Former President Bill Clinton took the stage last weekend at Los Angeles Trade Technical College and stated that California has been good to his family. The crowd cheered, and seemed to be very receptive and supportive of all of the topics that he discussed while campaigning for his wife Hillary ahead of California’s Democratic primary.
In 1992, Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination in California’s primary, which led to him winning his first term in the White House. In 2008, his wife Hillary defeated Barack Obama in California, but she lost the nomination to the eventual president.
“I always felt at home here because every time I looked at a crowd, especially one having anything to do with a community college, I could see the future and feel good about it,” Clinton said.
Clinton also praised California for the $15-per-hour minimum wage bill that Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed earlier this week.
“We all should follow the lead of California,” Clinton said. “God bless you for passing that minimum wage law. It sounds good on a bumper sticker, it sounds good from a podium, but read the law,” Clinton continued. “It is intelligently drafted, carefully drawn, and it can be made to work and be flexible depending on what happens with the economy, so you don’t lose the small business jobs that the Republicans always say that we’ll lose every time we raise wages.”
Clinton stressed the need for an improved education system.
“The federal government should increase it’s commitment to education from preschool through higher education,” Clinton said. “Including training programs. We are never going to be the country that we ought to be looking out at this great picture of the future, until every child has a chance to maximize his or her potential.
“There needs to be universal access to preschool,” Clinton continued. “You get about 85 percent of your brain network by the time you’re three. And we need an educational program where the federal government focuses more on developing good teachers and good principals and less on having too many tests. We need to make college affordable for everyone. And debt repayable for everyone.”
Clinton discussed a plan that pays tuition at public colleges and universities that relies on federal and state funding, and a plan that only relies on federal funding. He said that Hillary supports the plan that relies on federal funding, because Republican states may not support a plan that relies on state funding.
“Pay the tuition for everybody who needs it,” Clinton said. “Give them more. Dramatically increase the Pell Grant programs to not only cover tuition expenses, but also living expenses. Don’t just cover public institutions; cover Historically Black Colleges and Universities, those that serve Latinos historically, those that serve first and second generation immigrants.”
Clinton also spoke about restructuring student loan repayment programs to help people pay off their debt and the gender gap in the workforce.
“We are only one of seven countries left on earth that do not offer paid leave,” Clinton said. “And, we do not have equal pay either. If we had equal pay, paid leave, affordable childcare, we would have more women in the workforce, and we could all rise together.”
Clinton touched on the nation’s increasing incarceration numbers, pointing out that the United States has five percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s inmates.
“I’m proud that the President (Obama) is taking this on, but there are too many young people in jail for too long for non-violent offenses,” Clinton said.
“But you can’t just say, okay, here are these young people, they got sentences that were ridiculous, they’ve been in too long, let them out,” Clinton continued. “If that’s all you do, they’ll turn right around and come back (to prison). So Hillary says that we have to spend some serious money here. Provide education, training, transition, and don’t let anybody (an employer) make them check a box, when they apply for a job (making them unhirable).
Clinton has been criticized for recent remarks that were perceived as critical of President Obama’s handling of the economy, but during this rally he said that Obama does not get the credit he deserves for stopping the nation from falling into a depression after the financial collapse just before the 2008 election.
Hillary Clinton has a large lead in delegates over Bernie Sanders, but neither may win enough to secure the Democratic nomination before the California primary, which will be held June 7. The party’s convention will be held in Philadelphia on July 25.