Now a new report by a commission convened by the Center for American Progress provides a leading indicator of where Hillary Clinton is heading. CAP was founded by John Podesta, now girding for a major role in the Clinton campaign. It is directed by Neera Tanden, Hillary’s issues director in the 2008 campaign. The Commission was chaired by Larry Summers, former Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton nearly two decades ago.
The lengthy report – with a title, “Report of the Commission on Inclusive Prosperity,” that reflects its leaden prose – explicitly pitches itself as an effort to update Putting People First, the platform of Bill Clinton’s first race in 1992, to meet the challenge of inequality. Mainstream Democrats are now tacking to meet populist winds; this is a good measure of how far those close to Hillary are prepared to go.
The commission report, for all its limits, marks a sea change in the mainstream debate. Its ideas and arguments are not new; many have been proposed for years by progressive economists. What is different, as Robert Kuttner has argued, is not what is being said, but who is saying it. The mainstream has been mugged by reality.
But the world has changed. The economy has been rigged to work only for the few. Americans increasingly understand that. The populist temper exposed by Occupy continues to rise. Politicians and mainstream economists are scrambling to respond. The commission report is a marker of how far they have come – and how far they have yet to go.