Clinton vows to raise taxes, reform Wall Street in effort to recapture progressive base

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Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton on Monday took a giant step toward letting Democratic voters know she’s representing the progressive agenda, calling for tax increases and more regulation on Wall Street -- while making a play for a liberal base that has been gravitating toward Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“I know as much as anybody, the role Wall Street should play for main street,” said Clinton, who vowed, if elected, to “rein in excessive risks” and appoint regulators to “prosecute firms and individuals” who break the law.

Clinton also vowed to increase taxes on large corporations and the country’s highest wage-earners, an apparent effort to recapture her party’s progressive base now captivated by surging primary challenger Sanders and the reformer agenda of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is not a 2016 candidate.

Clinton specifically vowed to revive efforts to institute the so-called Buffet Rule, which is essentially a 30 percent “millionaire tax.”

“Those at the top have to pay their share,” Clinton said during her roughly 35-minute speech at the New School, a New York City college and bastion for progressive ideals. “Wealthy financiers pay artificially low tax rates.”

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    Clinton also called for minimum-wage increases and urged companies to expand profit-sharing of corporate earnings with workers.

    “Hard-working Americans deserve to benefit from the record corporate earnings they helped produce," she said. "That will be good for workers and good for business. Studies show profit-sharing that gives everyone a stake in a company's success can boost productivity and put money directly into employees' pockets."

    The speech was greeted warmly on the left.

    “Clinton's economic policy speech reflects a very clear understanding that the Democratic Party and the vast majority of the American people want a president who will fight alongside … Warren and refuse to kowtow to wealthy and powerful interests on Wall Street,” said Jim Dean, chairman of Democracy for America.

    "Coupled with Senator Bernie Sanders' early 2016 surge, today's speech illustrates the dominate force the Elizabeth Warren wing is in the Democratic Party and the critical role it has already played in ensuring that income inequality sits at the very center of the 2016 presidential debate."

    While top-tier Republican candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has called for an annual growth rate of 4 percent, Clinton asserted that the nation's economy should not be “tethered” to a specific growth figure but rather by how much income increases for middle-class households.

    Clinton called out Bush by name. And in her pitch to revive labor unions and their influence on increasing wages, she cited Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the latest GOP contender to enter the race, and suggested the entire Republican Party was trying to squash big labor.

    “They made their name stomping workers’ rights,” Clinton said. “I will fight back against these mean-spirited attacks.”

    Republican National Committee spokeswoman Allison Moore said in response that Clinton also should have explained how she plans to pay for all the spending.

    "Whether she tells us or not, though, it’s pretty clear: she will have to raise taxes on American families," Moore said. "If she doesn’t raise taxes, then she will have to break her promises. That’s Clintonomics: tax hikes or broken promises."

    Clinton also pointed to economic progress during her husband's two terms in the 1990s and more recently under President Obama.

    In Clinton's approach to the economy, she says more Americans would share in the prosperity and avoid the boom-and-bust cycles of Wall Street that have led to economic turbulence of the past decade.

    Clinton, who is seeking to become the nation's first female president, also addressed ways of making it easier for women to join the workforce -- including affordable child care and pay equal to their male counterparts' Joseph Weber and Fox News' Ed Henry and The Associated Press contributed to this report.