Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday floated the idea of giving $5,000 to every newborn American child - suggesting that a "baby bond" would help children grow up to be able to afford college.
Aides to Clinton were quick to mention that she had not made a concrete proposal. In her remarks at a forum sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus, she did not say how a baby bond program would be financed.
But Clinton - who has put images of children at the center of her campaign advertisements and policies - suggested an individual bond program would help pay educational costs.
She is not the first to recommend a downpayment at birth: When President Bush pushed for individual Social Security accounts at the start of his second term, some Democrats said they preferred setting up personal accounts for newborns.
Though Democrats have suggested that such bonds could be used for any purpose once they grow, Clinton mentioned tuition. "I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so when that young person turns 18, if they have finished high school, they will be able to access it to go to college," she said. Her comments came in response to a question about Social Security.
That Clinton got to hold such an event in the first place was a matter of some controversy. The forum at the CBC foundation's annual conference, an event called "What's At Stake in 08,' at which Clinton spoke was organized in part by Rep. Kendrick Meek (Florida), who has endorsed Clinton and is one of her key backers in the Sunshine State. Allies of Sen. Barack Obama, a member of the black caucus, grumbled about Clinton getting to headline an event at the conference, an opportunity usually reserved for black caucus members. Organizers said they wanted to get the biggest names possible, so inviting Clinton was important.
A few hours after Clinton's event, Obama hosted a forum on global warming, calling on African-Americans to take up the issue. That tension underscored the intensity of the competition for endorsements from the CBC for both Obama and Clinton, who are essentially tied with close to ten of the caucus backing each, with many members undecided. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the most influential black official in the early primary of South Carolina, has remained undecided."
--Anne E. Kornblut
September 28, 2007; 4:54 PM ET
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