By Bob Allen
Former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined an agenda to “raise incomes and get our economy working for everyone” in a video message released Aug. 5 by a group of Christian leaders concerned about poverty.
“This will be my mission as president from my first day to my last, if you work hard, you should be paid fairly,” Clinton said in the latest of eight videos by presidential candidates released by the Circle of Protection, a group of more than 100 Christian leaders including Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter.
Clinton said her plan for addressing poverty includes raising the minimum wage and cracking down on companies that exploit workers. It takes into consideration items like the cost of prescription drugs and child care that put strain on family budgets and paid family leave and earned sick days for working parents.
“But we can’t forget those Americans who are being left out of our work force altogether, including millions of young people, and particularly young men of color,” Clinton said. “I believe talent is universal, but opportunity is not. We need to make sure children from all ZIP codes and backgrounds have a shot at a brighter future. We can do so by investing in education at every level, beginning with preschool. “
“I’m running for president because I want to build an America for tomorrow, where no one is left behind and every child can live up to his or her God-given potential,” she said.
While comments by GOP candidate Jeb Bush at a Southern Baptist Convention gathering criticizing Planned Parenthood and anticipation of tonight’s first Republican debate of 2016 presidential election cycle made headlines, the Circle of Protection has systematically rolled out videos of candidates saying in their own words what they would do about poverty if elected as president.
In January the group of national leaders from all major branches of American Christianity issued an open letter requesting of candidates, “Please produce a three minute video telling the American people what you would do as president to offer help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.”
Before Clinton, candidates Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Bernie Sanders, and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley have all complied.
Bush, Carson and Cruz all emphasized the role of the private sector in alleviating poverty and hunger.
“The duty to take care of the hungry and those who are downtrodden in our society rests within each one of us,” said Carson, a neurosurgeon and political commentator.
Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, said American needs to do more, but it will “be folks like us, not some program out of Washington, that’s going to do it.”
Bush, the former governor of Florida, advocated policies like school vouchers to provide educational opportunity for children in failing schools.
“What we need is new leadership that takes conservative principles and applies them so people can rise up,” Bush said.
Huckabee said as governor of Arkansas he cut taxes and welfare not to leave people in poverty but to empower them to lead a better life. “Instead of fighting over the minimum wage, I’m going to focus on solutions to help every American earn his or her maximum wage,” said the ordained Southern Baptist minister and former Fox News personality.
O’Malley, a Democrat, advocated solutions including “getting 11 million of our neighbors out of the shadow economy, which is a drag on wages, and instead on the books in the open economy by passing immigration reform.”
Sanders, a Democratic senator from Vermont, denounced “horrendous cuts coming from the Republican leadership” in social programs while reducing taxes for the wealthy.
“While opportunity may not exist for all, we need to make sure that everyone is given a chance,” said former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina, a Republican.
All the candidate videos are posted here for online viewing.