25 Progressive Reforms Hillary Clinton Promised to Work Toward If Elected President
When accepting the Democratic nomination Thursday, Hillary Clinton scoffed at Donald Trump’s boast that he alone can fix America if elected president. She said, "Americans don't say, ‘I alone can fix it.’ We say, ‘We'll fix it together.'"
Clinton invited those who share her goals to join her campaign and pledged to implement many progressive ideas and reforms. Compared to President Obama’s campaign in 2008, which centered on getting out of Iraq and bringing a post-partisan approach to Washington, Clinton has defined the most progressive agenda since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society or Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Of course, the economy is far better now than in 2008, so a more ambitious government agenda is possible.
Whether you fall under the poetry and spell of this sweeping agenda or are skeptical that her words won’t bring actions, Clinton is setting a high benchmark. Here are 25 points as directly quoted or paraphrased from her speech.
1. Make economic and social justice issues 'front and center.' Clinton made that pledge when praising Sanders and his campaign, saying that’s “where they belong… I want you to know I have heard you. Your cause is our cause. Our country needs your ideas, energy, and passion. That is the only way we can turn our progressive platform into real change for America.”
2. Comprehensive immigration reform—not Trump’s border wall. “We will not build a wall… When we have millions of hardworking immigrants contributing to our economy, it would be self-defeating and inhumane to try to kick them out. Comprehensive immigration reform will grow our economy and keep families together—and it’s the right thing to do… And we’ll build a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants who are already contributing to our economy.”
3. End targeting and racial profiling of Islamic Americans. Replying to Trump’s proposal to stop Muslims from visiting from overseas and increasing police surveillance at home, Clinton said, “We will not ban a religion. We will work with all Americans and our allies to fight and defeat terrorism.”
4. Believe in government public service and be competent. “So it’s true. I sweat the details of policy, whether we’re talking about the exact level of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, the number of mental health facilities in Iowa, or the cost of your prescription drugs. Because it’s not just a detail if it’s your kid, if it’s your family. It’s a big deal. And it should be a big deal to your president, too.”
5. Make it a top task to revive America’s economically stagnant regions. “My primary mission as president will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages right here in the United States… Especially in places that for too long have been left out and left behind. From our inner cities to our small towns, from Indian country to coal country. From communities ravaged by addiction to regions hollowed out by plant closures.”
6. Reform campaign finance as the key to changing the economy. “I believe our economy isn’t working the way it should because our democracy isn’t working the way it should. That’s why we need to appoint Supreme Court justices who will get money out of politics and expand voting rights, not restrict them. And if necessary, we will pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.”
7. Hold corporations accountable and have them pay a fair share of taxes. “I believe American corporations that have gotten so much from our country should be just as patriotic in return. Many of them are, but too many aren’t. It’s wrong to take tax breaks with one hand and give out pink slips with the other. And I believe Wall Street can never, ever be allowed to wreck Main Street again.”
8. Oppose trade agreements that privilege corporations above everyone else. “If you believe that we should say no to unfair trade deals; that we should stand up to China; that we should support our steelworkers and autoworkers and homegrown manufacturers, then join us.”
9. Climate change is real, and the solution is a new energy infrastructure. “I believe in science. I believe that climate change is real and that we can save our planet while creating millions of good-paying, clean energy jobs.”
10. Achieve a higher standard of living, starting with higher minimum wage. “If you believe that companies should share profits, not pad executive bonuses, join us. If you believe the minimum wage should be a living wage, and no one working full-time should have to raise their children in poverty, join us.”
11. Expand Obamacare and a health care safety net. “If you believe that every man, woman, and child in America has the right to affordable health care, join us!"
12. Raise Social Security benefits. “We should expand Social Security.”
13. Protect reproductive rights. We should “protect a woman’s right to make her own heath care decisions,” Clinton said.
14. Make sure women get equal pay for equal work. “If you believe that your working mother, wife, sister, or daughter deserves equal pay, join us. That’s how we’re going to make sure this economy works for everyone, not just those at the top.”
15. Make the biggest infrastructure investment in decades. “In my first 100 days, we will work with both parties to pass the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II. Jobs in manufacturing, clean energy, technology and innovation, small business, and infrastructure. If we invest in infrastructure now, we’ll not only create jobs today, but lay the foundation for the jobs of the future.”
16. Make public universities tuition-free for most. “Bernie Sanders and I will work together to make college tuition-free for the middle class and debt-free for all.”
17. Cut and restructure student debt. “We will also liberate millions of people who already have student debt.”
18. Expand job and trade skill programs. “Sure, college is crucial, but a four-year degree should not be the only path to a good job. We will help more people learn a skill or practice a trade and make a good living doing it.”
19. Open up lending options for small businesses. “We will give small businesses, like my dad’s, a boost, make it easier to get credit. Way too many dreams die in the parking lots of banks. In America, if you can dream it, you should be able to build it.”
20. Tax the rich to pay for these public programs. “We’re going to pay for every single one of them. And here’s how. Wall Street, corporations and the super-rich are going to start paying their fair share of taxes. This is not because we resent success, but when more than 90 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent, that’s where the money is.”
21. Track down tax evaders and make them pay. “We are going to follow the money. And if companies take tax breaks and then ship jobs overseas, we’ll make them pay us back. And we’ll put that money to work where it belongs: creating jobs here at home.”
22. Get military-style weapons off the street through new gun controls. “I’m not here to repeal the Second Amendment. I’m not here to take away your guns. I just don’t want you to be shot by someone who shouldn’t have a gun in the first place. We will work tirelessly with responsible gun owners to pass commonsense reforms and keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, and all others who would do us harm.”
23. Work to heal divides on race and bigotry. “That starts with listening—listening to each other, trying as best we can to walk in each other’s shoes. So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of young black and Latino men and women who face the effects of systemic racism and are made to feel like their lives are disposable. Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of police officers, kissing their kids and spouses goodbye every day and heading off to do a dangerous and necessary job.”
24. Enact criminal justice reform and address abusive polling. “We will reform our criminal justice system from end to end, and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”
25. Protect civil rights and liberties, including LGBT rights. “We will defend all our rights: civil rights, human rights, and voting rights; women’s rights and workers’ rights; LGBT rights and the rights of people with disabilities. And we will stand up against mean and divisive rhetoric wherever it comes from.”
As Clinton said when summing up, her agenda is designed to help American families, workers, workplaces and the middle class have a better base from which they can live better lives. Her agenda is about respecting diversity in all its forms and reforming government institutions from the inside out to better uphold those rights.
She aims to revive downtrodden and overlooked regions by investing in infrastructure, not just roads and bridges, but the energy systems necessary to combat climate change—a massive economic undertaking akin to Franklin Roosevelt bringing electricity to rural America in the 1930s and President Eisenhower building the interstate highways in the '50s. Those broad ideas and her grit to deliver stands in stark contrast to Trump’s fear-driven and vacuous proposals, as Clinton said.
“Enough with the bigotry and the bombast,” Clinton concluded. “Donald Trump’s not offering real change. He’s offering empty promises. And what are we offering? A bold agenda to improve the lives of people across our country—to keep you safe, to get you good jobs, to give your kids the opportunities they deserve.”