WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that every child born in the United States should get a $5,000 "baby bond" from the government to help pay for future costs of college or buying a home.
Clinton, her party's front-runner in the 2008 race, made the suggestion during a forum hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus.
"I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that downpayment on their first home," she said.
The New York senator did not offer any estimate of the total cost of such a program or how she would pay for it. Approximately 4 million babies are born each year in the United States.
Clinton said such an account program would help Americans get back to the tradition of savings that she remembers as a child, and has become harder to accomplish in the face of rising college and housing costs.
She argued that wealthy people "get to have all kinds of tax incentives to save, but most people can't afford to do that."
The proposal was met with enthusiastic applause at an event aimed to encourage young people to excel and engage in politics.
"I think it's a wonderful idea," said Rep. Stephanie Stubbs Jones, an Ohio Democrat who attended the event and has already endorsed Clinton. "Every child born in the United States today owes $27,000 on the national debt, why not let them come get $5,000 to grow until their 18?"
Britain launched a similar program in January 2005, handing out vouchers worth hundreds of dollars each to parents with children born after Sept. 1, 2002.
Earlier this month, Time magazine proposed a $5,000 baby bond program.