Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Monday, delivered a rare political rebuke to the world's "elites" for not paying their fair share of taxes or investing in public infrastructure.
"One of the issues I have been preaching about around the world has been collecting taxes in an equitable manner, especially from the elites in every country," Hillary Clinton said Monday morning, opening the second day of her husband's Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York.
After significant applause to this initial response, Clinton continued, "It is a fact that around the world, the elites of every country are making money. There are rich people everywhere. And yet they do not contribute to the growth of their own countries. They don't invest in public schools, in public hospitals, in other kinds of development internally."
"And so it means for leaders telling powerful people things they don't want to hear. It means being transparent about budgets and revenues and bringing corruption to light," she added.
The remark was an unusual political aside, seemingly piggy-backing on recent criticisms by President Barack Obama of Mitt Romney's tax record.
Just this morning, the president's re-election team issued another television ad attacking the Republican presidential candidate for not being forthcoming enough with his tax returns.
"Mitt Romney paid just 14.1 percent in taxes last year," the Obama for America ad, which will air in the swing state of Ohio, stated. "He won't release his tax returns before 2010. Maybe instead of attacking others on taxes, Romney should come clean on his."
Following the Clinton remarks this morning, the State Department also issued new guidance "aimed at lowering the legal barriers and administrative costs" to civil society by proposing "revisions to the tax regulations...by which a U.S. grantmaker evaluates whether an intended foreign grantee is the equivalent of a U.S. public charity."
The increased focus on philanthropic tax barriers, plus the remarks made this morning by Clinton, has already started pundits wondering what her deeper meaning might be.
The possibilities are multi-fold: the message could simply signal a tacit support for Obama's attacks on Mitt Romney or a long-term goal to for president again in 2016.
On CBS' Face the Nation Sunday night, Bill Clinton said he had "no earthly idea" whether his wife would run in 2016, saying instead "she wants to take some time off, kind of regroup. Write a book."
But the veteran diplomat, former senator from New York and first lady will likely not spend her time on the sidelines. Bill Clinton underscored this without confirming she will run when he said "I think she demonstrated as senator and as secretary of state that she has extraordinary ability."
Hillary Clinton, barred from official political statements as the country's head diplomat, has remained on the outside this election season as her husband has moved head-first into the fray in support of Obama.
Hillary, who has signaled she will step down as Secretary of State if Obama is re-elected this year, will remain in New York this week for UN General Assembly sideline meetings with world leaders.
by Lauren McGaughy
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