To: The People of the United States of America
From: The Hillary Clinton Campaign
Cc: Professor Drew Halfmann
Date: December 3, 2013
Re: Welfare State Policy Proposal, “Planning for the Future”
The United States of America is a country founded on ensuring the security of the rights of freedom, pursuit of happiness, and health for every citizen. However, is there a limit to which this security extends? In recent decades, our country has seen a substantial growth in the rate of insecure sentiments within the American people, most notably sentiments of economic insecurity, which is the psychological response to the risk of loss due to economic hardship (Hacker, 2006).
Unfortunately, Americans are very justified in their anxiety about their economic stability. Although a currently prevalent economic issue is that the gap between the rich and the poor is drastically increasing in the U.S., it is actually the rise of income instability that is greater than the rise of income inequality. For example, the frequency of the declaration of personal bankruptcy in our country has increased by nearly 1.7 million households in a mere 25-year time period (Hacker, 2006). This means that it is becoming much easier to fall much faster in our economy. Economic disparity is also no longer limited to those who tend to find themselves struggling to climb the ladder of success, such as ethnic minorities, women, those with disabilities and those with lower levels of education. Instead, the risk of job loss, sudden increased health costs, and other unexpected financial burdens have nearly an equal chance of affecting anyone.
It is the duty of the United States’ Welfare State to promote the economic and social well-being of the American people (Halfmann, Slide 15). It must protect citizens from the threat of poverty, unemployment, and illness. Additionally, it is responsible for ensuring equality of access to jobs and other opportunities for life improvement for every person of every generation (Olson, 2002). Looking at the prevalence of bankruptcy, foreclosure, job loss and debt, however, are our current social welfare policies achieving this goal, while also allowing people the opportunities to freely plan for their future in the pursuit of happiness?
As members of this glorious nation, it is our responsibility to provide the security needed by our people in both times of hardship and times of success. We must recognize that life is always changing, and that “there [is no longer] just the well off and the poor. There are Americans who are doing well one year and poorly the next – and vice versa…” (Hacker, Pg. 24). The Welfare State under the presidency of Hillary Rodham Clinton will ensure that this security is provided and thereby truly accomplish the mission of U.S. welfare policies. Through the introduction of programs that affect all citizens alike, every American will be provided the support to prepare and plan for whatever lies ahead.
Under our current policies, we are binding the hands in which we place our future. Therefore, a primary focus of our campaign will be directed at increasing human capital through higher education. Through programs that benefit student parents, as well as parents of students, a college education will be easier and more affordable to attain. Although higher levels of education are not immune to job loss or periods of unemployment, as previously mentioned, a college degree can provide the skill sets and preparation needed to plan ahead while also opening doors to a wider variety of job opportunities that will eventually arise. Education is key to developing the vitality and success of American citizens, so we must not neglect its importance in strengthening our nation as a whole and providing the opportunities for a better future.
An additional aspect of our welfare vision, as noted in our Vision Statement, includes the strengthening of our current Social Security and healthcare programs. The current systems intended for this purpose do not adequately prepare our citizens for the true fluctuation of health costs, nor does it fully encompass the expenses associated with routine check-ups and additional care needed in the years beyond retirement. By creating a system of mandated savings and reformatting healthcare policies to ensure accessibility, Americans will become better prepared for unexpected medical emergencies and the impending cost of old age.
With these changes aimed toward preparation for the future, the Clinton administration strives to establish a stronger sense of economic stability within the American people. While there is no way to successfully fight unforeseen tribulations such as job loss or health complications, the American government can do its part to better arm its citizens with the support and resources needed to overcome any potential economic obstacles.
The Hillary Clinton Campaign proposes the following programs in the effort of ensuring the security of the rights of freedom, pursuit of happiness, and health for every citizen:
1. Maternal and Paternal Leave
2. Student Parent Programs in All Colleges and Universities
3. Solutions to the Shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
4. Expansion of the Blue and Gold Package – Tax Credits for Parents with College Students
5. Mandatory 5% Annual Taxation on the Top 1% Income Earners
6. Pension Reform
7. Programs for Underrepresented, Under-privileged, and First-generation College Students
8. Programs Promoting College Awareness and Preparation for College
9. Increase the Amount of Academic/Athletic Scholarships to Students
10. Drug Screenings Required for Welfare Eligibility
The programs listed above are intended to establish a welfare state in which the people of the United States are more equal. We are an incredibly wealthy nation, thus poverty in America is not marked by the same desperation as it is in other countries; however, it certainly remains an issue. Welfare programs are therefore essential in solving these poverty issues. The welfare state regulated programs are for those who live under the minimum accepted level means as determined by each state government. Welfare benefits can fall under multiple different program umbrellas, all of which require certain elements of eligibility to acquire and maintain payments. Our focus in this proposed welfare state is that America needs to better plan for their future, with an emphasis on Social Security savings accounts, better allotment of welfare funding, and tax credits for parents with children in college.
Maternal and Paternal Leave
Expanding on the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, new mothers will be permitted a 24 week leave to nurse their newborn children. This reform will provide a maximum of 12 weeks of paid leave at 80% of regular wages with the remaining 12 weeks being optional and without pay. Both the government and the employer will subsidize the compensation at 50% each. The father to the newborn child will be granted 2 weeks of paid leave starting on the day of his child’s birth. His compensation will be a 100% of his wages which will also subsidized by the employer and the government at 50% each. Furthermore, the father will be granted an additional day off (optional) per week for the first 12 weeks of birth without pay. In order to qualify for these benefits, the respective parents must be employees of a firm with 10 or more employees. They must be employed with the company for at least 12 months and have accumulated a minimum of 1,536 hours within that time.
The Clinton Campaign’s parental leave program will be the first maternal and paternal leave reform in our country that promises to provide adequate support to the majority of Americans who have children, without the threat of job loss. This system can have a significant political impact in the support of public programs in the welfare state (Olsen 75). In order to qualify for this program, parents will have to provide necessary documentation such as birth certificates in order to prove their relationship, and provide evidence that they have been employed within the span of 232 days. Moreover, parents must provide valid documentation that shows they have been residing in the United States for the last five years. These regulations and requirements will have to be followed in order for the program to cover the expenses of leave time and for the parent to have access to this program. In this manner, applicants will receive support through the government and the employer who each pay fifty percent of costs; hence, citizens would receive assistance from both the federal government and either the state government or a private employer.
This policy will mainly focus on the working and middle class to guarantee that they can have necessary assistance from the government. Our fellow citizens from these classes often do not have secure jobs when they have children. They, as parents, rarely have access to such supportive services when they have to leave their job in America (Olsen 24). However, the Clinton campaign would ensure that the poor and middle class people can rely on parental leave to provide for their families, especially during this time period in which parents need to provide significant attention to their newborn. This new policy will reinforce the support for American families and provide the necessary financial support to care for the future of our nation.
Maternal and Parental Leave will be an aspect of social programs that exemplifies cooperation with both the federal and state government and ensures stability and security for Americans’ jobs when they must leave their workplace due to childbirth. The federal government will be in charge of distributing the information regarding eligibility to all fifty states and of making sure that this policy takes place in the first year of Hillary Clinton’s presidency. Thus, the policy can be quickly executed and can provide the necessary support to all Americans who qualify in a timely manner. Though the federal government will implement eligibility in order to have access to this program, the power will be on the hands of the state government to establish the offices and exercising control over the terms under which the program will be provided and the specific duration of the benefits (Olsen 22).
Student Parent Programs in All Colleges and Universities
The academic journey of a student parent is often overlooked within our society. Many times we forget the significant differences between the roles of these students. Our welfare state is unrealistic in catering sufficiently to the needs of these citizens in pursuit of education. Hillary Clinton wants to implement a federal mandate for all colleges and universities to have a student parent program which will provide a safe shared space for student parents to network with each other and gain support in various aspects of life. Due to the demanding obligations of a student parent to care for their child or children while keeping up with school work, they will have a reduced course load of 8 units per quarter or semester and still maintain their full time status; this will not affect their financial aid. Each school will also be expected to provide classes or workshops that are specific to parenting and also classes that provide information about available resources and scholarships. Every student parent will be eligible for additional grants to help with daily expenses.
In order to be eligible for parental programs in these institutions, student parents must meet specific requirements: they must provide proof of enrollment in a total of eight units or more per school term in a community college or four-year university, and provide information about the age and family size in order to be considered for the program. Additionally, student parents must maintain a GPA of 2.5 to be considered for other services such as parenting workshops, financial resources, and other programs in their pursuit of a higher education.
Solutions to the Shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act
Due to the complexities of the health care system, as well as push-pull factors that have influence over all aspects of society’s structure and function, Hillary Clinton would immediately initiate a fundraising campaign to support special interest groups that have the power to ensure the health care reform does not infringe on constitutional rights. By the same token, her first course of action would be implementing an addendum stipulating specific policies and procedures that will effectively maintain health care insurance at affordable rates, known as the Office of Consumer Information and Oversight (OCIO). If insurance rates become unaffordable due to market fluctuations, as opposed to a group or entity pursuing selfish ends, it is the responsibility of the OCIO to design strategic back-up plans that ensure rates will remain affordable. Clinton would also define and contextualize affordability accordingly with the period of time in which the rates are being questioned. When determining affordability, all of society’s push-pull factors must be taken into consideration, as well as potential impact on individuals’ ability to obtain and maintain health insurance, or socioeconomic status.
As Scott Harrington mentions in the article, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the ACA stipulates that [to plan ahead] a process must be established to monitor health care rate increases and that health care insurance companies must provide a plan justifying the rate increases. The Office of Consumer Information and Oversight (OCIO) will therefore be monitoring rate increases. The general public may not realize our objective is to protect them by ensuring that their health care rates do not skyrocket. The ACA will have authority to regulate rates and articulate that the OCIO and individual state government can reprimand the health care insurance industry from increasing the rates without justification. By establishing a law indicating regulatory authority for American citizens, we will penalize the perpetrators with laws and policy.
Expansion of the Blue and Gold Package – Tax Credits for Parents with College Students
Currently, students who come from a household making below $80,000 a year automatically qualify for the Blue and Gold Package, which pays for all tuition fees at any University of California. Hillary will expand this program and its requirements to include all undergraduates attending any 4 year university in the nation and families who earn over $80,000. These higher income families will be accommodated by the implementation of appropriate tax credits. Additionally, the ACA mentions that there will be a need for additional physicians and nurses, but it fails to provide any alluring incentives that encourage individuals to pursue careers in health care. For example, a hard-working student who anticipates entering medical school can be extremely discouraged by the overwhelmingly high costs which accumulate to approximately a quarter million dollars per student. The high costs of medical school prevents talented students who are capable of completing the vigorous curriculum of medical school from pursuing careers as physicians due to their lack of financial stability and support. Therefore, as an incentive, Hillary will also extend the Blue and Gold Package to all nursing and medical school students.
Mandatory 5% Annual Taxation on the Top 1% Income Earners
Our nation is considered around the globe as the land of opportunity, yet our welfare state reflects a deteriorating social existence. The American dream is slowly being polluted by poverty and inequality in various aspects. Hillary is willing to implement this policy with a willingness to be included in this taxation. No one will be exempt from this policy. This taxation will specifically be for the improvement of the Unites States of America’s welfare state.
The Clinton administration plans to reform our current Social Security System by implementing the American Retirement Accounts Plan. Hillary believes that we need to approach this national retirement savings crisis head-on by giving all Americans an opportunity to save and build wealth for retirement that is as easy, secure and generous as is offered by good employer-sponsored 401(k)s. Her American Retirement Accounts Plan will give that chance to the tens of millions of Americans who are currently falling through the cracks while reducing wealth inequality, increasing national savings, and encouraging economic growth. Under the plan, working and middle class families who currently have the hardest time saving will get generous matching tax cuts as an incentive to save. Additionally, all middle class Americans will be able open new American Retirement Accounts that will be designed to provide no-hassle, portable savings throughout their careers. In essence, the plan will provide universal access to a generous 401(k) for all Americans.
Programs for Underrepresented, Under-privileged, and First-generation College Students
The United States of America relies on our youth to carry us and lead our country into a better future. With this ideal, Hillary Clinton seeks to implement new and improved programs in colleges and high schools that will target those students that are under-represented, under-privileged, and who are currently or becoming First-Generation college students. For underrepresented students, such as students of minority ethnicities, students from poor neighborhoods, or students attending poorly funded schools, she would create programs that would provide more college awareness, and for those already in college, opportunities to obtain scholarships, places to study and extra help and tutoring. For under-privileged students, such as students from poor families, she would provide them with new and more programs that would help them qualify and fund for college, and to also provide them more opportunities to obtain scholarships in order to succeed in college. Lastly, she would do the same for those students who are or will be First-Generation students, providing them more programs all throughout grade school, helping to prepare them for college and give them help in qualifying for 4 year universities.
Programs Promoting College Awareness and Preparation for College
Following along the lines of the previous proposals of programs, the Clinton administration wants to provide more programs for all ages to promote college awareness and to show students that college is important because without that education, they cannot have the skills to potentially one day help carry our country forward. Some examples of programs that we can incorporate are more programs that allow middle and high school students to travel and see different places in the world and that can help promote college through visiting a different part of the country or world that they may have never seen before or may never see. These forms of programs can also be seen as study-abroad programs that these young students can partake in where they can study, travel, backpack, and ultimately live in an environment they are not used to, similar to how they would feel in college. Such programs that exist that we can expand upon are those such as “Outward Bound” a program that sends students to different areas of the country to backpack and learn many life skills in addition to study various classes. We would first promote this program to increase the number of participants and to make it well known, and then later expand the program in order to be able to provide the opportunity to every student across the country. Not all students are prepared to enter into the real world from of high school and some fall short in college or in the job market because they do not know how to manage their lives in a structured and efficient manner. Our campaign aims to create new and improved programs to high school and college students that provide them with information and benefits that will help them be prepared for college or trade school right after high school graduation. These programs would teach skills pertaining to time management, study strategies, healthy and safe lifestyles, living on their own, and living with others.
Increase the Amount of Academic/Athletic Scholarships to Students
The Clinton Administration emphasizes the importance of the influence of younger generations because they hold in their hands the power to change the course of our future. We also stress that this power stems from the knowledge provided by higher education. Sadly, some students cannot afford college or do not have the opportunity to attend college after high school, though they have great talents and traits and that can prove valuable in our society. We, the Clinton administration, want to increase the amount of academic and athletic scholarships given to students because this will allow more of our younger generations to gain the knowledge they need to eventually succeed in the real world, and will allow our future country to be better educated. These scholarships will allow more students to eventually break through the barrier of poverty, thus eventually relieving their families of poverty, eventually lessening the amount of welfare benefits distributed to the citizens of our country.
Drug Screenings Required for Welfare Eligibility
All citizens of our great nation struggle at some point during their lives, whether through long-term or the short-term difficulties. Welfare is one program that we provide to our citizens that helps bring some of our fallen citizens back on track in order to strive for the American Dream that they deserve. Some people participating in the welfare system, however, have taken advantage of the system throughout the years and many of our citizens who are struggling have not been able to obtain help because of others who are possibly cheating the system. We, the Hillary Campaign, feel we can stop this problem one step at a time by first implementing a drug screening that will be required in order to receive welfare. This new policy will allow our citizens who are trying hard to get back on their feet to do so and will allow the system to not be abused by people that do not use the money for the right reasons. This drug test will alert those who may abuse the system that they too must get back on track or they will not receive the benefits they need.
Funding of Welfare State
In order to fund our programs the Hillary Campaign proposes the elimination of several unnecessary government programs as well as the implementation of more progressive income taxes. These cuts would come solely from the terminations of non-defense discretionary programs such as international affairs, transportation, energy, the department of homeland security, and justice corrections. By eliminating these types of unnecessary and poorly run government programs we would create incentives for our planned offer. We would also like to continue forward movement with the Affordable Healthcare Act by and fixing its shortcomings with the implementation of appropriate funding and maintenance of health care affordability.
The U.S. government assists a range of international organizations whose supposed benefits are outweighed by the financial and legal resources needed for participation. Although the savings from withdrawing U.S. funds from these activities would be modest, the accomplishment would represent a commonsense step toward focusing on more substantial diplomatic needs. Based on her experienced tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary would implement these cuts to use for better spending.
The government’s transportation mission is to ensure fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation that meets vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future. It is long overdue for Congress to return most of these activities, and the associated resources, to states and localities, where they once were lodged, meaning that it is time for governors to take back these responsibilities. Ultimately, this elimination would reduce federal spending by appreciable amounts and empower states to meet their respective transportation needs in cost-effective ways.
The Department of Energy has long strayed from its legitimate mission of promoting energy security and environmental management, venturing beyond basic research into attempts to commercializing preferred technologies. Based on this, the Clinton administration has decided that this practice would be far better left to the private sector. While pursuing this transition, congress could achieve immediate savings by simply eliminating certain unneeded programs. In addition to adopting significant entitlement reforms, congress must begin the process of re-evaluating the government’s functions, and terminating programs that government should not fund.
In order to fund our welfare state the Hillary Campaign also proposes to shift $25 billion in taxes from the Department of Homeland Security budget and $25 billion in taxes from the Justice Corrections budget. The current immigration system in the United States is broken, and prohibits a pathway to legalization for the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants currently living in this country. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is located under the Department of Homeland Security and spends a substantial amount of money detaining hundreds of immigrants. Many undocumented immigrants must spend their time detained in detention facilities while they fight for their immigration status. Many of these individuals are non-criminal and non-violent individuals who are detained because they do not have their legal documents. The National Immigration Forum has stated that the administration spends over $5 million per day on detention of immigrants in the United States. By shifting the funding from the Department of Homeland Security, we will spend more money funding our welfare state and less money detaining immigrants with no criminal record and who pose no threat to society.
In addition, the United States of America is the world’s largest jailer with 25% of the world’s prison population. Our current criminal justice system is not cost effective. Prison should not be the first option for non-violent offenders and by shifting our funding we will spend more money on preventing individuals from committing a crime by promoting Programs Promoting College Awareness and Preparation for College and Programs for Underrepresented, Under-privileged, and First-generation College Students.
Our next approach to funding our welfare state is through new tax implementations. The government can use taxes as a way of redistributing wealth to the poor and less fortunate. The rich currently have a secure financial grasp on their lifestyle; therefore, slight increases in taxes should not significantly alter their current standards of living. The gap between the very rich and the poor has never been so great as in the last few decades. For example, the average income of the top 1% has gone up by more than 25% (Professor Halfmann, Lecture). We must make choices that benefit not only those who have financially succeeded over the last few decades, but also those who struggle to survive in America. These taxes can function primarily as a source of funding for social welfare programs, but also as a means of diminishing the gap between the rich and the poor, thus making a step towards increased social mobility.
To achieve this, the top earners would simply be taxed on 5% of their income in order to meet our administration’s goals. The top .01% would be taxed $9.2 billion and the top 1%, $12 billion. If the remainder of the top 10% were also taxed 1% of their incomes for the cause, it would provide another $17.2 billion. The total would be nearly $70 billion, more than enough to meet 36% of the cost of our goals, with more than $20 billion left over to support our citizens who are tackling poverty problems on a daily basis. If taxing the wealthiest Americans even approached these levels, we are convinced it would spark an enormous outpouring of contributions from Americans of more modest means. Even if each one of the taxations is relatively small, millions of contributions from the other 90% could equal or surpass the total tax revenue from wealthy Americans. This example of the amount of money we could obtain by simply contributing according to our ability shows that the positive impact would be staggering.
The Affordable Care Act is the first healthcare reform program that the United States has seen in the last forty-five years. One of the critical aspects of keeping the Affordable Care Act moving forward and fixing its shortcomings is to put appropriate funding into it programs. This will ensure that the current financial crisis in the United States is not further aggravated by an increased debt ceiling while providing enough revenues for the program to sustain itself long-term.
The current funding for the Affordable Care Act includes an increase of taxes on wages of the rich and a reduction of Medicare payments to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, surgical centers and non-physician providers to lighten the high cost of long term treatment In addition, there will be an end to overpayments of Medicare to advantage insurers. Instead, the fees on insurers, pharmaceutical companies and device makers will increase. Part of the individual mandate includes that all individuals must buy healthcare insurance or pay a penalty, and employers who have more than fifty full time employees would be required to provide health insurance to their employees or pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee. The Affordable Care Act will also be funded by reducing the subsidy for charity care by increasing taxes on Cadillac plans and taking advantage of the increased revenue from wages that replace Cadillac plans.
However, to keep the Affordable Healthcare Act afloat and fix its shortcomings, the Hillary Clinton Campaign proposes to find additional ways to keep health insurance at affordable rates by eliminating tax breaks for the rich and imposing more fee regulations to people with signs of repeated risk behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse. Furthermore, the Hillary Clinton campaign will encourage hospitals, clinics and federally funded community health centers to switch from paper to electronic health records by providing tax breaks to health organizations for reducing long-term administrative costs.