Clinton pledges U.S. income equality, bashes Wall Street

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Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton put the fight for higher wages for everyday Americans at the heart of her economic agenda on Monday and talked tough against Wall Street in the first major policy speech of her White House bid.

Clinton said the U.S. economy will only run at full steam when middle-class wages rise steadily along with executive salaries and company profits.

"I believe we have to build a growth-and-fairness economy. You can't have one without the other," she said at The New School university in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, a bastion of liberal education.

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With one eye on the growing support for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist who is also seeking the Democratic Party nomination, Clinton laid out a vision of economic equality.

"Corporate profits are at near-record highs and Americans are working as hard as ever but paychecks have barely budged in real terms. Families today are stretched in so many directions and so are their budgets," Clinton said.

The former secretary of state promised to push for a broader reform of the U.S. corporate tax code.

Clinton, a former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state, is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for the November 2016 presidential election but Sanders has drawn large crowds at campaign events.

She talked tough against Wall Street, promising to go beyond the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that imposed stronger regulations on the financial industry.

"Too many of our major financial institutions are still too complex and too risky and the problems are not limited to the big banks that get all the headlines," she said.

Clinton warned that "serious risks are emerging from institutions in the so-called shadow banking system including hedge funds, high-frequency traders, non-bank finance companies" and other entities "which receive little oversight at all."

She will unveil more specifics of her economic policy in a series of speeches in coming weeks as Democrats seek more details of her plans on increasing the minimum wage, creating universal preschool and investing in infrastructure.

Putting some meat on the bones of her economic policy could divert focus from issues dragging on Clinton's popularity, including a controversy over her use of a private email account while she was President Barack Obama's secretary of state.

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