- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. | Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton floated an idea Wednesday for a government-run website where Americans can go to shop for job training and apprenticeship programs, but the proposals spawned more questions than answers.

The former secretary of state offered up the website plan in a speech at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, saying the government needed to do more to expand and promote apprenticeship programs.

“At a time when most Americans look for jobs on sites like Monster.com or LinkedIn rather than going to old fashioned classified ads, they should be able to find training and placement opportunities on equally simple and acceptable online platforms,” Mrs. Clinton told a crowd of roughly 450 people at the college’s conference center.

“It’s time we moved all of our job training programs, our apprenticeship programs all over out country onto an online platform so that if you’re in Orangeburg or you are in Charleston or you are in San Francisco, wherever you are around the country, you can log on,” she said.

The website scheme bearing a striking resemblance to expensive and glitchy website of President Obama’s healthcare law, which so far have cost more that $2.1 billion, according to estimates by Bloomberg Government.

Clinton campaign officials said they did not have any more details about the website plan.

Mrs. Clinton said the website would provide one-stop shopping for everybody looking for options to prepare for employment or improve job skills.

“You’re 18, you’re looking for that job. You’re 21, you just graduated and you want to get something good,” said Mrs. Clinton. “You should be able to go to the same place and get the information about what is going to be available for you to take advantage of.”

The website plan was part of Mrs. Clinton’s agenda to rebuild the middle class and help people advance in the economy through job training and apprenticeship programs. She pushed the agenda during a swing through North Carolina, home to the second-in-the nation primary and the first nominating contest in the South.

As part of the agenda, she proposed giving a $1,500 tax credit to business for each apprentice they take on.

A Clinton campaign spokeswoman said details about the website plan were not yet available but that a background briefing would be circulated in the future.

The campaign did not respond to questions about whether state or federal government would build and maintain the website, whether it would be one national site or individual site for each state as with the Obamacare exchanges, or whether it was modeled after Obamacare.

Republicans said that Mrs. Clinton’s proposals lacked substance.

“Hillary Clinton’s economic proposals have been light on details and heavy on hypocrisy – another example of why voters overwhelmingly believe she is not honest and trustworthy,” Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Short.

He noted that the South Carolina AFL-CIO gave its endorsement for president to Sen. Bernard Sanders, an avowed socialist from Vermont who is running to the left of Mrs. Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The union announced its endorsement of Mr. Sanders on Saturday, the same day Mrs. Clinton held the first big rally of her candidacy and launched an aggressive campaign swing through early voting states, including South Carolina.

“By losing the South Carolina AFL-CIO’s endorsement to Bernie Sanders, it’s clear even Democrats aren’t buying what Hillary Clinton is selling,” said Mr. Short.

At the technical college, Mrs. Clinton touted the tax credit proposal as a bipartisan idea and promised to embrace good ideas as president regardless of which party came up with them.

The former first lady, senator and top diplomat also said that job training and apprenticeship programs should not be only for young Americans but available to everybody who wants to get ahead.

“It also should be older workers,” she said. “It should be for moms re-entering the workforce after raising their children, to be more independent. It should be for our veterans.”

Mrs. Clinton remains the all-but-inevitable Democratic presidential nominee, with a huge lead in the polls and a massive fundraising advantage.

At an earlier campaign stop, she voiced confident about both succeeding with her plan to revitalize the U.S. economy and about her chances of winning the White House in 2016 and 2020.

“I hope that at the end of my two terms as president, I will have overseen an even bigger peacetime expansion of the economy than my husband [former President Bill Clinton] did, and he had the biggest peacetime expansion in our history,” she said at a town hall-style meeting in Santee, a rural town about 65 miles north of Charleston.

The line drew the loudest cheers of the event, where about 300 people crowded into a community center to see Mrs. Clinton.

“We’ve got to make it our national commitment that we are going to do everything w can to create good jobs that will help people get into and stay in the middle class I want the middle class to mean something again.”

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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