Clinton proposed $1,500 tax credits for businesses that hire apprentices, in an attempt to revive a centuries-old tradition that has largely fallen by the wayside in the United States over the past several decades. The credits should come with a bonus for businesses that hire young people, because a good first job can be a launchpad, Clinton said.
The proposal, which would have to be approved by Congress, is similar to a bipartisan plan offered last year by Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
Clinton decried “gridlock and extreme partisanship” in Congress and said the part of the federal budget that would fund programs like apprenticeships is being cut by Republican. But she also drew applause for saying she would work with Republicans to find practical solutions for economic progress. She delivered none of the partisan broadsides that have marked her addresses since launching her formal campaign last weekend.
“Just like every other idea Clinton has volunteered thus far, this plan is not based in reality,” said Jeff Bechdel, spokesman for the conservative American Rising super PAC. “Clinton offers no concrete details on how this project will be funded,” Bechdel said. “For someone who has wanted to be president for more than a decade now, the least she could provide are a few specifics.”
Earlier Wednesday, Clinton visited rural Santee, near Orangeburg, where she briefly addressed the shooting death of Walter Scott by a white Charleston police officer. She said the killing was a tragedy, and noted that the video of the April killing made by a passerby had allowed the world to see what happened. The scruffy little park where Scott died is about two miles from the technical school.
A Clinton spokesman said the candidate also called the Scott family Wednesday. The aide provided no details of the call, which was first reported by CNN.
It was her second visit to South Carolina since entering the race in April.
South Carolina has been a solidly Republican state in presidential races since 2000, with Republican Mitt Romney taking the state by more than 10 percent in 2012. The state’s large African-American population is a mainstay of Democratic support, but the crowd of about 500 that turned out in a 100-degree day for the indoor address was more white than black.
The Trident Technical College campus is in a mixed industrial and commercial area several miles north of the charming, historic tourist-filled lanes of downtown Charleston. The drive in passed title loan offices, a plasma-harvesting center and discount stores.
The two-year school offers training in fields from engineering to nursing and film production. Clinton spoke near the culinary classrooms, where students were learning to make and decorate elaborate cakes as the crowd trickled in.
Ethel Jefferson, of nearby Moncks Corner, said she came to hear the specifics of Clinton’s proposal about apprenticeships, which dovetails with her own field of adult education.
“I’m interested in her campaign,” but not ready to commit as a supporter, Jefferson said. “I’m considering it.”
Asked about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who will hold a small rally in Charleston this weekend, Jefferson looked thoughtful.
"Yeah, I’d look at him,” she said.
The executive board of the South Carolina AFL-CIO endorsed Sanders on Saturday, a reminder that Clinton does not have the labor vote locked down. The board recommended that the state and national labor bodies endorse Sanders, whom the board called “a truly progressive candidate for the Democratic Party nomination."
“We firmly believe that Sen. Bernie Sanders is the strongest candidate articulating our issues,” the board resolution said. “His commitment to union principles and labor's values is longstanding and heartfelt.”