Exclusive Interview With Sen. Hillary Clinton

STEPHANOPOULOS: Economists say that's not going to happen. They say this is going to go straight into the profits of the oil companies. They're not going to actually lower their prices. And the two top leaders in the House are against it. Nearly every editorial board and economist in the country has come out against it. Even a supporter of yours, Paul Krugman of The New York Times, calls it pointless and disappointing.

Can you name one economist, a credible economist who supports the suspension?

CLINTON: Well, you know, George, I think we've been for the last seven years seeing a tremendous amount of government power and elite opinion basically behind policies that haven't worked well for the middle class and hard-working Americans. From the moment I started this campaign, I've said that I am absolutely determined that we're going to reverse the trends that have been going on in our government and in our political system, because what I have seen is that the rich have gotten richer. A vast majority -- I think something like 90 percent -- of the wealth gains over the last seven years have gone to the top 10 percent of wage earners in America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But can you name an economist who thinks this makes sense?

CLINTON: Well, I'll tell you what, I'm not going to put my lot in with economists, because I know if we get it right, if we actually did it right, if we had a president who used all the tools of the presidency, we would design it in such a way that it would be implemented effectively.

Now, look, I have long-term plans too. I mean, it's a misnomer to say this is all that I'm doing. It's not. I have a comprehensive long-term energy plan that would go right at dependence on foreign oil. We've got to undermine this incredible addiction that we have. We use more foreign oil today than we did on 9/11. That is a disaster for America.

Also that we've got to move toward more alternative and renewable fuels, and get out gas mileage up. You know, increase those standards.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's one of the problems here. You've already spent, according to our research, the windfall profits tax on this strategic energy fund for renewable energies and alternative energies.

CLINTON: No, the tax subsidies -- the tax subsidies will go right into that.

I'm talking about something temporary this summer. My longer-term plan is, yes, to put an excess profits tax on the oil companies above a certain level of profit that would go in to help us make the transition.

But let's step back here a minute, George. You know, it's really odd to me that arguing to give relief to the vast majority of Americans creates this incredible pushback. When the federal government, through the Fed and the Treasury, gave $30 billion in a bailout to Bear Stearns, I didn't hear anybody jump up and say, "that's not going according to the market. That's rewarding irresponsible behavior."

We've got to get out of this mindset where somehow elite opinion is always on the side of doing things that really disadvantage the vast majority of Americans, and get back at looking hard at what we're going to do to stop the housing crisis.

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