Obama Had Obamacare. This Could Be Hillary's Lasting Legacy. - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Obama Had Obamacare. This Could Be Hillary's Lasting Legacy.

Obama Had Obamacare. This Could Be Hillary's Lasting Legacy.

By Nick Fouriezos


Because your pet cause could be next on the agenda.

By Nick Fouriezos

In this special election series, OZY looks at Hillary Clinton — including her past, a key player from her inner circle and what she may encounter as she battles for the White House. We’ve also explored the global issues that could disrupt her campaign and consider what her record in Haiti tells us.  

As first lady and, later, senator of New York, Clinton worked on federal issues that included children’s health care, minimum-wage increases and raising unemployment insurance. And while it’s tempting to look to her husband’s presidency for clues on what her domestic agenda might hold should she become president, that would be a mistake, says Russell Riley of the University of Virginia, an expert on Bill’s years in the White House. “The times are very different,” Riley adds.

Indeed, Bill’s focus was on rebuilding the Democratic Party after a dozen years of Republican rule, and that forced him to adopt more centrist positions. But Hillary would build upon her party’s two-term legacy, which could let her add to an already-liberal platform. Here are a few policy issues where she could create a lasting legacy.

1. Greasing the economy … through immigration? It is the holy grail of modern politics, the most pressing issue of our time judging by the support Donald Trump has garnered while raising it, and the major agenda item that Obama never scored success with. But could fixing America’s immigration woes also repair the economy? “We don’t think of it that way,” Neera Tanden, president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress and Clinton’s 2008 policy director, tells OZY.

Yet forming a path to citizenship raises pay for everyone, Tanden notes, because “it makes fewer people who have to fight for low wages.” Clinton’s plan would maintain Obama’s executive orders protecting DREAMers from deportation, allow immigrants to join the health exchanges and end family detention. Sure, it doesn’t quite have the ring of “ClintonCare,” and Republican opposition would be stiff. But the impact of such legislation would rival even that of the Affordable Care Act.

2. Curing Alzheimer’s disease — and maybe cancer, too. It’s rare that Newt Gingrich agrees with a Clinton — on anything — but it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for everyone to get behind a cure for Alzheimer’s under America’s first female commander in chief. In December, Clinton rolled out a plan to spend $2 billion to discover the first cure for the neurodegenerative scourge by 2025. It’s the only one of the 10 leading killers of Americans for which there is no treatment, and experts say a cash influx could push research over the brink.

The 68-year-old has also promised to reduce costs on prescription drugs for “serious illnesses,” including cancer. With her commitment to continuing Obama’s legacy, we could even see her adopt his pledge to cure cancer, which he announced in his State of the Union speech this year. If Republicans control the Senate or House, this could be the only issue where Clinton is able to create meaningful change with cross-party support.

3. The New (Clintonian) Deal. Paid family leave. A higher minimum wage. Equal pay for women. These points from Clinton’s campaign policy plans have each been pipe dreams for progressives in the past, and yet, the U.S. has remained remarkably steady in its opposition to putting further restrictions on business. Oddly enough, the resonant messages of Trump and Sanders — that corporations have created an unlevel playing field — could pave the way for a New Clintonian Deal. “She is talking about restoring the social contract between companies and workers,” says Tanden.

That includes a plan to give employers incentives to create profit-sharing plans with their employees. Which sounds great, though no domestic agenda remains completely intact from the campaign trail to passage into law. “A campaign document is aspirational,” Riley says. “But I have to believe that there is, underneath all that, a realistic assessment of what could be accomplished.”

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