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Hillary Clinton vows push for middle class

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Manhattan on Monday, July 13, 2015. Credit: AP / Seth Wenig

Hillary Rodham Clinton laid out her economic vision for the country Monday, vowing in a speech in Manhattan to increase middle-class wages, tighten regulation of Wall Street and advocate for working families.

Clinton took shots at leading Republican opponents and criticized Wall Street for its focus on short-term profits, which she said hurts workers.

"I believe we have to build a growth and fairness economy," Clinton told more than 230 supporters at the New School. "You can't have one without the other."

Clinton called for "reforms to help CEOs and shareholders alike to focus on the next decade, not just the next day."

She called for tighter regulation of the financial industry and said that, as a former U.S. senator from New York, "I know the role Wall Street can and should play. Too big to fail is still too big a problem."

Clinton said she would push for "fair pay, fair scheduling, paid family leave, earned sick days, and child care," calling the issues "essential to our competitiveness" in the global economy.

In a nearly 45-minute speech, Clinton gave few proposal details, saying she'd expand on them later this summer. The speech came as Democrats from the liberal wing of the party, including presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, are pressing for tougher rules for Wall Street and stressing income inequality. Sanders has said he favors raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. On his website Monday, Sanders said he'd "raise taxes on Wall Street speculators" to address income inequality.

Clinton pointed to recent comments by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, that "people need to work more hours" to boost the nation's productivity.

Clinton said Americans "don't need a lecture, they need a raise."

Bush's campaign has said the comments were mischaracterized and that he was referring to part-time workers unable to find full-time work. He responded to Clinton's speech with a video posted on YouTube in which he described Clinton and Democrats as having a "deeply pessimistic view" of economic growth.

Clinton called Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's tax plan a "budget-busting giveaway to the superwealthy," and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's union policies "mean-spirited."

Walker responded on Twitter that Clinton "thinks you grow the economy in Washington. I think the American people grow the economy in cities [and] towns across the U.S."

Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said in an email that Clinton "wants to take us back to yesterday, but we cannot raise taxes like the 1990s or increase spending like the 2000s."

Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, a Washington, D.C. policy think tank, said Clinton's speech "should put to rest this notion that she's the candidate of Wall Street just because she's from New York."

"For the first time in a coherent way she took on the problem of Wall Street," said Ka- marck, who worked for former President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997 and served as an adviser for former Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who did not attend Clinton's speech, said it was "fantastic" that Clinton called for closing the carried interest loophole, which allows private equity fund managers to pay a lower tax rate on their earnings.

With Emily Ngo

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