I read a blog post on The Huffington Post this week titled "The Case for a Populist Challenger in the Democratic Primaries." While the piece well delineated the differences between Republicans and Democrats, it also falsely suggested a divide within the Democratic Party itself -- specifically between Hillary Clinton and "populist" Democrats. In reality, there is no such divide.
To be a populist means to represent the interests of ordinary Americans -- exactly what Hillary Clinton has been doing her entire life. Ordinary Americans are those who weren't born into wealth or haven't stumbled upon good luck but work hard and are doing the best they can.
As Hillary Clinton likes to say, "talent is universal; opportunity is not." She has devoted her life to expanding opportunity for all Americans. Let me give you 10 reasons Hillary Clinton is the candidate for populist Democrats and all Americans:
- Hillary Clinton wants to grow the economy from the bottom up, not from the top down. At a speech at the New America Foundation Summit, Hillary said, "Now the empirical evidence tells us that our society is healthiest and our economy grows fastest when people in the middle are working and thriving, and when people at the bottom believe that they can make their way into that broad-based middle."
- Hillary Clinton supports increasing the minimum wage and voted repeatedly to protect and increase it. She was an original cosponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 and authored the 2006 and 2007 Standing With Minimum Wage Act to tie congressional salary increases to an increase in the minimum wage.
- Hillary Clinton has long advocated for a fairer tax system that works for all Americans, not just the most fortunate. In the Senate she consistently fought for middle-class tax cuts, including tax credits for student loan recipients, and keeping in place the tax cuts for those who make under $250,000 a year.
- Hillary has said that "inherited wealth and concentrated wealth is not good for America," and she consistently voted against repealing the estate tax on millionaires, doing so in 2001, 2002, and 2006.
- She worked to make millionaires pay their fair share by closing the "carried interest" tax loophole that allows Wall Street executives to pay a lesser percentage of their income than regular working Americans.
- She has fought to crack down on CEO compensation, introducing legislation to let shareholders have a say in the companies they invest in.
- Hillary Clinton knows that education is the great equalizer for people of all ages. In Arkansas she was instrumental in developing the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program to give parents the tools they need to prepare their children for school. In the Senate Clinton partnered with former Sen. Kit Bond (R-Missouri) in an effort to expand voluntary full-day pre-K for children from low-income families.
- Today, as part of her Too Small to Fail Initiative, Hillary is working to close the "word gap" for kids in low-income families who often have smaller vocabularies than their classmates.
- Hillary has also worked to make higher education more affordable by increasing funding to the federal Pell Grant program and reducing the burden of student loan debt.
- Hillary Clinton knows that empowering women is not just the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do. And in doing so, our economy is only going to get better. On the campaign trail this past fall, Hillary said, "Women up and down the income ladder face double standards and barriers to advancement.... These aren't just women's issues. They hold back our entire economy." Then-Sen. Clinton introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2005 and 2007 to help eliminate pay discrimination. Providing quality and affordable child care, expanding paid leave, and reducing discrimination are just a few of the policies Hillary knows will make this country more prosperous for all.
Leveling the playing field so that everyone can have a fair shot: That's what Hillary Clinton calls "the basic bargain of America: No matter who you are or where you come from, if you work hard and play by the rules, you should have the opportunity to build a good life."
Hillary Clinton is proud of her middle-class roots and wants every American to have the opportunities she has had. She believes it is the basic bargain of America. I know that as our next president, Hillary Clinton will do all she can to make sure America lives up to its end of the bargain.