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A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have! - Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton: Addressing the Needs of Families In Today’s Economy

Today, Hillary Clinton outlined her agenda to provide tangible benefits for Ohio families, too many of whom are struggling to stay afloat in an economy that is sliding towards recession. Hillary’s plans will help Ohio’s parents manage the responsibilities of caring for their children and caring for their aging parents, afford quality health care, and enable their children to attend college, which opens the door to more job opportunities.
Since 2000, Ohio’s median household income has decreased by 6.6%. Over the same period, health insurance premiums increased by 43% and the cost of college grew by almost 60%. The average gas price in Ohio is now $3, up from $1.50 in 2001. The average home heating costs have gone from $945 to $1,059 in the past year alone, an increase of 12%. Ohio’s families are facing rising costs while they face lower wages.
It’s time for a president who will put Ohio’s families first. As President, Hillary will: create jobs; lower health care costs; increase access to college; create new tax credits to offset the cost of caregiving and long-term care; enact paid leave for all workers; provide more affordable child care; provide guaranteed sick days; and establish American Retirement Accounts and tax benefits for retirement savings.
Hillary’s Family Agenda for Ohio:
Job Creation: Hillary has a comprehensive plan to create good jobs here in the United States, train and equip our workers for the 21st century, and revitalize America’s manufacturing industry. She will dramatically strengthen NAFTA’s labor and environmental provisions; change NAFTA’s investment provisions that grant special rights to foreign companies; strengthen NAFTA’s enforcement mechanisms; and review NAFTA regularly. She’ll also call for a time-out on all new trade agreements until the US has developed a comprehensive, pro-worker, pro-American trade policy that is enforceable, and end tax breaks for shipping US jobs overseas. She is the only candidate in the race who has proposed making immediate investments to jumpstart green collar job growth, including a program to train green collar workers, weatherize homes, and retrofit public buildings. She’ll also invest in restoring a strong, vibrant manufacturing sector in America and provide $10 billion in funding to help states review and repair their critical infrastructure.
A Health Care Plan that Covers Everyone: Hillary has offered the American Health Choices Plan, which would provide guaranteed affordable quality health care for everyone in Ohio. Through this plan, Hillary will end discrimination against the sick and enact a tax credit that covers a portion of the cost of health care premiums, so that premiums never exceed a reasonable portion of one’s income. Under Hillary’s plan, the days of people losing their health care because they lose their job or change jobs will come to an end. She’ll lower costs with an aggressive plan to modernize the health care system, reduce medical errors, and provide better care for those with chronic diseases. And she’ll change our system from a system of sickness to a system of wellness - preventing disease from occurring in the first place. This plan will ensure that the 1.1 million Ohioans without health insurance and the millions more who are underinsured receive affordable, quality care.
Making College More Affordable for Americans. Sixty percent of Ohio college students graduate with an average of $20,525 in student debt. Hillary has a real agenda to make college affordable and accessible for Ohio’s families. She will double the HOPE scholarship, providing a $3,500 tax credit for college; restore the Pell Grant to its original earning power; create a Graduation Fund to increase the graduation rate of community colleges; require colleges to set their tuition several years in advance so students and families can plan; provide a $10,000 scholarship for individuals who participate in public service full-time for a year; get rid of the burdensome federal financial aid application and replace it with a check-off box on the federal tax form; and enact a Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights to ensure that every student borrower has access to clear, transparent information about the monthly payment, interest rate, and term of the loan, and affordable loan payments. Up to 600,000 college students in Ohio, including 280,000 who are receiving Pell Grants, would benefit from Hillary’s college affordability agenda [NCES]
A New $3,000 Caregiving Tax Credit. Hillary will offer a new $3,000 Caregiving Tax Credit to any person with substantial long-term care needs or to their caregivers. On average, unpaid caregivers pay more than $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs, often dipping into their savings or forgoing their own health care. The credit will not require a complex accounting of out-of-pocket costs, but instead would be available directly to any individuals with substantial long-term care needs or their caregivers. Hillary’s Caregiver Tax Credit will provide generous new assistance to at least 180,000 Ohio residents. [CRS, 2007; Census 2007]
A New Long-Term Care Insurance Tax Credit: Hillary will offer a new tax credit to help those planning for their long-term care needs afford high-quality insurance policies that are right for them. This new tax credit will cover 75 percent of long-term care insurance premiums up to $1,500 per year for qualified long-term care insurance policies that meet strong new consumer protection requirements. The credit will reward middle-class families that take steps to prepare for their long-term care needs. Hillary’s new Long Term Care Insurance Tax Credit will benefit at least 333,000 Ohio’s seniors and near-retirees. [www.ahipresearch.org (p. 27)].
Paid Family Leave. Hillary will expand the Family Medical Leave Act to cover employers with 25 or more workers, a change that will provide legal protection for unpaid leave to 13 million additional workers. Hillary will also create a State Family Leave Innovation Fund to support the establishment and expansion of state-level leave programs for new parents and those caring for their aging parents. She will ensure that every state has a paid leave program by 2016. In Ohio, this proposal could impact approximately 4.4 million private-sector workers who do not have paid family leave. [National Partnership for Women & Families]
Increased Support for Child Care. Hillary has worked to expand access and improve quality of child care in our country for decades. The Bush Administration has essentially frozen the level of child care funding for the last eight years. As a result, the real purchasing power of child care subsidies has fallen significantly. According to the Bush Administration’s own estimates, 300,000 children will lose child care assistance by 2010, and 150,000 have already lost child care assistance since 2000. Hillary believes we need to increase child care funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant and return the program to it’s original intent: to serve working families. Hillary’s policy will help the 270,000 children under six and 25,000 infants in Ohio parents in the labor force who are unable to access formal, full-time child care [National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies]
Sick Days. Forty two percent of Ohio employees do not have sick leave for themselves; one-third of Ohio’s employees do not have sick leave to cover days when their children are ill. These workers must go to work sick or forego pay when they or their children become unexpectedly ill. Hillary will ensure that every full-time worker has access to 7 sick days. Part time workers will receive a proportional share. Hillary’s policy would ensure that 2.2 million Ohio workers have access to sick leave. [Policy Matters Ohio]
American Retirement Accounts - Hillary will ensure all middle class Americans can open a new American Retirement Account. These accounts will allow individuals to contribute up to $5,000 per year on a tax-deferred basis. She will also provide a 50% match on the first $1000 of savings for every couple making between $60,000 and $100,000, which will be phased out after that. This matching tax credit will be available to all Americans in existing 401(k) type accounts as well as the new American Retirement Accounts. 3.2 million Ohio families will be eligible to open an American Retirement Account under Hillary’s plan. [Current Employment Survey]

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