What a “President Clinton” will mean for the Caribbean

30 August 2016


What a “President Clinton” will mean for the Caribbean

 

Image result for hiliary clinton

 

 

 The advantage (or disadvantage) of past performance

One of the advantages that “President Clinton” has over “President Trump” is that “President Clinton” can at least point to her past performance as the first Secretary of State in President Obama’s administration and to her performance as a Senator from the State of New York.

This contrasts significantly to Donald Trump who has no experience of holding political office, but significant experience in running a large property development business.

Whether this proves to be an advantage or disadvantage to Clinton – well only time will tell.

 

One of the problems the Caribbean faces irrespective of who becomes President

The Caribbean has historically always been viewed as the backyard of the United States. Accordingly, the US has – from time to time – acted to secure its interests in the Caribbean through appropriate foreign policy strategies (the effective isolation of Cuba being a good example) or through direct intervention (the invasion of Grenada in October 1983).

In recent times the Caribbean has lost much of its strategic importance as a region to the US. Conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and increased tension with Russia over the Ukraine, and China in general have more than occupied the US in terms of its foreign policy.

This is perhaps one reason why China has actively engaged with countries in the Caribbean in order to increase its influence. Ten years ago it is unlikely that the US would have tolerated such an engagement. In essence the United States has taken its eye off the ball – or at least its back garden.

Consequently, the Caribbean has not featured in any of the foreign policy discussions or debates during either of the Republican or Democratic Primaries, although there has been some discussion on the issue of tax havens – which would encompass many countries in the Caribbean – as a result of the leak of the Panama Papers from the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca.

 

Some substance but promises don’t necessarily mean action

While the Trump campaign has avoided talking about policy in any depth, Hillary Clinton has talked extensively on the Caribbean, and is also able to point to her experience as the first Secretary of State under President Obama’s administration, and to a lesser extent as a Senator for the State of New York.

Specifically, in June 2016, (less than a month before accepting the Democratic nomination for President of the United States), Hillary Clinton spoke in depth about the challenges faced in the US for those of Caribbean descent.

 

The challenges faced by the Caribbean Community – the Clinton perspective

Hillary Clinton, in June 2016, went on public record as stating that she recognises the challenges faced by those in the Caribbean American community.

Clinton stated that those challenges include “enduring racism” obtaining “access to quality education and health care”, and finding “good-paying jobs and retirement security.”

Recognising the challenge is only half the battle. Clinton’s message is, however, an attractive one to immigrants from all mother countries and regions not just the Caribbean. She has gone on record as stating that “she will fight to break down barriers so that everyone regardless of their background has a chance to live up to their potential.”

 

Security and immigration

Although immigration is a hot issue politically, especially to the “Angry American” element of US society, Clinton has essentially followed the policies of the Obama administration in making efforts so far as possible to keep families together.

Her campaign has included statements that she will offer illegal immigrants a “path to full and equal citizenship” instead of “breaking up law abiding immigrant families”. Being an illegal – for Clinton – is not a bar to achieving the American Dream of citizenship (or at least a Green Card).

Clinton has also pledged to call on Congress to repeal the 3 and 10 year bars so that immigrant families no longer have to choose between pursuing a green card or staying with their families. (under the current law thousands of people who qualify for green cards based on their relationships to US citizens or to lawful permanent resident relatives are forced to leave the US to obtain their green card and are then automatically caught in a Catch 22 situation because under current US law they must leave the US to apply for their green card from overseas. However, as soon as they leave the US, they are immediately barred from re-entering for a period of three or ten years).

 

Early education of the children of immigrants

Part of Clinton’s manifesto in respect of the children of immigrants including those of Caribbean descent, includes provisions to ensure the promotion of quality education initiatives. This would involve increasing the amount invested on an annual basis into the Early Head Start and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home visiting program.

In respect of advanced and further education Clinton has gone on record as stating that she will fight to ensure that cost is not a barrier for anyone who wishes to attend college, and that the attendance of college should not lead to the creation of high levels of individual student debt.

 

Creating jobs for Caribbean Americans and other immigrants

The unemployment rate of Caribbean Immigrants at 6% is close to double that for Caucasian Americans. In addition, Caribbean Americans have a higher poverty rate than the overall population of the US. Clinton proposes to address this by investing up to $125 billion in schemes aimed at creating good-paying jobs, rebuilding of infrastructure, and to connect housing to opportunities in communities that are being left behind as the US economy begins to recover from recession.

Within this plan $20 billion will be allocated to create jobs for the youth, and $25 billion will be used to support small business development and entrepreneurship in underserved communities.

There is a “Robin Hood” element to Clinton’s schemes as they will be financed by placing an additional tax burden on Wall Street because Hillary Clinton’s philosophy is based on the view that the major financial institutions that contributed significantly to the 2007 recession should do much more to assist in rebuilding the poorer communities that recession caused to suffer.

 

The Caribbean Region as a Whole

While acting as Secretary of State, Clinton launched several initiatives that were aimed at expanding and improving relations between the US and her Caribbean neighbours. These included the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, and the Caribbean Idea Marketplace.

As Secretary of State, Clinton can also claim to have increased the US financial commitment to the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, which has assisted local communities to cut down on all forms of illegal trafficking. In addition, the Caribbean Climate Change Adoption Initiative awarded six Caribbean countries grants to pursue alternative energy projects.

 

As Senator for New York

As the Senator for New York, Hillary Clinton introduced the Count Every Vote Act to ensure that all citizens, including foreign language speakers, had equal access to voting, and she sponsored the Legal Immigration Children’s Health Improvement Act to restore access to Medicaid and SCHIP benefits for immigrant pregnant women and children.

 

Maintaining the status quo?

There is no reason to assume that a Clinton Presidency would be much different from an Obama Presidency since their policies are broadly aligned. However, as stated above many things can happen in the future, and past performance does not guarantee future performance.

 

Closing thoughts – time to consider your investing strategies

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