Issues | Education | Health and Development | Work/Life Balance

ElectionMap: Hillary Clinton's 'Four Fights' and Families

This election season, we take a look at where the presidential candidate stands on college tuition, parental leave and education initiatives


Welcome to ElectionMap. The race for the 2016 presidential nomination has produced numerous candidates for both the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as hundreds of Independent and third-party candidates. ParentMap would like to help our readers make informed decisions going into the election season by providing profiles of many of the presidential hopefuls. We have focused our coverage on three issues affecting families: student loan debt and rising tuition costs; benefits for low-income and working families such as paid parental leave, child care costs and SNAP/WIC benefits; and education issues related to standardized testing, implementation of the Common Core, and Universal Preschool initiatives. For each candidate, we look at their stated positions, as well as (when available) their actual voting history.

Hillary Clinton: Democrat

Hillary Clinton has had a long career in public service. As First Lady during her husband Bill Clinton’s two terms as president, she helped write policy on issues of education and healthcare. She served as senator for New York from 2001–2009, when she left the Senate to become U.S. secretary of state. She ran for president in 2008, losing the Democratic primary to Barack Obama.

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign is organized around The Four Fights: Building an Economy for Tomorrow, including her positions on income inequality, benefits for the working class, and support for small businesses; Strengthening America’s Families, covering leave policies, immigration reform and drug treatment programs; Defending America and Our Core Values, discussing her positions on trade, military and foreign policies; and Revitalizing Our Democracy, explaining her ideas for protection of voter rights and reducing the influence of money in politics.

Student loans and rising college tuition costs

Hillary's record shows long-standing support for reduction of college tuition burdens and student debt relief.

What she says

Hillary has made college loan reform one of the primary platforms of her election campaign, as part of her support package for the middle class: “We will — finally and forever — make college affordable and available.” Hillary has recently shown support for debt-free college, a popular progressive stance that all public universities should offer reduced or free tuition. She has stated that we should “try to move toward making college as debt-free as possible” during this year’s campaigning in Iowa.

What her record says

In 2007, she voted for the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which provided additional funds for Pell Grants and lowered student loan interest rates.

In 2006, she sponsored the Student Borrower Bill of Rights, which would have limited loan repayments based on income.

In 2001, though voting overall against the Bush tax cuts, Hillary voted for an amendment that would have raised the tuition tax write-off from $5,000 to $12,000.

Parental benefits (Paid leave, child care, SNAP/WIC benefits)

Hillary has been in favor of paid leave for families since her time as first lady, when her husband’s administration passed the Family and Medical Leave Act. She has shown support for improved access to after-school child care throughout her career, and has consistently voted to preserve social benefits for low-income families.

What she says

Her campaign promises to make family leave a priority once she is elected: “We will develop a national paid leave program so that no American has to choose between keeping their job and taking care of a new baby or a sick family member.”

She also supports an expansion of cost-effective child care for all families: “We will make quality, affordable child care a national priority to give working families the support they need and give our children the opportunities they deserve.”

When unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans expired in 2013, Hillary Clinton tweeted: “What happens to kids in families cut from unemployment insurance & food stamps? They’re #2SmallToFail, & deserve an equal chance to succeed.”

What her record says

Despite her support for the issue, Hillary doesn’t necessarily believe she can get a federally mandated family leave bill passed. As recently as 2014 at a CNN Town Hall Meeting, Clinton remarked: “I don’t think, politically, we could get it now.”

In 2005, Hillary Clinton voted to approve $52 million in funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which included after-school care for low-income children.

In 2002, Clinton voted in favor of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which provided $123 billion for social services, including services for children and families.

Education (Common Core, standardized testing, universal preschool)

Hillary has a mixed record on standardized testing, which appears to vary depending on which program is being discussed: though she has rescinded her original support for the No Child Left Behind Act, she has recently spoken positively about the Common Core.  During this summer’s campaign run, she has called for expanded preschool services for all children.

What she says

In 2007, in a speech to the National Education Association, Hillary Clinton spoke out against a rigid environment of standardized testing, stating: “While the children are getting good at filling in all those little bubbles, what exactly are they really learning?”

Recently at a Community College in Iowa, Hillary talked about the non-partisan high expectations for all children promised in the initial Common Core proposals: “It wasn’t politicized, it was to try to come up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country, no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was, that there wouldn’t be two tiers of education.”

In June, at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Clinton unveiled a new plan for universal preschool for 4 year-olds, including tax breaks for middle-class families.

What her record says

In 1993, Hillary fully supported a program called Goals 2000, which was signed into law by her husband.  This law is widely seen as a predecessor to No Child Left Behind and the Common Core.

In 2001, she voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, but went on to retract her support before her first presidential campaign, securing the endorsement of the NEA.

In 2007, she proposed the Ready to Learn Act, which would have fully funded pre-kindergarten for all 4 year-olds in the country, and which was very similar to her current proposal.

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