Clinton Presents Economic Plan

CQ Transcripts
Thursday, March 27, 2008; 1:27 PM


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y. : I want to thank Dr. Stephen Scott and the entire faculty and staff, and especially the students here at Wake Tech.

(APPLAUSE) I have so many friends of many years and new friends here today.

I want to recognize Ambassador Jeanette Hyde, who served with real distinction when my husband was president, and so many others, elected officials, and especially those of you who are here at Wake Tech Community College, because I wanted to come to a community college in North Carolina as the very first stop in the primary campaign, because I'll be criss-crossing this state.

And what a perfect time to do it, not only in the middle of spring, as it begins, but in the middle of March Madness. So I'm going to be all over the state.


But I wanted to be here for a somewhat more serious reason, and that is because I have long admired the work that has been done here over a number of years at the state and the local level to enhance education, to create more opportunities. And students here at Wake Tech are getting so much of the benefits of that kind of investment that North Carolina has made over the course of that time. And it really does pay off.

So I wanted both to salute and celebrate institutions like Wake Tech, commitments by counties and cities and the state of North Carolina, but to put it into a context of what we need to do now.

You know, I have been running this campaign for president talking about very specific solutions to the problems we face.

Now, there are those who will say, "Well, you know, why does she keep talking about policy? Why does she talk about all of these specific changes she would like to make?"

Well, the answer is simple: I want you to know what I would do if I were so fortunate as to be your president, and I want the American people to hold me accountable.

We need to rebuild accountability and trust between our people and our president. And we need to know...


We need to know what it is we're voting for, what it is we will get. Because this is one of the most important elections that our country has had in a very long time.

CLINTON: The stakes are huge, the challenges are serious, but the opportunities are unlimited.

We just have to start acting like Americans again and roll up our sleeves...


... and get to work and start solving these problems we face, because so many of you are doing your part.

You know, we have students here who are studying, who are young people, ready to embark on your first career. We have parents attending classes at night, working to improve their job prospects and careers or to start new ones.

I met a woman as I came in earlier, Suzanne Mistrick (ph). She's a married mom of two. She always wanted to go to college. Well, now she is studying Web technology and graphic design. And that's exactly what Wake Tech is supposed to do.


This campus is a place that helps people who have struggled to find work in a changing economy. I know that North Carolina has lost a lot of jobs. But I also know that you've worked hard to equip people with the skills needed to try to get new jobs.

And this school and its spirit really represent what's best about our country. We embrace challenges; we don't turn away from them. We look clear-eyed at reality and say, "What are we going to do to change it?"

We embrace hard work. The American people are the hardest workers in the world. Don't let anybody tell you any different. Our American workers work harder and are more productive than anyone. And yet, for too many here in North Carolina and elsewhere, that hard work doesn't seem to be paying off.

You know, we embrace the future; we don't fear it. America has always been about making tomorrow better than today, and that's what it has to be about again.

We've been stalled, I would say, for at least seven years...

(LAUGHTER) ... and we need to get back into gear and move forward together.


You know, years ago when I first got involved in politics, I heard that old saying that running for office is like driving a car: If you want to go forward, you put it in D; if you want to go backwards, you put it in R.



So, we have to get back to our values, reach deep inside. Kind of like, you know, there's 30 seconds left, there's 20 seconds left, there's 10 seconds left, and the team that wins is the one that reaches down deep -- right? -- and finds that source of inner strength.

CLINTON: That's what we have to do as Americans.

Our economy is struggling right now, but I think it's important to keep in sight all that is right about America. And I'm looking at it right here.

We can achieve incredible things when we ask that of ourselves and when we work hard together.

You know, in fact, coming to North Carolina, as I was thinking about this, reminded me of one particular moment in our history that I've talked about before and I've always thought was so emblematic.

You know, a little more than a century ago, two brothers, the co- owners of a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, set out to find a remote spot with a steady breeze and soft ground to test their design for a small aircraft just big enough to carry a single person.

Now, after a search, they found the beaches of North Carolina at Kitty Hawk.


And over the next several years, armed with high school educations, extraordinary talent, and a willingness to explore even the dumbest of ideas...


... these two pioneers, the Wright brothers, set about successfully flying the first airplane and changing the course of history.

Now, it wasn't easy. It took painstaking work to design, build and test model after model. It took persistence, even in the face of difficult odds.

And sadly, but perhaps predictably, some of their brave predecessors who invented and flew previous, more primitive models did not survive to share their knowledge.

But in the end, after countless designs and test flights, the Wright brothers succeeded.

I begin with this story because I think there's such a valuable lesson for us right now in 2008.

CLINTON: In our history, we have never let challenges stop us. We have always used our ingenuity, our entrepreneurial spirit, the dynamism of our economy, and we have gone forward.

The lesson of the Wright brothers is that Americans can overcome any obstacle, including wrong-headed government policies, like, for example, tax breaks for oil companies already reaping record-setting profits, giveaways for drug companies who don't have to negotiate with Medicare for lower prices, incentives in our tax code for companies to ship jobs overseas, no-bid contracts for companies like Halliburton, tax cuts for billionaires, free rides for predatory lenders, and a blind eye to firms on Wall Street at the expense of homeowners on Main Street.

And who pays the price for these wrong-headed policies? Well, hard-working middle-class Americans pay the price.

You pay the price when your job is shipped overseas and a business pockets a tax advantage. You pay a price when the jobs replacing the ones that were lost offer lower pay and fewer benefits. You pay the price as we watch the shrinking of jobs that used to support families so that now so many people are working two, even three jobs to try to make up what they have lost.

For example, in North Carolina, jobs in the industries that are growing pay about 11 percent less than jobs in the industries that are shrinking.

You pay the price when you can't afford your health care bills or the college tuition or the mortgage payments, when you have to drain your wallet to fill up your gas tank.

Average gas prices are about $3.25 in Raleigh. That's up more than 75 cents from a year ago.

And our children pay the price because our government is borrowing billions and billions of dollars from countries like China to pay for these special-interest giveaways, to pay for the war in Iraq, to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans, instead of making the investments today in infrastructure, manufacturing, education, job training and innovation that will supply the new jobs of tomorrow.

You know, the Bush economy is like a trap door: Too many people are one pink slip away, one missed mortgage payment away, one medical diagnosis away from falling through and losing everything.

CLINTON: The oil companies, the predatory student loan companies, the insurance companies and the drug companies have had seven years of a president who stands up for them. I will be a president who stands up for all of you.


And it is past time that we set our priorities straight and level the playing field for the middle class and against the corporate special interests. It's time for a president who is ready on day one to be the commander in chief of our economy.

You know, sometimes...


... sometimes the phone rings at 3:00 a.m. in the White House and it's an economic crisis, and we need a president who is ready and willing and able to answer that call.

You know, I read the speech that Senator McCain gave the other day which set forth his plan, which does virtually nothing to ease the credit crisis or the housing crisis. It seems like if the phone were ringing he would just let it ring and ring and ring.


Now, Senator McCain is a friend of mine, and I admire his service to our country greatly.

But he recently admitted, "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should." And it turns out he'd rather ignore the credit crisis and the mortgage crisis, or blame middle-class families, instead of offering solutions on their behalf.

I think we've had enough of a president who didn't know enough about economics and didn't do enough for the American middle class.


I don't think we can afford four more years of that kind of inaction.

I believe we need a president who will answer the call and act aggressively to deal with economic crisis like the ones we are seeing in our economy today. That's the kind of president we will desperately need after eight years of President Bush.

As president, I will work to rein in the corporate special interests and to rebuild a prosperous and strong middle class.

CLINTON: I have proposed a very specific agenda to end the giveaways to corporate special interests and to save the American people at least $55 billion a year.

That's money that can go right back into your pockets through middle class tax cuts, money we can use to create new high-paying jobs, to invest in our nation's futures (sic) again, you know, for rebuilding our roads to our schools to our manufacturing sector.

And here are some of the specifics of the agenda I've put forth.

First, I'll close the tax loopholes for companies that outsource jobs. No company will be able to use your tax dollars to ship your job overseas.

Closing these loopholes...


... won't just keep jobs in America but it will also stop freeloader corporations from avoiding $50 billion in taxes each year.

Second, we'll help create and keep good jobs right here in North Carolina and across America. We're going to fight for every single job and create millions of new high-paying jobs that can't be outsourced.

People ask me all the time, "Well, how will we create these new jobs?"

Well, we'll start using our ingenuity again. We'll start being innovative again. I believe we could create at least 5 million new jobs from clean, renewable energy.


And other countries are ahead of us and working much harder than we are toward that kind of goal.

We will work and achieve universal health care and provide...


We're going to provide small businesses with tax incentives so they can insure their employees. They won't be required to, but the plan will enable everyone to go into the same kind of health care options that members of Congress and federal employees have today.


You already pay 75 percent of that.

We'll end the huge tax breaks and giveaways for the drug companies, the insurance companies, to help pay for that kind of universal health care.

CLINTON: This is not only the morally imperative step to take, because I, for one, who has worked on trying to get health care to people, not only those who are uninsured, but people with insurance who have no way of getting the insurance company to pay for what their doctor or their hospital says, that they or their family needs -- you know, I could stand here all day and tell you stories about family members who've called me and said, "What have I done wrong, Senator? You know, I've always paid my premiums, I've never had any problems. I have the same policy through my employer that I've had for years. We've never needed it. We've been a healthy family. And now my son needs a serious operation and the insurance company says they won't pay for it."

I hear that so often. And it's not something that we should be hearing in America.

Everyone should be insured. And the decisions about what you need for health care should come from doctors and nurses, not insurance companies. And we're going to change that.


But it's not only the morally right thing to do, it's economically smart thing to do. Because too many of our businesses are burdened, particularly our manufacturing sector, by having to pay for health care. Many of them try to continue, but a lot of them have had to cut back.

I think universal health care will help us keep manufacturing jobs and other jobs here in America and help small businesses actually grow and hire more workers.

I'll work to end the massive budget-busting tax breaks for big oil. It's extraordinary that in 2005, in what I think is rightly called Dick Cheney's energy bill...


... we gave billions of more in tax breaks to oil companies. I voted against that for many reasons.

Well, we have to take those back. The oil companies don't need your money to make these huge profits. Last year, Exxon Mobil reported the largest profits in history of any U.S. company: more than $40 billion. Meanwhile, North Carolina has experienced the highest gas prices in history. So, I think it's time that these companies paid their fair share for our clean energy future.


CLINTON: And I want to commend North Carolina for recently launching a green building fund. That's an important step.

But you deserve a partner in the White House. That's why I have proposed a $50 billion strategic energy fund. We'll pay for it by eliminating the $7.5 billion a year in tax breaks that oil companies get, and by giving the oil companies a choice: They will either invest in clean energy and become part of the solution or we will tax their windfall profits and put those to work for a clean energy future.


And you know what I love about this is that it does so much for our country. It begins to end our addiction to foreign oil, which is important for our security. It gives us the opportunity to begin taking seriously global warming and other environmental challenges. And it helps to create jobs that are going to stay right here in the United States.

Among those more than 5 million jobs that I think we can create there would be jobs retrofitting public buildings to be more energy- efficient, jobs weatherizing home to save money on heating and cooling bills, jobs to reopen shuttered factories to build the clean energy technologies of the future.

You've heard of white collar jobs and blue collar jobs. Well, how about creating tens of thousands of green collar jobs right here in North Carolina?


I was one of the authors of legislation to train workers for these new jobs. There is so much potential in this for North Carolina. Biofuels, for example. Here at Wake Tech students are studying sustainability.

Bud Burton, whom I met, an instructor at Wake Tech in architecture and landscape architecture is here today. He's working with his students on green building design. All new buildings right here will be LEED certified. That means they'll get the highest marks as being environmentally efficient and therefore cutting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that they sent into the atmosphere.

And the northern Wake campus is among the first in the nation to meet the LEED standard campus-wide. So congratulations, Wake Tech.


I will also lead in investing in our infrastructure: our roads, our bridges, our tunnels, our water systems. Here in Raleigh you experience America's infrastructure's problems every single day on I- 40.

CLINTON: You know, we're trying to run today's economy on yesterday's infrastructure and we're jeopardizing tomorrow's prosperity.

This is a problem across America. I was in Philadelphia a week ago and I-95, one of the most important corridors in our country, had just been shut down around Philadelphia because a bridge was about to collapse. We had a bridge collapse in Minneapolis, we had the levees collapse in New Orleans.

This is not the America that I grew up in. When we have problems, we're supposed to solve them, not ignore them, make them worse, cause all kinds of difficulties, maybe even the loss of life.


We just haven't had the national leadership we need, whether it's rebuilding crumbling roads, reducing congestion or investing in public transit.

I have proposed a plan to rebuild America, to repair and modernize our infrastructure, and create tens of thousands of new jobs in the process.

We will also invest in innovation. We are the innovation nation. That's how we will lead the global economy.

Now, in the past, it took smart investments, which have paid dividends in new jobs and whole industries. I propose strengthening and extending tax credits for research and development, investing in basic and medical research, promoting broadband deployment and so much more.

You know, North Carolina is a leader in innovation. You've ranked third in bio-tech investment. And I've heard about what's happening in Kannapolis, where a new research park is opening on the sight of a once-shuttered textile factory. That's an example of what we can do.

And we have to end President Bush's war on science. It has been unbelievably...


(APPLAUSE) ... disruptive. Government scientists have been ordered to stop talking about climate change, information about science has been taken off of government Web sites, we have had a declining investment in real dollar terms in the National Institutes of Health when we're on the brink of so many breakthroughs in health research.

So, we've got to get back to investing in science. And I would ask the Congress when I became president to send me the bill that President Bush has vetoed twice.

CLINTON: And I would sign the stem cell research bill...


... so that our scientists could begin to do that work appropriately here.


We also need to invest in manufacturing. I'm going to end the tax breaks for companies outsourcing jobs and use that money to restore the manufacturing extension partnership to retool factories for the 21st century.

You know, I think it's important that, you know, we really try to figure out how we're going to make these investments in manufacturing. Because I personally believe you cannot have a strong country with a growing economy if you don't make things anymore.


And so, therefore, we've got to become the leaders of the new manufacturing agenda.

We've got to make trade work for working families. I'm going to call a time-out on trade agreements. We're going to have a trade policy that is pro-worker and pro-American.

And I'm the only candidate with a plan to fix NAFTA. I would renegotiate that agreement with the strongest possible labor and environmental standards.

And when I say that, I mean that. Because it's time that we said to the rest of the world, "We are happy to be your trading partner, but we are not going to be taken advantage of any longer."


"We're going to stand up for American interests."


I will also get tough on China for manipulating their currency, erecting trade barriers, allowing the piracy of intellectual property. I'll appoint a new trade prosecutor and double the staff to enforce our existing trade agreements. You know, China is a growing economy. We want China to grow peacefully. We want their economy to expand so that more people have a better standard of living.

But they have to live by the rules of the global economy. And where we don't have the right rules, we should lead an effort, globally, to make the rules for the 21st-century economy that apply to all of us.


Now, while we're fighting to create and save jobs, I'm announcing today I will commit $2.5 billion each year to help workers train for new jobs and improve their skills for their existing jobs, as well.


CLINTON: We may be competing in a new global economy, but our policies to equip American workers for the 21st century are stuck back in the 20th century.

When it comes to retraining assistance, our government is more focused on how you lost your job than how you can find a new one.

And while we have been rightly focused on trying to help people who are out of work, there's been too little thought and effort to help people gain new skills while they still have their existing jobs so they can move up or move on to higher-wage positions.

One reason why community colleges are such an important part of our economy, as well as our higher education system, is that community colleges offer that opportunity for people to improve their skills. But we have to expand that.

I'm a very strong supporter of community colleges and I want to see our community colleges play a bigger and bigger role.


Right here in North Carolina, I know people have seen jobs disappear. I know that the jobs that their parents or grandparents had are no longer available to them. And I know that that is very painful because they feel the brunt of global forces over which they had no control.

That's why I will make universal worker adjustment assistance available to every single dislocated worker. No American should be left on the side of the road.

If you're willing to work hard and to retrain yourself, then we will reward your hard work by helping get you trained, find a new job and make the adjustment to a new field or industry.

We'll also create new tools and options for you to get the skills or the education you need while working. You shouldn't have to produce a pink slip to get help training for a new, higher-paying job. You should be able to get help while you're still in the job that you currently have.

(APPLAUSE) I want to expand the Pell Grant program and create new grants that people can use to retrain and attend college while they are working.


I want to create stronger partnerships between employers and colleges so that our training programs reflect the jobs that are in demand. And I have proposed an American retirement account, which would be a universal 401(k), so that you could save tax-free.

CLINTON: You wouldn't have to wait to have an employer who offered it to you; you could do it no matter what, no matter who you work for.


In fact, I believe so strongly that we've got to help people start saving that I have proposed that for people making up to $60,000 a year, if you save $1,000, we'll match you $1,000.


Between $60,000 and $100,000, if you save $1,000, we'll match you $500. Because we want you to save for your retirement, because too many people are, unfortunately, reliant only on Social Security, which is not going to be enough to maintain most standards of living.

And I think it's wonderful that Governor Easley and the rest of the state government here is doing great work. You know, the Learn and Earn initiative is not only providing students with scholarships for two years of college, you're also bringing career training into high schools and allowing high school students to earn community college credit.

Shanise Gilliard (ph) is here. She's a senior at Southeast Raleigh High School and...


... she's a participant in Wake Tech's dual enrollment program. When she graduates from high school this June she will have her diploma and an EMT certificate.

Congratulations, Shanise (ph).


North Carolina really deserves a lot of credit for adapting and helping dislocated workers get retrained, helping young people get on the path to a good career. But you need a partner in Washington, and the government should not wait until it's too late to act.

I'm proposing an innovative new program called the preemptive training initiative. When a factory closes its doors or a plant moves overseas, that's a shock, not only for the workers, but for their families and the community. We shouldn't wait until the lock is placed on the gates to recognize the problem.

I want to ask communities, labor unions, companies, community colleges, everyone to come together and participate in creating a smart, targeted training program located in the communities where these jobs are lost.

And when we look at it, if we get a head start, we'll be able to really cushion those jobs losses after we've tried everything to prevent them from happening in the first place.

You know, I grew up in a middle-class family, back when our nation was investing in the middle class. You know, my dad served in the Navy and so many veterans of his time took advantage of the G.I. Bill. We need a 21st-century G.I. bill for our young veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.


CLINTON: You know, my parents sent us to good public schools. We had good parks with recreational opportunities, public libraries. You know, there were unprecedented investments made in public education.

I was able to go to college and then to law school. And when I was in law school, I had to work. My family couldn't help me. But the federal government offered affordable student loans. And we were able to take those on without becoming indentured...


... and unable to really get out from under those student loans.

Well, look at what's happening today. So many young people are truly underwater when it comes to their student loans. And I want to get back to the kind of program I took advantage of, where I borrowed money at about 2 percent interest...


... instead of what I hear, as I go around the country.


You know, these programs were for everyone. They weren't for the privileged few, the wealthy and the well-connected.

But we've gotten off-track in America. And I think it's time that we once again had a president who stands up for what really makes America great. Because, with all due respect, it is not rich people.

It is the American middle class and hardworking families who make our country what it is today.


You know, I imagine what the Wright brothers would be up to if they were around today.

You know, maybe they'd be working on a new source of clean energy for our homes. Or maybe they would take a look at the cars we have today and, my goodness, there are so many new features, like GPS and computers that talk to you. But if you pick up the hood, the internal combustion engine looks exactly as it did 100 years ago.

Maybe the Wright brothers would say, "Well, how can that be? Let's get to work on a new way to make a more efficient engine for our cars and our trucks."

You know, maybe they'd come up with an innovation to harness the power of information technology or a way to bring broadband to more people, so that we really continue to expand the information superhighway.

But more than a century after their historic flights on the beaches of Kitty Hawk, I think that those two pioneers would still know a great place to work on the future, and what it can mean to all of us, right here in North Carolina.

CLINTON: You know, I'm very hopeful about what we can do together with new leadership. I'm optimistic and I'm confident. You know, we can solve these economic challenges and we can once again create a real sense of progress in America where everyone feels like the American dream is within their reach.

That's how we will compete and win in the global economy. We'll create new jobs and unlimited opportunities. And we will, once again, acting as Americans always do, live up to our own potential.

Winston Churchill once famously said that, "America always, finally gets around to doing the right thing after trying nearly everything else."


Well, we've tried nearly everything else for seven years. Let's try now leadership that will rebuild our economy and our middle class.

Thank you all very much.




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