Hillary Clinton: A Lifetime Champion of Income Opportunity

“With all due respect, it is not rich people who made America great. It is the vast American middle class. It is the upward mobility of people who thought they could do better than their parents.” –Hillary Clinton

BACKGROUND: Hillary Clinton has dedicated her life to ensuring that all hardworking Americans have the chance to succeed, no matter their circumstances. Leading the charge for equal pay for equal work, expanding access to early childhood education and healthcare, working to raise the minimum wage, and advocating for out-of-work Americans, Hillary’s record reflects the belief that every American should have the right to achieve economic security and income opportunity.

  • Hillary Clinton’s record proves she believes that every American should be able to earn an equal day’s pay for an equal day’s work. As a Senator, Hillary Clinton introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act and was an original cosponsor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
  • In the Senate, Hillary Clinton supported increasing the minimum wage and voted repeatedly to protect and increase it. She was an original cosponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, and authored the 2006 and 2007 Standing with Minimum Wage Act to tie Congressional salary increases to an increase in the minimum wage.
  • As a Senator, Hillary Clinton supported progressive tax policies that required millionaires to pay their fair share. She opposed the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, and she supported a variety of middle-class tax cuts, including tax credits for student loan recipients, and keeping in place the tax cuts for those who make under $250,000 a year.
    • Clinton has said “that inherited wealth and concentrated wealth is not good for America,” and she has consistently voted against repealing the estate tax on millionaires, doing so in 2001, 2002, and 2006.
  • Hillary Clinton supported working families going through difficult times through no fault of their own. In the Senate, she was a bipartisan leader on fighting to extend emergency unemployment benefits.
  • Hillary Clinton knows that tomorrow’s shared success starts with today’s child, and her dedication to children began long before she ever entered public office. In fact, her first job out of law school was for the newly-formed Children’s Defense Fund, an organization she would later chair.
  • Hillary Clinton has worked to increase health coverage for millions of children in low-income and working families through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, a program she helped created as First Lady. In the Senate, Hillary Clinton looked for ways to strengthen the program, introducing bills to allow states to expand it.
  • Hillary Clinton has worked to expand access to early childhood education for children of lower-income families. As First Lady of Arkansas, Hillary Clinton introduced her husband to the HIPPY program, which expanded early childhood education to economically disadvantaged children. In the Senate, Clinton partnered with Kit Bond in an effort to expand voluntary full-day pre-K for children from low-income families.
    • Today, as part of the Too Small to Fail Initiative to improve the health and well-being of children five and under, Hillary Clinton is working to close the “word gap” for kids in low-income families who often have smaller vocabularies than their classmates.

BOTTOM LINE: The lack of income opportunity is hurting working families across the country and poses a threat to the American ideal that if you work hard and play by the rules, you should have the opportunity to succeed. Hillary Clinton’s record reflects the belief that your ability to get ahead should be determined by your hard work, ambition, and goals – not by your circumstances.

 

HILLARY CLINTON’S RECENT STATEMENTS ON INCOME OPPORTUNITY

In her many public appearances over the past year, Hillary Clinton has continued to advocate for creating income opportunity for the middle class by sharing her vision all over the country:

  • Hillary Clinton’s economic platform “will focus on expanding middle class opportunity in ‘a way that lifts everybody up.’” According to the Washington Post, “In between the buzz-words were planks of Clinton’s forthcoming economic platform, which will focus on expanding middle class opportunity in ‘a way that lifts everybody up,’ as she said Monday.” [Washington Post, 3/23/15]
  • In a speech at the Center for American Progress, Hillary Clinton tackled “economic inequality in American cities.” According to MSNBC, “Hillary Clinton used one of her final events before an imminent presidential campaign launch to tackle economic inequality in American cities… ‘A lot of our cities really are divided,’ Clinton said on an urban policy policy at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., which was also sponsored by the labor union AFSCME. ‘They have a lot of inequality that has only gotten worse. They have some of the most dynamic, well-educated, most affluent people in the world. And people who are trapped in generational poverty and whose skills are not keeping up with what the jobs of today and tomorrow demand.’” [MSNBC, 3/13/15]
  • At the Center for American Progress, Hillary Clinton said that “we need to come up with innovative solutions to help cities solve problems and serve as ‘engines of prosperity.’” According to the Hill, Clinton “heralded programs from the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative that seek to address inequality, and said the public and private spheres need to come up with innovative solutions to help cities solve problems and serve as ‘engines of prosperity.’” [The Hill, 3/23/15]
  • Hillary Clinton told a forum that we should help cities “do more to generate jobs, improve infrastructure and address the challenges of inequality.” According to USA Today, “Clinton told a forum in Washington that modern cities are ‘driving economic prosperity’ and that government and the private sector should help them do more to generate jobs, improve infrastructure and address the challenges of inequality.” [USA Today, 3/23/15]
  • Hillary Clinton’s policy remarks at a Center for American Progress event “focused on inequality and jobs.” According to Bloomberg, “Clinton’s policy comments were focused on inequality and jobs… ’One of the biggest issues we face is income inequality combined with wage stagnation,’ she said. ‘A lot of our cities truly are divided. They have a lot of inequality that has only gotten worse.’” [Bloomberg, 3/23/15]
  • In a speech to a women-focused event for Democrat Tom Wolf, “Clinton focused on ‘hard-working families’ and restoring America’s luster and a strong middle class with ‘a fresh start.’” According to Politico, Clinton “gave one of her strongest political speeches since her 2008 campaign ended in June 2008 as she headlined a women-focused event for Democratic gubernatorial Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania. Clinton focused on ‘hard-working families’ and restoring America’s luster and a strong middle class with ‘a fresh start,’ as well as women’s pay equity and her gauzy first days as a new grandmother. For the first time in months, Clinton’s public talk was neither a dry recitation of public policy nor a self-reflection about her tenure as secretary of state.” [Politico, 10/9/14]
  • Clinton’s language at a women-focused event for Democrat Tom Wolf was “some of her strongest about rebuilding the middle class.” According to Politico, “The remarks were some of her strongest about rebuilding the middle class. They came after she was accused of being out of touch for her comment in June about being ‘dead broke’ when she left the White House, and for giving paid speeches at exorbitant prices.” [Politico, 10/9/14]
  • The theme of Clinton’s speech at an event for Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf was working families. According to BuzzFeed, “The thread running through Clinton’s message here in Pennsylvania, the state she won six years ago in a primary against Barack Obama, was working families — a theme she teased repeatedly throughout her speech with populist undertones, mentions of her granddaughter, and stories about her own trips as a child to Scranton, where Clinton’s father, Hugh, was born to a working-class immigrant family.” [BuzzFeed, 9/9/14]
  • In Pennsylvania, Clinton criticized the power of corporations, siding with middle-class families. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Though she and her husband have raised more than $1 billionfrom U.S. companies and corporate officials over the last two decades Clinton signaled that she sided with everyday families struggling to pay bills and keep afloat. Corporations, she said, ‘seem to have all the rights, but none of the responsibilities of people …’ She decried practices that pay women less than men for the same work and took aim at politicians who’ve belittled women’s rights. ‘A 20th century economy will not work for 21st century families,’ she said.” [Wall Street Journal, 9/9/14]
  • Hillary Clinton’s speeches are revealing a theme that she would fight to restore and re-open the middle class. According to TPM, “The notion of ‘upward mobility’ was central to Clinton’s message to the New American audience in May. She described it as ‘time-tested wisdom’ that was ‘at the heart of what I believe is the basic bargain of America.’… Here is how Clinton described that basic bargain of America, as she sees it, in May: ‘No matter who you are or where you come from, if you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll have the opportunity to build a good life for yourself and your family.’” [TPM, 9/22/14]
  • Hillary Clinton’s speeches are revealing a theme that she can address income inequality and gender inequality. According to TPM, “So income inequality has been a big part of the message. But it’s also been married to inequality between the sexes. At both the New American and CAP events, the same factoid made an appearance: That three-quarters of jobs that rely on tips — like ‘waiters, bartenders and hairstylists’ as she said on both occasions — are held by women…. And she said Thursday that these issues should be used to mobilize voters — in the 2014 midterms and moving forward.” [TPM, 9/22/14]
  • In recent speeches, Clinton has taken a tougher stance on big business, likely in “an effort to find the balance between populism and her familiar centrism” she may need in 2016, according to Reuters. According to Reuters, “Long viewed as an ally by Wall Street, likely 2016 presidential contender Hillary Clinton has increasingly been taking banks and big business to task while on the campaign trail for Democrats across the country.… This is a change of tone for the former New York senator, who faced criticism for her Wall Street ties as recently as September, after appearing with Goldman Sachs (GS.N) chief executive Lloyd Blankfein. Allies and analysts see it as an effort to find the balance between populism and her familiar centrism that Clinton may need in order to broaden her appeal in a potential 2016 Democratic primary contest.” [Reuters, 11/2/14]
  • During a New Hampshire midterm event, Clinton discussed expanding economic opportunity and raising the minimum wage. According to the Boston Globe, “Clinton spoke in New Hampshire about expanding economic opportunity, raising the minimum wage, and protecting women’s rights. She acknowledged that, across the country, there is ‘a lot of anxiety and insecurity.’ But the former secretary of state and US senator from New York struck a hopeful note: She bookended her remarks talking about her new granddaughter and said seeing another generation in the family focuses the mind on what’s important. Clinton said she and her husband were raised to believe the American Dream was within your reach if you worked hard. ‘You should not,’ Clinton told a packed gymnasium, ‘have to be the grandchild of a governor or a senator or a former secretary of state or a former president to believe that the American Dream is in your reach.’” [Boston Globe, 11/2/14]
  • In midterm campaign appearances, Clinton has been echoing populist notes. According to Bloomberg, Clinton “has been sounding more populist notes of late as a campaign-trail advocate for Democratic candidates who are on the ballot next week. That’s an important turn as she contemplates a run for president in 2016 because Clinton’s biggest weakness among Democrats, and some Republicans, is the perception that she’s too close to Wall Street and corporate America…. And the more anti-corporate tone is pleasing to the ears of liberals who have pined for Senator Elizabeth Warren, a scourge of Wall Street banks, to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination. And, they say, it’s a message Clinton can use against Republicans because many in the GOP have turned wary of Wall Street and big corporations since the 2008 financial crash.” [Bloomberg, 10/27/14]
  • During a midterm appearance in New York, Clinton clarified earlier comments about companies and job creation, while maintaining the same theme: “Clinton’s for the little guy.” According to Bloomberg, “Days after Republicans feasted on her claim that corporations don’t create jobs, Hillary Clinton tried Monday to ‘be absolutely clear about what I’ve been saying for a couple of decades.’ ‘So-called trickle-down economics has failed,’ Clinton said as she stumped for Representative Sean Patrick Maloney in New York. ‘Our economy grows when businesses and entrepreneurs create good-paying jobs here in an America where workers and families are empowered to build from the bottom up and the middle out–not when we hand out tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs or stash their profits overseas.’ While campaigning Friday for Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley, Clinton created a stir–and drew criticism from Republicans–by saying, ‘Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.’…The cleaned-up message, though, hits at the same theme: Clinton’s for the little guy.” [Bloomberg, 10/27/14]
  • While campaigning for Democrats in the midterm election, Clinton frequently tells voters that “everyone deserves a second chance, a third chance.” According to a CNN, an investigation into Clinton’s most common lines on the trail found that Clinton frequently tells voters, “‘Everyone deserves a second chance, a third chance…’ Clinton has focused a great deal on economic populism on the stump, an issue other Democrats thinking about seeking the presidency in 2016 have started to tweak Clinton on. ‘Everyone deserves a second chance, a third chance to keep going and to make something of themselves,’ Clinton said in Iowa earlier this year. ‘That was one of the most important lessons of my life.’ Clinton usually uses the line to encourage compassion from a crowd, and to show that she has compassion, too.” [CNN, 10/28/14]
  • In a San Francisco speech, Clinton revealed some of what may be her economic message: “Who’s on your side?” According to the Washington Post, “Here in San Francisco on Monday, Clinton gave a spirited call to arms to Democrats as she road-tested what is likely to be her economic message if she runs again. The November midterms, she said, come down ‘to a simple question: Who’s on your side?’ She sounded close to her party’s populist marrow when she decried the erosion of economic security for many working Americans, and a long way from her tone-deaf remark earlier this year about being ‘dead broke’ when she and Bill Clinton left the White House in 2000. ‘It’s time to elect leaders who will fight for everyone to get a fair shot at the American dream,’ Hillary Clinton said.” [Washington Post, 10/21/14]
  • Hillary Clinton’s speeches are revealing a theme that she could finish the economic recovery begun by Obama. According to TPM, “Clinton seems to have a handle of the line she wants to toe: Obama saved us from worse economic struggles (as his defenders have been saying for years), but the work isn’t over. Implicit, of course, is that she — if she runs — would finish the job. ‘We haven’t seen a full recovery from the economic crash,’ Clinton said Thursday at CAP. ‘When the president came in, he deserves an enormous amount of credit for staunching the bleeding and preventing a further deterioration and getting us out of that ditch we were in. But we know unless we change our policies, a lot of the benefits are not going to be broadly shared.’ ‘It’s not just about more jobs for more people and better paying jobs,’ she said. ‘It’s making sure that the people themselves get to keep those benefits and build that future back that they are so desperate to see for themselves.’” [TPM, 9/22/14]
  • In an interview with PBS, Hillary said: “Bill and I have had terrific opportunities, both of us…have worked hard, but we’ve been grateful for everything that we’ve been able to achieve, and sadly that’s just not true for most Americans today…It’s important that we all try to figure out what we’re going to do, and that’s what I’ve done my entire life, fighting for a higher minimum wage, or family leave…equal pay for equal work…I think my record speaks for itself.”
  • At a speech at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Hillary said: “At the end of the day, we’re all on the same team. We’re on the American team. And we’ve got to do a better job of getting our economy growing again and producing results and renewing the American Dream so that Americans feel that they have a stake in the future and that the economy and the political system is not stacked against them, because that will erode the trust that is at the basis of our democracy.”

 

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