Hillary Clinton outlined her economic agenda today at the New School in Manhattan, and attacked Uber. The ridesharing service did not reply to Clinton directly, but the company did post a story on its blog about how the service helps “senior mobility.” Clinton, a grandmother, is 67 years old.
Uber’s post is about June, an octogenarian who recently had to stop driving. Uber now fills that void.
“For June – a very independent person – making the difficult decision to give up her own car after driving for over 60 years felt like “a huge setback.” Sprightly, active, and in her 80s, she was determined not to let transportation limitations deter her for long. After hearing about Uber from her grandchildren, June downloaded the app on her smartphone. Soon, she was riding all over Miami-Dade County, running errands, and visiting with family and friends — all with Uber,” the blog post reads.
“June’s story is a familiar one for many aging Americans: transportation is often one of the greatest challenges for older adults and for community organizations trying to meet their needs. In fact, the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) estimates 26 million older Americans depend on others for their mobility.1 Research has shown that seniors who are unable to drive or have limited mobility choices often experience a loss of self-esteem and feelings of helplessness. Over the next 20 years, as the number of Americans ages 65 and older grows to more than 71 million people — or 20% of the total population — we are likely to see senior mobility issues magnified.”
Uber noted that it’s working with the Obama White House—Clinton’s former employer—on the project. “Today, Uber will participate in the White House Conference on Aging and discuss Uber’s efforts to engage the senior community.”
Clinton’s criticism of "consumer-friendly ‘sharing economy’ firms like Uber and Airbnb” suggested that the relatively new companies were forces against wage growth. While she didn’t name these companies in her speech, she did allude to them very overtly, and criticized them for their payment models.
“Americans are making extra money renting out a spare room,” Clinton said, obviously ≈ to Airbnb, “designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car,” referring to Uber. “This on-demand or so-called gig economy is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation. But it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future,” said Clinton.
Issie Lapowsky at Wired notes that Clinton’s promise to crack down on bosses classifying workers as contractors “seemed to come in direct response to the wave of legal action that’s been taken against companies like Uber recently, which argue that drivers should be compensated as employees.”
Many Democrat-run cities have been hostile to ridesharing services. Among the most transparent lines from any city website about the real - not purported - concerns with regard to ridesharing services comes from the Seattle City Council. The passage on the council's site notes that ridesharing services operate outside the regulatory framework under which taxis fall, and includes this telling passage:
"...and possibly creating economic pressure on incumbent providers. However, these services may be serving a new level of demand, rather than taking only a share of a fixed number of trips."
With today’s speech, Hillary Clinton seems intent on defending the status quo against the so-called disruptors, the monopolies instead of the start-ups, and the established regulatory system against a freer market.
Uber, meanwhile, will continue to advocate “senior mobility.”