“ … I have this old-fashioned idea: If you’re running for president, you should say what you want to do and how you will get it done.” – Hillary Clinton, 27 June 2016
I mentioned in an earlier post that it is time to start taking a closer look at Hillary Clinton, where she stands on the important issues that we must deal with as a nation, how she could improve her campaign strategy, what she actually says and does. Too much time has been wasted by the media and by Clinton herself recounting and rebutting the lies and accusations hurled by the other side. It is well past time to settle down and see what Clinton actually stands for, who she really is. I found detailed analysis for 38 issues on Ms. Clinton’s website, and I will start looking at some of those today. Below is the list of 38:
- A fair tax system
- Combating terrorism and keeping the homeland safe
- K-12 system
- Racial justice
- Addiction and substance abuse
- Criminal justice reform
- Labor and worker rights
- Rural communities
- An economy that works for everyone
- Disability rights
- LGBT rights and equality
- Small business
- Early childhood education
- Making college debt-free and taking on student debt
- Social Security and Medicare
- An end to Alzheimer’s disease
- Fixing America’s infrastructure
- Technology and innovation
- Gun violence prevention
- Mental health
- Veterans, the armed forces, and their families
- Voting rights
- Campaign finance reform
- HIV and AIDS
- Military and defense
- Wall Street reform
- Campus sexual assault
- Immigration reform
- National security
- Women’s rights and opportunity
- Climate change
- Jobs and wages
- Paid family and medical leave
- Workforce skills and job training
- Protecting animals and wildlife
The reality is that no president in history has ever been able to keep every promise, to achieve every goal. For the most part, the president will always have to rely on Congress to support his/her policies, and more often than not, compromise is the key word. PolitiFact ranks the promises made by President Obama and finds that he has kept 45% of his promises, compromised on another 25%, broken 22%, 2% are stalled, and 6% remain in progress. Given the contentious Congress he has had to contend with, this really isn’t too bad. It is an interesting analysis, and I recommend following the above link and checking out the details.
Since this is Labor Day weekend in the U.S., it seems appropriate to begin with #7 on the list, ‘labor and worker’s rights’:
“I’ve always believed that when unions are strong, families are strong and America is strong. That is not a slogan for me. That is a statement of fact. You created the strongest middle class in the history of the world. You led the fight for affordable health care more than half a century ago. And today, you’re leading the fight to raise the minimum wage, which will lift 35 million working Americans out of poverty.”
-Hillary Clinton, 2 March 2016
Ms. Clinton has a nine-point plan to implement her policy:
- Invest in good-paying jobs. In her first 100 days as president, Hillary will work with both parties to make bold investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, research and technology, clean energy, and small businesses. This will create millions of good-paying jobs, including for labor and other hard-working Americans across the country.
- Restore collective bargaining rights for unions and defend against partisan attacks on workers’ rights. Hillary was an original co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act. Hillary will fight to strengthen the labor movement and to protect worker bargaining power. She will continue to stand up against attacks on collective bargaining and work to strengthen workers’ voices.
- Prevent countries like China from abusing global trade rules, and reject trade agreements, like the TPP, that don’t meet high standards. Hillary will strengthen American trade enforcement so we stand up to foreign countries that aren’t playing by the rules—like China is doing right now with steel, and fight for American workers. She will say no to trade deals, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that do not meet her high standard of raising wages, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing our national security.
- Raise the minimum wage and strengthen overtime rules. Hillary will work to raise the federal minimum wage to $12, and support state and local efforts to go even higher—including the “Fight for $15.” She also supports the Obama administration’s expansion of overtime rules to millions more workers.
- Invest in high-quality training, apprenticeships, and skill building for workers. (Read the factsheet)
- Encourage companies to invest in workers. Hillary will reward companies that share profits and invest in their workers. She will crack down on companies that move profits overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes and she will make companies that export jobs give back the tax breaks they’ve received in America.
- Protect workers from exploitation, including employer misclassification, wage theft, and other forms of exploitation.
- Ensure policies meet the challenges families face in the 21st century economy. Hillary will fight for equal pay for women and guarantee paid leave, two changes that are long overdue. And she will provide relief from the rising costs of necessities like child care and housing.
- Protect retirement security. After working hard for decades, Americans deserve a secure and comfortable retirement. Hillary will fight to protect retirement security, enhance—not privatize—Social Security, and push back against any efforts to undermine retirement benefits.
Any one of these nine points could be an entire post in itself, and perhaps rightly should be, but with just over two months until the election, time simply does not permit such an in-depth analysis. But let us step back and consider a few of her points. Most of the nine points should not generate much argument nor disagreement along partisan lines. For example, “protect retirement security”. I cannot imagine anybody who would argue against that, Republican or Democrat. They may argue about how best to accomplish that goal, but not the goal itself. However, “raising the minimum wage” seems to lead to a great deal of ‘discussion’ and there are strong feelings on both sides of this issue.
The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, or $290 per week, $15,080 per annum, before income taxes! Think about that one for a minute. My Social Security check is larger than that! And I am not supporting a family. The federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009, seven years ago. Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased by 10.7%. I could go into the economic analysis and explain how this effectively lowers the spending power of the $7.25 minimum wage to $6.47 an hour, but the bottom line is that a family trying to survive on a single, minimum-wage income is 36.8% below the federal poverty line of $23,850!
While looking at the figures above may make it seem that raising the federal minimum wage rate is a no-brainer, opponents say that many businesses cannot afford to pay their workers more, and will be forced to close, lay off workers, or reduce hiring. It is a hotly-debated issue, primarily between big business interests and the working class. My take? Currently, government subsidies such as food stamps, housing subsidies and cash payments are making up the difference so that those same big businesses who claim they cannot afford to pay their workers more can continue to enjoy large profits and pay their top executives multi-million dollar salaries. Businesses are the ones who benefit from the labour of their workers, yet we, the taxpayers through government subsidies are paying a substantial portion of that which is necessary to keep their workers solvent. Think about that for a minute.
Well, I certainly did not cover as much ground as I had hoped with this post, but I think it is important to look closely at the issues and consider the plans that Ms. Clinton has, so I will continue to do so in the weeks ahead. My wish is that the mainstream media would do more of the same, and also that the upcoming debates will give her an opportunity to put forth her ideas for the public to hear. I will not likely write exclusively about Ms. Clinton and her 38-part platform, as there are other things going on in the world, but my plan is to continue with this discussion at least one out of every three posts. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on these topics … I always welcome feedback!