Saturday, 5 November 2016

Why #ImWithHer (Hillary Clinton) Part 2: Hillary Has Decent Policies (But Some Require A Little Tweaking)

I've already dealt with my feelings regarding Donald Trump in my previous blogpost which was important to do for my sanity and to show my readers just how much I detest Trump's deliberate attempt to re-embed misogyny into the moral fabric of American (and international society). If you haven't seen that blogpost, you can view it here:

However I believe that Hillary supporters often spend YUGE amounts of time picking out Don the Con's faults without selling why we back Hillary so emphatically and without much regret. I'm a fan of Hillary's policies ideas so wanted to share and comment on some of the best here. Some critics might think that these policy areas "don't matter", that a presidential candidate can't focus on trying to help HIV/AIDS patients by implementing a National Strategy whilst at the same time defending the US from ISIS attacks or you can't help tackle LGBTQIA bullying in the education system by creating a $500 million plan whilst addressing economic inequalities in coal mining communities in Michigan or Ohio by encouraging retraining of the workforce and modernisation of the mines themselves. You don't have to choose between the two if you have a solid plan to tackle both issues unless you believe that you don't have the intellectual stamina or grit determination to address both of them simultaneously.

Here I outline a few of Hillary's policies to show you just how in-depth, progressive and thoughtful they really are (despite the fact they seem to receive little attention from the mainstream media (MSM) outlets these days). These are the policies that I would care about if I was able to vote in Colorado; yes they are mainly social in nature but I tend to vote for a party based on their social positions. Many Millennials on the left are more likely to vote based on preserving progressive values rather than vote based on fear of the "Other".

Hillary's LGBTQIA Policies:
  1. Establish the Equality Act by amending the Civil Rights Act (1964) adding gender identity and sexual orientation as protected characteristics to ensure LGBTQIA people have explicit protection from discrimination "in all facets of American life", including housing, education and jury service.
  2. Hillary will honour all of President Obama's LGBTQIA Executive Actions, including nondiscrimination protections for federal employees and regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in federal housing programmes.
  3. Support efforts in Congress and in the states to end "conversion therapy" for LGBTQIA children.
  4. Pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act to specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexuality.
  5. Pass the Student Non-Discrimination Act to prevent public schools from discriminating against LGBTQIA pupils. This includes the Better Than Bullying Plan announced by Hillary on the 4th November 2016 which promises to provide $500 million to tackle bullying against children based on "labelling" and will ensure all states abide by their anti-bullying laws.  
  6. Provide adequate funding for shelters that help LGBTQIA homeless youth. When 45% of the youth homeless population identifies as LGBT, they need and deserve help and support to turn their lives around.
  7. End discriminatory treatment against LGBTQIA couples wanting to adopt by passing the Every Child Deserves A Family Act which will prevent child welfare organisations from discriminating on the basis of gender identity or sexuality.
  8. Allow transgender military personnel to continue serving openly and treated with dignity and respect (there are 15,500 actively serving trans people in the military making the Dept. for Defence the biggest employer of trans people in the US).
  9. Amend records of LGBTQIA vets dismissed due to their sexual orientation or gender.
  10. Invest in police training to ensure transgender people are treated with respect in a fair and impartial manner.
  11. Make it easier to change gender markers on official documentation.
  12. Promote LGBTQIA rights around the world and increase support for the Global Equality Fund, that Hillary launched in 2011 by increasing funding by $50 million.
  13. Create a National HIV/AIDS Strategy- see below:
Hillary's National HIV/AIDS Strategy:
There are currently 1.2 million people living with HIV in the US and 50,000 people get diagnosed with HIV annually. Hillary understands that HIV is not only contracted by gay men or people of colour but by women and children too. Hillary wants to work towards creating an AIDS-free generation and has created a Strategy in order to make this happen. Trump has not announced such a comprehensive strategy nor has he shown any particular concern for HIV/AIDS patients during his Presidential campaign. Here's what Hillary wants to do in a nutshell:
  • Invest in research conducted by organisations such as the NIH (National Institute for Health) to enable them to carry on trying to find a cure for HIV without worrying about funding shortfalls.
  • Cap monthly and annual out-of-pocket expenses for HIV/AIDS patients to $250 and ensure Medicare is empowered to bargain for lower drug prices from pharmaceutical companies. Hillary will also end drug subsidies that pharmaceuticals get for direct-to-consumer advertising and use the subsidies to invest in research instead.
  • Raise knowledge about PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) medication to increase uptake especially amongst those populations at greatest risk of infection - transgender people and black men who have sex with men. Hillary will ensure that everyone who needs HIV medication will have access to it.
  • Extend Medicaid coverage- 70,000 people with HIV were uninsured before the Affordable Care Act but now 47,000 should be eligible to receive new Medicaid. Hillary wants to make sure every state expands Medicaid and she'll fight tooth and nail to make this happen.
  • Reform HIV Criminalisation Laws (attempting to repeal/abolish if possible) by working with advocates, HIV and AIDS organisations, Congress and the Senate.
  • Hillary will enforce the Disability Act to fight discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Increase global funding for HIV and AIDS treatment and prevention (showing how compassionate a President Hillary would really be!)
Hillary's Autism Strategy:
Hillary is currently the only candidate to offer a comprehensive strategy to help improve the lives of autistic children and adults in the US, who have often felt undervalued and ignored in government decision making in the past. More than 3.5 million people in the US are believed to have autism and improving support will help to transform their lives. Hillary wants to extend the Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act that she introduced when a New York Senator and which gained bipartisan support, demonstrating that she can inspire her political opponents to believe in improving equal rights for those living with autism and other disabilities, something Trump has failed to prove during his Presidential campaign.
  1. Expand insurance cover for autism services so autistic people don't have to worry about being able to access services - whether through private insurance or government healthcare plans.
  2. Work with the Department for Defence to ensure military families have full access to autism services through the TRICARE system.
  3. Conduct an early national screening outreach campaign so autistic children can receive the help they need education and social wise to improve work and life chances.
  4. Invest in autism research and conduct the first-ever nationwide survey of autistic adults (long overdue!)
  5. Launch a new Autism Works Initiative which will guarantee a post-graduate transition plan for every student with autism.
  6. Enact the Keeping All Students Safe Act banning all physical and chemical restraints that could endanger a pupil's life and restrict physical restraint to protecting the student from endangering other students with schools required to write to parents to explain why they used the restraint.
Hillary's Environmental Policies:
  1. Remain fully committed to honouring the Paris Climate Change Agreement (that's gone into effect on 4th November 2016) by reducing green house gas emissions by up to 30% and put the US on track to cut emissions by 80% by 2050.
  2. Install half a billion solar panels in US homes by the end of Hillary's first term (with a desire to allow every home in the US to become Clean-Energy powered).
  3. Reduce oil consumption by 1/3.
  4. Ban oil drilling in the Arctic.
  5. Launch the $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge - partnering with states, cities and rural communities to cut carbon pollution for all, including low-income families to ensure nobody is left behind by the energy revolution.
  6. Eliminate lead poisoning within 5 years and clean up more than 450,000 toxic brownfield sites.
  7. Create an Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force thereby fostering a sense of "collaborative stewardship" and an emphasis on our "collective responsibility" to help combat Climate Change and protect the Environment.
  8. Create an Energy Plan that would pay $9 billion annually to help fund pensions and health of coal workers and cut carbon emissions.
  9. Block attempts to resurrect construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (unlike Trump who wants to finish it).
Note on Hillary's Environment Policies:
Green supporters have criticised Hillary for not speaking out against the proposed North Dakota Access Pipeline which will cross Native American (Sioux) lands at Standing Rock after the pipeline plans were redirected from Bismarck (which happens to have a population that is 90% White). Native American protestors see the pipeline as encroaching on their land, making them feel inferior to other Americans. For them it is more than a protest about water or generic "climate change" conversations. It is important to note that the pipeline would cost $3.7 billion if completed and cover 1,170 miles of land (according to American Friends Service Committee:  I can see from other policies from Hillary that she would be sympathetic to blocking construction of the pipeline and President Obama has responded to requests from Senator Bernie Sanders to ask the construction companies to reconsider their plans to take into account environmental impact, but the lack of vocally speaking out in favour of the #NODAPL protestors and condemning recent violence shown to them by local police forces is slightly disappointing. I can only say that Hillary would be more receptive to discussions about DAPL than Trump, who hasn't shown much regard for Native American issues or Environmental issues during his campaign.

Hillary's Economic Policies:
  1. Keep tax rates the same for most tax payers but add an additional bracket (the 4% "fair share surcharge") for those earning over $5 million to pay for programmes such as free college education for low and middle-income earners. This College Affordability Plan would spend $35 billion a year to refinance student debt and pay states to guarantee free tuition.
  2. Hillary would create a 30% tax rate for those earning $1 million a year.
  3. Hillary will raise the short term capital gains taxes for taxpayers earning $400,000 or more a year (only 0.5% of taxpayers).
  4. Create a National Infrastructure Plan allocating $27.5 billion annually to improve US roads, bridges, public transportation, rail,  airports, water systems and Internet provision in rural areas.
  5. Raise the National Minimum Wage to $15 an hour.
  6. Limit the number of deductions taxpayers can claim at 28%.
  7. Oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after much consideration over its validity and having discussed its popularity with fellow Dems including Bernie Sanders.
  8. Extend the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act so that a risk fee is levied on banks with more than $50 billion in assets, high debt to asset ratios or have a reliance on short term funding.
  9. End corporate inversion so US companies cannot move their headquarters abroad to avoid paying US taxes. Propose an "exit tax" if they attempt to move abroad and pay American taxes on any deferred foreign earnings. These taxes could raise $80 billion a year!
  10. Eliminate the carried interest tax.
Hillary's Foreign Policies and National Security Policies:
  1. Increase co-operation with China whilst ensuring the US takes a stronger stance against China's human rights record.
  2. Abide by the multinational nuclear deal (most focus on Iran) but reimpose sanctions if necessary.
  3. Establish a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, conducting air strikes against ISIS and arming Kurdish and Sunni Arab fighters to defeat ISIS.
  4. Prohibit the use of harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding on terrorists as they are unhelpful and inhumane- Trump wants to approve them.
  5. Maintain current restrictions on National Security Agency surveillance (as defined under the USA Freedom Act) - Trump wants to reinstate the bulk surveillance program.
  6. Increase sanctions against North Korea and ensure allies such as Japan and South Korea feel supported and protected.
  7. Increase sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and ensure Baltic States are protected as per NATO agreements.
My view of Hillary's Foreign Policy:

I can understand the argument advanced by some progressives that Hillary isn't the "perfect candidate", especially when it comes to her foreign policies. The No-Fly zone in Syria and the re-commitment to fighting ISIS shows that she is hawkish but after years of fighting wars in the Middle East, Americans and Brits want to go through a period of peace. It is incorrect to assume Trump is any less of a hawk than Hillary though; his rhetoric on Syria, whilst it has been all over the place at times, seems to now indicate a desire to increase the Armed Forces (for example, increasing the number of Army soldiers from 490,000 to 540,000) to "defeat ISIS". If you're a fan of reducing military engagement and fostering peace (with all countries, not just Russia) it's probably not a good idea to vote for Trump. In fact I believe there's a strong chance Trump could provoke tensions if he is elected, especially in the Middle East.

What is great to see from Hillary in terms of her National Security and Foreign Policies is that she wants to close Guantanamo Bay and to prohibit the use of waterboarding techniques to torture terror suspects. As I wrote in my last blogpost on Trump, it is better to treat opponents with compassion rather than take away their humanity, even if they are accused of committing atrocities. The fact that Hillary is willing to challenge China on it's human rights record shows that Hillary cares about how others are treated.

From having identified and examined a range of Hillary's policies, I can see that she is a woman who has truly thought about how to make America more diversity friendly and more environmentally friendly whilst at the same time not being afraid to make difficult decisions regarding foreign policy. I may not agree with every policy on her platform and I certainly have frowned a bit at her reluctance to engage openly on issues that Bernie Sanders cares about deeply-for example I can see from her platform that Hillary wants to bring pharmaceutical companies to heel to ensure they don't profit from HIV/AIDS patients or Autistic individuals who rely on lifelong medication but she hasn't talked about it in any great depth; Bernie has  made fighting pharmaceutical companies a major part of his own platform and he has gained many supporters as a result. However, one reason why I have come to respect Hillary over the past year is that she has been able to adapt her policy platform to make it more progressive: Bernie always made a point of stating in his rally speeches that the US should have a $15 an hour national minimum wage. Hillary saw how popular support for this policy was with Democrats and Independents and so has now made it central to her Economic Policy and she now mentions this during her rally speeches. I think it's amazing that Bernie had such a positive effect so as to convince Hillary that a Minimum Wage is essential to help improve the lives of ordinary working class and middle class Americans who may be working up to 50-60 hours a week to try and save enough money to buy a house or to attend college. Trump didn't seem to favour this important Bernie policy despite wanting to "appeal" to Bernie supporters but we all know whose side he is really on...his own and that of his wealthy Republican friends.

If you like the policies you have seen on my blogpost and are yet to vote in the US Election and aren't quite sure who to vote for, ask yourself this question: Do you want a President that cares about domestic social issues just as much as economic or foreign policy ones? If you think a President should espouse progressive values and be prepared to act on them and already has plans to be able to do this, then you must choose Hillary this Tuesday 8th November. If you believe in division rather than union or protecting the rights of those at the top without having a care for those who may be disabled or those facing abuse because of their gender identity or sexuality or duping those working class young adults labouring in entry-level jobs in catering or hospitality to earn enough money to be able to go to college to fulfill their dreams, vote Trump. The choice really couldn't be any clearer.