WASHINGTON — Missing from Hillary Clinton’s newly-minted presidential campaign website is a section discussing the policies she’ll seek to implement.
There’s plenty of time to flesh out a platform, and on some issues the views of the former secretary of state, senator and first lady are clear. She has used recent speeches and Twitter messages to flesh out a message centered on kitchen table issues like reducing income inequality, raising the minimum wage and protecting women from discrimination in the workplace. She has embraced other safe Democratic positions such as protecting Obamacare and Wall Street reform, defending President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration and opposing an ill-fated Indiana law which critics said was discriminatory to same-sex couples.
But on a number of important and complicated issues that loom large in the presidential campaign she kicked off Sunday, Clinton has been relatively silent.
Here are five examples.
Social Security: expand it, cut it or leave it alone?
Unlike most elections, Social Security is shaping up to be an important issue in 2016 for several reasons. House Republicans established a new rule in January that could force cuts to Social Security by prohibiting a transfer of funds from the retirement fund to the disability fund, which dips into the red next year. Across the Capitol, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) last month offered a budget amendment to expand Social Security benefits, which just two Democrats voted against. Progressives are pushing the Democratic field to embrace Social Security expansion.
Clinton has not taken a position on the issue — yet.
Free trade: stand with Obama for it or populists against it?
Free trade is a uniquely divisive issue for Democrats, pitting supportive party leaders including President Barack Obama and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (OR) against populist opponents like Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), an independent mulling a run for president as a Democrat. Obama and many Republicans are strongly pushing for legislation that would allow the U.S. to enter into trade agreements with about a dozen countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Progressives are equally determined to scuttle the proposal and are closely watching to see where Clinton, who has not weighed in, stands.
Keystone pipeline: approve it or block it?
Fast-tracking approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama has slow-walked for years, is a top priority of Republicans. It’s a divisive issue for Democrats in red states, who support it, and a vast majority of the party which considers it environmentally unsound and a step backwards for the cause of phasing out fossil fuels to combat climate change. The Republican-led Congress passed a bill to force construction of the pipeline in February, only to see it vetoed by Obama who claimed it short-circuited administrative review.
Does Clinton want to build the pipeline? TBD.
NSA reform: where’s the line between privacy and security?
Explosive revelations by Edward Snowden in the summer of 2013 about the National Security Agency’s sprawling program to collect telephone records en masse roiled Washington and sparked a debate about whether to limit the powerful agency’s authority.
Clinton mentioned Obama’s support for modest NSA reforms in her June 2014 book “Hard Choices” but steered clear of expressing her own view.
To break up, or not to break up, the big Wall Street banks?
Clinton will be heavily scrutinized from all sides on the degree to which she’s seen as standing up to Wall Street, with which her biggest detractors criticize her for having a cozy relationship. She’ll have an easy contrast with the GOP field on the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill but progressives — most notably Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — are pushing a bolder solution that would break up the “too big to fail” banks to protect taxpayers from another bailout in the event that one or more of them tumbles.
It’s a tricky needle to thread for Clinton, who isn’t eager to become a Warren-style target for Wall Street, but also needs to distance herself from financial elites.