Hillary Clinton and Mayor Walsh Launch ‘Hard Hats for Hillary’, Preview Infrastructure Investment Plan

BOSTON–(ENEWSPF)–November 30, 2015.  Hillary Clinton joined Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh to launch “Hard Hats for Hillary” at a grassroots organizing event in Boston’s Faneuil Hall today. In her remarks, Clinton previewed tomorrow’s announcement of her plan to create good-paying jobs, increase wages, and strengthen our economy by investing in the modernization of our nation’s infrastructure. Her infrastructure plan is the first phase of a month-long focus on jobs and the economy.

“Hard Hats for Hillary” is the coalition to organize the millions of working families in construction, building, transportation and other labor industries and professions to support Clinton’s agenda.  Clinton now has the support of nearly 11 million union members across 15 different national unions who have endorsed her campaign.

Please see a full transcript of the remarks below:

“Thank you. Wow.  Thank you all so much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  This is an amazing event in so many ways, and I can’t tell you how pleased and proud I am to have the endorsement and support of your fabulous mayor, Marty Walsh.  Thank you.

“I think Terry O’Sullivan got us all off on the right foot with that energetic, powerful introduction.  And I appreciate Terry talking about Marty’s upbringing, and I especially am pleased that Marty’s mother is here because I want to pay honor to Marty and his family – immigrant families who came to this country and made a great contribution.   I want to acknowledge Congresswoman Katherine Clark.  Thank you so much for being here.

“The members of the city council, state legislature, and other elected officials.  In addition to Terry, I see in the crowd – and I hope I don’t miss anybody – Ken Rigmaiden, general president, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades; Doug McCarron, general president, United Brotherhood of Carpenters; Eric Dean, general president, Laborers’ International Union of North America; and Sean McGarvey, president of the North America’s Building Trades Unions; and many other labor leaders.     Oh, my goodness.  The mayor just told me that Michael Dukakis, Governor Dukakis is here.  Yay.  Thank you.  Thank you so much, Michael.  And Kitty, thank you very much for being here.     This afternoon just gets better and better.

“Marty has been fighting for working folks for a long time, ever since he joined Laborers Local 223.     And all that time, he wasn’t just thinking about his own future; he was thinking about how to help others climb the ladder to a middle-class life.  That’s what used to make this country work so well.  There were lots of ladders, and people were often given a boost to get on the first rung.  Now there are those who have torn those ladders down, who have left them in disrepair, and are fighting us from putting them back up.  Well, I’ll tell you one thing: as your president, we’re going to have ladders of opportunity available for anybody willing to work hard and do your part to make a difference in this country.

“Another reason I want to thank Marty is because he believes in apprenticeships.  How many of you have been apprentices?  How many here?     Well, he started an innovative program called Building Pathways that has helped more than 100 women and people of color prepare to enter the skill-building trades.  And it’s the kind of creative caring that I really value when I look at Mayor Walsh, similar to what my longtime friend, the late Tom Menino, also did in this city – people who really care about building the city and the people in it.

“Boston just won a new grant from the Department of Labor to expand apprenticeships even further.  That means more talented, hardworking people can get their start in the building trades.  So Marty’s leading on a lot of important fronts.

“But here’s what’s really important about this mayor.  Marty Walsh gets it.  He knows what it’s like to get knocked down, but he refused to be knocked out.  And I want everybody who’s had hard times, who’s faced obstacles and difficulties and, frankly, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t – if there was one person here who couldn’t say that that had happened to them in life.  Because we all do.  But what’s important is not whether you get knocked down; what’s important is whether you get back up and you keep going.

“And I’ll tell you, that’s not only true personally, that’s true professionally.  There are a lot of folks here who know that the construction trades were hit hard by the Great Recession.  A lot of people lost their jobs; some saw their retirement savings, their kids’ college funds wiped out; some even lost their homes.  But again, even though people got knocked down they refused to be knocked out.  Folks kept doing everything they could to keep working.  Families tightened their belts.  People believed in themselves and in our country.  And now thanks to your hard work and sacrifice, we’re back on our feet.

“We’ve had 68 straight months of job growth, created more than 13 million new jobs.  Manufacturing is coming back.  The auto industry, which was on the brink of collapse, is thriving.  And a lot of that is thanks to having a Democrat in the White House because when we have a Democrat, the economy does better.

“I know my Republican friends hate me to say this, but this is a fact.  Our economy does better when we have a Democrat in the White House.     In fact, if you go back, you can see: unemployment is lower, incomes are rising.  And did you know we are four times more likely to have a recession with a Republican in the White House?

“So I know this is going to be a hard campaign, but I want you to take those little factoids and start spreading them around.     Anybody who says, “Well, I don’t know.  I mean, think about in the last 35 years we’ve had five presidents: three Republicans and two Democrats.  I think it’s fair to say each of the Democrats inherited economic problems from their Republican predecessors.  I know both of those Democrats; I’m well aware that they did.     I know when my husband got in, there was a recession and the debt of the country had been quadrupled in the prior 12 years.  And I remember shortly after he got elected, him saying to me, “It is so much worse than they told us.”     And then somebody asked him one day, “Well, what is it you think you bring to Washington?”  And he thought for a minute, did that sort of Bill Clinton thing where he chews on the inside of his cheek, you know?     And then he said, “Probably arithmetic.”     So he started adding it up, and by the end of eight years we had 23 million new jobs – incomes rose for everybody, not just at the top – in the middle, working folks, poor people – more poor people lifted out of poverty than in recent history.     And then we had a balanced budget and a surplus.

“And so I thought – I went to the Senate thanks to the good people of New York – hey, we are on the right track.  But no, that’s not what the Republicans believe.  So once again, it was back to trickle-down economics: cut takes on the wealthy, get out of the way of corporations, let them do pretty much whatever they want.  And you saw what happened.

“So after that ’08 election, President-elect Obama called me, asked me to come to Chicago to see him.  I didn’t know why.  Turns out he wanted to ask me to be secretary of state, but before we got to that he says to me, “It’s so much worse than they told us.”     I said, “Mr. President-elect, I’ve heard that before.”  And it was.  We were losing 800,000 jobs a month.  Now, the Republicans want us all to forget that while they sing the song of returning to trickle-down economics.  But we’re not going to let them forget that.  We are going to remind them every single day of this campaign.

“Because by the time their economic policies had run the course, 9 million Americans had lost their jobs, five million lost their homes, and $13 trillion in family wealth disappeared.

“So although we have made progress, we are standing but we are not yet running.  My job as your president will be to do everything I can to create more good-paying jobs, to get wages rising again for American workers and families.  Because Americans have not had a raise, and it’s time we get back to where we were before the Republicans came in and messed it up again.

“Now, I don’t need to tell you that the cost of everything from childcare to college to health care is going up faster than wages.  And too many young people are being crushed by student debt.  It’s making it hard for them to buy a house or start a business or even to get married, they tell me.  I’m the only Democratic candidate in this race who will pledge to raise your incomes, not your taxes.

“I will do everything I can to make it easier to pay for childcare, to send your kids to college, take care of aging parents, afford prescription drugs.  Those should not be luxuries – not in the United States of America.

“So as I look at what we need to create more good-paying jobs, I know that we need jobs that are going to really give people a middle-class lifestyle.  My jobs plan starts with investing in infrastructure, not just because infrastructure jobs are good-paying jobs – though they are – and not just because we desperately need to invest in building our future again – though we do – but because investing in infrastructure makes our economy more productive and competitive across the board.  It cuts costs for families and businesses.  It spurs more private investment.  It boosts wages up and down the supply chain and throughout the economy.

“So to build a strong economy for our future, we must start by building strong infrastructure today and putting you and your members to work.

“And I don’t have to tell you what a sorry state we’re in.  Our roads and bridges are potholed and crumbling.  Families endure blackouts because our electric grid fails in extreme weather.  Beneath our cities, our pipeline infrastructure – our water, our sewer, you name it – is up to a century or more old.  Our airports are a mess.  Our ports need improvement.  Our rail systems do as well.

“Now, here in Boston, I remember the historic snowfall you had last winter.  Honest to goodness, it just crippled the city.  In the pictures I saw, two-story snow drifts.  It crippled the T.  I remember hearing that.  Now you have tracks and trains that you’re hurrying to try to repair, and I know the mayor and his team are working overtime on that.  The endless delays mean people can’t count on the T to get to work.  They can’t move around the city as easily as before.  Not everybody can afford or even wants to have a car these days.  And I don’t think people want to see more traffic downtown.

“That’s why public transit is absolutely vital to connecting people, especially students and low-income people and people of color.

I have a five-year, $275 billion plan to invest in our infrastructure, create good-paying jobs and build the future America deserves.  This would be on top of what the Congress should finally get around to authorizing.  This is a down payment on our future.

“I also include creating a new national infrastructure bank.  We’ve talked about this; now is the time to do it.  It would support up to $250 billion in additional investment for projects of regional and national importance, and leverage money from states, cities and the private sector.  We know there is money sitting on the sidelines that could be put to productive use by helping us build our future, and many of your own pensions funds have asked to support more infrastructure investment.  The national infrastructure bank will help us organize those kinds of investments.  And I want to bring back Build America bonds.  That was a successful Recovery Act program that helped states and cities borrow the money they needed to invest in infrastructure at lower cost.  Build America bonds saved taxpayers’ money, made government more efficient, and supported projects from upgrading water infrastructure in Chicago to building a new convention center in Nashville.

“I want to use every tool we can to invest in infrastructure and build a stronger, more prosperous future.

Now, sometimes people say, well, yeah, yeah, we’ll get around to it.  We don’t have time.  We’ve got to do this now.  We need to put people to work now.

“For example, for years the best airports in the world have been in places like China, Korea and Japan.  There isn’t one U.S. airport in the top 10 or even in the top 20.  Cincinnati airport sneaks onto the list at number 30.  Meanwhile, parts of our air traffic control system date to World War II.  We invented airplanes here in America; we are the reason the world can fly; I think we can do better than we’re doing now to make sure to keep ahead.

“We also invented the internet, believe it or not.  We did.  And 35 percent of our schools don’t have fiber optic connections for high-speed broadband; 17 percent of our people don’t have access to high-speed broadband.  China is investing $180 billion to expand broadband.  We cannot be left behind.  By 2020, I want 100 percent of American households to have access to quality, affordable, high-speed internet.

“Back starting in the 1930s, we electrified the entire country, but today our grid is a mess.  Towns in New England shouldn’t sit through blackouts because of snow storms, and towns in the Southwest shouldn’t have brownouts because of heat waves.  And our electric grid is vulnerable to both extreme weather and cyber attacks.  Yet we have – that we invented here – smart grid technologies that will help save families and businesses money but we are not deploying them fast enough or far enough.  That’s why I have a comprehensive plan to modernize our electric grid and our energy system from coast to coast.

“Investing in infrastructure is about connecting people to their jobs and families, and it also means powering America.  That’s why I also have a national plan to make sure we have an energy system from one end of our country to the other using all of our energy potential, and that’s going to take a lot of hard work to build, maintain, and put online.

“So this is part of what we have to do to be competitive.  I know that it’s something we’ve been trying to do and I know that Congress has stood in the way.  I’m hoping they finally come together on the highway transportation bill, something they have been fighting about now for several years.

“But as I say, that is just the floor.  Yeah, we need them to do that.  It’s important that they finally agree.  But we have to build on that.  We are trillions of dollars behind.  So we have to add to what the Congress appropriates; on top of that, create the national infrastructure bank; and then we are off and running.

“But in order to build a strong, competitive infrastructure, we need a strong workforce.  And I want to thank all the trades unions who are here today because even during the midst of the Great Recession, when things got tough, you never stopped investing in your workforce.  You kept bringing in apprentices.  You kept training your members on the latest tools and techniques.  I’ve been to some of those really impressive apprenticeship facilities.  Doug, when I toured the carpenters’ training facility I was so impressed.  And Ken, I was honored to visit the painters’ training facility and to earn your endorsement there.  And I look forward to visiting more training facilities as this campaign goes on.

“Because I want to draw the press’s attention to what you all do to prepare the workforce of tomorrow.  And I want to support you to do even more.

“You’ve been doing your part.  Now, as president, I want to do mine.  I’ll fight for a new tax credit to encourage more high-quality apprenticeship programs.  I’ll always have your backs on this, because the jobs I’m talking about are tough jobs – sometimes even dangerous jobs.  They take training and skill and respect for workers’ safety.  They take trust between workers and contractors.  And I’m not going to let anybody undermine collective bargaining rights or prevailing wage standards or project labor agreements.

“I’m going to do everything I can so that in the 21st century, careers in the building trades are that ladder into the middle-class life that everybody working hard deserves.  And I’m also going to make sure that the federal government is a good partner for cities like Boston and mayors like Marty.  You’re finding innovative ways to create jobs and build economy opportunity.  And the federal government, as Marty was saying, should do everything we can to be your partner, to back you up.

“Now, when I was in the Senate, we didn’t have any trouble agreeing with our Republican colleagues that investing in infrastructure was a good idea.  It was good for the economy, it was good for our communities, it was good for national security, so that’s why we passed a bipartisan highway bill.  And we put money into roads and bridges and bike paths and transit.  We put money into all kinds of things that made it possible for us to build out our economy.  But the Republicans have been throwing up road blocks, and for the life of me I don’t understand it.

“I feel that there’s got to be something missing in their appreciation for what it takes to keep our economy growing and to make it possible for more people to enjoy the benefits of that growing economy.  I’m going to do everything I can to call for the passage of that long-term highway bill and I’m calling on every Republican running for president to call their friends in Congress to get onboard for the good of the country.  Let’s get that passed before the end of the year.  Let’s end the unpredictability and all the projects that are out there waiting to be funded.

“So I’m ready to take this case to the American people, but I need your help.  I love seeing all the T-shirts.  And as I go from event to event across the country, I hope we have a lot of T-shirts and a lot of people from the trades standing there with me making the case that what I’m advocating for is common sense.  It really will make a difference in our economy and in the lives of millions of American families.  I know Marty is ready.  I know the hard hats are ready.  We need to make a case for investment and then win the election so we can actually get to work and put it into practice.

“Now, let me say that I think we have to think big again as Americans if we’re going to do big things.  I look at a lot of what’s going on in our politics today and it seems mean-spirited, it seems small-minded, it seems negative.  I want us to be ready for the future, but more than that, I want us to shape the future.  I want our cities to be in the forefront of cities anywhere in the world.  I want our workers to be the most competitive and productive in the world.  I want us once again to think big and look up beyond the horizon about what’s possible in America.  I know we can do this.  I know it’s not going to be easy.  This is not my first rodeo.

“But I will tell you this.  I had such a great Thanksgiving with my new granddaughter.  Yeah, it was pretty amazing.     I thought a lot about her future.  That’s kind of what gets me up and keeps me going, even on the not-so-good days.  My grandfather was a factory worker.  He came to this country as an immigrant – a young immigrant with his family.  Went to work in the Scranton lace mills in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  He worked really hard, and he did it to support his family, but also because he really believed in the promise of America and he thought if he worked hard, his sons would have a better life.  And they did.  Every one of them went to college.

“And my dad got out of college in the depths of the Depression in 1935 and hopped a freight train from Scranton to Chicago because he heard second or third-hand there might be a job there.  And he got a job, as a salesman.  And then he went into the Navy during World War II, and when he came out he was a small businessman, and he did give us a good, solid, middle-class life.  My mom had a very different upbringing.  She was basically abandoned and rejected by her own parents, sent off to live with grandparents who didn’t want her.  So by the age of 14 she was working on her own as a housemaid in somebody’s house in order to support herself.  Both of them really believed in this country even though they had very different experiences.  And I remember asking my mother how did she survive being treated so badly?  And she said, “You know, at every turn there was somebody who was kind to me.”

“I think about that a lot when I look at my granddaughter, because we’re going to do everything we can to make sure she has every opportunity available.  But that’s not enough.  It really matters what kind of country she grows up in and what kind of world is out there waiting for her.  I don’t think you should have to be the granddaughter of a former president to have all the opportunities that American can offer.  You should be able to be the granddaughter of a factory worker or the grandson of a truck driver.  And I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that happens.

“Come with me.  Let’s win this for our children and our grandchildren, and let’s make America everything we know it can be.  Thank you all.”