Bill Clinton calls for fresh ideas, more action to fight poverty in the United States


McClatchy Washington Bureau

America needs new ideas and collective effort to tackle poverty, former President Bill Clinton said Thursday at a conference in Washington.

“More and more of us in this country are facing poverty at some point in our lives,” he said. “When we address poverty we’re really talking about a piece of America’s quilt, something that belongs to all of us.”

Clinton said that his success in moving more people out of poverty was what made him most proud about his presidency.

“We can do this, and it isn’t that expensive,” he said.

The former president spoke at a conference of The Hamilton Project, an economic research group at The Brookings Institution. The conference was a discussion of 14 proposals to fight poverty that the group unveiled on Thursday.

Clinton said he was wearing a Shinola watch, made in Detroit, where he recently toured the factory and met a woman running a production line who used to be a guard at an abandoned building in the city.

“There was a structure of training and preparation to unlock the native potential,” he said.

He also cited Berea College in Kentucky, where academically promising students with few resources pay no tuition but are given 10-hour-a-week jobs on campus, and Arizona State University, where low-income students can qualify for four years of paid tuition and fees if they maintain a 2.5 grade point average.

“We need some more clever ideas that enhance the likelihood that people from low-income families will do well,” he said.

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