many parts of our country are still too hard to come by.

Now, these problems are serious, but I know we can overcome them together. I really believe in this country because I believe in the American people. America’s economy isn’t yet where we want it to be, but we are stronger and better positioned than anyone in the world to build the future that you and your children deserve.

And I have spent my adult life working to even the odds for people who’ve had the odds stacked against them. I helped break down barriers to education for poor and disabled children as a young lawyer, fought for health insurance for all and have been committed to that since my days as first lady. I worked to bring opportunity back to upstate New York in a lot of depressed communities there as senator and went to bat for American workers and businesses as your secretary of state. And everything I’ve learned and everything I’ve done has convinced me we are stronger when we grow together. And I’ve said – I’ve said throughout this campaign that my mission as president will be to help create more good paying jobs so we can get incomes rising for hard working families across America.

It’s a pretty simple formula. Higher wages lead to more demand which leads to more jobs with higher wages. And I’ve laid out a detailed agenda to jump start this virtuous cycle. And you can go to my website, hillaryclinton.com and read all about it. And I do admit, it is a little wonky, but I have this old fashioned idea that if you’re running for president, you should say what you want to do, how you’re going to pay for it, and how you’ll get it done. I actually sweat the specifics because they matter. Whether one more kid gets health care may just be a detail in Washington, but it’s all that matters to that family worrying about their child.

Tomorrow, in North Carolina, I will set out ambitious new goals that will help us build a stronger, fairer economy. We’ll work with both parties to make transformational investments in good-paying jobs in infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and small business. And we’ll tackle the twin problems of college affordability and student debt. We’ll pursue innovative ideas like corporate profit sharing because everyone who works hard should be able to share in the rewards of their hard work. And to pay for these investments, we will make sure Wall Street corporations and the super rich contribute their fair share.

And through it all, we’re going to make sure our policies match how families actually live, learn, and work in the 21st century. And so that’s what I’ll be talking about tomorrow in North Carolina and throughout this campaign. But today, I want to talk about what Donald Trump is promising to do to the economy.

After more than a year, it’s important that he be held accountable for what he says he’ll do as president. And we need to clear the way for a real conversation about how to improve the lives of working people. A few weeks ago I said his foreign policy proposals and reckless statements represent a danger to our national security. But you might think that because he has spent his life as a businessman, he’d be better prepared to handle the economy. Well, it turns out, he’s dangerous there to. Just like he shouldn’t have his finger on the button, he shouldn’t have his hands on our economy.

Now, I don’t say that because of typical political disagreements. Liberals and conservatives say Trump’s ideas would be disastrous. The Chamber of Commerce and labor unions, Mitt Romney and Elizabeth Warren, economists on the right and the left and the center all agree, Trump would throw us back into recession. One of John McCain’s former economic advisors actually calculated what would happen to our country if Trump gets his way. He described the results of a Trump recession. We would lose 3.5 million jobs. Incomes would stagnate. Debt would explode. And stock prices would plummet. And you know who would be hit the hardest? The people who had the hardest time getting back on their feet after the 2008 crisis.

One of the leading firms that analyzes the top threats to the global economy, called the Economist Intelligence Unit, comes out with a new list of threats every month. It includes things like terrorism and the disintegration of Europe. And this month, number three on the list is Donald Trump becoming president of the United States.

Just think about that. Every day we see how reckless and careless Trump is. He’s proud of it. Well, that’s his choice. Except when he’s asking to be our president, then it’s our choice.

Donald Trump actually stood on a debate stage in November and said that wages are too high in this country. He should tell that to the mothers and fathers working two jobs to raise their kids. He said, and I quote, “having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country.” At a time when millions working full-time are still living in poverty.

Back in 2006, before the financial crash, Trump said, and again I quote, “I sort of hope that the housing market crashes” because he’d make money off of all the foreclosures. Over the years, he has said all kinds of things about women in the workforce. He once called pregnant employees, and I quote, “an inconvenience.” He says women will start making equal pay as soon as we do as good a job as men, as if we weren’t already.

Now, these are the words, not of someone who thinks highly of women who work, or who cares about helping parents balance work and family, but instead he clearly doesn’t know much about how we have grown the economy over the last 40 years, which is largely thanks to women getting into the workforce and adding to family incomes.

And he wants to end Obamacare, but has no credible plan to replace it or to help keep costs down. It really wouldn’t be good for our economy, would it, if 20 million people lost their health insurance and we were back to absolutely skyrocketing costs for everything. It would be devastating to families. It would also be bad for the economy.

Here’s exactly what he’s promising to do as president and why I believe it’s wrong for America.

First, there’s his plan for Wall Street. After the 2008 crisis, President Obama fought to enact the toughest, most comprehensive set of Wall Street reforms since the Great Depression. They’re designed to protect consumers and ensure that Wall Street can never again take the kinds of risks that crashed our economy the last time.

So what would Trump do? He said he wants to wipe out the tough rules we put on big banks. He said they created, quote, “a very bad situation.” Well, he’s got it backwards. The very bad situation was millions of families seeing their homes and savings disappear.

He also wants to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The new consumer watchdog that Senator Warren helped create to protect families from unfair and deceptive business practices. That new agency has already secured billions of dollars in returns for people who have been ripped off. Donald Trump wants to get rid of it.

Trump would take us back to where we were before the crisis. He’d rig the economy for Wall Street again. Well, that will not happen on my watch. I can guarantee you. I would veto any effort to weaken those reforms. I will defend and strengthen them both for the big banks and the shadow banking system. And I will vigorously enforce the law because we can’t ever let Wall Street wreck main street again.

Now, second, there’s Donald Trump’s approach to our national debt. Now, I have a plan to pay for all my proposals because I take America’s long term financial health seriously. Donald Trump has a different approach. He calls himself the king of debt. And his tax plan sure lives up to that name. According to the Independent Tax Policy Center, it would increase the national debt by more than $30 trillion over 20 years. That’s trillion with a “t.” It’s much, much more than any nominee of – either party has ever proposed. And economists described it with words like, not even in the universe of the realistic. And how would he pay for all this debt? Well, he said, and I quote, “I would borrow, knowing if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.”

It’s like he said, you know you make a deal before you go into a poker game. Well, actually, it’s not like that at all. The full faith and credit of the United States is not something we just gamble away. That could cause an economic catastrophe. And it would break 225 years of ironclad trust that the American economy has with Americans and with the rest of the world. Alexander Hamilton would be rolling in his grave.

You see, we pay our debts. That’s why investors come here even when everything else in the world goes wrong. You don’t have to take it from me. Ronald Reagan said it. He said, we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility, two things that set us apart from much of the world. Now, maybe Donald feels differently because he made a fortune filing bankruptcies and stiffing his creditors. I’ll get to his business practices in a minute. But the United States of America doesn’t do business Trump’s way. And it matters – it matters when a presidential candidate talks like this because the world hangs on every word our president says. The markets rise and fall on those statements. Even suggesting that the United States would default would cause a global panic.

Trump also says, we can just print more money to pay our debt down. Well, we know what happens to countries that tried that in the past, like Germany in the ’20s, or Zimbabwe in the ’90s. It drove inflation through the roof and crippled their economies. The American dollar is the safest currency on the planet. Why would he want to mess with that?

And so we have to stand up for our history. Democrats and Republicans have always understood this. We can’t let these loose careless remarks get any credence in our electorate or around the world. And finally, the Trump campaign said that if worst came to worst, we could just sell off America’s assets. Really? Even if we sold all of our aircraft carriers and the statue of liberty, even if we let some billionaire turn Yosemite into a private country club, we still wouldn’t even get close. That’s how much debt he’d run up.

Maybe this is what he means when he says, I love playing with debt. Someone should tell him our nation’s economy isn’t a game. The full faith and credit of the United States is sacred. We know what sound fiscal policy looks like and it sure isn’t massive debts to pay for giveaways to the rich. And it is not painful austerity that hurts working families and undercuts our long-term process.

It’s being strong, stable, and making smart investments in our future. So, let’s set the right priorities and pay for them so we can hand our children a healthier economy and a better future.

Now, third, there’s Donald Trump’s tax plan. You know, when I was working on this speech, I had the same experience I had when i was working on the speech I gave about foreign policy and national security. I’d have my researchers and my speech writers send me information and then I’d say, really? He really said that? And they’d send me all the background or the video clip.

So here it goes. He’d give millionaires a $3 trillion tax cut. Corporations would get $2 trillion more. That means he’s giving more away to the 120,000 richest American families than he would to help 120 million hard working Americans.

Now, even in this era of rising inequality, this is like nothing we’ve ever seen. Now, you and I know that the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations don’t need trillions of dollars in tax cuts. They need to be paying their fair share. And now before releasing his plan, Trump said, hedge-fund guys are getting away with murder. And he added, they’ll pay more.

Then his plan came out. And it actually makes the current loophole even worse. It gives hedge-fund managers a special tax rate that’s lower than what many middle class families pay. And I did have to look twice because I didn’t believe it.

Under Donald Trump’s plan, these Wall Street millionaires will pay a lower tax rate than many working people. And of course, Donald himself would get a huge tax cut from his own plan. But we don’t know exactly how much because he won’t release his tax returns.

Now, every major residential candidate in the last four decades has shown the American people their taxes. In fact, Donald actually told Mitt Romney to do it. And he said that if he ever ran for president, he would release his returns.

My husband and I have released ours going back nearly 40 years, and now Donald’s refusing to do so. You have to ask yourself, what’s he afraid of? Maybe that we’ll learn he hasn’t paid taxes on his huge income. We know that happened for at least a few years, he paid nothing or close to it. Or maybe he isn’t as rich as he claims. Or that he hasn’t given away as much to charity as he brags about.

Whatever the reason, Americans deserve to know before you cast your votes this November.

And when it comes to other people’s taxes, Donald Trump’s got it all wrong. We need to do better by the middle class not by the rich. And that’s why my plan will help working families with the costs of college, health care, and child care. The things that really stretch a family’s budget. That’s where our focus should be.

Now, fourth, Donald Trump’s ideas about the economy and the world will cause millions of Americans to lose their jobs. The Republican primary featured the Trump immigration plan. Round up and deport more than 11 million people. Almost all of whom are employed or are children going to school. Then build a wall across our border and force Mexico to pay for it.

Now, this policy is not only wrong headed and unachievable, it is really bad economics. Picking out 11 million immigrants would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. And it would shrink our economy significantly.

Some economists actually argue that just this policy alone would send us into a Trump recession. So instead of causing large scale misery and shrinking our economy, we should pass sensible immigration reform with a path to citizenship because the youth and diversity of our workforce is one of our greatest assets. Most of the rest of the world that we compete with is aging.

So by staying, you know, younger and fresher with talents that can be put to work, we’re actually going to be in a stronger economic position in the next decades. We’ve always been a country where people born elsewhere could work hard, start businesses, and contribute to our growth. That makes us stronger and more prosperous.

And then there’s trade. I believe we can compete and win in the global economy. To do that, we should re-negotiate trade deals that aren’t working for Americans. And reject any agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that don’t meet my high bar for raising wages or creating good-paying jobs.

And I will be tough on trade enforcement too. Because when China dumps cheap steal in our markets or unfairly manipulates currency, we need to respond forcefully. And at the same time, we need to invest more here at home.

I have a make it in America plan to increase 21st century manufacturing and energy jobs in America. And we’re going to build on the great ideas of Senator Sherrod Brown and invest $10 billion in manufacturing communities.

I agree with Sherrod that with the right investments and a level playing field, American workers will out hustle and out innovate anyone in the world.

Now, Donald Trump makes big threats, but he has no serious plan to encourage manufacturing, innovation, or job creation in our country. And there is a difference between getting tough on trade and recklessly starting trade wars.

The last time we opted for Trump-style isolationism, it made the great depression longer and more painful. And interestingly, Trump’s own products are made in a lot of countries that aren’t named America. Trump ties are made in china. Trump suits in Mexico. Trump furniture in Turkey. Trump picture frames in Indian. Trump bar ware in Slovenia. And I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

And I’d love for him to explain how all that fits with his talk about America first. I honestly believe that the difference between us is not just about policy. We have fundamentally different views of whether America is strong or weak.

You see I believe in the ingenuity and productivity of American workers. I know we can sell our products to the 95 percent of global consumers who live outside of our country. On the other hand, Donald Trump never misses a chance to say that Americans that — he’s talking about us, to say that Americans are losers and the rest of the world is laughing at us.

Just the other day, he told a crowd that America is, quote, “not going to survive.” I do not know what he is talking about. I went to 112 countries as your secretary of state. And what I saw is envy, envy for our strength, our values, our diversity, the future we are making together.

I just can’t imagine how someone running for president of the United States could ever think that that is true? I do understand how frustrated, fearful, and even angry many people are especially if you’re underemployed or making a lot less than you used to or worrying that your kids or your grand kids won’t have the kind of good solid middle class life that you did. And we haven’t done enough to invest in our communities and in our people to make sure there are enough good jobs with rising incomes to create that good future for all of us.

The answer is to do that. To bring people along on America’s ride to prosperity that we all can share. Not try to turn the clock back, pretend we can’t compete and decrease the jobs of the future. But those are his plans for the economy.

Now you may have noticed there’s a lot missing. The king of debt has no real plan for making college debt payable back or making college debt free. This is a crisis that affects so many of our people. He has no credible plan for rebuilding our infrastructure apart from the wall that he wants to build.

Personally, I’d rather spend our money on rebuilding our schools or modernizing our energy grid. He has no ideas how to strengthen Medicare or social security and in fact, his tax plan would endanger both. He has no real strategy for creating jobs. Just a string of empty promises.

But then maybe we shouldn’t expect better from someone who’s most famous words are “you’re fired.” He has no clean energy plan, even though that’s where many of the jobs of the future will come from. And it is the key to a safer, healthier planet.

He just says that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese. Well, give him this. It is a lot easier to say a problem doesn’t exist than it is to actually try to solve it.

And of course, he has no plan for helping urban and rural communities facing entrenched poverty and neglect. Every single one of these issues matter. They affect whether young people can go to college, whether single moms can support their kids or their grandparents can have a dignified retirement. What could be more important?

In the heat of a campaign in a culture that rewards brevity and clever phrases on social media, it is tempting to give simple answers to complex problems. Believe me, I have been tempted. But I’m not going to do that because it really matters that you know what I believe we can and should do so you can hold me accountable in the election and then in the White House.

Because whether we increase employment and distress rural communities relieve the burden of college debt or get health care to people who still don’t have it, that all matters. And to me, that’s the purpose of politics, to empower people in a democracy to have better lives. To make better choices. To seize opportunities, to give themselves and their families that pathway to the future.

And one more thing. I think Donald Trump has said he’s qualified to be president because of his business record.

Few days ago, he said, and I quote, I’m going to do for the country what I did for my business. So let’s take a look at what he did for his business. He’s written a lot of books about business. They all seem to end at Chapter 11.

Go figure. And over the years, he intentionally ran up huge amounts of debt on his companies and then he defaulted. He bankrupted his companies not once, not twice, but four times. Hundreds of people lost their jobs. Shareholders were wiped out. Contractors, many of them small businesses, took heavy losses. Many went bust. But Donald Trump, he came out fine.

Here’s what he said about one of those bankruptcies. “I figured it was the bank’s problem, not mine. What the hell did I care?” He also says “I play with bankruptcy.” Everything seems to be a game with him. Well, it isn’t for a lot of us, isn’t it?

Just look what he did in Atlantic City. He put his name on buildings, his favorite thing to do. He convinced the other people that his properties were a great investment so they would go in with him. But he arranged it so he got paid no matter how his companies perform. So when his casino and hotel went bankrupt because of how badly he mismanaged them, he still walked away with millions while everybody else paid the price. Well, today, his properties are sold, shuttered or falling apart and so are a lot of people’s lives. Here’s what he says about that. “Atlantic City was a very good cash cow for me for a long time.” Remember that the next time you see him talking on T.V. about how we’ll all win big if only we elect him president.

Now, he’s trying to say he’s changed. Somebody has told him told him he needs to say that. But he’s not in it for himself anymore. He’s really now in it for America, but he’s doing the exact same thing that he’s been doing for years.

This is his one move. He makes over the top promises that if people stick with him, trust him, listen to him, put their faith in him, he’ll deliver for them. He’ll make them wildly successful. And then everything falls apart and people get hurt.

Those promises you’re hearing from him at his campaign rallies, they are the same promises he made to his customers at Trump University. And now, now they’re suing him for fraud. The same people he’s trying to get to vote for him are people he’s been exploiting for years.

Because it’s not just other investors, other rich people that he took advantage of. It was working people. He’s been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits in the last 30 years. And a large number were filed by ordinary Americans and small businesses that did work for Trump and never got paid. Painters, waiters, plumbers, people who needed the money and didn’t get it. Not because he couldn’t pay them, but because he could stiff them.

Sometimes, he offered them 30 cents on the dollar for projects they had already completed. Hundreds of liens have been filed against by contractors going back decades and they all tell a similar story. I worked for him. I did my job. He wouldn’t pay me what he owed me.

My late father was a small businessman. If his customers had done what Trump did, my dad would never have made it. So I take this personally. He says he’s a businessman and this is what businessmen do.

Well, CNN pointed out that no major company has filed Chapter 11 more often in the last 30 years than Trump’s casinos. So no. This is not normal behavior. There are great business people here in Ohio, in America. Brilliant, hard working men and women who care about their workers. And the people they do business with and they want to build something that lasts. They’re decent. They’re honest. They’re patriots. Some might even make fine presidents and they would never dream of acting the way Donald Trump does.

In America, we don’t begrudge people being successful, but we know they shouldn’t do it by destroying other people’s dreams. And so, if I were not running against him for president, I would be saying exactly the same thing. We cannot put a person like this with all his empty promises in a position of power over our lives.

We can’t let him bankrupt America like we are one of his failed casinos. We can’t let him roll the dice with our children’s futures. Leading an economy as large and complex as ours, creating growth that is strong, fair, and lasting is about as hard a job as there is. It takes patience and clear thinking.

A willingness to work across party lines, to level with the American people and it takes really caring about whether working families will be better off because of what we do. Think of FDR leading us out of the great depression. Imagine all the work that required, all the learning and patience, all the hard calls, day after day for years.

But he steered us right and we emerged stronger and better position to build the greatest middle class in history and lead the world toward peace and prosperity.

Well, think of President Obama in 2009. Newly elected, confronting the greatest economic crisis of our lifetimes. He had nothing to do with creating it. It landed in his lap and he had to be focused and he had to return to basics to get us moving again.

He fought for the recovery act to get people working. He passed Wall Street reforms and relief for homeowners and he saved the auto industry. And today, we are on a surer footing ready to seize tomorrow.

Now, just imagine if you can. Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office, the next time America faces a crisis. Imagine him being in charge when your jobs and savings are at stake. Is this who you want to lead us in an emergency? Someone thin skinned and quick to anger who’d likely be on Twitter attacking reporters or bringing the whole regulatory system down on his critics when he should be focused on fixing what’s wrong? Would he even know what to do?

Now, I have a lot of faith that the American people will make the right decision. Making Donald Trump our president would undo much of the progress we’ve made and put our economy at risk and beyond that, this election will say something about who we are as a people. Donald Trump believes in the worst of us. He thinks we’re fearful, not confident that we favor division not unity, walls not bridges and yesterday not tomorrow.

He thinks the only way forward is to go back, to a past prosperity that left a lot of people out. In fact, the only way forward is forward toward a 21st century version of the American dream with a modern economy and a shared prosperity where no one is left out or left behind. I believe in an America always moving toward the future.

So, if you believe as I do in an America that values hard work, treats people with dignity, offers everyone the chance to live their dreams, cares for those in need, well, the formula for America’s success has always been that we’re stronger together. And we need to remember that now and recommit ourselves to making that ideal real in our time.

That’s how we will build our economy to make sure it does work for everyone and to make our families and our communities stronger. We’ll make sure that in our country, no one gets left behind.

So let’s carry that message across America and let’s fight hard. Let’s win in November and then let’s get to work my friends. Let’s make America what we know it can be. Thank you all very much.

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