The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have been used to justify all sorts of unsavory policies and political behavior. The war in Iraq, spying on U.S. citizens, drone strikes, new cabinet agencies, increased domestic and military budgets, and even ethanol subsidies, believe it or not.
But Hillary Clinton took the 9/11-exploitation game to a new level at last Saturday's Democratic debate. She used the destruction of the Twin Towers and the thousands of deaths on that day to explain her coziness with Wall Street and the piles of Wall Street cash sitting in both her campaign coffers and her personal bank account.
There is, of course, a more sensible explanation for Clinton's closeness with Wall Street: she consistently and effectively advances the big-government policies that enrich Wall Street at the expense of everybody else.
Bernie Sanders was the one who brought up Wall Street's huge funding for Clinton — she's the top fundraiser from the financial industry.
Clinton fired back, quickly and boldly with a 9/11 pivot that was clearly pre-planned. "I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is." Her answer implied that Wall Street so heavily funds her, her campaigns, and her husband because of the work she did as a senator to "rebuild" lower Manhattan. The claim is as demonstrably false as it is indefensibly cynical.
First off, Wall Street's love for Clinton pre-dates 9/11. On the day Clinton was sworn in to the Senate in January 2001, she had taken more campaign money from Wall Street than any of her fellow 99 senators in their last election. Note that 9/11 had not happened yet.
In funds from the narrower "securities and investment" industry within finance, Clinton was No. 2 upon her election. Citigroup was Clinton's top source of funds in 2000. Goldman Sachs was in third place.
Wall Street had given even more to her Senate opponent, Congressman Rick Lazio, than to Clinton. But once in office, she quickly got to work to ensure she would never be outraised on Wall Street again.
As soon as he was allowed, her husband lined up well-paid speeches from banks, earning a quarter million combined from Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse in February 2001, his first full month out of office.
A month later, as David Sirota and Andrew Perez reported at the International Business Times, Clinton voted for the banking lobby's top priority, the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2001. The bill made it harder for people to discharge their credit card debt in the way bankrupt companies can discharge some of their corporate debt in restructuring. She had spoken against a nearly identical bill just months earlier.
Elizabeth Warren described Clinton's conversion: "As first lady, Mrs. Clinton had been persuaded that the bill was bad for families, and she was willing to fight for her beliefs," Warren wrote in a 2003 book. "As New York's newest senator, however, it seems that Hillary Clinton could not afford such a principled position ... The bill was essentially the same, but Hillary Rodham Clinton was not."
In her nearly uncontested 2006 re-election, Clinton raked in $2.1 million from the securities and investment industry, putting her second behind only Joe Lieberman, and giving her more than the top three Republican candidates combined.
Following that election, she continued to vote for Wall Street. In the summer of 2008, Clinton voted for the housing bailout bill known as the "Bank of America" bill, because it was basically written by Bank of America.
When the Bank of America Bill, the AIG bailout, and the Fannie Mae bailout all proved inadequate to saving the giants of Wall Street, Clinton roundly and loudly backed the Great Wall Street Bailout — the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.
And that's not all. One of Clinton's favorite ways to subsidize business has been the federal loan guarantee. Take the Export-Import Bank as an example. Through Ex-Im, commercial lenders — mostly JPMorgan — get taxpayer backing for their loans to foreign buyers. "There's nothing that a commercial bank loves more than guaranteed financing," Michael Eckhart, Citigroup managing director, said at a recent Ex-Im conference. This is why the Financial Services Roundtable and the American Bankers Association have lobbied so hard to save Ex-Im in recent years.
"I'd like to put Ex-Im Bank on steroids," Clinton has said. She is now campaigning for more federal loan guarantees in the agriculture and energy industry.
No doubt some denizens of Wall Street appreciate her post-9/11 recovery work. But her efforts to funnel taxpayer money and special favors to the banks have probably played a role, too, in making Clinton the top recipient of Wall Street money.
Timothy P. Carney, the Washington Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com. His column appears Tuesday and Thursday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.