Hillary Clinton calls on business to help close income inequality gap

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged business leaders to "come off the sidelines" and do more to help combat income inequality in an economic address Friday.

The potential 2016 Democratic presidential contender said she is working to "encourage more companies to come off the sidelines and frankly, for some to use some of that cash that is sitting there waiting to be deployed," in a speech at the New America Foundation 2014 Conference.

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She said the Clinton Global Initiative is "assembling a network of businesses" that will be unveiled next month at their conference in Denver. And she praised businesses like Corning and Gap, Inc., for investing in programs that spur economic growth and raise wages.

"We can’t wait for government, which seems so paralyzed and unfortunately at a time when we could be racing ahead," she said.

In her address, Clinton stuck to economic issues, arguing that businesses and community groups needed to work together to help bolster the middle class. The speech comes as Clinton gears up for the release of her new memoir and weighs a possible run for president.

"Our economy grows fastest when people in the middle are working and thriving, and when people at the bottom believe that they can make their way into that broad based middle," she added.

Clinton said upward mobility in America exists "where the fabric of community is strong," in places with a "vibrant middle class, two-parent families and good schools."

"It's not about average income … it's not about race,” she said. “It's about all of these other factors that add up to healthy families and inclusive communities."

Clinton also said that her tenure at State highlighted that income inequality was a problem in America and abroad.

"As secretary of State I saw the way that extreme inequality corrupted other societies, hobbled growth and left entire generations alienated," she said. Clinton said she had urged "elites" in other countries like Greece, Guatemala and Pakistan "to pay their fair share."

And Clinton touted her husband, former President Bill Clinton’s economic record, while knocking the policies of his successor, former President George W. Bush.

"The 1990s taught us that, even in the face of long-term economic trends, it's possible through smart policies and sound investments to enjoy broad based growth and shared prosperity," she said.

She highlighted her husband's doubling of the earned-income tax credit and minimum wage hike as two policies that grew the economy and helped working Americans.

"It won’t surprise you to hear me say that I think it really does take a village,” she said of the effort to fight inequality.