TENNESSEE—(ENEWSPF)—November 20, 2015. At a grassroots organizing meeting in Memphis today, Hillary Clinton pledged to fight for tax relief for middle-class families in order to boost their take-home pay and help them deal with rising costs. In particular, Clinton talked about her new tax credit of up to $5,000 to help families with excessive health care costs. Clinton said she wants to ensure that “nobody goes without the health care they need.” Clinton expects to lay out the next of her tax relief proposals this weekend in Iowa. The event on Friday marked Clinton’s first Tennessee swing ahead of the state’s March 1 primary next year.
Please see a full transcript of the remarks below:
“I am thrilled to be back in Memphis here in Lemoyne-Owen. I very much appreciate the college hosting us. I want to thank Andrea Miller, the president of the college. All of the faculty and students, Bob Simpson, the chair, all the members of the board of trustees. It’s a special pleasure for us to be here with you on this campus. Thank you so much. I also want to thank your Congressman. Thank you so much Congressman Cohen for your work and your passionate advocacy on behalf of the people you represent. I’ve got to tell you, I loved coming to Memphis in the past.
You know, I didn’t live too far away for a long time – just across the river. Do we have anybody from Arkansas here tonight? [Applause] My husband and I appreciated the hospitality and the friendship of folks from Memphis, and it’s always good to be back and especially to be here with you as we begin working toward the primary here in Tennessee. You know, I don’t think there could be more at stake in an election than this one we’ve got coming up.
Here at home, we have got to do a better job in raising incomes and providing opportunity for all of our people. And around the world, we have to show leadership to keep our country and our friends and allies safe and secure. I know how hard this job is. I’ve seen it up close and personal. I was so proud of the job that my husband did when he went from being Governor of Arkansas to President of the United States.
And at the end of those eight years, we had 23 million new jobs. Incomes had risen for everybody – the top, the middle, working folks, poor people.
And then along came another Republican President. You know, when you end up handing the next President a balanced budget and a surplus, think of what we could have done with that. Think of the investments in education and health care and job creation. But that’s not what happened, is it? Now after the 2008 election, then President-elect Obama called me and asked me to come see him in Chicago.
I didn’t know what he wanted. Turns out he wanted me to be Secretary of State. But before we talked about that, he said to me, “It’s so much worse than they told us.” I said, “Mr. President-elect, that’s exactly what my husband said to me after that election in 1992.” Now, I know that my Republican friends don’t like me to say this, but the economy does better with a Democratic President in the White House.
And I can guarantee you the Republicans don’t want us to think about how we ended up in that Great Recession that President Obama inherited, do they? Nine million – nine million Americans lost their jobs. Five million lost their homes. 13 trillion dollars in family wealth was wiped out. And so in comes a new President facing this crisis, the worst since the Great Depression, and I don’t think President Obama gets the credit he deserves for pulling us out of that big ditch.
Now it is all well and good for the Republicans to criticize, but their record deserves scrutiny. And they are running on the same economic policies that have failed us before: trickledown economics, cut taxes on the wealthy, get out of the way of the big corporations. Well, we know how that story ends, don’t we? So I’m running for President to get the economy working for everybody, to raise incomes for everybody.
To make sure the deck is not stacked for those at the top like it is right now, and we have to win an election to make sure that we can do that. As I look out at this crowd and it’s such an enthusiastic big crowd…
Somebody fainted over there, can we get them some water some help, okay? Get somebody over there, so let me know if you need, is there somebody here who can help? We want to make sure we take care of the lady who fainted. I thought it was the talk of Republicans who might have done it. But I am convinced that raising incomes for hardworking families is the number one job of our economy.
That’s why I believe you deserve a raise increase, not a tax increase and I am not going to stand for that, I will also fight to raise the minimum wage because nobody who works full time in America should still be living in poverty. And we are going to create some more good paying jobs. How do we do that? Well for one we are going to fix the roads, the bridges, the tunnels, the airports, the ports, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be creating millions of jobs to make our infrastructure more competitive. And we’re also going to create more good jobs from clean renewable energy while we fight climate change which is a real problem. We are going to do more to help small business because 60 percent of the new jobs in America come from small businesses.
And I’ll tell you, one of the fastest ways we could raise incomes for so many Americans and families is to make sure women get equal pay for equal work.
And one of the most important tasks we have is to make sure all of our people, young and not so young are well prepared for the jobs of the future, that’s why institutions like this are so important. I have something called the New College Compact, so that you do not have to borrow money to pay tuition when you go to college.
And I want to make sure that we do more for historically black colleges and universities. We have got to get the cost down, but then we have got to help people repay the debt they already have. I meet young people across the country who are paying thousands, thousands of dollars that they borrowed, I see heads nodding right here. Well first, we are going to make it possible for you to refinance your debt, if you can refinance your house or your car, you ought to be able to refinance your college and student debt.
And then we are going to save you thousands of dollars by making it possible for you to repay it as a percentage of the income you make when you get out of school and I know that works because Bill and I did that, we both borrowed money when we went to law school and then we paid it back as a percentage so I could go to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, not for some big law firm that would pay me more, I wanted to do the work I loved but I had to pay it back. I want everybody to have that chance. And I want more kids to get off to a good start that’s why early childhood education, quality childcare, universal pre-K is so important.
And I will also defend the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans have tried to appeal it time and time again, but I want to improve it, we are going to defend it and we are going to improve it. How are we going to do that? Well, out of pocket costs and prescription drug costs are just way too high aren’t they? So what I am proposing is a new tax credit of up to $5,000 to help families that have excessive health care costs. You never know when that’s going to happen to you. Somebody gets sick. Somebody has an accident. You’ve got to be prepared, but too many families don’t have those resources.
So I think we should all provide that kind of help through a tax credit, so that nobody goes without the health care they need. And I will also make it very clear that we’re going to go after these high prescription drug costs.
I want you just to think about this. Us taxpayers, we pay to support the National Institute of Health, right? They partner with universities and drug companies to help develop drugs. And those drugs can save lives, extend lives.
And then, we pay for the Food and Drug Administration to test those drugs to make sure they’re safe enough to be given to people. So we have an investment, we and our tax dollars. And then we can charge the highest costs in the world — it is just wrong. It’s wrong, friends.
I represented New York, and if you look at the map New York has a long border with Canada. And every week, people would cross that border to go buy the same drugs cheaper in Canada than they could buy them in New York. So we’re going to get the authority to, number one, change the drugs companies can’t deduct the cost of all those advertisements you see on TV and they actually put that money into research and development to create new drugs and treatments!
And then number two, we’re going to give Medicare the authority to negotiate lower prices like they get in Canada and elsewhere. We can do this, because if people stand up and speak out we can create the political pressure for change.
And so I’m going to need you not only in the primary and the general election — because I’ll tell you, I’m going to campaign in Tennessee to try to turn in blue in November of 2016! And I’m going to try to convince — I’m going to try to convince more governors like your governor here in Tennessee to expand Medicaid so that more people can get their health care needs.
I just came from Kentucky, just across the border. And the Democratic governor there, who’s ending his term, expanded Medicaid. Before he did that, 14 percent of the people in Kentucky did not have health insurance. Then he expanded it. More people got it and all of a sudden they were taking care of health problems that they’ve ignored for years.
90,000 of them got cholesterol screenings, 46,000 were screened for diabetes, 26,000 got breast exams, more than 13,000 got treatment for substance abuse. Now that is care that they didn’t get before and if Tennessee would have followed that approach, the Volunteer State would have seen 250,000 more people, primarily working folks, get coverage between 2013 and 2014.
I don’t want to rub it in or anything, but Arkansas expanded Medicaid, right? Hundreds of thousands of folks just across the river are getting healthcare now who didn’t get it before. Or maybe they got it when they walked into an emergency room, instead of getting taken care of before they had an emergency. So I’m hoping that Tennessee will do that.
Now, ask yourself, why are Republicans standing in the way on healthcare and so much else? Why do they want to turn the clock back? Because they’re not paying attention to the people; they’re paying attention to the powerful and the special interests, that’s why!
And there’s something else going on. A lot of the human rights, the civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, voting rights, they’re also under attack by our Republicans friends. They want to turn that clock back too. See I think we can be stronger when we stand together. I think we are better when we support each other. I think one of America’s great assets is our diversity. Yesterday, I gave a speech in New York about what I think we should be doing to combat this threat of terror. I’ll tell you, it’s real. I was a Senator from New York on 9/11. I have seen it. I have seen what evil and hatred can do. So I take it very seriously. I’ll tell you this, I will do everything in my power as your president to protect our country and to keep us safe.
But we have got to do what works. It doesn’t work for us to act like we are going to shut our borders and pull up the gangplank. That weakens us and it also validates some of what these terrorists are saying. We need to isolate them. We need to defeat them on the ground and we need to defeat them in the air and we need to defeat them online by going after their lies and their propaganda and pointing out they don’t care about anything except murder and hatred and viciousness. We can win this struggle if we can stay true to who we are as Americans.
I’ll tell you something else we need to stay true to. We need to stay true to people who are left out and left behind in our own country. We have got some really poor places in America. We got poor places in Tennessee don’t we Mayor? One of the poorest places is in coal country here in Tennessee and Kentucky and West Virginia, Arkansas. My husband, when he was a young lawyer, he did black lung disease cases. So we need to take care of people who are left out and left behind. That is why I want to reinvest in communities. I want to get back to where the President is a good partner with governors and county commissioners, and mayors, and city councils, and we come together to figure out how we are going to help each other.
So I need your help and I need some water right down here for a lady that is right here. So does somebody have some water? The Congressman’s going to deliver water. He is good at constituency service. I know none of this is going to be easy. We are going to have to fight hard just as I want to fight hard for you. So I need your help. Please take out your phone right now and text join, J-O-I-N to 47246 to get involved in this campaign right now. That’s “join”, J-O-I-N, to 47246. Sign up to help us here in Tennessee.
If you are from Arkansas, sign up to help us over in Arkansas. And then go to my website, HillaryClinton.com and become part of this campaign. Volunteer your hours, your time, your expertise, donate if you can. Just be part of what we are building here. Because we not only want to win a campaign, we want to keep our country moving with confidence and optimism moving into the future.
We have to be really focused on what we need to do to make sure that we deliver fairness and justice and opportunity to everybody. That is why the very first speech I gave in this campaign was about criminal justice reform and ending the era of mass incarceration in America.
It is also why I am taking on the gun lobby. The gun lobby deserves to be pushed back. They have unfortunately made it too easy to get guns in this country. And I know, I know that there are cases right here in Memphis. I am well aware of the Stewart case just as I am with cases across our country. I have met with the mothers of so many of the young people who have died, both because of police action and because of gun violence. We need to tackle both. We cannot let any young person become the victim of gun violence.
So that is why I need your help. If you believe as I do that America’s best days can be ahead of us, please join my campaign. Join this effort. Let’s go win for America. Thank you all!”