Hillary Clinton on Welfare & Poverty
Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY)
A: You know, that is the subject of generations of commentary and debate. But what that means to me is that in the face of suffering, there is no doubt in my mind that God calls us to respond. For whatever reason it exists, it’s very existence is a call to action. You know, in my Judeo-Christian faith tradition, in both the Old and the New Testament, the incredible demands that God places on us and that the prophets ask of us, and that Christ called us to respond to on behalf of the poor, are unavoidable. Maybe the lord is just waiting for us to respond to his call, because this despair is what we ar expected to be spending our time responding to, and so few of us do. We are just not doing enough. And it’s a personal call; it’s a family community, religious call; and it’s a governmental call. And we’ve got to do more to respond to that call.
A: In New York City we have seen the transformation of Harlem from a combination of government action creating an empowerment zone, the private sector coming in to take advantage of that and an explosion of entrepreneurial dynamism. We’ve also seen the faith based community like Abyssinians & others that have been partners with it and of course we’ve seen a lot of hip hop participants and leaders taking advantage of that. So we need this partnership. We need this partnership between the public and private sector and the not-for-profit and faith-based sector. And we need to make sure that young people have a particular stake in what we are going to present. That’s what I’ve worked on in NYC and in upstate NY and I intend to put that to work when I’m president.
It is an exaggeration to say Clinton was going to “give $5,000 to every child.” She never formally proposed such a plan, though she did flirt with the idea for a few days. According to several news reports, Clinton told the Congressional Black Caucus on Sept. 28, “I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that down payment on their first home.” A campaign spokesman said that Clinton’s comment was not a policy proposal “but an idea under consideration.” She told the Wall Street Journal this month that she wouldn’t propose the idea.
A: Well, this is a serious problem for all Americans, but it’s particularly serious for Hispanics, because unfortunately about 40% of Hispanic homeowners have subprime mortgages. And given what’s happening in the market, if the federal government does not step in and take steps to prevent foreclosure, millions of Americans will lose their homes. So I think we have to do several things. We’ve got to have some intervention by the federal government. But [in the meantime] we’ve got to get a time-out, we’ve got to try to persuade the mortgage companies and the banks to slow down their march toward foreclosure, give people a chance to renegotiate their loans. Maybe they can rent instead of own. But we must move, because otherwise, we’ll see millions of people out on the street, and we’ve got to stop that.
Hillary’s work and interviews led her to conclude she had been too idealistic and simplistic in her expectations and that the programs would not make a lasting difference unless large infusions of outside funding and expertise, particularly by the federal government, were utilized.
When in the White House, Hillary said, “I argued that Alinsky was right. Even at that early stage I was against all these people who came up with these big government programs that were more supportive of bureaucracies than actually helpful to people.”
A: America is a great place because we have an entrepreneurial economy. We have people who are willing to invest their money in new enterprises. And one of the other reasons we’re a great country is because we’ve learned over the years how to regulate that, so nobody gets an unfair advantage--we have a framework within which our free market system operates. It’s exciting to represent both New York City, the global capital market leader, and yet I also represent a big state where there are a lot of poor people and people who have no access to health care or affordable college. They’re worried about their futures. We’ve got to get back to having a Democratic president who will set the rules, so that we can continue to build our economy, we can inspire and incentivize people to take those risks, but we begin to repair the damage that has been done by this president and Republican Congress.
The third bill passed by Congress had the support of the majority of the Democrats in the House & Senate. It contained more financial support for moving people to work, offered new money for child care and restored the federal guarantees of food stamps & medical benefits.
The President eventually signed this third bill into law. Even with its flaws, it was a critical first step to reforming our nation's welfare system. I agreed that he should sign it and worked hard to round up votes for its passage.
CLINTON: He fought to weaken the safety standards for manufactured housing and in-home building.
LAZIO: There’s been nobody else in the House who’s stood up for poor people and to provide them with good- quality housing. I’ve been there for the homeless, I’ve been there to provide housing for people with AIDS. I’ve been there for people who rely on Section 8. I’m boosting homeownership for our young families.
CLINTON: In fact, I’ll be meeting with a group of public-housing tenants this evening because what their memory of that fight was, Mr. Lazio, is that you were trying to remove the caps from the limits that would in some way prohibit a lot of people from being able to have the public housing.
LAZIO: Do you understand that the standards that you’re talking about were endorsed by the administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development? Do you understand that?
CLINTON: Do you understand that the standards I’m talking about, that you were trying to weaken, were said by the AARP that they would have put people in danger?
Hillary Rodham judged Alinsky and his methods only marginal at best. “Organizing the poor community to improve their own lives may have, in certain circumstances, short-term benefits for the poor but would never solve their major problems. You need much more than that. You need leadership, programs, constitutional doctrines.“
Hers would in some respects be a sound verdict on the era that followed, when Alinsky & his disciples around the nation won hundreds of small battles for the poor and disenfranchised, only to see poverty and disenfranchisement grow as never before.
Her graders gave her As on the thesis. Her advisor thought her , like himself, a ”pragmatic liberal“ in the spirit of the 1960s
Hillary became a senior leader--a sort of assistant teacher--in her last year of high school. She was also chairman of the organization committee, a thankless and somewhat frustrating job that made her responsible for gettin up in front of the 2,700-student body and running the school assemblies. She was vice-president of her junior class and a member of the national honor society. She graduated in the top five percent of her class. She was the girl voted most likely to succeed by her senior class. (The boy in her class voted most likely to succeed died of a drug overdose four years later.) At her graduation, she won so many awards that, Dorothy Rodham told People, "it was embarrassing."
Help Working Families Lift Themselves from Poverty
In the 1990s, Americans resolved to end welfare dependency and forge a new social compact on the basis of work and reciprocal responsibility. The results so far are encouraging: The welfare rolls have been cut by more than half since 1992 without the social calamities predicted by defenders of the old welfare entitlement. People are more likely than ever to leave welfare for work, and even those still on welfare are four times more likely to be working. But the job of welfare reform will not be done until we help all who can
work to find and keep jobs -- including absent fathers who must be held responsible for supporting their children.
In the next decade, progressives should embrace an even more ambitious social goal -- helping every working family lift itself from poverty. Our new social compact must reinforce work, responsibility, and family. By expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, increasing the supply of affordable child care, reforming tax policies that hurt working families, making sure absent parents live up to their financial obligations, promoting access to home ownership and other wealth-building assets, and refocusing other social policies on the new goal of rewarding work, we can create a new progressive guarantee: No American family with a full-time worker will live in poverty.
Establishes the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund in the Treasury to promote the development of affordable low-income housing through grants to States and local jurisdictions.
Amends the Internal Revenue Code to permit a community homeownership tax credit based upon an applicable percentage of each qualified residence's eligible basis. Makes such credit available to residences (including factory built homes) located:
To: President George W. Bush
Dear President Bush:
We write to express our strong support for AmeriCorps and recognize the leadership you have shown on this issue over the years. We know you agree that AmeriCorps is an outstanding program which has proven successful in addressing our homeland security needs, leveraging volunteers, and improving the quality of services available to a broad range of Americans.
Unfortunately, as you know, the Corporation for National Service officially announced yesterday unprecedented and drastic funding cuts, from 50 to 95 percent in every state. These cuts mean that under the State Competitive funding stream the Corporation will only fund 2,036 volunteers, compared with 11,236 last year. Many states will see their volunteer allocations under the competitive stream drop by as much as 90 percent and 16 states are shut out completely.
In your 2002 State of the Union address, you called for every American to dedicate 4,000 hours to community service throughout their lives. In your 2004 budget request, you proposed increasing the number of AmeriCorps volunteers from 50,000 to 75,000. Unfortunately, due to serious errors made by the Corporation, fewer than half this number of Americans will be allowed to serve their country through service.
We should support, not oppose, efforts to encourage more Americans to enter public service. We should do everything in our power to reward the American men and women who have chosen to serve the country and their communities in the hope of meeting the nation's critical education, safety, health, and homeland security needs.
We urge you to request additional funding in the supplemental appropriations bill to ensure that AmeriCorps remains a strong and vital program today and in the future.
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