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Hillary Doubles Down on Being Broke: 'We Couldn't Even Get a Mortgage on a House by Ourselves'

8:24 AM, Jul 8, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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In an interview with Der Spiegel, the German magazine, Hillary Clinton doubles down on her claim that she was "dead broke" when leaving the White House.

"You recently described your financial situation during the presidency of your husband Bill Clinton as dead broke," says Der Spiegel.

"Well, when we came out of the White House, we were deeply in debt because of all the legal bills that we owed because of the relentless persecution of my husband and myself, and he had to work unbelievably hard to pay off every single penny of every debt we owed. And we did," Clinton responds.

The magazine posits, "Today, you are multimillionaires. Your husband has earned $104 million with his speeches since 2001."

To which the former secretary of state responds, "We are very grateful for where we are today. But if you were to go back and look at the amount of money that we owed, we couldn't even get a mortgage on a house by ourselves. In our system he had to make double what he needed in order just to pay off the debt, and then to finance a house and continue to pay for our daughter's education."

In the same interview Clinton makes the case that income inequality is a threat to America's democracy.

SPIEGEL: American society is polarized as never before. The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote a bestseller "Capital in the Twenty First Century" which is making a lot of noise right now. Have you had the chance to read it? 

Clinton: I haven't read it yet. I've read very long essays about it and know what his principal point is. I think he makes a very strong case that we have unbalanced our economy too much towards favoring capital and away from labor. And I agree with his principal concern, which is that we have devalued labor. He talks about Europe, but it is the same thing in the United States.

SPIEGEL: Piketty argues that the growing gap between the rich and the poor is threatening democracy.

Clinton: I do agree with that. We've had this huge experiment known as America that was a diversity of populations, and we have held it together because we had a democracy that slowly over time included everybody. Even during the Great Depression people in the streets believed that they could make it and they would be better off. Now the relative wealth is much higher, but the disparity makes people believe that they're stuck. They no longer believe that things are going to get any better, no matter how hard they work. People have lost trust in each other and the political system and I think that's very threatening to democracy.

SPIEGEL: The average annual income of an American household is $22,296 (€16,397). You earn up to $200,000 an hour for a speech. Can you understand if people are bothered by that?

Clinton: Well, certainly, I can understand that, but that's never been the crux of the concern in our country, because we've always had people who did better than other people. That's just accepted. The problem is that people on the bottom and people in the middle class no longer feel like they have the opportunity to do better. The question is, how do we get back to having an economy that works for everybody and that once again gives people the optimism that they too will be successful.

Daniel Halper is online editor at The Weekly Standard and author of the forthcoming Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.

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