During the primary season, we polled nearly 1,000 of you about what moms want in a president. According to our exclusive survey, the most important issues to families were health care, education, child-care costs, the economy and good jobs, and maternity and paternity leave. We reached out to both presidential candidates to ask about their plans to address these crucial issues. Donald Trump declined our requests for an interview. We’re pleased that Secretary Hillary Clinton made time to share her thoughts with us.
Q. Health care topped the list of the most pressing concerns for our audience. What would you do to make quality health care more affordable and accessible for young families?
A. I’ve devoted my career to working toward universal, affordable health care—leading the fight in the ‘90s, and later working across the aisle to help create the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers 8 million children today. Thanks to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, 20 million more people are insured, and Americans no longer can be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition or their gender. But there’s still so much more we can do.
Health-care costs are still one of the greatest burdens that families are facing. That’s why we’ll reduce co-pays and deductibles and provide new tax relief specifically for excessive out-of-pocket costs. And we’ll crack down on drug companies that increase prescription drug prices, so that you and your family never have to go without medication that you need.
Throughout my campaign, I’ve laid out strategies to address many of today’s pressing health care challenges—from Alzheimer’s to autism, mental health and substance abuse, environmental health, and women’s health, including the Zika virus. I’ve never given up on the fight for universal coverage—and I’m not about to stop now.
Q. Parents are very concerned about the quality of public school education. What would you do to improve it and make sure that our children are competitive in the job market and global economy?
A. I believe that every child in this country deserves a good teacher in a good school, regardless of what ZIP code he or she lives in. If we want our children to thrive in tomorrow’s economy, we need to invest in education today, starting with our youngest learners. That’s why we’ll fight to make preschool universal for every 4-year-old and give parents the tools they need to become their child’s first teachers starting as early as possible.
And when our children enter K-12 education, they’ll know they are walking into strong public schools with modernized classrooms and high-quality teachers. We’ll launch a national campaign to elevate the teaching profession by preparing, supporting and paying every child’s teacher as if the future of our country is in their hands—because it is. That means we need to rebuild and modernize America’s schools—from repairing crumbling classrooms to increasing energy efficiency to upgrading science labs and ensuring that every school has high-speed broadband. And we’ll ensure all public schools in America offer computer science and expand STEM programming so we’re giving our kids the tools and skills they need to succeed in today’s world.
Q. In most families with young children, both parents work outside the home, but child care is considered “affordable” (costing no more than 10 percent of a family’s income, according to federal guidelines) in only 13 states. How would you help reduce this source of financial stress for families?
A. This issue has always been near and dear to my heart. We need to enact policies to meet the challenges families face in our 21st-century economy. Today, many families rely on two incomes to make ends meet, and 40 percent of moms serve as the sole or primary breadwinners in their household, making access to high-quality, affordable childcare more important than ever. And yet, the cost of sending two kids to a child-care center can exceed the cost of rent. That’s outrageous. If we’re going to say that we’re for “family values,” then we need to value families.
I believe that no family should have to pay more than 10 percent of their income on child care, and every family should have access to universally available public preschool. My plan will significantly increase our investment in federal child-care subsidies and provide tax relief to offset the cost of care in working families. We’ll increase our investment in early learning programs, universal preschool, and policies like paid family leave. And to increase the quality of care and pay childcare workers what they deserve, we’ll launch the Respect and Increased Salaries for Early Childhood Educators (RAISE) initiative.
Q. What are the primary ways in which you would help young adults—so many of whom are parents—find good-paying full-time jobs?
A. Millennials entered the workforce during one of the worst recessions in our nation’s history–and because of that, many still face employment challenges. In fact, even though Millennials make up roughly one-third of the workforce, one in ten is unemployed. That’s twice the national average.
I’m committed to building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. That’s why in my first 100 days in office, we’ll break through the Washington gridlock to make the biggest investment in good-paying jobs since World War II. That includes helping young people graduate from college debt-free, afford child care for their kids, and more easily start new businesses. We’ll also launch a $20 billion initiative to create millions of new career opportunities specifically for young Americans–including jobs and apprenticeships. And it is long past time to guarantee equal pay for women. When a woman is paid unfairly, that doesn’t just shortchange her—it shortchanges her entire family!
Q. You’ve said as president you want to make sure every working American has paid time off to care for a baby or sick family member. Why is this so important and how will you make this a reality?
A. No one should have to choose between keeping her job and taking care of a sick family member. Too many moms have to return to work just days after their babies are born. And too many dads and parents of adopted children don’t get any paid leave at all. Neither do sons and daughters struggling to take care of their aging parents. And today, the United States is the only developed nation in the world with no guaranteed paid leave of any kind. That’s just outrageous.
So we’ll fight to pass twelve weeks of paid family leave, in which hardworking Americans get at least two-thirds of their current wages. And we’ll pay for it by making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share–not by increasing taxes on the middle class. Supporting families isn’t a luxury–it’s an economic necessity–and it’s long past time our policies catch up to the way families live and work today.
Q. Sixty-two percent of parents we polled said that the candidates don’t understand the day-to-day realities of families like theirs. What would you say to our readers to let them know that you understand and care about them?
A. The American people deserve a president who understands not only the big challenges we need to tackle as a country, but also the everyday realities–the quiet problems–that can keep families up at night. That’s why I firmly believe that anyone who is asking for your vote needs to start by listening.
It’s a simple idea: You can’t help solve people’s problems if you don’t understand what they are.
I’ve made a career out of fighting for children and families. For my first job out of law school at the Children’s Defense Fund, I went door-to-door to talk to children and their parents, gather facts, and build a coalition–and our work helped convince Congress to guarantee access to education for students with disabilities. To drive progress, you need both understanding and action.
I’m also committed to supporting working parents because I’ve been one myself, and because I’ve worked with so many men and women with children who have given so much to their jobs while doing the most important job of all–raising their kids. As your President, I’ll fight every single day to make America the best place in the world to raise a family.