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Monday, September 24, 2012

Tax Policy, Briefly, Is a Laughing Matter


As a matter of protocol, the secretary of state usually steers clear of electoral politics. But Hillary Rodham Clinton drew knowing laughs from an audience in New York on Monday when she said a few words - in an international context, mind you - about tax policy.

“One of the issues that I have been preaching about around the world is collecting taxes in an equitable manner, especially from the elites in every country,” she said during a talk at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Given the amount of attention the income-redistribution meme has been receiving in the presidential race, the line was guaranteed to amuse.

“You know, I'm out of American politics,” she went on, drawing more laughter and applause, “but it is a fact that around the world, the elites of every country are making money.

“There are rich people everywhere,” she said. “And yet they do not contribute to the growth of their own countries. They don't invest in public schools, public hospitals, in other kinds of development internally.”

In context, it was clear that she was talking about the situation in developing countries, where not only tax inequity but also corruption and other forms of inequality are widely seen as barriers to prosperity.

The Clinton Global Initiative, set up by Bill Clinton in 2005, is a gathering of leaders that aims to address major societal challenges around the world.