Straight from the heart: Hillary’s fight for children and families

In the 25 years that I have known Hillary Clinton, there has been one undeniable constant: she is relentless and persistent in her commitment to making government work better for children and their families.

Over this quarter-century, Hillary’s tireless, often-unheralded work paid off in concrete, measurable results for millions of families: expanding health coverage, tax relief, quality child care, and family leave for working families at home; and delivering lifesaving HIV treatment for parents and children, better nutrition for vulnerable families, and improved education for girls around the world.

This election, we have the special opportunity to elect a president who has the vision, experience, and skills to make critical investments in the next generation upon whom our collective future depends. A vote for Hillary is truly a vote for children.

I first met Hillary at a small meeting with congressional staffers when she was First Lady of Arkansas. When asked about her hopes for her husband’s first campaign for president, she spoke straight from the heart and, without hesitation, said she wanted the 1992 campaign to start a new dialogue about ways to support families struggling to raise their kids and make ends meet. Given her history with the Children’s Defense Fund, it was not a surprise that children would be a priority. Yet, with Hillary, there was also a sincerity of purpose.

Over the years, I have been privileged to watch Hillary turn passion into action. During her husband’s administration, I was fortunate to serve in senior positions at the Department of Health and Human Services. Hillary championed comprehensive health reform that would have improved the health of millions. When it failed, she took her hits, picked herself up, and worked with Republicans to pass the biggest expansion of health coverage for kids prior to Obamacare. She also used her position as First Lady to promote family leave, child welfare reform, and newly-emerging brain research that made the case for investing in early childhood programs. Perhaps most importantly, Hillary was critical in the fight against block-granting Medicaid that would have left millions of Americans, particularly the elderly, disabled, and children, without health care.

As a senator from New York, she continued her advocacy for American families and children, including tax relief for working families, increased funding for Head Start and early childhood programs, and support for immigrant families. I was also impressed that her office worked with partners throughout New York to help connect working families with tax credits and other benefits that families in hard-pressed regions needed to make ends meet. And her just-announced plan to increase and expand the child tax credit program shows Hillary’s commitment to working families will be a cornerstone of her presidency. Hillary knows it is never enough to put good policies on paper; she focuses on what it will take to impact the lives of real people.

When Hillary became Secretary of State, she continued to champion families and children even as she traveled the world negotiating agreements, brokering peace deals, and meeting with world leaders. During her tenure, I had the opportunity to serve in a senior global health position at the State Department and saw first-hand her ability to promote “smart power” as a means to advancing national security. US global health programs are key components of smart power — they not only save lives, but also promote understanding and stability. In November 2011, she boldly stated our country’s commitment to achieving an AIDS-free generation. Thanks in no small part to her efforts, more than 9.5 million men, women, and children are on life-saving treatment today. Even more, Hillary helped rebuild a global fund that has saved 20 million lives affected by the deadly pandemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

Hillary Clinton has already helped make America a greater country by championing the needs of children and families for more than 25 years. Just imagine what she can do as the next President of the United States.

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