Today Hillary Clinton outlined her "economic action plan" in what her campaign billed as a major address. (Full transcript after the jump). For those who have been paying attention to her on the road, where her speeches have become heavily laden with references to what she calls believes is a slumping economy and her proposed corrections, there is nothing new in today’s speech.
But, it’s the first time she put it all together in one economic speech, so it’s worth looking at all the proposals, with some criticisms and defenses from the chief economic advisers of the Obama and Clinton campaign respectively–Austan Golsbee and Gene Sperling.
Given the deal between President Bush and Congress today, most relevant in her economic plan right now is her proposed stimulus package.
Goolsbee articulated the Obama campaign’s chief criticism of the plan to me in a conversation earlier this week.
"With Clinton," he said, "The majority of the money in her stimulus plan is not money that can be sent out right away. It entails an application, an evaluation and you have to think about, in stimulus you have to answer the basic critique. There are a lot of people who don’t believe in fiscal stimulus at all because they don’t think the money will get out in a reasonable timetable.”
Sperling sharply contested that view. He told me on Monday, “There is no reason that money could not get out quickly.” “My view," he added, "is that we should have serious economic debates among ourselves when there are serious issues that divide us. This idea of just trying to poke a hole for the sake of just poking a hole doesn’t help anybody.”
Here is what Clinton’s plan looks like. She calls for $40 billion in tax rebates for working and middle-class families. The Obama and Clinton campaigns both agree that the rebates are necessary, and the Obama camp’s criticism has more to do with process than substance. They say they came up with it first.
"She has now called for tax rebates," said Goolsbee. He added, "it would be something like the first chunk of Obama’s plan — 110 of the 120 Obama dollars can go out right away. And of the Clinton plan, only the $40 billion tax rebate, plus $10 billion in unemployment insurance — $50 billion out of the $110 billion — can go out in the first three months."
Clinton also calls for a $30 billion emergency housing crisis fund to assist states and cities mitigate the effects of mounting foreclosures. The linchpin of Clinton’s plan, and the boldest part of it, is a call for a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and a five-year freeze on interest rates on subprime mortgages.
For the most part, Goolsbee had little to take issue with. He had a much bigger problem with the Clinton plan’s call for $25 billion in emergency energy assistance for families facing skyrocketing heating bills. Goolsbee’s criticism of this component was consistent with his major beef with Clinton’s entire stimulus plan, which is that it would take way too long to enact, and therefore wouldn’t provide for any real stimulus at all.
Here’s Goolsbee’s critique: "It is a very detailed program. It is a very good program that people are familiar with but it just isn’t a stimulus. It is for winter heat and by the time this thing gets through we’d be talking about next winter. Two, it’s a five to 10-page application process which is significantly onerous.
He added, "After convincing the people to apply and getting them to fill out the application process, you then have an evaluation process, so this will take many months if not a year to get out the door."
Sperling vehemently disagreed with that characterization.
He said the campaign believes that because the Clinton fund would provide immediate, time-limited resources to states, governors around the country would be eager to use the money to prevent unnecessary foreclosures.Sperling said the criticism failed to take into account the fact that since in many states such heating programs already exist, they would be easier to put into action.
Goolsbee’s criticism of the $5 billion Clinton calls for in accelerated energy efficiency and alternative energy investments to jumpstart green-collar job growth runs along the same theme, that it’s a good idea, but a long-term plan, and would be take too much time to be considered an economic stimulus.
Goolsbee generally agreed with Clinton’s plan to provide $10 billion in extending and broadening unemployment insurance for those who are out of work, which is similar to a component of Obama’s stimulus package. Goolsbee and the rest of the Obama campaign, whoa are about to have a conference call to pick apart the plan, are not the only ones with their daggers ready. Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant sent out this statement immediately following Clinton’s speech:
Full text of the speech, as prepared for delivery:
n that front, and if you want to know the details talk to Hershel and the veterans who are here, because they can give you chapter and verse about what we need to do to keep faith with our veterans.
e door, we have been the beneficiaries of the sacrifices that came from previous generations- from parents and grandparents, from people who fought the wars, and built big businesses, and did the labor, who created the extraordinary success of that America is. We have to keep faith with all that came before us. I don’t think any of us want to be part of the first generation of Americans to leave our country worse off than when we found it. That would be such a breach with what American history has meant to all of us. So the time for waiting is over and the time for talk is over.
etirement, but you can’t do it because your taxes are too high and your wages aren’t high enough. Maybe you want to go back to school, but your health care premiums are too high so you can’t afford tuition. We live in a complex, interconnected, global economy. All of our challenges are all together now. We can’t just put band-aids on one and expect to solve our problems. What we have to do is have a plan to create good jobs and restore fairness to the economy. We need to renew the promise of America that if you work hard, you can get ahead. We need to return to fiscal responsibility, so that Washington once again lives within a budget, just like you and your family has to do. I believe solving the jobs crisis over the long run starts with solving the energy crisis. That’s why I will create a $50 billion Strategic Energy Fund to jumpstart investments in clean energy technologies. We will create a green revolution with investments in biofuels, wind, solar, geothermal, all of the clean energy and energy efficiency changes we need to make. And as we create these new job possibilities for the next generation we will pay for it by eliminating the tax subsidies for the big oil companies and require them to pay into the Strategic Energy Fund, or invest in alternative energy themselves. They have made record profits in recent years. Now it’s time they did their fair share. I also know that we won’t get any of this done until the two oil men leave the White House but as soon as they do, we will start to work on this long-term vision. We also help create jobs by modernizing and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. The tragic bridge collapse in Minnesota this past summer, a recent levee break in Nevada, and what happened with the levees in New Orleans are painful reminders that our infrastructure is in dangerous disrepair. Every billion dollars that we spend fixing crumbling infrastructure creates 48,000 new jobs. I have a Rebuild America Plan to invest $10 billion over ten years in an “Emergency Repair Fund.” We need to modernize our ports, our rail systems, our airports, our public transit systems, our bridges, our tunnels, our roads. We need to expand access to broadband across America, particularly to rural areas. We need to end this Administration’s war on science and restore America to its rightful place. As the innovation nation, I will increase investments in basic and applied research at the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and our other government agencies and universities. We became so successful after World War II because business and science worked hand in hand with government. Our great universities like Furman were on the cutting edge of discoveries that we translated into better outcomes for people. But creating jobs is just the beginning. We need to empower our workers and ensure that our tax system is fair. That’s the second piece of a long-term plan. For the past seven years, the oil companies, the predatory student loan companies, the insurance companies, the drug companies have had a president who stands up for them. I intend to be a president who stands up for you every single day about how we make America work better for you. During the 1950s and 60s which many of us look back at with great appreciation because the economy worked so well, for so long, for so many, we had a much higher percentage of our workforce unionized. Now it is much lower. We need to make sure people can organize and bargain for good wages and safe working conditions. We need to be sure that we restore fairness to the economy by restoring fairness to the tax code. Right now, some of the people I represent in New York City, Wall Street investment managers, making $50 million a year pay just 15% on their earnings – while a teacher making $50,000 pays 25%. I don’t think that’s right and I’ve been calling to raise the taxes on those people at the top. As corporate profits have skyrocketed, the percentage of taxes paid by corporations has fallen. We have richly rewarded people and I am all in favor of incentivizing people to do well. That is part of what America stands for. But it isn’t right that the wealthy and the well-connected have gotten so many more benefits than the middle class and working people have. We need to extend middle class tax cuts, including the child tax credit, marriage penalty relief. We need to reform the Alternative Minimum Tax to ensure it doesn’t hit middle class families with higher tax rates. It was never supposed to do that. We need to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and raise the minimum wage to ensure that work pays for all Americans. No one who works full time should live in poverty. If you’re working full time you shouldn’t be in poverty. We need to give people the tools and support they need to succeed in today’s complex economy. That starts with recommitting ourselves to making college affordable for our young people. That’s especially important here in South Carolina, the average student debt upon graduation is $20,000. So you start in a big hole before you ever go to work on the first day. And you know what’s happened which is really troubling to me—America’s higher education system which was the envy of the world, we had an open system, the highest percentage of young people who went to get degrees, but now from Japan to South Korea to Canada and Ireland, other countries are educating their young people at a higher rate than here in America. The reason for that is the cost has exploded. It is more expensive today than it was thirty years ago to send a child to college. That’s why I’ve outlined a comprehensive plan to open the doors of college to young people. It includes a new $3,500 college tax credit that will cover more than 50% of the typical cost of public colleges and universities or the full cost of tuition and fees for community colleges. I also want to increase the size of Pell Grants, something that former Secretary Riley mentioned. I want to strengthen community colleges, invest $500 million to support innovative, on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs for those who don’t go to college. We also have to ensure that every American has quality, affordable health care. Here in South Carolina alone, 672,000 people are uninsured. I want to ask you— how many of you know someone here in South Carolina who is uninsured? How many of you know somebody who may have insurance but it just doesn’t pay for what the doctor or the hospital says you need? We have two problems—we have the problem of the uninsured and the problem of the underinsured. My American Health Choices Plan would insure every single person for what they need. It’s simple: If you have insurance you like, you keep it. There is no disruption. If you have a good policy through your business or through a union or through a municipality, nothing changes. But if you don’t have insurance – or you don’t like the insurance you have – you can choose from the same menu of private plans available to members of Congress. And we will provide tax credits to help you afford it. My plan also bans insurance company discrimination, so you will never be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions or risk factors that you might have. And we don’t require small business to do anything but it does provide tax credits to help small businesses if they choose to afford to buy health care for their employees. Finally, we have to help more Americans save for a secure retirement. Right now, fewer than half of all Americans have any retirement savings account at all. When I’m President, I want to provide every single American with an easy, automatic opportunity to save for the future through “American Retirement Accounts.” These accounts will take the best of the 401k plans and make them available to every working family. And we’ll give families up to $1,000 in tax cuts to help them save. And finally we’ve got to return to fiscal responsibility. Year after year, the President has inc
reased spending at more than double the rate of the previous administration and handed tax cut after tax cut to multi-millionaires, oil companies and other interest groups. And how has he paid for all of this spending? By borrowing money from foreign countries like China. When people ask me, why is it hard to get tough on China and enforce our trade agreements, I tell them: because they’re our bankers. We owe them. How can we truly enforce the trade laws against a country like China, when our economy depends on China’s massive loans to us? Think about it this way, we borrow money from China to buy oil from the Saudis. That is a dead-end strategy for America. And I’m going to end that strategy if I have the good fortune of becoming your president. Because I want America to regain control of its destiny by moving back toward a balanced budget and a surplus. That’s why I’ve worked throughout this campaign to show exactly how I would pay for every initiative that I have just mentioned. Not just how I’ll run my campaign, but run our country as well. You know, today, some people around the world and even some here at home are basically saying, “Well, we can’t go back to the kind of economy we had before.” They act as though the 1990s was ancient Rome. It worked well in the 1990s. The average American family had a $7,000 gain in income in the 1990s. Well, every election is about the future but I do think there are lessons we need to learn from the past. Because right now, we are on the wrong track. We are undermining our security at home and around the world. We are undermining the American dream here at home. You know, great presidents have always understood the greatness of the American people. Think about President Franklin Roosevelt. Faced with a Depression, grave threats to America’s freedom, he responded with bold solutions. Yes, they were sometimes controversial, but we rose from economic chaos and despair and at the time he died we were months away from winning a World War. He didn’t paint a rosy scenario. He didn’t ignore the tough challenges. He urged us to confront them. “We have a great many problems ahead of us,” he said. “And we must approach them with realism and courage.” He believed we could tackle our greatest challenges, and I believe exactly the same. We have to overcome the fear and fatalism that President Bush has used to divide us and set us against one another. When I sometimes here the President or the Vice President, I don’t hear America talking. You know, “we can’t solve the energy crisis without wrecking our economy; we can’t provide affordable quality healthcare without wrecking our healthcare system; we can’t have an economy anymore that creates a rising standard of living for everybody willing to work hard.” Since when did America become the can’t-do country? That is not the America we know and love. We are going to face the future with our optimism, with our faith, our belief that we can overcome any challenge. I am optimistic. I know we are facing some tough, tough issues. I think about it every day. I’m asking the people of South Carolina to take a chance on me, just like I asked the people of New York to take a chance on me back in 2000. I came and said, “If you will give me a chance, I will work my heart out for you. You will have someone who gets up every day, thinking about you. I am not a show horse, I’m a work horse; and I will go to work for you. But I’m not going to do it alone. I can’t do it alone. We all have to be in this together. You know, when I talk about a clean, green renewable energy future, I’m going to ask all for you to be more energy efficient, to think about what it means when you keep the lights on, when you drive more than maybe you need to, making three trips to the mall instead of one sensible one. I want you to think about every time you fill up the gas tank, or leave those lights on, you’re sending money to oil companies and oil producing countries that don’t always have our best interests at heart. When I say we need a new approach to healthcare that provides quality, affordable healthcare for every American, I’m going to ask you to take better care of your health and the health of your children. Because we can have the best health care system in the world but we’ve got to be healthier. We’ve need a system of wellness, not one that just intervenes with sickness. We’ve got to be once again the American people that are on the front lines of change and progress together. We are the oldest democracy in the world for a reason. Because whenever times are tough, whenever the challenges are big and the stakes are huge. We always respond. Now, Winston Churchill also said that the American people finally get around to doing the right thing after trying nearly everything else. Well, we’ve tried nearly everything else over the last seven years, and I think we’ve learned our lesson. So now what we need to do is face the future realistically, courageously, confidently, and optimistically. I know we can do this together. I need your help in the primary on Saturday. I need you to vote not just for me but for yourselves, your family, and your future. I am ready to lead on day one, and if you give me that opportunity, we will restore pride and progress in our country together. Thank you all very, very much.