*** SUPPORT HILLARY CLINTON ***
Today’s Hillary News & Views is the first of a series I will do that focuses on Clinton’s winning coalition, how she built it, and how intersectionality shaped her approach and, in turn, the Democratic Party platform and her own policy agenda.
Let’s take a look back at what leading black women were saying as Clinton launched her campaign.
Imani Gandy wrote for Rewire in April 2015:
In the days since Hillary Clinton announced her run for the nation’s highest office, much has been written about her relationship with Black voters, and Black female voters in particular. She is the first Democrat to announce her candidacy, and the lack of enthusiasm from Black voters is palpable on social media. As such, questions have arisen about whether she will be able to match Obama when it comes to Black voter turnout.
Will the Hillary campaign work to unleash the political power of Black women? Or will she follow the same old scripts: chasing the votes of white women and working-class voters?
Clinton’s candidacy may be historic, but it has left some of us cold. To many, like Jessie Daniels at Racism Review and Kevin Young and Diana C. Sierra Becerra at Jacobin Magazine, she represents the human embodiment of white feminism—a feminism concerned only with white middle-class American women and not with Black and brown women in the United States and globally.
Not only do political campaigns ignore Black women, but our contributions to Democratic victories frequently go unrecognized. After Terry McAuliffe’s victory in the Virginia gubernatorial race, for example, many mainstream media outlets claimed that “women” won the election for him. While that is true, generally—because Black women are women too—claims that women won the election for McAuliffe obfuscate important facts: that McAuliffe won 91 percent of Black women’s vote while winning only 38 percent of white women’s votes.
Women of color, and Black women in particular (because we have the strongest turnout among women of color), could hand Clinton the White House on a silver platter. But not if she doesn’t work for it. And that means addressing issues that uniquely face us.
How does Hillary Clinton plan to work to restore voting rights? To end the scourge of police brutality against Black people? To reduce the wage gap between white women on the one hand, and Black and Latina women on the other? To overcome barriers that women of color face in health-care access? To reform draconian immigration policies that rip families apart? To ensure that women have the right to safe abortion care irrespective of their ability to pay for it?
If she were to focus specifically on our issues, she could further increase our participation at the polls and inspire us to vote in greater numbers—not just in the upcoming presidential election, but in midterm elections and statewide elections too, thus solidifying Democratic victories at the state and federal level.
Improving the lives of women of color necessarily entails improving the lives of white women. For example, if we close the wage gap for Black and Latina women, then the wage gap between white women and men will automatically be closed. The reverse is not true.
The bottom line is this: Black women are a political juggernaut and any campaign that ignores our potential political power does so at its own peril.
April Reign wrote for Ebony in April 2015:
Although Clinton understandably wants to distinguish herself from President Obama such that she is not considered to be running for his “third term,” she and her supporters must tread lightly in order not to alienate potential voters. Planned Parenthood tweeted on the day of her announcement: “In US history, there has not been a presidential candidate w/ a stronger commitment to women – or a clearer record on behalf of their health.” Yet the first bill President Obama signed into law was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which addresses wage discrimination against women in the workplace. Further, one can strongly argue that ObamaCare giving millions of women access to guaranteed preventive women’s health services previously unavailable to them is a record that no future president will ever be able to match. It is these types of subtle digs at President Obama, a tamping down of his achievements in order to boost Clinton’s, which will not sit well with many in the Black community, whose memories are long and whose votes are necessary.
Some potential Black Democratic voters have indicated that, while they will support Hillary Clinton should she become the eventual nominee in 2016, it will not be with the same fervor as they did for President Obama, in part because of a sense of bad blood experienced during the 2008 campaign. Indeed, many Blacks are saying that Hillary Clinton is not their first choice to receive the Democratic nomination in 2016 and that they will be anxiously waiting to see whom else enters the race. These sentiments must not go unchecked by Hillary for America because Black voters, while not a monolith, are a large constituency that must be courted by Democrats to win the presidency. There is a sense of entitlement that Hillary Clinton has not earned within the Black community, allowing her supporters to mistakenly take Black votes for granted. Hillary Clinton will have to earn our support and our votes just as any other candidate does.
Every voter should wait until all candidates discuss important policy issues before deciding whom to support. One issue that will be on the minds of many Blacks during the 2016 presidential race is the excessive use of often-deadly force by law enforcement officials. Nearly every week there is a new name added to the list of Black people who have committed little or no crime but are victims of police violence. It will be important for the candidates to discuss concrete ways they plan to address the real concerns of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. However, no candidate should stand on the dead bodies of our fallen to boost themselves politically.
Clinton did herself no favors by waiting nineteen days after Mike Brown was killed to give her thoughts on his death and the aftermath. Many wondered why it took so long for her to make a statement and whether she was waiting for the volatile moments in Ferguson to end. Interestingly, Clinton timed her remarks to fall on the 51st anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington. Whether this was political posturing or merely a coincidence, Clinton did not endear herself to many in the Black community by waiting until it appeared that the most tumultuous days had passed. A few days after Walter Scott was killed by a police officer while running away unarmed, the official Hillary Clinton account tweeted: “Praying for #WalterScott's family. Heartbreaking & too familiar. We can do better - rebuild trust, reform justice system, respect all lives.” While the acknowledgment is appreciated, these cannot be empty words. The focus must be on the justice system, including police brutality and the school to prison pipeline, instead of name-dropping those who were unjustly killed when it seems politically expedient to do so.Zerina Maxwell wrote for Essence in April 2015:
One thing 2008 and 2012 taught us: Black women are the voting bloc to watch. According to the Center for American Progress, “In 2012, Black women voted at a higher rate than any other group—across gender, race, and ethnicity—and, along with other women of color, played a key role in President Obama’s reelection. The following year, turnout by women of color in an off-year helped provide Terry McAuliffe (D) the margin of victory in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election. Notably, in both of their respective elections, President Obama and Gov. McAuliffe lost a lion’s share of White women voters, but overwhelmingly captured the votes of women of color.” It’s true that Black women are becoming much more involved with the political process, flexing their muscles by engaging in the issues and making their voices heard. But are these voters a guarantee for Hillary Clinton?
Black women voters present a unique opportunity for Hillary, because, according to CAP, “[a]s their numbers increase and their participation grows, women of color will increasingly have the chance to sway electoral results, influence which candidates run and win, and play a greater role in shaping the policy agenda. Again, this new reality becomes apparent when one considers that women of color are the fastest-growing segment of the country’s largest voting bloc: women.”
Though the historic nature of her candidacy may put Hillary in a position to deliver another transformational moment for America—this time for gender equity—there is much work to be done before she can win over any constituency. First: showing she has a vision for tackling their greatest concerns.
Anti-violence activist and writer Wagatwe Wanjuki says that while a lot of people are excited about the prospect of a female president, she has some reservations. “I am waiting for evidence that she gets how we women of color are affected by issues in ways that are different from our White counterparts,” says Wanjuki. “What are her thoughts on the Hyde Amendment? [The amendment that prohibits public funding for abortions, making the procedure inaccessible for low-income women of color.] As president, how is she going to use her bully pulpit to address the high rates of gender-based violence in our communities? What plans does she have to reduce our unique barriers to achieving quality health care?”
Glynda Carr co-founder of Higher Heights, which focuses on engaging Black women in the political process says, “There is going to be a lack of enthusiasm unless Hillary speaks to the specific issues of Black women. [Black women] need turn on the TV and hear her speaking to them. By engaging, inspiring, and creating enthusiasm in one Black woman voter, you have the added benefit that she will pull out everyone in her household, her neighborhood, her church and her sorority and get them to the polls.”
In a recent keynote speech marking the 30th anniversary of EMILY’s List—a political action committee that aims to help elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office—Hillary hit heavily on economic tones: equal pay, minimum wage and paid leave. Some people “roll their eyes when I say that women's issues are American issues. But they just have to get used to it,” she said. “We are fighting for an economy that works for everyone and includes everyone. So many women are paid less than men for the same work.”
But the rhetoric and policy changes can’t stop there. “While it’s true that White women make 77 cents to the dollar, Black women only make 64 cents to the dollar,” says Carr. “So the excitement of having a woman run for office [won’t be enough] if we don’t have the intersection of gender and race.”(Important Note: Maxwell now works for the Clinton campaign.)
Clinton went on to dominate the Democratic Primary, with black women being her strongest demographic.
Wall Street Journal reported in April 2016:
Hillary Clinton never goes very far without black women sharing the stage, introducing her around or casting ballots for her in outsize numbers—and they are a prime reason she stands on the cusp of claiming the Democratic presidential nomination.
Black women have long played a big role in Mrs. Clinton’s life and career, and now their expanding roles in politics—as voters, officeholders and activists—have lifted the Clinton campaign in multiple ways.
Exit polls show turnout by black women in Democratic primaries is significantly higher than turnout by black men, in several cases more than double. And black women have overwhelmingly supported the former senator and secretary of state over rival Bernie Sanders, with 90% or more of them voting for her in some states. In New York, she took 79% of their votes on her way to an easy victory, the exit polls show.
Black women also are the driving force behind activist groups that hold particular sway in the Democratic Party, such as Black Lives Matter and Mothers of the Movement, made up of women who have lost children to gun violence or in police custody, and who are pushing for new gun restrictions and police accountability.
At a campaign stop in Philadelphia last week, Mrs. Clinton appeared at a forum with four of these mothers, who spoke emotionally about their children and the police. “We decided to support Hillary, because she supported us,” said Nicole Paultre-Bell, whose fiancé, Sean Bell, was killed in a police encounter hours before their wedding.Her first speech of the election was on Criminal Justice Reform.
It’s important to note why she won: the advice that was given above, she listened to.
Slate reported on April 30, 2015:
Two days after riots in Baltimore—at a time when most of the presidential field is either silent or contemptuous—Clinton has stepped out front with a forward-looking agenda on bringing people out of prison, a definitive rebuke to the “law and order” politics used by her husband throughout his career. Not only did Clinton call for an end to “the era of mass incarceration,” but she also connected our prison population to broader patterns of inequality. “Without the mass incarceration that we currently practice, millions fewer people would be living in poverty,” she said. “And it’s not just families trying to stay afloat with one parent behind bars. Of the 600,000 prisoners who re-enter society each year, roughly 60 percent face long-term unemployment.”
We have to do more than release nonviolent offenders to solve mass incarceration, but this at least shows that Clinton is thinking in broad terms. Reducing the prison population is the beginning of the project. What comes next—reintroducing former inmates into mainstream society and giving them a chance to succeed—is just as important.
Likewise, Clinton is clearly giving thought to how we restructure policing and punishment. In the speech, she promises to make sure that “federal funds for state and local law enforcement are used to bolster best practices, rather than to buy weapons of war that have no place on our streets.” She calls for body cameras on all police—a major goal of the “Black Lives Matter” movement—supports better, “swifter” probation programs, and stresses help for mental health patients. “You and I know that the promise of de-institutionalizing those in mental health facilities was supposed to be followed by the creation of community-based treatment centers. Well, we got half of that equation—but not the other half.”
On a more prosaic note, Clinton alludes to high-profile cases of police abuse and racial violence, directly identifying with black and Latino families on an issue that is polarizing with white Americans. “You don’t have to look too far from this magnificent hall to find children still living in poverty or trapped in failing schools,” she says, “Mothers and fathers who fear for their sons’ safety when they go off to school—or just to go buy a pack of Skittles.”
Her next speech focused on Immigration Reform, which I will cover in a future entry that discusses the Latin@ vote. By June, she had taken the bold stands recommended on voting rights.What’s important about this, beyond public policy, is that it’s a sign of where Clinton sees the electorate. A Hillary Clinton who believed she needed working class whites to win is not a Hillary Clinton who would embrace this agenda for police reform, or use this rhetoric. No, this Clinton clearly believes that she needs to reconstitute the Obama coalition to win, and to do that, she’ll push forward on key issues for black Americans, Latinos, young women, and other members of the Obama electorate. Put differently, this speech is a political gamble as much as it is a policy commitment.
MSNBC reported on June 4, 2015:
In a major speech on voting rights Thursday, Hillary Clinton laid out a far-reaching vision for expanding access to the ballot box, and denounced Republican efforts to make voting harder.
Speaking at Texas Southern University in Houston, Clinton called for every American to be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18 unless they choose not to be. She backed a nationwide standard of at least 20 days of early voting. She urged Congress to pass legislation strengthening the Voting Rights Act, which was gravely weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling. And she slammed restrictive voting laws imposed by the GOP in Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin, which she said affect minorities and students in particular.
From a political perspective, forthrightly calling out Republican voting restrictions and advocating greater access to voting will likely help Clinton shore up key sections of her base – minorities and students in particular. And it could put the GOP on notice that further efforts to make voting harder may backfire by giving Democrats a tool to motivate their supporters.
Instead, Clinton sought to move the voting rights debate for 2016 toward more advantageous terrain for Democrats and voting rights supporters: expanding access to voting and voter registration, to make it easier to cast a ballot and bring more Americans into the process.
Noting that between one quarter and one third of all Americans aren’t registered to vote, Clinton called for an across-the-board modernization of the registration process. The centerpiece: universal automatic voter registration, in which every citizen is automatically registered when they turn 18 unless they affirmatively choose not to be, effectively changing the system’s default status from non-registered to registered. Oregon passed such a law earlier this year, and several other states, including California, are considering the idea.
Clinton lamented the Supreme Court’s weakening of the Voting Rights Act.
“We need a Supreme Court that cares more about protecting the right to vote of a person to vote than the right of a corporation to buy an election,” she said.Crucially, reproductive rights have been central in Clinton’s campaign, and she gave her first speech as the presumptive nominee to address many of the concerns Gandy expressed as Clinton’s campaign began.
Emily Atkins wrote for Think Progress last month:
In her first major speech since becoming the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton dove head-first into issues of reproductive justice — the idea, pioneered by women of color, that a woman’s ability to access safe and legal abortion is directly connected to her ability to thrive economically, socially, and mentally.
Speaking to a crowd of about 800 Planned Parenthood supporters in Washington, D.C., Clinton applauded reproductive justice advocates, who have expanded the pro-choice movement into a larger, more inclusive push for social justice.
“I’m grateful to the reproductive justice leaders in this room and across America,” Clinton said. “Because you know that all those [social justice] issues go straight to that fundamental question: whether we believe women and families of all races and backgrounds and income levels deserve an equal shot in life.”
Clinton’s speech was the first time a major party’s presidential nominee has devoted a speech to reproductive justice.
Reproductive justice advocates argue that women can’t make individual choices about their bodies if they are being oppressed in other ways. Systemic racism, for example, may contribute to keeping black women too impoverished to afford reproductive health care. And strict immigration laws, advocates argue, prevent undocumented women from accessing contraceptives and safe abortion.
Clinton also touched on gun control, arguing that it was crucial to making sure women felt safe accessing safe and legal abortion. She cited the tragic shooting that killed three people inside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last year, and argued that the mentally ill shooter “never should have had a gun.”
Raising the minimum wage, tackling comprehensive immigration reform, and “breaking down all the barriers of discrimination and system racism” were also parts of Clinton’s speech before the Planned Parenthood crowd. She also reiterated her support for repealing the Hyde Amendment, which states that abortions for low-income women cannot be funded by federal Medicaid dollars.
“All the issues we’re talking about today are connected,” Clinton said. “They intersect.”
On the campaign trail, Clinton has been increasingly been citing intersectionality — “the concept that different forms of inequality and discrimination overlap and compound one another.” Proliferation of the concept is particularly important to women of color, who are more likely to experience discrimination and barriers that white women do not.Clinton Senior Policy Advisor Maya Harris detailed how the Democratic Party Platform reflected these commitments in an official statement:
“We are proud that the draft 2016 Democratic Platform, which the drafting committee approved yesterday, represents the most ambitious and progressive platform our party has ever seen, and reflects the issues Hillary Clinton has championed throughout this campaign, from raising wages and creating more good-paying jobs to fixing our broken immigration system, reforming our criminal justice system, and protecting women’s reproductive health and rights. As our Chairman, Congressman Elijah Cummings, directed us at the outset, our platform does not merely reflect common ground—it seeks higher ground.
“For the first time ever, our platform calls for ending mass incarceration, shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline, and taking on the challenges of systemic racism. This year’s platform contains the most ambitious jobs plan on record, including historic investments in infrastructure, pledges to increase American manufacturing and stop companies from shipping jobs overseas, and a robust, stand-alone plank on youth jobs. It contains ambitious, progressive principles on wages, stating that working people should earn at least $15 an hour, citing New York’s minimum wage law and calling for raising and indexing the federal minimum wage. It also calls for the elimination of the ‘tipped’ wage and for the right of workers to form or join a union. And for the first time, the Democratic Party platform explicitly calls for repealing the Hyde Amendment, which restricts access to women’s reproductive rights, particularly low-income women and women of color.”Clinton’s policies in these areas are also clearly intersectional and reflect a commitment to core issues facing women of color.
A factsheet from the campaign that focuses on the African American community explicitly addresses the pay gap for African American women, while also addressing the Gun Violence issue connections spotlighted by Mothers of the Movement:
Hillary Clinton will fight for equity and opportunity for the African American community
Hillary believes our nation cannot reach its fullest potential until we address the social and economic disparities that too many African-Americans still face. African-American families want the same things that every working family across this country wants: economic security and an equal chance at success. Clinton has laid out a plan to help African Americans achieve that. Among other things, as President she will:Her Breaking Every Barrier agenda addresses systemic barriers that race and gender present to full participation in the economy, again focusing explicitly on the needs of women of color:
- Make college affordable. Nearly 50 percent of African-American students graduate with more than $25,000 in student loan debt, as compared to 34 percent of white students. Through her New College Compact, Hillary will fight to ensure that cost is not a barrier for anyone who wants to attend college—and that debt won’t hold them back when they do. Her plan will also support, encourage, and reward the Historically Black Colleges and Universities that help our students succeed.
- Get incomes rising again and close the wage gap. African-American households earn roughly two-thirds of the nationwide average. And African-American women earn, on average, 60 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. Hillary will fight to raise the minimum wage, ensure equal pay for African-American women, provide incentives for companies to share profits with their employees, and boost apprenticeships to help more people get into the workforce.
- Revitalize communities left behind. Hillary has laid out details of her $125 billion Economic Revitalization Initiative to create good-paying jobs, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, and connect housing to opportunity in communities that are being left out and left behind. Hillary is committed to building on the progress President Obama has made and fighting to empower communities with the tools they need to break the barriers holding them back.
- Support small business. African-Americans have made great progress in small business entrepreneurship. The number of small businesses owned by African-American women, for example, has more than quadrupled since 1997. But while small businesses have helped African-American families get ahead, they too often face difficulties securing the outside funding they need to grow. Hillary will fight to level the playing field for African-American small business owners by cutting red tape, expanding access to capital, providing tax relief, and expanding access to new markets.
- Protect and enhance the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has helped to address racial disparities in health care accessibility. The African-American uninsured rate has fallen by 9.2 percent, and 2.3 million African-American adults have gained coverage because of the ACA. Hillary will build on the ACA to lower out-of-pocket health care costs, reduce the cost of prescription drugs, and continue to reform our health care system to reward value and quality.
- End racial profiling. Racial profiling has a profound impact on African-Americans, and it contributes to their over representation in the criminal justice system. It is demeaning and ineffective, and it erodes trust between law enforcement officers and the residents they serve. That is why Hillary cosponsored legislation to end racial profiling as a Senator and will fight to pass the legislation as president.
- Reform our criminal justice system. Hillary believes our criminal justice system is out of balance. African-American men are far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than white men found guilty of the same offenses. From Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable. Black lives matter. And that is why Hillary believes we must work to strengthen the bonds of trust between our communities and our police, end the era of mass incarceration, and ensure a successful transition of individuals from prison to home.
- Fight to prevent gun violence. Gun violence is devastating the next generation of African-Americans. Gun violence is the leading cause of death for young African-American men—more than the next nine leading causes combined. Hillary believes we must do more to crack down on gun stores that flood our communities with illegal guns and deprive our children of their futures. That is why she will stand up to the gun lobby and work to build on President Obama’s common sense reforms.
Hillary Clinton’s “Breaking Every Barrier Agenda”: Revitalizing the Economy in Communities Left Behind
Hillary Clinton believes we need to break down all the barriers that hold Americans back and build ladders of opportunity for all our people. She and Senator Sanders agree that we have to get unaccountable money out of politics and stop Wall Street from ever threatening Main Street, but Clinton believes we can’t stop there. We need to focus on removing obstacles that keep wages down and make it harder for people to find good-paying jobs, especially young people. We also have to break down barriers of bigotry like the systemic racism that holds back communities of color. It’s outrageous that the children of majority black Flint, Michigan, have been drinking and bathing in poisoned water for almost two years because their governor wanted to save money. It’s outrageous that so many African American families live in pockets of extreme poverty and that so many families of color with good credit cannot get a mortgage. It’s outrageous that millions of undocumented workers live in the shadows. And we can’t allow rural communities from Coal Country to Indian Country to be further hollowed out by unemployment, abandonment, and addiction. We have to take on all these challenges—anything less just isn’t good enough.She has also focused on the unique challenges - and opportunities — presented by black women (and men) who own small businesses. This earned her the support of U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.
At the core of Clinton’s agenda is a simple idea. Every child in America should be able to live up to his or her God-given potential. An African American child should have the same chance as a white child. Our cities should do as well as our suburbs. We don’t have a person to waste.
That’s why over the coming weeks Clinton will lay out components of a “Breaking Every Barrier Agenda” that she will fight for as President. This vision reflects her belief that we must confront all of our challenges together and deliver real results for every American by:
These initiatives will build on Clinton’s broader agenda to break barriers holding Americans back by keeping immigrant families together, reforming our criminal justice system, ensuring full equality for LGBT Americans, expanding opportunity for women and girls, and more.
- Revitalizing the economy in communities that have been left out and left behind.
- Provide every child in America a world-class education.
- Dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.
- Tackling disparities in health and nutrition.
- Fighting for environmental justice.
Today, Clinton is announcing the details of her $125 billion Economic Revitalization Initiative to create good-paying jobs, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, and connect housing to opportunity in communities that are being left out and left behind. She will pay for the new investments in this initiative through a tax on Wall Street—ensuring that the major financial institutions that contributed to the Great Recession are doing their part in bringing back the communities it hurt the most.
Despite the progress we’ve made under President Obama, too many communities have not seen the benefits of America’s recovery. From Flint to Albuquerque, Baltimore to El Paso, Cleveland to Chicago, there are still opportunity deserts—parts of cities, towns, and rural communities that have been cut off from jobs, investment and, all too often, hope. Clinton believes it’s time for that to change. She has been fighting for these communities her entire life, and getting results—but she’s just getting started.
As President, she will build on the progress President Obama has made and fight to empower communities with the tools they need to break the barriers holding them back by:
These proposals are motivated by Clinton’s understanding that reversing the legacy of racism and underinvestment in underserved communities will require directing more federal resources to those who need them most. That same understanding has motivated Congressman James Clyburn’s “10-20-30” concept—in which 10 percent of funds are directed at communities where at least 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years or more. That’s why Clinton is committed to pursuing policies modeled on this approach.
- Supporting millions of new jobs and providing pathways of opportunity through a $50 billion investment in youth employment, reentry support for those formerly incarcerated, and small business. Roughly one in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 is unemployed, more than twice the national average. And these numbers hide devastating racial disparities: the unemployment rate for African American teenagers is almost twice that of white teenagers, while the unemployment rate for Latino teenagers is roughly a quarter higher. Meanwhile, millions of Americans reenter society every year from our jails and prisons without the support necessary to find jobs and make a successful transition home. Clinton will invest $50 billion to create jobs in communities that are being left out and left behind. She will:
- Invest $20 billion to support millions of youth jobs—providing direct federal funding for local programs that will put our kids to work.
- Invest $5 billion in reentry programs for formerly incarcerated people—so that those who have made mistakes in the past have a fair shot at getting back on their feet.
- Invest $25 billion to support entrepreneurship and small business growth in underserved communities—because small business is the engine of job growth for hardworking Americans all across the country, and that engine shouldn’t be limited by zip code.
- Rebuilding our communities and creating good-paying jobs through a $50 billion Infrastructure for Opportunity Fund. In too many places, our neglected public transportation systems trap working families in deserts of opportunity. That means that millions of low-income Americans are burdened both by the lack of jobs in their communities and by the impediments they face in commuting to jobs elsewhere. And, as the water crisis in Flint makes so painfully clear, neglecting our infrastructure can result in tragedy for the very communities that are already being left out and left behind. Today, Clinton is announcing that she will dedicate $50 billion of her $275 billion infrastructure agenda to an Infrastructure for Opportunity Fund. Using these funds and others, Clinton will make significant new investments in public transit systems that connect the unemployed and underemployed to the jobs they need. She will rebuild crumbling water systems to safeguard the public health and save billions of gallons of drinking water. And she will work to ensure that these investments are creating jobs and opportunity for local residents and small businesses.
- Lifting more families into sustainable homeownership and connecting housing to opportunity, through a $25 billion housing investment program. In too many communities, children walk to school down streets lined with decaying buildings or go to sleep at night under crumbling ceilings. Blight drives down home prices across the board and makes it harder to attract investment and new businesses. In others communities, skyrocketing rent weighs heavily on working families and displaces people who have lived there for generations. Across the country, many families with good credit find the door to sustainable homeownership closed. Clinton will tackle all of these challenges and empower communities with the resources they need to:
- Support families as they save for sustainable homeownership. Clinton will support initiatives to match up to $10,000 in savings for a down payment for those who earn less than area median income. She will also reduce barriers to lending in underserved communities, support housing counseling programs, and police abuse and discrimination in the mortgage market.
- Build more affordable rental housing near good jobs and good schools. Clinton will increase support for affordable rental housing in the areas that need it most and encourage communities to implement land use strategies that make it easier to build affordable rental housing near good jobs.
- Overcome pockets of distress. Clinton will provide the resources necessary to overcome blight, giving communities a chance to rebuild and renew with new businesses, new homeowners, and new hope. And she will connect housing support in high-poverty neighborhoods to economic opportunity.
Specifically, Clinton will:
I. INVEST $50 BILLION TO CREATE JOBS IN COMMUNITIES BEING LEFT OUT AND LEFT BEHIND—INCLUDING COMMUNITIES OF COLOR
Building on the above proposals, Clinton will put forward a comprehensive small business agenda during this campaign. Her agenda will include bold measures to provide tax relief and simplification, cut red tape, increase access to capital, open up new markets, and ensure equal opportunity for women and minority small business owners.
- Invest $20 billion to support millions of new youth jobs and provide pathways of opportunity for young Americans. Roughly one in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 is unemployed, more than twice the national average. And these numbers hide devastating racial disparities: the unemployment rate for African American teenagers is almost twice that of white teenagers, while the unemployment rate for Latino teenagers is roughly a quarter higher. Youth unemployment can permanently hurt young people who face a “scarring effect” of lower wages and greater odds of unemployment for decades. And these scars also hurt the broader economy over the long-term. That’s why Clinton will launch a $20 billion initiative to create millions of new career opportunities for young Americans—including jobs, apprenticeships, and internships. Clinton will:
- Create millions of youth jobs in hard-hit communities and communities of color through bold investments and new partnerships. Clinton will create a new competitive grant program that would provide funds from the federal government when local employers, community leaders, local colleges, and top government officials have put forward strategies and resources for youth employment. These funds would be sufficient to support millions of jobs, apprenticeships, and internships for young people across America.Grant applicants would have to conduct a feasibility analysis before receiving funds to demonstrate a local employment demand being served, and they would have to demonstrate program success by publishing performance metrics—such as the number of jobs retained or internship hours met—to continue receiving funding. This initiative will incentivize local governments to assess local job demand, to forge relationships with private employers, and to invest in the success of their programs by offering the training, mentoring, and professional support to young adults to help them succeed on the job.
- Invest in “opportunity youth” by expanding programs that work. America has an estimated 2.3 million low-income 16-24 year olds who have never completed high school and are also out of work. These young people need our support. Clinton will scale up proven solutions like the Department of Labor’s YouthBuild program to engage these young individuals in education, training, and community service opportunities; help break the cycle of poverty and reduce recidivism; and put them on a path towards productive employment.
- Expanding job training and apprenticeships. Clinton believes that every American—at every stage of life—should be able to learn new skills in order to seize new job opportunities. She will work to provide more robust, coherent, and accessible training programs and resources; give training providers the support they need to scale up and respond to the needs of the local workforce and employers; make the government at every level a more effective partner in bringing together workers, labor, employers and training providers to prepare workers for good jobs; and encourage employers to invest in their workers for the long-term. Clinton has proposed a new $1,500 tax credit for employers that create apprenticeships. To create additional incentives for youth hiring, she would increase the credit for employers that bring on young adults.
- Expand the pathways from skills development to work. Clinton believes that an advanced education is critical for all young people, and that a four- or two-year degree is still right for many. Her New College Compact will ensure that, for students who do go to college, costs won’t be a barrier and debt won’t hold them back. But she also recognizes that there are new pathways to opportunity—like six-year high school-college programs; the P-Tech model for school and industry partnerships; the Career Academies model; and “linked learning” models that allow high school and community college students to get academic credit for jobs, apprenticeships and other skill-enhancing work opportunities. Clinton will support these new and innovative pathways, and she will work to build public-private partnerships between employers, colleges, community colleges, online skills programs, and secondary schools throughout the country.
- Support formerly incarcerated individuals in entering the workforce. More than 600,000 people annually return to their communities from prison, and millions more come home following time in jail for low-level offenses. Too many of these people lack the necessary tools to succeed following release. In particular, they are often closed out of jobs for which they are qualified. Not only is this an economic issue and a fairness issue, it is a family issue too. More than half of people who are currently incarcerated are parents of minors, and half of children with parents in prison are under age ten. This mass incarceration epidemic has an explicit racial bias, as one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. Clinton believes that we must reform our criminal justice system and end the era of mass incarceration. At the same time, she also believes we must support Americans returning home from prison and jail by helping them re-enter the workforce.
- Invest $5 billion in job programs with a proven record of success. Formerly incarcerated individuals need support both before and after release to help them quickly navigate the challenges of workplace adjustment. To ensure they have a fighting chance at getting hired and succeeding in their first post-release job, Clinton will invest $5 billion in job programs with a proven record of success. For example, she will increase funding for career and technical training within correctional facilities to expand initiatives like the Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release program, which provides employment services to inmates during and after release. She will also expand evidence-based reentry employment initiatives funded by the Second Chance Act such as the Fortune Society and the Center for Employment Opportunities. These programs help teach formerly incarcerated individuals how to network, excel in interviews, and answer difficult conviction questions. And when they are prepared, they help them find and secure a stable job.
- Take executive action to “ban the box.” Many employers are reluctant to hire applicants with a criminal history, even if those applicants are capable and qualified to work. In a study of male individuals in New York City, for example, a criminal record reduced the likelihood of a callback by almost 50 percent. However, research has found that employment prospects improve when applicants actually interact with a hiring manager—offering them a chance to display their qualifications before being asked about their criminal records. As President, Clinton will take executive action to “ban the box” for federal employers and contractors, so that applicants have an opportunity to demonstrate their qualifications before being asked about their criminal records. And she will require that any consideration of criminal history be job-related and that those rejected on the basis of criminal history receive both timely notice and the right to appeal.
- Invest $25 billion to support small business and increase private investment. Small businesses create two-thirds of new American jobs, fuel innovation, and offer a crucial ladder to prosperity for hardworking entrepreneurs all across the country. But the opportunity to thrive as a small business owner is not equally open to all Americans. For example, African Americans, Latinos, and women tend to begin their businesses with about half the capital of white men—with this difference in capital actually widening as their businesses mature. Clinton wants to be the small business President for all She will fight to ensure that local small businesses can spark job creation in America’s low-income and undeserved communities. Clinton will:
- Provide incubators, mentoring, and training to 50,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners in underserved communities. It’s far too hard for entrepreneurs in underserved communities—particularly minority and women entrepreneurs—to access the financing, training, and support networks they need to start and grow their businesses. Clinton will work to expand training programs for entrepreneurship, business skills, and certificate programs through partnerships with local business leaders, community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic Serving Institutions. She will support more business incubators in underserved areas and call on leaders in Silicon Valley and elsewhere to support new entrepreneurial talent throughout our nation. She will encourage banks, businesses, and foundations to match capital and financing to those who have successfully gone through training and incubation programs. And she will work to support the development of entrepreneurial skills among young people—even kids in high school—so they can increase both their financial and entrepreneurial literacy. These programs will help those with good ideas today become the entrepreneurs and business leaders of tomorrow.
- Expand and make permanent the New Markets Tax Credit. The New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) has helped to attract more than $60 billion in private investment in communities with high rates of poverty and unemployment since it was implemented during the Clinton Administration. In Sumter, South Carolina, for example, the NMTC is supporting a new manufacturing plant that will bring 1,600 new jobs. Clinton is committed to making the NMTC permanent, doubling the amount of credits available to low-income communities, and adding new credits for communities hardest hit by decline. These enhancements to the NMTC will encourage greater investment into communities that need it most.
- Expand federal funding for small businesses through the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are delivering between 65 and 90 percent of loan volume to historically underserved groups, like low-income and minority borrowers. Clinton will double Treasury’s CDFI Fund to invest in small business growth and expand funding for CDFI partnerships with responsible online and alternative lenders. This would enable the federal government to reach more small business owners and entrepreneurs who traditionally struggle with raising capital from traditional financial institutions.
- Expand federal funding for small businesses through the State Small Business Credit Initiative. The Small Business Jobs Act in 2010 created the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), providing $1.5 billion to new and existing state programs that support private-sector lending to, and investment in, small businesses and manufacturers. To be eligible for funds, a state must demonstrate a reasonable expectation it would be able to leverage each dollar from the federal government to generate $10 in new small business lending or investing. Clinton will double funding for the SSBCI and expand it to include training and counseling programs that focus on minority- and women-owned small businesses.
- Enforce the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure that large banks serve small businesses in hard-hit and underserved communities. Clinton will work to enforce the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure that large and regional banks are serving small business customers, including small businesses in low-income and minority communities.
II. CREATE A $50 BILLION “INFRASTRUCTURE FOR OPPORTUNITY” FUND
Clinton has put forward a comprehensive, $275 billion infrastructure plan, including a $25 billion infrastructure bank, to make much-need improvements across America. And today she is announcing that $50 billion of this total will be allocated to an Infrastructure for Opportunity Fund dedicated solely to creating economic opportunity in underserved communities. Using these funds and others, Clinton will:
III. INVEST $25 BILLION TO SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE HOMEOWNERSHIP AND CONNECT HOUSING TO OPPORTUNITY
- Connect more Americans to opportunity through investments in public transit. Lack of public transportation can make it impossible for many low-income communities to access employment, health care, education, and other necessities—creating a huge barrier as these Americans attempt to build better lives. Clinton will prioritize and increase investments in public transit and ensure that these investments are connecting the unemployed and underemployed to the jobs they need.
- Make infrastructure investments that protect the environment, enhance public safety, and improve quality of life. Clinton will make substantial investments in rebuilding crumbling drinking water and wastewater systems—saving billions of gallons of drinking water, cutting energy costs, and safeguarding public health. And she will support bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in our cities—reducing carbon emissions, improving public health and safety, and further providing Americans with affordable transportation options.
- Connect more Americans to opportunity in the digital economy. Clinton believes that high-speed Internet access is not a luxury; it is a necessity for equal opportunity and social mobility in a 21st century economy. That’s why she will finish the job of connecting America’s households to the Internet, so that by 2020 every household in America will have access to affordable broadband. And that’s why she will push forward on the Obama Administration’s ConnectEd agenda, ensuring that urban and rural public schools have the high-speed broadband they need to allow their young people to participate in personalized learning and reach of the Internet from their desks.
- Support “Modernize Every School” Bonds. In November, Clinton announced her plan to reauthorize the Obama Administration’s hugely successful Build America Bonds program, which broadened the market for municipal borrowing by attracting new sources of capital that do not receive benefits associated with traditional tax-exempt debt. She also put forward an innovative “super-BABs” proposals that would provide even greater federal government support than would otherwise be available for deserving projects. Today, Clinton is announcing that, as part of her “super-BABs” initiative, she would create “Modernize Every School Bonds” that will double the BABs subsidy for efforts to fix and modernize Title I schools—from increasing energy efficiency and tackling asbestos to upgrading science labs and high-speed broadband.
- Put more infrastructure money in the hands of local governments. Federal infrastructure investment provides a crucial source of support and growth for America’s cities and local communities. But federal infrastructure funding is overwhelmingly funneled through state governments—sometimes producing unnecessary delays, administrative costs, and red tape. Clinton believes that we need to find ways to give local governments more direct access to the federal funding on which they rely. She will increase funding for competitive programs like the Department of Transportation’s TIGER and TIFIA programs and ensure that such funding is available to communities of all sizes. And she will launch a pilot program to explore new ways of getting formula funding, including formula highway funds, directly into the hands of local governments, while linking these distributions to performance measures and transparency standards. Applications for participation in the pilot would be open to join proposals from state and local leaders.
- Cut red tape. Clinton understands that it’s simply not enough to invest more in our infrastructure: we need to be more efficient in the way we make these investments. Clinton will work to streamline our bloated federal permitting system to increase transparency and remove barriers to investment in the communities that need it most. These reforms would do more than save taxpayers money—they would encourage private capital currently sitting on the sidelines to invest in a better future for communities being left out and left behind.
Too many communities today remain pockets of distress, in which concentrations of abandoned buildings and poverty cut entire neighborhoods off from jobs, from commerce, and from hope. Clinton will empower underserved communities with the resources and flexibility they need to connect housing to economic opportunity. She will:
- Revitalize communities being dragged down by physical decay. In many communities, the first step in revitalization is removing the physical decay that holds back prospects of renewal. The Obama Administration has tackled such blight through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Hardest Hit Fund, which have helped cities like Detroit and Cleveland begin to address these challenges. But Congress has not made nearly enough resources available through these programs to approach the scale of the challenges we face. Clinton’s anti-blight initiative will strengthen and expand on these efforts:
- Give local governments the resources and flexibility they need to make a major impact. Clinton will give local communities the resources and flexibility they need to make scalable, multi-block investments to turn around decaying areas—because while tearing down blight itself brings real social and economic benefits, our goal should be to rebuild and rehabilitate in its place. This is not only the right thing to do: it’s also smart economic policy, as these investments return multiples in the form of higher property values, job creation, and economic prosperity.
- Provide funding to address both commercial and residential blight. Too often, communities have been unable to use federal resources to address commercial blight, leaving them unable to address pockets of distress that serve to discourage investments in Main Street. Clinton’s plans will allow communities to expand their efforts to help revitalize commercial districts as well as residential neighborhoods.
- Ensure that job creation stays in the community. Clinton will support strategies to overcome blight that ensure that local workers and opportunity youth are employed in the project attacking blight—and that labor is not all brought in from the outside.
- Connect housing support in high-poverty neighborhoods to economic opportunity. Today, by tying support for subsidized housing to high-poverty neighborhoods cut off from commerce, we too often force poor families to live in the very conditions that make escaping poverty most difficult. Rather than helping these families break the cycle of poverty, we’re reinforcing it. Clinton will instead link our housing assistance programs to policies that connect their recipients to economic opportunity. This means both connecting housing support to efforts to improve the health of communities, and strengthening programs that give families a choice in where they live:
- Connecting housing assistance to community development. Clinton will build on the Choice Neighborhoods and Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative programs, both of which provide communities with support for housing as part of a multifaceted strategy to address the complex challenges of poverty. She will make resources available for economic development, health care, environmental improvement, and more.
- Giving recipients of assistance more choice. Clinton will work to expand the choices that recipients of housing vouchers have in deciding where to live. Today those with vouchers must often choose among the very pockets of poverty the vouchers are intended to allow them to leave. Clinton believe we should expand their range of options to include neighborhoods with more jobs and better schools.
- Remove barriers to sustainable homeownership. Homeownership is about more than just owning a home. It is about putting roots down in a community with better schools, safer streets and good jobs. And it is about building wealth, as homeowners build equity in their home one mortgage payment at a time. But this opportunity is increasingly out of reach for too many families, particularly families of color. Today in America, 42 percent of black households and 47 percent of Latino households own a home, while the homeownership rate among white households stands at 72 percent.We must make sure that everyone has a fair shot at homeownership. And Clinton believes strongly that we must not do this by lowering the standards of the market to reach families not prepared to become sustainable homeowners. Instead, we should lift more families up to enter a housing market that remains strong and inclusive. To put more families in a position for sustainable homeownership, Clinton will empower local communities to take four critical steps:
- Help responsible homeowners save for a down payment. Hard-working families of modest means often find that saving the money needed for a down payment on their first home presents an insurmountable barrier to homeownership. So Clinton’s plan will provide funding for initiatives in underserved communities to match up to $10,000 in savings for responsible homeowners who earn less than area median income to put towards a down payment on a first home. This will both incentivize savings and put the opportunity of homeownership within the reach of more families living in communities that will be well-served by more homeowners.
- Support counseling programs for the significant financial commitment of homeownership. Clinton will increase funding and broaden credit terms for housing counseling programs shown to help borrowers become sustainable homeowners.
- Update underwriting tools to reflect today’s job market. To better equip government agencies to assess credit risk in today’s increasingly dynamic economy and broaden the pool of credit-worthy borrowers eligible for a loan, Clinton will push them to use the new generation of credit testing tools.
- Clarify the rules of the road to expand access. Lending in many communities, particularly communities of color, has been held back by uncertainty over the rules of the road. Clinton will give every government agency that supports mortgage lending 90 days to present a plan to clarify their lending requirements. With this clarity, good lenders will finally have the confidence to make loans to all sustainable borrowers, and bad ones will think twice before violating the rules.
- Defend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Clinton believes we must never again allow borrowers to be taken advantage of in the rush for corporate profits. Even before the crisis, Clinton pledged to create a “Financial Product Safety Commission,” like the Dodd-Frank Act’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), to crack down on abusive and predatory lenders and to protect consumers. As President, Clinton will defend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and make sure that it has the independence and resources needed to provide families across the country with the strong advocate they deserve.
- Enforce fair housing and fair lending laws. Clinton will make sure that the Department of Justice enforces fair lending and fair housing laws and will work closely with regulators to make sure that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the nation’s lenders meet their responsibility to provide lending in communities that have been historically underserved.
- Check the skyrocketing rise of rental costs in areas of opportunity. Nearly half of all renters between age 25 and 34 pay 30 percent or more of their monthly income on rent, and one-fourth pay over half of their income on rent. High rents not only weigh heavily on the pocketbooks of these families but often displace entire communities in the face of local growth. There is simply not enough affordable rental housing in many parts of the country to keep up with new demand, driving prices in these areas to a level that is unaffordable for large segments of the population. To tackle this problem, Clinton will increase the supply of affordable rental housing by increasing incentives for new affordable rental housing development and easing the local barriers to building affordable housing in areas of economic opportunity:
- Reducing the cost. Clinton will defend the current supply of Low Income Housing Tax Credits and provide additional credits in communities where the demand for these credits far exceeds the supply. The additional credits will be allocated through a competitive process to those cities and states that are in the best position to use them effectively.
- Easing local barriers. Clinton will encourage communities to implement land use strategies that make it easier to build affordable rental housing near good jobs by increasing funding available to those that do through both her infrastructure bank and competitive grant programs, like the Department of Transportation’s TIGER initiative.
Black Enterprise reports:
“We were one of the 1st black organizations to support Hillary Clinton in the early stages, when it was deemed ‘too early to publicly endorse’ her campaign,” notes Busby. “We’ve said then that we believe she is the best candidate with the best understanding of the economic challenges facing black business owners and small business owners across the board.”
At that time, Busby asserted that “in order for there to be a strong black America, there must be strong black businesses.” Citing the need for a candidate who would “expand access to capital, provide tax relief, and expand access to new markets for black business owners,” he said Clinton was the best person for the job.
According to the briefing statement on HillaryClinton.com regarding her support for small business, “African Americans have made great progress in small business entrepreneurship. The number of small businesses owned by African American women, for example, has more than quadrupled since 1997. But while small businesses have helped African American families get ahead, they too often face difficulties securing the outside funding they need to grow. Hillary will fight to level the playing field for African American small business owners by cutting red tape, expanding access to capital, providing tax relief, and expanding access to new markets.”
In addition to easing unnecessary regulatory burdens on community banks, which provide credit to small business owners, Clinton has said that she will support innovative new financing modes like impact investing. She will double support for community development financial institutions and the successful State Small Business Credit Initiative, which offers crucial sources of support for small businesses across the country—particularly in underserved communities.Clinton did a lot of talking to and with African-American women over the course of her campaign, but more importantly, she did a lot of listening, even to those who viewed her with suspicion (and still do, in many cases.)
It's the listening that has mattered the most, as her campaign has clearly been influenced by the perspectives, research, and policy proposals of African-American women. It has helped to make her platform more progressive and intersectional than any Democratic nominee in history, and honors the rightful place of African-American women as the most important demographic of the Democratc base by centering their needs in the platform of the party and its nominee.
*** SUPPORT HILLARY CLINTON ***