Hillary Clinton kicked off her 2016 presidential campaign with a big rally Saturday in New York City, dedicating her run for president to re-balancing the economic scales for everyday Americans.
“My my mother taught me that everyone needs a chance and a champion,” Clinton said. “Prosperity can’t be just for CEOs and hedge fund managers; democracy can’t be just for billionaires and corporations.”Clinton eschewed the trickle-down economics championed by past presidents and the GOP, favoring the reverse instead and channeling her parents’ humble working class beginnings in hopes to gain the favor of the everyday nurses, farmers, truckers, veterans and small business entrepreneurs.
“It’s America’s basic bargain,” she began. “If you do your part, you ought to be able to get ahead, and when everybody does their part, America gets ahead too.”
The speech, just over an hour, didn’t detail specific policy proposals but touched on key issues centered in her campaign including women’s reproductive rights, citizenship, voting rights, marriage equality, ending LGBT discrimination, equal pay and paid leave, and climate change. Clinton said she would roll out more detailed policies in the coming months.
But the crux of her campaign is aimed at fixing middle and lower class ills — and remaining competitive with fellow candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, a former independent, and ex-Maryland governor Martin O’Malley on progressive issues. Clinton took several jabs at Wall Street and the top one percent for too lenient tax breaks and too few opportunities for people to climb through the social classes and out of poverty.
“Americans have come too far to see our progress ripped away,” she said. “The middle class needs more growth and fairness,” later adding that as president she would re-write the tax law and close loopholes that benefit the rich.
Clinton’s speech built on a strategy of emboldening economic populism, a move that could energize a potentially lagging voter base grappling with widening economic disparity.
Clinton focused her speech on improving the lives of working class families, particularly women. She said they could better live the American dream through more flexible schedules, equal pay, and paid leave. Women working full-time year round make 78 percent of men’s earnings.
Clinton quickly dispelled the notion that these issues were only women’s issues. She said that women’s low pay — especially for African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans of color who are often paid even less — affects the family and can prevent those trying to expand their education or save for retirement.
Economic inequality has been growing for decades, if not centuries, with top fifth of American households controlling nearly 84 percent of the wealth, and the bottom 40 percent owning just 0.3 percent, Scientific American reported.
“You have to wonder, when does my hard work pay off? When does my family get ahead? When? I say now,” she said.