Clinton calls for ‘new bargain’ for high-paying jobs

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton took over a Detroit manufacturing plant Friday to lay out a “new bargain” plan to create higher-paying jobs.

In a wide-ranging economic policy speech, the former Secretary of State drew loud applause from a crowd filled with union members at Detroit Manufacturing Systems. Her plan included calls for strengthening organized labor and raising the minimum wage.

“Companies have to start treating workers like assets to be invested in, not costs to be cut,” she told the crowd of several hundred. On hand were Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Democratic U.S. Reps. John Conyers of Detroit and Debbie Dingell of Dearborn.

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Among Clinton’s proposals is a “clawback” to rescind tax relief and other incentives such as the research and development tax credit if a company moves jobs overseas after receiving the tax incentive. The government would be able to take back tax relief for several prior years, according to the Clinton proposal.

The clawed-back money would be used to encourage more “economic patriotism,” according to the campaign — investment in U.S. communities that have lost jobs.

She also renewed her call for a $12-an-hour minimum wage — up from the current $7.25 federal hourly minimum wage — “and fighting for even higher minimum wages in places where that makes sense.”

One unavoidable subject was Thursday’s raucous GOP presidential debate in Detroit, which drew an unsparing review from Clinton.

“Last night, Detroit played a different role, didn’t it? — hosting a Republican presidential, I don’t know what to call it, I guess a debate,” she said. “There were so many insults flying back and forth, it was hard to keep track.

“But the biggest insult of all was to the American people.”

Clinton faulted the four GOP hopefuls for failing to make the economy anything more than an afterthought during the debate and proceeded to weigh in further on her plans that include:

■Creating an exit tax for companies that benefit from U.S. tax breaks and then go through inversion — relocating their headquarters overseas for tax purposes.

■Issuing new tariffs to combat currency manipulation by other countries, particularly China.

The former U.S. senator from New York often referred to Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis. In speaking about how the attack on organized labor has hurt families, she added: “For some parents, it’s even worse — they have to worry about whether they water their kids drank is poisonous...”

Later, she returned to Flint when discussing her proposal for $275 billion to bolster American’s failing infrastructure.

“We’ll also rebuild our crumbling water systems in Flint and around the country,” Clinton said.

Rival Bernie Sanders is campaigning Friday in Traverse City and the Grand Rapids area. The U.S. senator from Vermont is seeking to contrast himself with Clinton in Michigan by noting their “very different views” on trade policies. He opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement that Clinton’s husband signed into law.

“If the people of Michigan want to make a decision about which candidate stood with workers against corporate America and against these disastrous trade agreements, that candidate is Bernie Sanders,” he told an audience in Traverse City, according to his campaign.

Sanders also has campaigned in Flint and called on Gov. Rick Snyder to resign over the lead-contaminated water and out break of 87 cases of Legionnaires’ disease there, resulting in nine deaths.

Prior to her speech, Clinton toured the facility and took the opportunity to work with several company employees. Among them was Deanne Austin, a two-year-worker at DMS who was thrilled by the encounter.

“First of all, it’s an honor to be able to meet her,” she said. “She’s on the verge of becoming the first female president of the United States. That, in and of itself, is a mind-boggling thing.”

Aside from the celebrity aspect, Austin said the substance of Clinton’s speech also hit home.

“I was really pleased with a lot of the things she had to say today,” she said.

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