Hillary Clinton

The Next President: What Hillary Believes

On April 12, 2015, at age 68, Hillary Clinton launched her second campaign for the presidency. Now one year later, she leads the Democratic nomination race with 1,930 delegates, including superdelegates who support her (ahead of Bernie Sanders, with 1,191). It will take 2,383 delegates to win the nomination. If she wins election in November, Clinton would be the first female president of the United States.

Hillary Rodham graduated from Wellesley and earned a law degree at Yale in 1973. During the Watergate scandal in 1974, she was a member of the impeachment inquiry and was an advisor to the House Committee on the Judiciary. She married Bill Clinton in 1975 and became the First Lady of Arkansas when her husband was elected governor in 1978. When Bill Clinton won election to the presidency in 1993, he appointed his wife to chair the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. The task force proposed a comprehensive health care plan, but the plan failed to achieve a floor vote in either the House or the Senate and was scrapped in 1994. She was elected in New York to the U.S. Senate in 2000 and was re-elected in 2006. She ran for president in 2008, dropping out of the race after the primaries and endorsing Barack Obama. When Obama won the White House later that year, he chose her to be his Secretary of State, and she served in that office until February 2013.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in general agreement on the six focus issues that the next chapter is tracking. Their differences are mainly in details, emphasis and approach. While Sanders calls for a “political revolution” with a primary focus on income inequality, Clinton’s campaign lacks an overarching theme, her approach is more pragmatic, and she represents continuity and incremental progress rather than revolutionary change.

On immigration:

Do you favor immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship?

Clinton’s plan for immigration reform was described on her website (no longer online).  Clinton believes undocumented immigrants should be allowed a pathway to achieve citizenship. “If you work hard, if you love this country, if you contribute to it, and want nothing more than to build a good future for yourselves and your children, we should give you a way to come forward and become a citizen.”

Clinton would end the use of private facilities for the detention of unauthorized immigrants (discussed here an earlier post) and would pursue an immigration enforcement policy that is “humane, targeted, and effective,” focusing on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety.

Clinton has committed herself to “introducing comprehensive immigration reform and a path to legitimate citizenship within the first 100 days” of her presidency. Although she would “deport violent criminals, terrorists or anyone who threatens our safety,” she believes in “uniting families.”

In April, Clinton announced her plan to create an “Office of Immigrant Affairs.” The new office would “ensure there is a dedicated place in the White House where integration services for immigrants and refugees are managed.”

On health care:

Do you support the ACA and efforts to improve or expand it?

Clinton supports the Affordable Care Act. Her website (no longer online) described her plan to build on the ACA and expand access to affordable health care. She believes that the cost of purchasing health insurance should be reduced and that new incentives are needed to expand Medicaid at the state level. She would lower the cost of health care through lower copays and deductibles and reduced costs for prescription drugs. She promises to “work with interested governors, using current flexibility under the Affordable Care Act, to empower states to establish a public option choice.”

At the Democratic candidates’ debate in January, Clinton said that she did not want to see Republicans repealing the Affordable Care Act and she did not want “to see us start over again with a contentious debate.”

On the Iran Nuclear Deal:

Do you support the nuclear agreement with Iran?

Clinton has claimed credit for the international sanctions that put pressure on Iran and “brought them to the negotiating table.” On the other hand, she is concerned about Iranian aggression and has adopted a policy of “distrust and verify.” Although she supported the nuclear deal with Iran, she also has called for new sanctions:  “Iran is still violating UN Security Council resolutions with its ballistic missile program, which should be met with new sanctions designations and firm resolve.”

Clinton supports the Iran nuclear deal, but she does not see it as the beginning of a fundamentally different relationship with Iran.  As reported in The Atlantic, during the 2007 presidential campaign, Clinton supported a nuclear deal with Iran, but she was skeptical of thawing the cold war between the U.S. and Iran, a policy supported by candidate Obama, who “sensed that only if America thawed that cold war would nuclear diplomacy have a chance.”

On Climate Change:

Do you believe that human activity is largely responsible for climate change and do you favor regulation of emissions?

Clinton’s website (no longer online) refered to climate change as “an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time.” She calls for “making the United States the clean energy superpower of the 21st century” and “bringing greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below what they were in 2005 within the next decade.” Clinton believes that by the end of her first term, “more than half a billion solar panels” could be installed and that within ten years, renewable energy could power every home in the country.

Clinton proposes a “$60 billion Clean Energy Challenge,” working with state and local governments and to provide “the tools and resources they need to go beyond federal standards in cutting carbon pollution and expanding clean energy.”

In September, Clinton declared her opposition to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. “I oppose it because I don’t think…it’s in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change.” She said that the pipeline had become “a distraction from the work we have to do to combat climate change.”

The pipeline, proposed by TransCanada, a Canadian company, would transport 800,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta’s tar sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast in Texas, and production of oil from tar sands is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. In November, President Obama announced the administration’s rejection of Keystone XL. Although some environmentalists argued that blocking Keystone XL would slow the extraction of tar sand oil, the oil is still being transported by rail and other pipelines have expanded their capacity.

On the Minimum Wage:

Do you support increasing the federal minimum wage?

Clinton supports raising the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour. She has expressed support for political action at the local level for a higher minimum wage. At the debate in Brooklyn on April 14, she said that she supported efforts in Los Angeles, Seattle and New York to raise the local minimum wage to $15 per hour.

She has not always expressed that support when it counts, according to Kshama Sawant, who ran for Seattle City Council in 2013 and focused her campaign on raising the minimum wage there to $15 per hour. Sawant recently wrote that Clinton expressed no support for the “Fight for 15”campaign in Seattle at the time.

At the November 2015 debate in Iowa, Kathie Obradovich of The Des Moines Register quoted the President’s former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, Alan Krueger, as saying that raising federal minimum wage to $15 per hour “could lead to undesirable and unintended consequences.” Obradovich asked Senator Sanders what level of job loss he would consider unacceptable. Sanders did not directly answer the question, but he repeated his support for “living wage” of $15 per hour.

In her response to the question, Clinton said called Krueger “the foremost expert in our country on the minimum wage.” She said, accurately, that what Krueger said was that there were no “international comparisons” that might be used to assess the effect of a $15 per hour minimum wage on job growth. “That is why I support a $12 national federal minimum wage,” Clinton said, although she added that in some places, such as Seattle, New York City and Los Angeles, the minimum wage could be higher. Clinton’s position is consistent with Krueger’s analysis. In an opinion piece for the New York Times in October, he wrote “I am confident that a federal minimum wage that rises to around $12 an hour over the next five years or so would not have a meaningful negative effect on United States employment.” A $15 per hour nationwide minimum wage, however, “could well be counterproductive” and is “a risk not worth taking.”

On campaign finance

Do you support campaign finance reform?

Clinton supports campaign finance reform. Clinton’s website details her ideas for campaign finance reform.

In a January op-ed piece for CNN, Clinton linked the issue of campaign finance reform with the need to protect voting rights. Clinton pointed to the need to “reclaim our democracy” by reforming the campaign finance system and restoring access to the ballot box. She noted that since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, twenty-one states have enacted laws restricting voting rights. She called for greater transparency in campaign financing and promised to “fight for legislation requiring the disclosure of all significant political donations.”

[Photo credit: State Department photo/ Public Domain]

[Update 2/4/17: Hillary Clinton’s campaign website is no longer online.]

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