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Hillary Clinton on Welfare & Poverty

Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY)


In the face of suffering, God calls on us to respond

Q: Many people here are concerned about Darfur and other humanitarian issues. Why do you think it is that a loving God allows innocent people to suffer?

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.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College , Apr 13, 2008

Make sure the economy works for everybody

I care deeply about what for me is a mission and it does infuse everything that I do and why I’m in public office and why before I was in public service, chairing the Legal Services Corporation so that people got free legal aid when they would otherwise be put out of the courthouse, standing up time and time again for health care and education for abused and neglected kids and kids in the foster care system. But I think that what we want to do is have a little reality check here, because how is it best to end poverty? We know we’ve got to maintain programs that are there to help people in need, but look at what’s happened over the space of the last seven years. The average African American family has lost $2,600 in income. Compare that to the prior 8 years, the typical African American family went up $7,600 during the 1990s. We know we’ve got to attack poverty by making sure the economy works for everybody. We have to lift up the idea of good jobs with good benefits, and we know what we need to do.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate , Jan 21, 2008

Partner with faith based community in empowerment zones

Q: What leadership would you take to ensure that young people and Latino and Black communities not only have access to capital but to ensure that economic development is more inclusive of black and brown youth?

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.

Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum , Dec 1, 2007

Considered idea of $5000 at birth to pay for future college

Giuliani incorrectly described a proposal by Clinton to boost Americans’ 401(k) plans. Giuliani said, “Remember the Hillary bond program? She’s going to give $5,000 to every child born in America. I challenged her on it. She has backed off that.”

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.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn MI , Oct 9, 2007

Time-out for mortgage companies on march toward foreclosure

Q: One in 12 Hispanics will lose their home because of the mortgage crisis. What’s the role of the federal government to play to ensure that the American dream is not lost?

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.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on Univision in Spanish , Sep 9, 2007

Wellesley thesis: Saul Alinsky & people over bureaucrats

Hillary began research on her senior thesis about Saul Alinsky. His philosophy was best summarized two years after she had completed her thesis when Alinsky published Rules for Radials. He wrote: In pursuing “revolution,” the advocate “asks of ends only whether they are achievable and worth the cost; of means only whether they will work.”

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.”

Source: A Woman in Charge, by Carl Bernstein, p. 57-58 , Jun 5, 2007

Hedge funds incentivize risk, but need regulation

Q: How is America a better place because of all these NYC-based burgeoning hedge funds?

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.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC , Apr 26, 2007

Welfare reform was critical step despite flaws

Bill & I, along with members of Congress who wanted productive reform, believed that people able to work should work. But we recognize that assistance & incentives were necessary to help people move permanently from welfare to employment & that successful reform would require large investment in education and training, subsidies for child care and transportation, transitional health care, tax incentives to encourage employers to hire welfare recipients, and tougher child support collection efforts.

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.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.366-368 , Nov 1, 2003

Lazio weakened housing standards and limited public housing

LAZIO [to Clinton]: In the House, I’ve been very active on housing issues, on helping the homeless, helping poor people with public housing. Do New Yorkers care about the homeless? I believe they do. The most sweeping reform in public-housing history was authored by me and signed into law.

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.

Source: (X-ref Lazio) NY Senate debate on NBC , Oct 28, 2000

Lazio fought against FHA on low-interest housing loans

CLINTON [to Lazio]: Not only is there a problem with the home builders and the safety standards, but the FHA was trying to increase the limits that would enable a person who wanted to be a homeowner to be able to borrow at low interest. And my opponent fought that. He did not want those limits raised and around the time of that fight he received significant contributions from the mortgage banking industry.

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?

Source: NY Senate debate on NBC , Oct 28, 2000

Equal access to capital and jobs

America faces a capital, educational & digital divide that needs to be bridged, especially to help minorities move forward in the 21st century. The lack of equal opportunity for access to capital and jobs is one of the unfinished pieces of business from the last century. We should support tax credits & incentives and government guaranteed loans to leverage billions in new private investment and reduce the initial risk for businesses that agree to hang out their shingles in areas of high unemployment.
Source: Paul Hirschkorn, CNN.com , Jan 12, 2000

Working should mean no poverty

No one who takes the responsibility to work hard every day should have to raise their family in poverty, Hillary says. That’s why she supports raising the minimum wage, and equal pay for equal work. She worked with former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin to increase microcredit programs, which make investment capital available to small businesses.
Source: www.hillary2000.org “About Hillary” , Jan 1, 2000

Community involvement helps, but only in short term

In Hillary’s Wellesley thesis, “Aspect of the War on Poverty,” she observed that, as the black community on Chicago’s South Side began to get organized, the white ethnics, who had already been activated, began to fight for the same poverty dollars. In reality, Hillary told her thesis adviser, people rise to positions of leadership within the poor community and then clash with one another. Her adviser characterizes her conclusions: “The bottom line of her thinking was that community action programs [a Kennedy Administration program] could have short-term effects, but to have any long-term impact on the core problems you needed to have structure, organization, and a middle class willing to get involved. She was able to take a liberal program and analyze it pragmatically to determine whether it worked.“
Source: Hillary’s Choice by Gail Sheehy, p. 67 , Dec 9, 1999

Don’t criminalize the homeless

Criminalizing the homeless whose only offense is that they have no home is wrong. Locking people up for a day will not take a single homeless person off the streets for good. It will not make a mentally ill person who should be in an institution any better. It will not help find a job for a responsible person who is willing to work.
Source: CNN.com’s “Talkback Live” , Dec 2, 1999

1969 thesis: Alinsky’s reforms too short term & local

In Hillary’s Wellesley thesis, she meticulously described and assessed the clinical impact of the poverty programs Saul Alinsky described as “an embarrassment to the American soul.” The poor were poor because they lacked power and must be locally, practically organized to acquire it, Alinsky said.

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

Source: Partners in Power, by Roger Morris, p.132-133 , Apr 25, 1999

Microcredit is an invaluable tool in alleviating poverty.

Microcredit is a macro idea. This is a big idea, an idea with vast potential. Whether we are talking about a rural area in South Asia or an inner-city in the US, microcredit is an invaluable tool in alleviating poverty. Microcredit projects can create a ripple effect- not only in lifting individuals out of poverty and moving mothers from welfare to work, but in creating jobs, promoting businesses and building capital in depressed areas.
Source: Remarks at Microcredit Summit in Washington D.C. , Feb 3, 1997

Link payments to good parenting behavior

I’ve advocated tying the welfare payment to certain behavior about being a good parent. You couldn’t get your welfare check if your child wasn’t immunized. You couldn’t get your welfare check if you didn’t participate in a parenting program. You couldn’t get your check if you didn’t show up for student-teacher conferences. I’m a big believer in linking opportunity and rights with responsibility and duties.
Source: Unique Voice, p.200 , Feb 3, 1997

1976: Founded first indigent legal aid in Fayetteville AR

Hillary made a plea for start-up funds for a Fayetteville legal-aid program. Addressing the all-male House of Delegates, she spoke against a popular, articulate lawyer who was opposed to the idea. She began with 90% of the delegate against her, but after ten minutes had 3/4 of the room won over to her side. Not just to her cause but to her. It was a double victory, for legal aid and for Hillary, for the exposure helped pave the way into the good graces of the legal establishment in the state's capital.
Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p. 92 , Aug 1, 1993

Won series of high school awards, but barred from athletics

She played softball. She loved team sports. In those pre-Title VII school days, though, there were no girls' athletics teams. Girls who wanted to excel outside of the academic arena were advised to get into the school clubs and student government. Which is just what she did.

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."

Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p. 24 , Aug 1, 1993

Finish welfare reform by moving able recipients into jobs.

Clinton adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

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.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC3 on Aug 1, 2000

Establish a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Clinton co-sponsored the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund Act

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.

Source: Bill sponsored by 22 Senators 03-S1411 on Jul 15, 2003

Tax credits to promote home ownership in distressed areas.

Clinton co-sponsored the Community Development Homeownership Tax Credit Act

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:

  1. in a census tract with a median gross income not exceeding 80 percent of the greater area or statewide median gross income;
  2. in a rural area;
  3. on an Indian reservation; or
  4. in an area of chronic economic distress.
Prohibits a buyer's income from exceeding 80 percent (70 percent for families of less than three) of the area gross median income and requires owner occupancy.
Source: Bill sponsored by 45 Senators 03-S875 on Apr 10, 2003

Fully fund AmeriCorps.

Clinton signed a letter from 43 Senators to the President

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.

Source: Letter from 43 Senators to the President 03-SEN5 on Jun 17, 2003

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Other candidates on Welfare & Poverty: Hillary Clinton on other issues:
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Pres.Barack Obama
V.P.Joe Biden
State:John Kerry
DHS:Janet Napolitano
DoD:Chuck Hagel
A.G.:Eric Holder
HHS:Kathleen Sebelius
USDA:Tom Vilsack

First Obama Administration:
State:Hillary Clinton
Staff:Rahm Emanuel
DOT:Ray LaHood
DOI:Ken Salazar
DOL:Hilda Solis

Former Bush Administration:
State:Colin Powell
State:Condi Rice
EPA:Christie Whitman

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V.P.Al Gore
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Page last updated: Mar 09, 2014