Clinton’s official platform focuses on equity for Puerto Rico
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has now put forth a comprehensive plan for Puerto Rico that centers on fairness.
While her opponent Senator Bernie Sanders also has a platform for the territory, Clinton’s last official statement regarding Puerto Rico was a paltry 377-word press statement. In her most recent announcement, Clinton promises to “fight to break down these barriers so that everyone, regardless of where they live, has a chance to live up to their potential.”
Clinton starts with her economic ideas as she lays out her plan, in which she urges Congress to act as quickly as possible in regards to fixing Puerto Rico’s current financial disaster. She advocates for Congress to allow Puerto Rico to “restructure all of their debt, while respecting Puerto Rico’s local self-government” as “giving Puerto Rico a shot at overcoming its critical budgetary problems is the fair thing to do.”
To continue ensuring the Puerto Rico is treated equitably, Clinton’ next proposal is to “ensure Puerto Rico’s political status gets resolved.” While Clinton does not explicitly say whether or not she is condoning statehood for Puerto Rico in this section, she does say, “that Puerto Ricans, as all Americans, should have the opportunity to participate in helping elect their President, regardless of where they live.” On this point she also pledges to demand, “that Congress honors whatever the people of Puerto Rico decide” regarding their legal status.
Hillary’s plan also addresses health care on the island, especially in the dawn of the Zika virus. She addresses the fact that healthcare has become less affordable and less accessible to Puerto Ricans as “doctors are fleeing Puerto Rico at an alarming rate.” To ensure these people get the health care they need, Clinton promises to increase the share of Medicare and Medicaid paid by the federal government, while keeping Congress from rolling back the Affordable Care Act – in fact, Clinton says she wants to “build on the ACA”- and stopping the cuts to Medicare Advantage.
Clinton also speaks to the future, as she details her plan to “ensure quality education for Puerto Rican youth.” To do so she will make pre-K universal nationally, a reform that would include Puerto Rico, while allocating more money to the Early head Start and Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. For older learners, Clinton has proposed the New College Compact, which will “provide scholarships and child care support for student parents” while ensuring that debt doesn’t hold down other students after graduation.
Clinton also put forth a policy for jobs, in which she will raise the minimum wage, ensure equal pay for women in the workforce, boost apprenticeships and guarantee paid family and medical leave. To combat Puerto Rico’s poverty rates she proposed a “$125 billion investment to create good-paying jobs, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, and connect housing to opportunity in communities that are being left out and left behind.”
Lastly, Hillary addresses Puerto Rican veterans. In her plan, she says she will hold VA employees accountable to ensure they are putting veterans’ needs first, while also “transform[ing] the VA into an integrated health care system.”
While not all of these proposals are necessarily exclusive to Puerto Rico, what is important is that Clinton’s plan for the island is one in which Puerto Rico is legally and socially seen as equal to states, regardless of its statehood, or lack thereof.