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Chelsea Clinton campaigns at SMC on eve of Ind. primary

Bill Brink | Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chelsea Clinton discussed her mother’s health care and education plans and told the audience that her mother would make a better president than her father did on May 5 in the Saint Mary’s student center.

Speaking during a study break for students on the eve of the Indiana primary, Chelsea Clinton said her mother, Hillary, a New York Senator and Democratic candidate for president, was “more prepared” than her father, Bill, was when he was president.

“She’s lived and worked in the White House and lived and worked in the Senate,” Chelsea said. “She’s experienced the unforeseen challenges.”

Hillary Clinton won the Indiana primary as expected, but by a slim margin: she received 51 percent of the votes to Senator Barack Obama’s 49 percent.

Although the event was a question-and-answer session, Chelsea steered most of her responses towards health care and education reform.

“The health insurance premium rose almost 100 percent over the last seven years,” she said. “That’s crushing people.”

To combat this, Chelsea said Hillary wants to drop the price of health insurance premiums to about 55 percent of what they are now. Hillary also plans to allow people to buy into the Congressional health care plan to lower the number of uninsured Americans.

“More than 100 million Americans, at some point in 2008, won’t have insurance,” Chelsea said. “[Hillary’s] still fighting for what she knows we have to do in our country.”

Chelsea said Americans were more likely to die without health insurance, and that risk grew if the uninsured person was a woman or a minority.

Aside from health care, Chelsea said, Hillary sees other problems in the medical field inhibiting the advancement of health care. The pharmaceutical companies, Chelsea said, have not taken the correct approach to children’s medication. She gave the example of a 10-year old who pharmaceutical companies considered half the age of an adult and accordingly gave him half the medication an adult would receive. Hillary wrote a law that passed through a bipartisan Congress and “shamed” President Bush into signing it to rectify this problem, Chelsea said.

Safe and secure electronic medical records, Chelsea said, would also improve health care by saving the government as much as $70 billion. The change could take six to eight years and would help pay for health care coverage. Hillary also wants to double the research budget in the next 10 years, Chelsea said.

“President Bush has waged a war on science,” Chelsea said. “Autism research needs more funding. Bush hasn’t cut it, but he hasn’t increased the budget. My mother is committed to fully funding areas that scientists say we need to.”

To aid the funding of higher education, Chelsea said Hillary plans to double the size of Pell grants, which will max out at $5,400 in 2012, and double the $3,500 tax credit to families with students enrolled in higher education. Chelsea cited her mother’s experience at Yale law school, where she paid for her education with federal loans at two percent interest alone. After Hillary graduated, she could easily pay back her loans with interest with her income, Chelsea said.

“It enabled her to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, something she wouldn’t have done [otherwise],” Chelsea said.

Chelsea said Hillary plans to extend aid to students in exchange for public service to help pay off loans. Any loans left over after 20 years, Chelsea said, would be forgiven. To pay for this service, Chelsea said, Hillary plans to reinstate the tax on citizens worth over seven million dollars in family assets. This would affect 0.3 percent of the population, Chelsea said, but create eight billion dollars of revenue.

Hillary’s revision of the education system, Chelsea said, focuses on public education as well. To start, Chelsea said, Hillary wants to get rid of the No Child Left Behind act on the grounds that it inspires lower standards in public schools.

“It incentivizes schools to lower standards because it awards money based on beating self-set standards,” Chelsea said.

Hillary wants to start reform with three-year-olds, Chelsea said, and expand early Head Start programs, which help educate children from under-privileged families. She hopes this will put children on a level playing field by the time they get to kindergarten.

As part of public education reform, Chelsea said, Hillary wants to improve school supplies such as textbooks. Chelsea said Hillary saw a textbook in a school in upstate New York with the sentence, “Someday we will send a man to the moon.”