Bill Clinton stumps for Hillary in Steubenville

STEUBENVILLE – Former President Bill Clinton told a crowd of 500 Tuesday at Harding Middle School that he understands the anger of the American electorate but decisions made in anger aren’t always based on facts.

Clinton said, “Anger or answers? Resentment or empowerment? Bridges or walls? Are we stronger together or would you like to have all day, every day what you have been treated to the last few months? We are stronger together. Vote for the answers, vote for the empowerment, vote for the bridges. Vote for Hillary.”

Clinton explained with greater detail the college loan forgiveness and other economic policies that are part of his wife’s agenda than have been floated nationally in recent days as the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns have been goading and responding to one another in the wake of the first presidential debate Sept. 25.

He said his wife and her primary challenger, Bernie Sanders, combined plans and came up with one that was better than either had alone.

The proposal includes:

l Free tuition at all public colleges for families with incomes up to $125,000 a year, about 85 percent of the U.S. population.

l Free community colleges.

  • All 20 million people with college debt would be allowed to refinance it at a lower interest rate. Clinton said currently, it’s possible to refinance a home at a far lower rate than the rate on college debt.
  • Existing educational loans could be converted to a 20-year repayment, and no matter how much is owed, the student wouldn’t have to pay more than 10 percent of their after-tax income with the remainder forgiven. Those who take public service jobs, including teachers and police officers and firefighters, would see the remainder of their loan forgiven after 10 years.
  • Anyone with outstanding college debt would find their chances of getting a small business loan improved. He said the system would allow more young people to start their own businesses because the college loans wouldn’t be wrecking their credit scores. The college loan repayments would be scheduled during the first three years of the establishment of the new small business.

Recalling the growth in incomes that occurred during his presidency, Bill Clinton said, “We all rose together and we weren’t mad at each other, were we?”

As he spent 45 minutes extolling reasons to vote for Hillary, Clinton remarked about the tone and tenor of the angry campaign and electorate this year. He said he understands the anger in a nation where the median income hasn’t risen since he was in office 16 years ago, but he cautioned against making decisions in anger.

“You need your Miranda warnings every time you open your mouth because anything you say can be held against you and twisted,” he said of the election season.

“You have to make a decision about whether you believe we can grow again, whether you believe we can have more jobs and higher income and more upward mobility and that people can be rewarded for their work,” he said. “I have spent half my life now trying to help people make a living, bring in their crops, get a decent price, educate their kids, provide health care and create new areas of economic opportunity.

“Here’s what I know. Wherever people are working together to make something good happen, something good is happening. Whevever people spend all their time angry in their resentments, rubbing salt in wounds, telling you how sorry the other person is, then they win a bunch of elections, especially when people are as mad as they are now, but not much good happens,” Clinton said.

“When we think our differences are more important than our common humanity, when we can’t look in the eyes of another human being who is doing the best he or she can and treat them like they are part of our shared human race, and our quickly passing life, we are in trouble,” he said.

Clinton believes the nation is close to having 1990s prosperity and that President Barack Obama will be given greater credit for the economy in a decade because he worked with “one hand tied behind his back” by Congress.

Clinton said Hillary is for more community drug treatment centers to face the opioid epidemic, a better mental health system and knows reforms are needed to the health care system. He said while the federal health care act has provided insurance to 25 million more people, it does make coverage too expensive for those above the line to receive federal coverage. He said costs for coverage have gone up and what is covered has become less for many because there are now higher risk pools for insurers to cover. He said the solution by his wife would include letting people start buying into Medicare at age 55, which would allow more affordable policies for others.

He said the area was “hosed” by the nation failing to enforce its trade laws and the loss of steel and manufacturing that resulted. But, he said, with just 5 percent of the world population, the nation needs international trade. Ohio, he noted, is a great farming state and farmers make income from exports. He said Trump was building hotels from Chinese steel at the same time the Chinese were dumping steel at below market value in the U.S. and wiping out the domestic industry.

He said funding economic proposals would involve a combination of higher taxes on the very wealthy, penalties to companies that push shareholder value and CEO raises over reinvesting in the nation, and tax incentives for firms that help the nation grow. Expanded broadband computer access alone would expand economic opportunity, he said, and it’s part of Hillary’s infrastructure plans.

He said she proposes tax incentives for companies that share profits with employees instead of exporting jobs to make a quick return for shareholders; forcing companies that do take quick action for shareholder return to give back any government aid and to tax any goods they bring back into the nation from their foreign factories; and to provide up to a 40 percent tax credit to firms that invest in areas that have been left behind in the economic recovery. Skilled worker training would be funded.

“This is not about being anti-business. It’s about asking business to do what it does best again, which is to be in business, not in finance,” he said.

While protesters massed along Sunset Boulevard, Joseph Horkulic III of Steubenville stood at the head of the line waiting to get in.

“It’s my first time to see a president and I’m happy to be here,” he said. “I want to see Hillary Clinton make history and she’s done it already.”

One of the first Trump supporters to arrive outside the school was Linda Riley of New Cumberland.

As she waved a Trump flag, she recounted that Bill Clinton visited Weirton after he was named the Democrat nominee in 1992 and then supported the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Giannamore is a reporter for the Steubenville Herald-Star.