Clinton’s to-do list for the left
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Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll: Majority of Democratic voters happy with their choices among 2020 contenders No presidential candidate can unite the country GOP lawmakers speak out against 'send her back' chants MORE is in a hurry to boost her appeal among liberals.

During her visit to Iowa earlier this week, immediately after announcing her presidential candidacy, she insisted that the nation’s “dysfunctional” political system needed to be reformed in a way that would “get unaccountable money out of it once and for all — even if that takes a constitutional amendment.”


Her campaign also released a statement expressing her hope that the Supreme Court would enshrine same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

From a liberal perspective, Clinton has been creating some positive mood-music, too. A tribute she penned to left-wing favorite Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for Time magazine’s list of the most influential people of the year emerged on Thursday. 

Warren “never hesitates to hold powerful people’s feet to the fire … even presidential aspirants,” Clinton wrote. 

These efforts are presumably motivated in part by Clinton’s memories of how then-Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) vanquished her with support from the left in 2008. 

Clinton will face tough questions on a range of issues this year, including free trade — something with which her husband was closely identified and which is currently in the news again, in the shape of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

But, beyond that, there are several specific things Clinton could promise to mollify progressives, activists say.

Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, though many states have higher rates. It is $8.25 in Clinton’s native Illinois and $8.75 in New York, the state she represented as a senator. The New York minimum wage will rise to $9 at the end of the year. 

Many on the left argue that such incremental increases are too small to address the inequalities that have gaped wider in recent decades. 

In recent months, fast-food workers, labor unions and activists have rallied around the idea of increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour, using the slogan #Fightfor15. 

Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, Clinton’s erstwhile New York colleague, is among those who have expressed unequivocal support for the campaign. Clinton ought to do the same, liberals say.

“You can’t have half-measures,” Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, told The Hill. “[Fifteen dollars] an hour is the bare minimum for a wage that would enable working families to pay their bills and start to look to the future.”

Reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act

To fulfill the left’s wishes here, Clinton would have to break with her husband’s policy. Glass-Steagall, a 1933 law, separated commercial banking and investment banking. 

It was repealed by President Clinton in 1999. The Treasury Secretary of the time, Larry Summers, declared that repeal would “better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.”

But the 1999 change has been criticized by many on the left — including Warren — for playing a significant part in the financial crisis that hit nine years later.

During a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, George Goehl of National People’s Action said that resurrecting the law would be “a really good example” of a specific pledge Clinton could make to please progressives. “Glass-Steagall was an incredible reform in the ‘30s,” he added. 

Creating a national database on racial profiling

The treatment of blacks and other non-white groups at the hands of law enforcement is one of the hottest topics for left-leaning activists.

The killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y. — both of them unarmed black men — stirred street protests. There have been a number of other high-profile cases since then.

The last Twitter message Clinton posted before announcing her presidential candidacy referred to one such killing — that of Walter Scott, the unarmed 50-year-old who was shot dead on April 4 by a South Carolina police officer who now faces a murder charge. 

“We can do better — rebuild trust, reform justice system, respect all lives,” Clinton wrote on April 8.

Activists are calling for more tangible action.

“Presidential candidates have a role in expressing support for, for example, processes like racial-profiling data-gathering at the federal level,” said Rinku Sen, executive director of Race Forward, a group that works for racial justice. 

“I don’t expect any presidential candidate to get deeply into every weed,” Sen added, “but I do expect them to reveal they are grounded in actual realities.”

Declaring a moratorium on fracking

The Keystone XL pipeline has been Topic A for a number of environmental groups for several years. Clinton has not expressed a definite opinion on the issue.

Green groups don’t want the pipeline approved, whether it’s by Obama or by the woman who could become the second President Clinton. But they also emphasize that there are plenty of other items on their agenda.

One is fracking. Greens claim dangers are being minimized because of how profitable the practice has become. Clinton could help win them over by promising a moratorium. 

Boosting Social Security

Back in 2013, Obama drew loud complaints from the left for embracing chained CPI for Social Security. In plain language, chained CPI is a different way of measuring cost-of-living increases that most people expect would result in lower Social Security payments over time.

Left-wing groups want to move things in the opposite direction. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) has sought backing for a measure that was first proposed in 2013 by then-Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa.) 

That plan would scrap the ceiling for Social Security contributions and promises to give workers $452 more per year by the age of 75.

Backing such a proposal would go some way to answering the question that many ask about Clinton, on the left and elsewhere: What does she really stand for?

On a media conference call organized by the PCCC on the day of Clinton’s presidential launch, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said, “A lot of candidates pride themselves on never taking a position on any issue. And the result of that is that their campaigns and their time in office turns into the "Seinfeld" show — it's a show about nothing. And it doesn't have to be that way.”