The United States should be viewed as a nation in which citizens always aspire to come to the aid of those in need, Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar said in Clarinda Saturday, Dec. 21.
“It’s a country of shared dreams, where we look out for each other, no matter where you come from or who you know,” she said during a campaign stop at the Garrison House.
Currently a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Klobuchar noted when she announced her candidacy, she did so on a bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.
The location was just a short distance from the site of a bridge that collapsed in 2007. Vehicles traveling over it at the time plunged into the river. Thirteen people were killed and 145 were injured.
In the midst of the catastrophe, Klobuchar said, people immediately provided whatever help they could, with heroic acts by some individuals credited with preventing additional fatalities.
“What happened with the bridge collapse was a tragedy, but it was also the story of a community,” she said. “People made efforts to rescue those affected, and they looked for survivors. That is America. That is a country where we have each other’s backs.”
Klobuchar termed the commitment of individuals to help their friends, neighbors, or even strangers, a “simple idea,” but one that underlies her campaign to seek the presidential nomination.
“All of us have been given opportunities from someone,” she said. “I figure that when you are given an opportunity, you don’t go into the world with a sense of entitlement. You have a sense of obligation to lift people up, not keep them down, and not hoard it all yourself.”
The nation, she said, needs a president who does not put private interests or a political party’s interests “above the interests of our country.”
The incumbent president, Donald Trump, has failed to exhibit such core values as “decency and patriotism,” Klobuchar said.
Trump has been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for his attempt to have Ukraine launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son.
A trial in the U.S. Senate has not yet been scheduled, partly due to disagreement about calling administration witnesses to testify. So far, Trump has resisted requests for that to happen.
“Why doesn’t he want these witnesses to speak?” Klobuchar said, adding that one recent poll found that nearly two-thirds of Republican respondents favored having the testimony of the witnesses in the Senate trial.
The 2020 election, she said, is “not just an economic check to make things better, which we know we must do because there are so many people who are not sharing in this prosperity, but it’s a decency check and it’s a patriotism check.”
The choice of a bridge as the place where her candidacy was announced also had a symbolic meaning. “When you come to a river, and you want to cross it, you build a bridge, you don’t blow one up,” she said. “That means improving on things and making them better.”
The bridge that collapsed was decades old, one of thousands in the country needing repair or replacement. Klobuchar said infrastructure projects would be among her top priorities as president.
Regarding other topics, she said both Medicare and Social Security should be strengthened by lifting the current cap on income subject to the payroll tax. This would result in increased revenue for each program.
So that more people can have access to health insurance, a “non-profit public option” should be created, she said. In addition, eligibility for Medicaid should be expanded, and coverage for long-term care and mental health treatment should be included in more insurance plans, she said.
Addressing the issue of the high cost of prescription medications, Klobuchar said the Medicare program should be allowed to negotiate for lower prices, and additional drugs from Canada should be allowed into this country. Also, pharmaceutical companies should not be permitted to restrict the supply of generic drugs, she said.
Klobuchar called climate change “the existential crisis of our time,” saying the United States should “rejoin international agreements” and support efforts to curtail the amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere.
In the area of education, she said it was important to connect instructional programs “with the jobs that are out there. We don’t need more MBAs. We need more plumbers, more electricians, more health care workers.”
Bolstering community colleges is essential, she said, adding that she favors free tuition for students pursuing specific vocational degrees. For those wishing to attend four-year schools, income limits for eligibility for grants should be raised, she said.
In both these cases, she said, costs could be covered by making changes in the capital gains tax rate.
Klobuchar said that as president she would be willing to seek a “bi-partisan solution” to all of the challenges the nation is facing. She described herself as being “progressive and practical at the same time.”
In whatever policies she pursues, she said, “I’m true to my word. And I will never leave Iowa or the Midwest behind.”