Hillary's Hispanic Agenda: Una Vida Mejor Para Todos
Expanding opportunity is at the core of the American dream. We believe that if we work hard and play by the rules, we can succeed and create better lives for ourselves and our children. Latinos understand and value the importance of opportunity - a good education system and good jobs.
That is why Hillary Clinton has an agenda that expands opportunity for Latinos. It starts with closing the early achievement gap; she will help address it by ensuring every child in America enters school ready to learn. As President, Hillary Clinton will:
* Invest $10 billion in quality pre-kindergarten. Hillary will provide access to high quality pre-kindergarten for all four-year-olds through a federal-state partnership. Her proposal pays particular attention to the need for these programs among children from limited-English and/or low income households - ensuring that they receive priority in enrollment and receive these services at no cost. Currently, only 40 percent of three-to-five-year-old Hispanics attend pre-k compared to about 60 percent of whites and blacks, in large part because pre-k isn't available or the price is out of reach in many Hispanic communities. One study of Tulsa, Oklahoma's pre-k-for-all program found benefits for all racial, ethnic, and socio-economic status groups but the gains for Hispanic students were especially impressive. Hispanic students experienced a 79 percent gain in letter-word identification (compared to 52 percent for whites), a 39 percent gain in spelling (compared to 26 percent for whites), and a 54 percent gain in applied problem solving (compared to 6 percent for whites).
* Expand Head Start and Early Head Start. Hillary is proud to have helped create Early Head Start when she was First Lady and to have worked toward doubling it as a Senator. As President, She will continue to expand access to Head Start for the children of farm workers; end the underrepresentation of Latino children in Head Start and Early Head Start; ensure that assessments of children's growth and development are culturally and linguistically appropriate; and grow the programs overall to increase school readiness of Latino children.
* Expand parent support programs. Hillary will also expand innovative nurse home visitation and parent education programs, such as Parents as Teachers and the Nurse Home Visitation Program, to help first-time mothers prepare for and care for their young children. One analysis of the Parents as Teachers program in Northern California found that this program improved children's cognitive, social, emotional skills even more so among children in Spanish-speaking Latino families than others.
But school readiness is just the beginning. We also need to do better by Hispanic children throughout the education pipeline so that they can realize their dreams and aspirations. That means raising achievement, closing the achievement gap, focusing on the drop out crisis and getting all Latino children to college. As President, Hillary Clinton will:
* Set a big goal of cutting the Latino drop-out rate in half. The Latino dropout rate is far too high - half of all Latino kids don't graduate from high school on time. Hillary has supported the Graduation Promise Act, which makes a $2.5 billion investment to stop what have become known as "high school drop out factories." Two thousand of these drop-out factories nation-wide produce the majority of our high school dropouts. The dropout rate for Hispanics is more than double the rate for African Americans and more than three times the rate for whites.
* Expand GEAR UP to provide mentoring to Latino children. Many at-risk youth are falling off the track to higher education and career success early in the middle school years because they lack the tools and positive role models to get ahead. GEAR UP supports innovative partnerships between local school systems, colleges, businesses, and non-profit organizations to provide over a million middle-school students in high-risk schools with comprehensive college-readiness services including tutoring, mentoring, and college visits. Hillary will increase by 50 percent the number of children being served by GEAR UP.
* Put college within reach for more Hispanic families. Only 12 percent of Hispanics eventually earn a bachelor's degree, compared with 33 percent of non-Hispanic whites. College enrollment and completion rates haven't increased over the past 20 years and more members of the freshman class at the University of Michigan have parents making at least $200,000 a year than have parents making less than the national median of $53,000. For Latinos, cost can be a major barrier; the total cost of public college tuition is one-third of the median household income compared with 24 percent for white students. Hillary will make a firm commitment to make college affordable when she is President. She will end the work penalty that discounts students' financial aid packages by as much as 50 percent for each dollar they earn; increase the Pell Grant maximum so that it keeps pace with the rising cost of college; and enact a student borrowers' bill of rights to ensure that loan payments are reasonable. And Hillary will work to increase funding for work-study and other federal financial aid and cut student loan interest rates.
* Enact the DREAM Act. It will provide a path to citizenship for undocumented children by allowing them to go to college - at the same cost as other state residents for those attending state institutions - or serve in the military. The children of undocumented families often come to the United States at a very early age. They know no other home, and our current policy fails them by providing them no affordable path to college.
As President, Hillary Clinton will also focus on those young people who have traditionally been forgotten. As President, she will:
* Help students stay in school and stay on track. Hillary will invest $100 million in a new public/private summer internship program to help one million at-risk middle-school students. Participation in internships teaches young people the value and potential of work and increase the likelihood that they will graduate from high school, go to college and find employment.
* Support responsible fatherhood and provide second-chance jobs. Hillary will make sure that states and counties have adequate resources to collect child support and also make sure that these government agencies pass every dollar on to children; research has shown that fathers pay more of their child support and develop deeper bonds with their children if they know that those payments go directly to their children. She will also create new incentive-based re-entry partnership grants - investing $200 million over five years - that will create partnerships between correction facilities, community and religious organizations, community colleges or vocational programs, job placement agencies, and local employers so that all ex-offenders have the opportunity to rebuild their lives. At the end of 2005, there were almost three times as many Hispanic male inmates as whites per capita. Ex-offenders often end up committing crimes again in part because they face steep barriers to entering the legitimate labor market.
But expanding educational attainment will mean nothing if there aren't good jobs. And that's why Hillary Clinton has an economic agenda focused on creating good jobs. During the 1990s, the Latino middle class expanded. There are more than nine million Hispanics living in poverty today, including 4.2 million Hispanic children, but the typical Hispanic family has seen its real income fall nearly $1,000 since President Bush took office. As President, Hillary Clinton will:
* Eliminate incentives for American companies to ship jobs and profits overseas. The tax code rewards companies for off-shoring jobs by enabling them to defer paying American taxes for as long as they hold the money abroad. The current policy puts companies that create jobs in America at a competitive disadvantage.
* Help working people earn enough to support their families and help them save for the future. Hillary will simplify and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and overhaul the unemployment insurance system.
* Make it easier to form unions in order to create jobs with higher wages and better benefits. She will support the Employee Free Choice Act, which will level the playing field between workers and employers and ensure that employees will not be unfairly punished by their employers for attempting to unionize. As a result, more workers, including Latinos will be able to organize and bargain collectively for a better way of life, higher wages, quality health care and a secure retirement.
* Increase the minimum wage. Hillary Clinton has proposed linking increases in the federal minimum wage to Congressional pay increases in order to improve the lives of middle-class Americans, who are working harder and longer for less and less. For them, the costs of living are increasing but their wages are remaining constant. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 76.5 million American workers were paid at hourly rates in 2006, representing 59.7 percent of all wage and salary workers. Of those paid by the hour, 409,000 were reported as earning exactly $5.15, the prevailing Federal minimum wage. About 2 percent of Hispanic hourly-paid workers earned $5.15 or less.
QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE
Hillary Clinton will also ensure that all Americans have access to quality health care that is affordable. There are 15.3 million uninsured Hispanics in the United States, and they are the least likely of any racial or ethnic group to have health insurance. Hispanics are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and more likely to contract HIV. Thirty-one percent of Hispanics report that they have no usual source of health care - that's twice as high as the rate for non-Hispanic whites. As President, Hillary will work to pass the American Health Care Choices Plan, which will:
* Guarantee that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care. Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed over the last several years - nearly doubled since 2000 - while incomes have remained stagnant. The average income in Latino households in 2006 was $37,781 compared with $53,423 for non-Hispanic whites, making it more difficult for Latinos to afford the care they need.
* Eliminate insurance discrimination. Under Hillary's plan, no one will be discriminated against on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, age, occupation or other risk factors. No American will be denied coverage, refused renewal of an insurance policy, unfairly priced out of the market, or charged excessive premiums.
* Provide families with a tax credit for premiums. Her plan will guarantee that no Latino family pays more than a reasonable share of their income in health insurance premiums by providing an income-contingent tax credit to cover the excess cost of premiums.
* End racial disparities in access to quality health care. Hillary's plan to ensure universal health coverage is vital to closing the disturbing racial and ethnic health disparities that are pervasive throughout our health care system. While many factors, such as the environment, contribute to the disparities in health outcomes, no factor matters more than access to health insurance.
* Expand access to Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program. Disadvantaged adults without children will finally be able to enroll in these programs. For the 9.6 million Latinos participating in Medicaid, this plan will fix the holes in the safety net. Also, hospitals and community health centers will continue to receive support so that they can serve vulnerable populations.
* Make it easier for small business owners to offer health care coverage. Small businesses are vital to the growth of the American economy and Latinos have contributed greatly to the growth of the small business community. In 2002, there were 1.6 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States that, together, generated $222 billion in revenue, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The rate of growth of Hispanic-owned businesses was 31 percent between 1997 and 2002, nearly triple the national average. Under Hillary's plan, small business owners will be given a tax credit for providing coverage to employees.
* Provide guaranteed sick days. Hillary is a strong supporter of the Healthy Families Act, which provides every full-time worker with seven days of sick leave. Today, half of working Americans don't receive a sick day; among low-wage workers, one out of every four workers doesn't get a sick day.
Hillary Clinton will also work to ensure that all Latinos have the opportunity to realize the American dream of homeownership. Right now, we could be facing a real crisis in the mortgage market and Latinos are carrying a large share of that burden - 40 percent of Latino homeowners have subprime mortgages. She will make sure that we don't have a situation where people lose their homes through no fault of their own. To address the growing mortgage crisis, help Latinos homeowners avoid foreclosure, and ensure that home ownership is in reach for millions of Hispanics, Hillary Clinton will:
* Expand Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's foreclosure prevention programs. These government-sponsored enterprises already help mitigate foreclosures by enabling some borrowers to swap into less-risky, lower-cost loans. Fannie Mae's also helps homeowners arrange payment forbearance, financial counseling, and loan restructurings. Hilary will expand these initiatives to include helping a larger number of at-risk homeowners avoid foreclosure.
* End prepayment penalties. Studies have shown that loans with prepayment penalties have a 52 percent greater risk of default than those without. She will restrict the use of prepayment penalties. Prepayment penalties, which are often used on subprime, Alt-A, and non-traditional mortgages, are a problem for borrowers.
* Put a stop to mortgage fraud and predatory lending. She will require mortgage brokers to disclose to borrowers that their compensation rises when borrowers' mortgage rates and mortgage fees are high. Borrowers need to be aware of this when assessing the advice brokers give them. Also, Hillary will work with states to develop strong licensing standards and require federal registration for mortgage brokers.
* Make government-backed mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration more available. Hillary has introduced legislation, the 21st Century Housing Act, to enable the FHA to provide more homebuyers with an alternative to the subprime market. Homebuyers who do not qualify for conventional mortgages are the most common users of FHA-backed mortgages. The 21st Century Housing Act would strengthen the FHA so that it could work more efficiently with lenders, develop new mortgage products, and serve more borrowers.
* Expand affordable housing. Hillary will establish a $1-billion fund to support state, county and municipal housing trust funds, which generally use dedicated funding sources to support initiatives, like building subsidized rental housing and safety net housing, and also support non-profit housing developers.
SUPPORT FOR OUR VETERANS
In 2004, according to the Department of Defense, Latinos made up 13 percent of new recruits - an all-time high, nearly twice the percentage of 10 years earlier. And while Latinos are still underrepresented in the military, the absolute number of Latinos entering the armed forces continues to grow, which means that the Latino veteran population will grow. The Bush administration has ignored its responsibility to service men and women before deployment, during service and upon their return to the United States. Hillary Clinton's agenda for veterans will include:
* A new G.I. Bill of Rights. Hillary has proposed a new bargain with our troops. Her plan would reduce the level of red tape facing our wounded service members and veterans; make available microloans for entrepreneurial ventures up to $100,000; expand opportunities for veterans to purchase, build, repair or improve a home; protect service members against predatory lending, insurance, and other financial practices; and provide educational scholarships for those who have served.
* Guaranteed, mandatory funding of our veteran's health care system. Hillary does not think that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs should be fighting every year to get the funding necessary to care for our wounded veterans. She has called for full funding of veterans' health care, taking into account the fluctuating number of veterans and inflation in each year going forward.
* A pay raise for wartime troops. One in five military families rely on food stamps and other public assistance to survive and last year's pay increase for members of the uniformed services was just 2.2 percent, the lowest since 1994. Hillary has called upon President Bush to increase pay for our troops by 3.5 percent.
* A monthly stipend for Gold Star Parents. Hillary introduced the Gold Star Parents Annuity Act, which would provide a life-long $125 monthly stipend to surviving mothers and fathers whose sons or daughters lost their lives while serving in the Armed Forces during a period of war.
GLOBAL WARMING AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Low-income and minority communities are most vulnerable to environmental threats because of where they live and a lack of access to information. According to the American Lung Association, 80 percent of Latinos live in counties that do not meet at least one federal air quality standard as mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; in comparison, only 57 percent of whites and 65 percent of blacks are in the same situation. And according to the League of United Latin American Citizens, 39 percent of Latinos live within 30 miles of a power plant, which puts them at maximum exposure to pollutants, and often Latinos are not aware of advisories about environmental pollutants. As President, Hillary Clinton will:
* Enact legislation to reduce global warming pollution by 80 percent by 2050. She supports legislation to create a cap and trade system that auctions off most of the polluting permits in order to most efficiently achieve significant decreases in our emissions and halt global warming.
* Create a Strategic Energy Fund that would inject $50 billion to fund research, development and deployment of energy technologies that will reduce America's oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions. It will deliver clean coal technology by providing $3.5 billion in tax incentives and grants to build clean coal plants; invest in renewable energy and move America toward the goal of producing 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources; provide more incentives for consumers to purchase and companies to manufacture efficient vehicles; accelerate the development of homegrown biofuels; provide incentives for people to make their homes more energy efficient; and create a $9 billion Advanced Research Projects Agency.
* Create new jobs and increase our energy efficiency through a Green Building Fund. Hillary will allocate $1 billion annually to states to make grants or low-interest loans to improve energy efficiency in public buildings, police stations, firehouses and offices, creating as many as 50,000 new "green-collar" jobs.
* Pass the Environmental Justice Renewal Act to help communities harmed by pollution. The legislation it would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to monitor and control pollution caused by power plants, waste treatment facilities and their transportation methods, refineries and other problematic industrial situations which happen to affect communities made up of the poorest people of our society.
COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM
Hillary Clinton will bring the leadership that the country needs to finally pass a comprehensive immigration reform policy. Our current system is broken. It is at odds with our values as a nation and is simply not working. There are more than 12 million undocumented people currently living in the United States - that's nearly 1 in 20 workers. We have no ability to identify them or ensure that they are being treated fairly in the workplace. Hillary will enact comprehensive reform that is fair. She will also work to help change the negative tone and rhetoric that has divided our nation when it comes to immigration. This reform will:
# Provide for a path to citizenship. We have to provide a path to legal status and earned citizenship to those who have been in this country and are working hard, paying taxes, respecting the law, and willing to meet a high bar to become citizens.
# Bolster border security. We must reduce the number of undocumented people coming to the United States. We need to deploy new technology that can help our border patrol agents be more effective in stopping the flow of undocumented immigrants into the country.
# Maintain family reunification as a core principle. We must protect the sanctity of families and repair the broken, unfair bureaucratic system that forces lawful immigrants to live apart from their spouses and children.
# Create an agricultural guest worker program. It will end the exploitation of undocumented agricultural workers and ensure that the wages of American workers are not undermined.
# Expedite the process of entering the United States. We need to eliminate the backlog of immigration applications and make the wait time reasonable so that families aren't kept apart unnecessarily. We should capitalize on technological advances to streamline and standardize the system of applying to enter the United States.
Today, the American dream of opportunity is threatened by an administration in which the struggles of hardworking Americans are invisible to President Bush. Part of why Hillary Clinton is running for President is to renew the promise of America as the land of opportunity for all Americans.