2020 Democratic Candidates: Where Do They Stand on Key Policy Issues? - Rolling Stone
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The RS Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Policy Guide

Where every current candidate stand on health care, the climate crisis, closing the wealth gap, and more

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Matthew Putney/AP/Shutterstock; Paul Sancya/AP/Shutterstock; Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

The collection of Democrats vying to win the party’s nomination to take on President Trump in 2020 is larger and more diverse than any group of White House hopefuls since the modern primary process began. The field of two dozen candidates includes six senators, two mayors, a member of the House of Representatives, a governor, a handful of former lawmakers, a former vice president, a former tech executive, a self-help guru, five women, six people of color, and a 37-year-old trying to become America’s first LGBTQ president.

Just as diverse are the candidates’ prescriptions for how to cure the United States of its worsening case of Trumpism. The more progressive wing of the party, led by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, is calling for a single-payer health care system while pushing for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Moderate Democrats, led by Joe Biden, prefer a more tempered stance focused on formulating bipartisan solutions they argue are more practical. Others, like former tech executive Andrew Yang, who has called for a “Freedom Dividend” that would give every American $1,000 per month, are hoping Democratic voters are willing to embrace a more outside-the-box approach.

Below is a guide to where every current candidate stands on a variety of crucial issues. Scroll through at your convenience or click a candidate’s name to jump directly to their policy positions. For a look at where the candidates stand in the marathon horse race to secure the party’s nomination, check out the RS Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Leaderboard. Both guides will be updated as the primary progresses and candidates continue to develop policy positions.


ELIZABETH WARREN | JOE BIDEN | BERNIE SANDERS | PETE BUTTIGIEG | KAMALA HARRIS | ANDREW YANG | CORY BOOKERAMY KLOBUCHAR | JULIÁN CASTRO | TOM STEYER | TULSI GABBARD | MICHAEL BENNETMARIANNE WILLIAMSONSTEVE BULLOCK | JOHN DELANEY | TOM SESTAKWAYNE MESSAM

Democratic US Presidential candidate Julian Castro addresses an audience at the Politics and Eggs event held at the St Anselm College New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA, 16 January 2019. Castro is in New Hampshire campaigning after announcing his candidacy on 12 January 2019 in his home town of San Antonio, Texas.Democratic US Presidential candidate Julian Castro in New Hampshire, Manchester, USA - 16 Jan 2019

Julián Castro

Immigration

Immigration is one of the signature issues of Castro’s campaign. His “People First” immigration policy would break up ICE and shift its enforcement and removal powers to the Justice Department. It would create a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, as well as for people with Temporary Protected Status and undocumented residents. It would also rescind Trump’s Muslim ban and “effectively end” the practice of detaining refugees who present themselves at the border. And it would establish a “21st-century Marshall Plan” for Central America to re-establish stability in the region.

One of the signature moments of the opening night of the first Democratic debates came when Castro squared off against Beto O’Rourke over whether to decriminalize illegal border crossings by repealing Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Castro argued in favor of axing it. “My plan … includes getting rid of Section 1325 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, to go back to the way we used to treat this when somebody comes across the border, not to criminalize desperation, to treat that as a civil violation,” he said. “Here’s why it’s important. We see all of this horrendous family separation. They use that law, Section 1325, to justify under the law separating little children from their families.”

Free College

In May, Castro unveiled his “People First Education” plan, which includes tuition-free public college, community college, and vocational school, as well as government-funded universal pre-K. Castro also wants to help relieve student debt. His plan holds that if an American with outstanding student loans is earning less than 250 percent of the federal poverty line, they do not have to make loan payments. The plan also offers partial loan forgiveness for those “who qualify for and receive means tested federal assistance such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Medicaid for any three years within a five year period.”

As mayor of San Antonio, Castro helped launch Café College, a hub for college prep, application, and guidance services for high school students.  

Medicare-for-All

Castro supports it in theory, although he has yet to lay out the specifics of what his plan would look like. “7 million Americans have lost health insurance under this President,” he tweeted in response to Trump’s State of the Union address in February. “Bad deal. We need Medicare for All now — everybody counts in this country, and everyone should get good health care when they need it.”

Housing

In June, Castro, who was the secretary of Housing and Urban Development for three years under President Obama, unveiled his “People First Housing” plan, a three-part initiative that aims to solve housing affordability and homelessness, strengthen anti-discrimination measures, crack down on Wall Street’s mortgage-lending practices, and support homeownership. Measures include creating a tax credit for low- and middle-income renters, expanding HUD’s ability to enforce the Fair Housing Act, working to stem displacement caused by gentrification, establishing a National Housing Stabilization Fund, and more. “Housing is a human right,” Castro wrote. “My plan would ensure that all Americans can get access to affordable, safe, and healthy housing.”

Closing the Wealth Gap

Castro hasn’t released a specific tax plan yet. But he has voiced support for plans to tax the wealthiest Americans, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposals for a 60 or 70 percent marginal tax rate for people who make more than $10 million. “Oh, I can support folks at the top paying their fair share,” he said on ABC’s “This Week” in January. “There was a time in this country where the top marginal tax rate was over 90 percent. Even during Reagan’s era in the 1980s, it was around 50 percent.”

The Climate Crisis

Castro has promised to sign an executive order on his first day as president to recommit the U.S. to the Paris climate accord. He also supports the concept of a Green New Deal:

Foreign Policy

Castro said little about foreign policy in his 2020 announcement speech. He has criticized Trump’s America First agenda and defended the post-World War II Western alliance. “The first thing that I would do if I were president with regard to our relationships around the world is to strengthen them, because those alliances have helped keep us safe,” he said in January.

Campaign Cash

Castro has refused to accept “a dime” of PAC money of any kind, corporate or not.

Legal Weed

Castro wants to legalize weed and regulate it. “It’s not enough just to say we want to #LegalizeIt,” he tweeted in April. “We will also regulate it, taking best practices of states that have successfully legalized marijuana. And while we’re at it, we’ll expunge the records of folks who’ve been incarcerated for using it.”

Guns

Following the August shootings in El Paso and Dayton that left 31 dead, Castro unveiled a plan to combat white nationalism and gun violence. The plan calls for domestic terrorism investigations to be rebalanced so appropriate attention is given to white nationalist terror; the creation of a White House Initiative on Disarming Hate, as well as other programs to combat hate; and several gun control measures, including ending the gun show loophole, enacting universal background checks, requiring a license to purchase any firearms, renewing a ban on assault weapons, and more. “Now is our moment to decide what kind of country we want to be,” Castro wrote. “We can be paralyzed by fear of extremism and cower before the corporate gun lobby, or we can combat white supremacist terrorism directly and end the gun violence epidemic that has plagued our nation for too long. There is a movement in America to change our gun safety laws and fight for our future.”

Abolishing the Electoral College

Castro supports the idea and wants to replace the Electoral College with a national popular vote. “A national popular vote could expand the map and force other candidates to campaign in more states, like my campaign is already doing,” he wrote in April.

Packing the Supreme Court

Castro told the Washington Post that he does not support adding justices to the Supreme Court, but is open to other reforms.

Criminal Justice Reform

In June, Castro released his “People First Policing Plan,” which aims to “end over-aggressive policing and combat racially discriminatory policing,” “hold police accountable,” and “start the healing process between communities and law enforcement.” The plan would involve limiting the use of deadly force, demilitarizing the police, de-prioritizing minor offenses, mandating several new training programs, and more. “Far too many lives have been tragically cut short at the hands of a broken police system,” Castro wrote on Twitter. “I’m proud to put forward my #PeopleFirst Policing plan to begin to heal the divide between police departments and the communities they serve.”

Reproductive Rights

Castro supports a woman’s right to choose and Roe v. Wade:

Voting Rights

Castro has spoken out about the need to protect voting rights and voiced support for giving some, but not all, felons the right to vote. “There’s no question that stripping people of voting rights when they’re incarcerated has been weaponized over time, especially in the South, and especially for African Americans,” he said in April. “Where I would draw that line is, I would say, with the people who are incarcerated having the opportunity to still vote. They’re counted in the census, they’re counted for political representation purposes. The one exception [is] for people who are violent felons. When you commit certain types of violent crime, I believe that you lose all of those things.”

Reparations

“We have never fully addressed in this country the original sin of slavery,” Castro said at a CNN town hall in April. He supports some form of reparations but he has yet to lay out a specific plan. He reiterated his support for reparations — not just considering them, but making them — on Juneteenth. “To truly heal as a nation, it’s time we settled the moral debt of slavery,” he wrote on Twitter. “We owe it to the future of our nation to make reparations to the descendants of enslaved people.”

Democratic presidential candidate and businessman Tom Steyer speaks during a public employees union candidate forum, in Las VegasElection 2020 Nevada, Las Vegas, USA - 03 Aug 2019

Tom Steyer

Medicare-for-All

Steyers believes all Americans should have access to health care but does not support eliminating the private health insurance industry.

“My belief is we can make the public option so much cheaper and better than what’s provided through insurance companies that working people can go to their employers and say, ‘I want to take the public option, and I want the money that you’re spending on my health care to go directly to me. I want a huge raise, but I want the public option,’ he told WBUR in August. “I want to drive them out as opposed to tell people they have to do exactly what the government tells them to do with their lives.”

The Climate Crisis

Steer founded NextGen America, a climate activism group, in 2012, and after announcing his candidacy unveiled a five-pillar “justice-centers” plan to tackle the climate crisis. The proposal calls for converting the U.S. to a 100-percent clean energy economy with net-zero carbon emissions by 2045; the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps that would create one million jobs; rejoining the Paris Climate Accord; and more. The plan would call for $2.3 billion in public investment.

In September, Steyer unveiled a multi-faceted “International Plan for Climate Justice” that includes a “Global Green New Deal Fund” that would set aside $200 billion over 10 years. “From day one of my administration, I will center the climate crisis at the heart of my foreign policy,” Steyer wrote. “As we redouble our efforts at home, I pledge to reestablish the U.S. at the forefront of global climate leadership.”

Closing the Wealth Gap

Steyer, a billionaire, is one of the few candidates to have proposed an outright wealth tax. His version would add an additional 1 percent tax on the top 0.1 percent of American families. “That means if you’re one of the 175,200 richest families worth more than $32 million, you’ll pay a penny on every dollar you have above that level,” his campaign website reads.

In October, Steyer released an economic agenda that involves raising the national minimum wage to $15 per hour, repealing Trump’s tax cuts, and other measures aimed at “ensuring that economic power rests with the American people, not big corporations.”

Rural America

Steyer has released a “Partnerships for Rural Communities” plan that involves investing $100 billion toward improving rural broadband access, $100 billion toward improving rural infrastructure, $100 billion toward telemedicine and ensuring rural communities have access to quality health care, and more.

Governmental Reform

Steyer has advocated for several measures that he believes would help remedy a government that has “been corrupted by corporate influence, a lack of political transparency, and partisan efforts to suppress voter participation for their own benefit.” They include repealing Citizens United, imposing term limits on members of Congress, bolstering voter participation by instituting a vote-at-home system and other measures, establishing independent commissions to redistrict congressional boundaries, and more.

Immigration

Steer has advocated for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have already been living in the U.S. for an extended period of time.

Reparations

Steyer has said that “we are long overdue” to have a national conversation about reparations.

Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, answers questions during a presidential forum held by She The People on the Texas State University campus, in HoustonElection 2020 Democrats, Houston, USA - 24 Apr 2019

Tulsi Gabbard


Medicare-for-All

Gabbard supports universal health care, and co-sponsored the Medicare-for-All Act, which was introduced to the House of Representatives in 2017. She does, however, believe that Americans should have the option to remain their private insurance providers.

Foreign Policy

Gabbard has been stridently anti-interventionist, and believes the United States should withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Syria. But her approach to foreign policy has gone beyond taking a strong anti-war position. She has bene widely criticized for visiting murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in 2017 on a secret “fact-finding” mission while dismissing his opposition — across the board — as “terrorists.”

Gabbard has been fiercely critical of the Trump administration’s approach to Iran — particularly its decision to send troops to the Middle East in anticipation of a potential conflict — and has called for the United States to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal.

Gabbard’s anti-interventionism came to the fore during the opening night of the first Democratic debates in June, when she sparred with Tim Ryan, who argued that the United States needs to remain “engaged” in Afghanistan. “Is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan? Well, we just have to be engaged? As a soldier, I will tell you, that answer is unacceptable,” Gabbard said.

Closing the Wealth Gap

Though she has not offered specifics, Gabbard wrote in 2017 that “there is no question our tax code needs serious reform” before explaining why she voted against Trump’s tax cut for the wealthy. “This bill isn’t about real tax reform—it’s a giveaway to corporations and special interests on the backs of people who are already struggling just to make ends meet,” she wrote.

The Climate Crisis

In 2017, Gabbard introduced the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act, which aims to bring the United States to 100 percent reusable energy by 2035. “For too long, our nation has failed to take action on climate change, putting the future of our people and our planet in danger,” she said of the bill the following February. That November, Gabbard spoke alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in support of the Green New Deal. She ultimately did not co-sponsor the legislation, however, explaining in February that she has “some concerns with the Green New Deal, and about some of the vagueness of the language in there.”

Guns

Gabbard has advocated for a federal ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Free College

Gabbard supports Bernie Sanders’ College for All Act, which would eliminate undergraduate tuition at four-year public universities for families making up to $125,000, make all community college tuition-free and reform the student loan system.

Legal Weed

Gabbard supports marijuana legalization.

Abolishing the Electoral College

Gabbard hasn’t been as enthusiastic about getting rid of the Electoral College as some of her fellow candidates. “There are reforms that need to take place to make it so that our votes are being cast and counted and represented in the outcome of our elections,” she said during a stop in New Hampshire in March. “I think there are pros and cons to the existing Electoral College and to getting rid of it.”

LGBTQ Rights

Gabbard’s telling CNN in January that she planned to run for president wasn’t received quite as warmly as she may have hoped. As soon as she declared her candidacy, she was met with a flood of criticism for her past views regarding the LGBTQ community, particularly relating to her work for the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, which fought against gay rights in Hawaii. Gabbard initially ran for office on her drive “to pass a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage” in the state while working with the group. She also ran a group called Stop Promoting Homosexual America, and has objected to children being taught that homosexuality is normal. She soon apologized later in January. “My views have changed significantly since then,” she said in a YouTube video, going on to reference her congressional record: “My record in Congress over the last six years reflects what is in my heart: a strong and ongoing commitment to fighting for LGBTQ rights.”

Reproductive Rights

Though Gabbard was anti-abortion early in her career, she has voted in favor of abortion rights on several occasions, and currently has a 100 rating from Planned Parenthood.

Voting Rights

Gabbard doesn’t believe people on parole should be allowed to vote, despite their ability to in Hawaii.

Reparations

Gabbard is open to the idea of reparations, and co-sponsored H.R. 40, a House bill that would create “a commission to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans.”

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bennet speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Celebration, in Cedar Rapids, IowaElection 2020 Iowa, Cedar Rapids, USA - 09 Jun 2019

Michael Bennet


The Climate Crisis

Bennet has released a climate change plan he has dubbed “America’s Climate Change Plan.” It calls for net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest and would use, as Bennet puts it “every diplomatic and economic tool available to assert America’s leadership in this critical fight.” The plan would also seek to “conserve 30 percent of America’s lands and oceans by 2030,” incentivize power providers to offer zero-emission energy, create a “Climate Bank” that lead to $10 trillion in private sector investment in innovation and infrastructure and more.

Campaign Cash

Bennet has released a multi-faceted plan to “fix our broken politics.” It involves overturning Citizens United, heightening transparency of Super PACs and other fundraising mechanisms (including social media ads), cracking down on campaign finance violations, banning members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists, requiring all presidential candidates to release their tax returns, and more. “So much of what we got to get done — from climate to health care to changing the tax code — is going to require us to change the way our politics works,” Bennet said on a conference call in June. “Our plan responds to that by taking on the corruption in Washington and at the same time strengthening our democracy. It attempts to take the money out of politics and put the American people back in.”

Medicare-for-All

Bennet does not support Medicare-for-All, instead favoring an expansion of the Affordable Care Act called “Medicare X.” Like other candidates who do not support a single-payer health care system, Bennet has warned that the the plan favored by progressives is not what it seems. “When you tell people the first thing about Medicare-for-All — either that it takes insurance away from 180 million Americans that have it through their employer or the taxes we would have to pay to afford that $30 trillion program — that 70 percent support falls to the mid-30s,” Bennet said on CNN in May. “I think we need to level with the American people.”

Bennet even used his opposition to Medicare-for-All to solicit donations.

In July, Bennet unveiled a plan to expand access to health care services in rural areas of America though Medicare X. The plan would invest in telemedicine (allowing doctors to see patients over video conference), expanding rural broadband, a measures aimed at combating the opioid epidemic, and more. “Rural Americans currently face unique challenges to accessing high-quality, affordable health care,” the introduction to his plan reads. “In 2019, 37% of counties—almost all of them in rural and small-town America, and home to nearly one in five Americans—had only one insurer on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, are more prevalent in rural communities. And the lack of providers and insurers has resulted in higher costs and lower quality of care.”

Closing the Wealth Gap

Bennet has not proposed raising taxes on the wealthy, but his American Family Act would greatly expand the child tax credit, which currently provides up to $2,000 per child up to the age of 17. This plan would benefit lower-class and middle-class families with children, and, according to Vox, could cut poverty in the United States by over a third.

Free College

Bennet has not released a higher education plan, but his campaign told the New York Times that he wants to make sure “college students can pursue their studies without incurring the crushing burden of debt; more people seeking an alternative to college can pursue high-quality apprenticeships and job training; and Americans throughout their lives can advance their careers by improving their existing job skills or learning new ones.”

A former superintendent of the Denver public school system, Bennet has also promised to ensure all children are able to receive high-quality education, beginning in early childhood.

Abolishing the Electoral College

Bennet believes the Electoral College should be abolished. “The electoral college is outdated,” one of his Facebook ads reads. “Americans should directly elect our presidents.”

Packing the Supreme Court

Bennet does not believe in adding justice to the Supreme Court, and has argued that amending the court in response to what has transpired during Trump’s presidency would be stooping to the level of Republicans. “Having seen up close just how cynical and how vicious the tea party guys and the Freedom Caucus guys and Mitch McConnell have been, the last thing I want to do is be those guys,” Bennet told the Washington Post in March. “What I want to do is beat these guys so that we can begin to govern again.”

Reproductive Rights

Bennet has promised to “do everything [he] possibly can” to protect Roe v. Wade.

Immigration

Bennet has bashed Trump’s approach to immigration, and in March reiterated his belief that a pathway to citizenship should be provided for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States when they were children. “Since President Trump announced his decision to end the DACA program last September, more than 21,000 Dreamers have lost their status,” he wrote on his website. “Beginning today, that number will rise at a dramatic rate, putting thousands more DACA recipients at risk. For months, I worked with a bipartisan group of senators to find a solution that protects Dreamers and keeps families together. We’ll continue fighting in Congress for a legislative fix, but let’s be clear: the onus falls on President Trump to fix the crisis he created.”

Legal Weed

In February, Bennet sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act, which would end the federal prohibition of cannabis. “This long-overdue change will help bring our marijuana laws into the 21st century,” he said at the time. “It’s past time we bring fairness and relief to communities that our criminal justice system has too often left behind.”

Voting Rights

Included in Bennet’s plan to “fix our broken democracy” are several measures aimed at protecting the integrity of elections. He has called for automatic voter registration, making Election Day a national holiday, restoring voting rights to the formerly incarcerated, requiring states to allow students to vote where they attend school, and more.

Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Celebration, in Cedar Rapids, IowaElection 2020 Iowa, Cedar Rapids, USA - 09 Jun 2019

Marianne Williamson

Reparations

Reparations is one of the core issues of Williamson’s candidacy, on the order of $200 to $500 billion dollars. (Anything less than $100 billion, Williamson has said, would be an “insult.”) She proposes using the money, which would be disbursed over a period of 20 years, to fund educational and economic projects selected by “an esteemed council of African-American leaders.”

Foreign Policy

Williamson is calling for the creation of a “Department of Peace” to “coordinate not only the international peace-building agencies that already exist, but also the many domestic efforts — conflict resolution, restorative justice practices, police and social work programs, non-pharmaceutical mental health services, and other local peace-building efforts — in a way that increases their efficacy and begins to genuinely transform the experience of millions of our citizens.”

Medicare-for-All

Williamson, a self-help guru and author of a dozen books, writes on her campaign website that she will “robustly support high-quality universal coverage for every American, including a medicare for all model.” The Williamson administration, would also provide citizens with “ongoing support from nutritionists, health coaches, therapists and mental health, exercise specialists, and other peripheral lifestyle treatment providers,” end subsidies for “unhealthy foods, like high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats,” and “develop ways to lower stress societally.”

Family Care

Williamson has called for the establishment of a Department of Childhood and Youth. “When it comes to health, hunger, addiction, education, and safety — we are shirking our responsibilities as a nation of parents,” her website reads. “Child advocacy is not being addressed with the attention and care it deserves. Too many of our children are endangered physically and/or emotionally; this is a humanitarian emergency.”

Williamson’s plan to care for children and families includes universal pre-K, maternal and paternal leave, mental health services for all children, mindfulness training in school, and more. During the first Democratic debates in June, she said that her number-one priority as president would be turning the United States into the best place in the world to raise children. Yes, even better than New Zealand.

Closing the Wealth Gap

Williamson has said she would repeal Trump’s 2017 tax cut for the wealthy and “put back in the middle class tax cuts.” She has also indicated an interest in eliminating the income cap on payroll taxes, eliminating the carried interest and ETF tax loopholes, and raising the estate tax. (She also told WBUR that she agrees with Elizabeth Warren on taxing billionaires.)

The Climate Crisis

Williamson declared on her website that “as President, I would argue, in no uncertain terms, that rapid, man-made climate change and global warming represents a clear and present danger to our people, to our democracy, and to the world at large.” To combat the climate crisis, Williamson has called for immediate re-entry into the Paris climate accord, and promised to “take unprecedented action between now and 2030 to actually bring the carbon we put in the atmosphere back into the earth where it came from — to reforest, transform our dirt back to soil on our farms, restore wetlands, peatlands, and increase phytoplankton and fisheries.” She supports the Green New Deal, but says it “doesn’t cover the whole range of measures we must undertake to reverse global warming.”

Campaign Cash

Williamson, who has pledged not to accept corporate PAC money or fossil fuel money, is calling for a constitutional amendment to establish public financing for federal campaigns.

Guns

Williamson wants to institute universal background checks and mandatory waiting periods, eliminate the sale of assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons, ban bump stocks and high capacity magazines, see child safety locks on all guns and “strict control of gun use among children,” and expand red flag laws (also known as gun violence restraining orders), which temporarily remove firearms from the home of someone deemed to be a risk to themselves or others.

Free College

Williamson supports it. “I want college to be free at public universities and colleges, and I want the cancellation of these college loans or — at the very least, radical renegotiation,” Williamson said in an interview with WMUR.

Immigration

Williamson says she would “provide a timely, ethical, transparent and straightforward path to citizenship for all law-abiding, productive immigrants living in the United States,” end family separation, and “increase border security intelligently through electronic surveillance and more patrol agents.”

Legal Weed

Williamson supports the legalization of marijuana and the release of non-violent offenders incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. Opioids, she contends, are a much bigger threat than weed. “The most dangerous drug dealers in America are legal pharmaceutical companies that knowingly overmanufacture, falsely advertise & promote overprescription of addictive substances,” she wrote on Twitter in April.

Abolishing the Electoral College

Williamson has signaled an openness to getting rid of the Electoral College, telling the Washington Post that she did not take changes to the Constitution “lightly, but at this point there is too much of a risk to our democracy when the popular vote can be so easily overridden.”

Packing the Supreme Court

Williamson does not support adding justices to the Supreme Court.

Criminal Justice Reform

Williamson wants to “focus on studying and promoting restorative justice programs and approaches for criminal justice reform throughout this country”; “create a trauma-informed environment inside the juvenile justice system”; and “support increasing the number of programs in prisons that provide life-skills for those who are incarcerated.”

Reproductive Rights

Williamson writes in bold and all-caps on her website: “REGARDING ABORTION RIGHTS, I AM ONE HUNDRED PER CENT PRO-CHOICE.” As president, she says, she would “vigorously resist any effort to restrict, limit, or diminish the reproductive rights and freedoms granted by Roe v. Wade.”

Voting Rights

Williamson wants to lower the voting age to 16 and pass a constitutional amendment to establish public financing of our federal campaigns. She also wants to end partisan gerrymandering, eliminate “unfounded” voting restrictions, and establish Election Day as a national holiday “(or Saturday).”

Democratic presidential candidate Steve Bullock speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Celebration, in Cedar Rapids, IowaElection 2020 Iowa, Cedar Rapids, USA - 09 Jun 2019

Steve Bullock


Campaign Cash

Bullock has based his campaign largely on tackling dark money in politics. “Our nation is founded on the basic idea that every American’s voice matters,” his website reads. “Yet too often it’s those who can cut the biggest checks who wield the greatest influence. Fighting against the toxic influence of money in politics has been the fight of Governor Bullock’s career. And he’s just getting started.”

Bullock has said that on his first day in office he will sign an executive order “requiring every company to disclose every dollar they spend or contribute to influence our elections if they want to do business with the largest contractor in the nation — the federal government.” He has also pledged to empower watchdog agencies go after groups that seek to “corrupt our elections,” ban Super PACs, pass the Disclose Act and work to overturn Citizens United.

Medicare-for-All

When he was asked last year in New Hampshire whether he supported Medicare-for-All, Bullock said that “health care ought to be affordable, accessibly and of quality. How we get there, there’s any number of different paths.”

Closing the Wealth Gap

“400 of the richest Americans own more wealth than the bottom 60% of people,” Bullock tweeted in June. “At the same time, the average worker hasn’t had a real wage increase in 40 years. Every American deserves a fair shot at success, not just the wealthy.”

The Climate Crisis

Bullock does not support the Green New Deal, telling the Washington Post that “we can do better with a more focused plan,” and that “we should significantly increase renewable energy, reverse the Trump Administration’s cuts to fuel efficiency standards and expand them to address the 37% of emissions that come from transportation, improve energy efficiency which could account for 30% of our overall goal, and follow the IPCC’s recommendation to invest in carbon capture.”

Guns

Bullock was hesitant to adopt many of the gun safety measures popular among Democrats, but has recently been more open to reform. He said in 2018 that he supports universal background checks and magazine size restrictions. “As governor, I hear directly from the people I serve,” he wrote for the Great Falls Tribune. “They want action. They recognize that like most policy issues, there is no single proposal or prescription that will solve the issue of gun safety. But they are tired of the enormity and complexity of the challenge being the excuse for inaction.”

Immigration

In 2017, Bullock was one of 11 governors to sign a letter urging Congress to take steps to protect the status of undocumented immigrants brought to America as children. He’s continued to advocate for Dreamers since announcing his campaign.

Free College

As governor of Montana, Bullock froze the cost of public college tuition. In April, he wrote a Medium post detailing how difficult it was to deal with his own student debt burden, and how crucial it is for students to be able to pursue an affordable education. “The next generation of Americans, my kids and their classmates, must be able to pursue an education and their American dream with the same faith in their future opportunity that I was able to have,” he wrote.

He has continued to advocate for affordable education while on the campaign trail. “Student debt has doubled in the last decade,” he said while in Iowa in May. “It’s $1.4 trillion — the average 2017 graduate has $28,000 of student loans, we’ve got to turn around and make college more affordable and accessible.”

Abolishing the Electoral College

Bullock has not been as enthusiastic as some of his competitors about abolishing the Electoral College. “Rather than upending something that’s been around since the start of our country, I’d rather turn around and say, why is it that we’re not winning in certain places?” he said while campaigning in Iowa. “I would much rather say, why aren’t we winning in places like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa?”

Packing the Supreme Court

Bullock has said that he is willing to considering various types of Supreme Court reform, including imposing term limits and adding justices. “I’m open to trying to say, how can we actually make sure that that court isn’t reflective of politics?” he told the New York Times in June.

Reproductive Rights

“I begin from the premise that a woman should be able to make her own health decisions, in consultation with her doctor, if she chooses her family and faith,” Bullock told the Washington Post in May, adding that the restrictive bills passed in Alabama and Missouri “not only an attack on Alabama but an attack on women having domain in over their body.”

Democratic presidential candidate and former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., speaks at the Heartland Forum held on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, IowaElection 2020 John Delaney, Storm Lake, USA - 30 Mar 2019

John Delaney


Medicare-for-All

Though Delaney writes on his website that he believes healthcare is a “fundamental right” and that he is “proposing a universal health care plan,” he is not in favor of some of the more progressive Medicare-for-All options backed by candidates like Bernie Sanders. Delaney’s plan involves providing every American under 65 with basic public health insurance. Americans would be able to opt out of public healthcare and receive a tax credit if they want to buy insurance from a private provider, or buy additional insurance from a private provider to supplement their government-provided insurance.  Medicare would remain in place for Americans over 65.

In June, Delaney was booed for saying Medicare-for-All is not “good policy nor is it good politics” while speaking at a California Democrats convention. The issue is one of several around which Delaney has staked his position as perhaps the most moderate Democrat in the field of candidates.

The Climate Crisis

In May, Delaney unveiled a $4 trillion climate change plan that would bring the United States to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The plan involves charging a $15 fee for each metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted, which would then raise by $10 year after year. Fossil fuel subsidies would end, and states would receive grants for preventing forest fires, using electric transportation and reducing emissions. Delaney also wants to create a “Climate Corps” that would tie into his plan to introduce a new national service program.

National Service

Delaney has proposed a national service program for young people graduating from high school. The plan would aim to enroll 200,000 high school graduates in the first year of the program, which would provide incentives to work on various building and infrastructure projects managed by both nonprofit and for-profit companies.

Closing the Wealth Gap

Delaney does not support the idea of a wealth tax, a la that of Elizabeth Warren, and has even argued that it might not be constitutional. Instead, he has proposed raising the tax rate on capital gains and matching it with the normal income tax rate. “What I’d like to do is reform the capital gain system,” he told CNBC in December. “I think capital gains and ordinary income rates should be the same unless you own the asset for a very long time.”

Guns

Delaney has said he wants to take a three-pointed approach to gun control that involves universal background checks, limiting the availability of military-style assault rifles, and passing a national red flag law, which would allow Americans to argue to a court that someone who poses a danger to them should not be permitted to carry a firearm.

Criminal Justice Reform

In April, Delaney introduced a 13-point plan to address criminal justice disparity. “Our criminal justice system has a demonstrated clear bias against people of color,” he wrote. “Black people, who are approximately 13% of the US population, make up 40% of the incarcerated population.” The plan includes ending for-profit prisons, ending mandatory minimum sentences, removing marijuana from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, heightening transparency within police departments, and funding for programs to reduce recidivism.

Immigration

Delaney believes in a path for citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. However, he doesn’t believe that border crossings should be decriminalized. “I just don’t think at this moment in time when we have a huge kind of surge at our border sending a message that we’re going to decriminalize crossings is the right thing to do,” he told The Hill.

Foreign Policy

Delaney has criticized President Trump for pulling the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal. He has also supported the president’s willingness to sit down with Kim Jong-un, and has praised the “progress” made regarding North Korea. When the New York Times asked Delaney in June whether there would be troops in Afghanistan at the end of his first term in office, he said it is “in our self-interest as a country to keep a small presence there.”

Free College

Delaney wants to allow student loan debt to be discharged through bankruptcy.

Legal Weed

At a town hall event hosted by CNN in March, Delaney said he believes marijuana should be reclassified on a federal level. “I think the federal government should get out of the way and let [the movement at the state level to legalize marijuana] continue,” he said. “Because right now the federal government is blocking it by keeping marijuana as a scheduled substance.”

“I’m in favor of that, which would basically get marijuana out of the shadows, and get it into a market where it could be regulated, where we can make sure it’s labeled and distributed appropriately, where we can tax it,” he added.

Abolishing the Electoral College

Delaney has not joined some of his more progressive competitors in calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. “If I was starting from scratch, yes, but trying to abolish the electoral college now is impractical,” he told the Washington Post.

Packing the Supreme Court

Delaney does not believe in altering the makeup of the Supreme Court. “I think if we make this election about completely changing the United States of America, that feels really risky to me,” he told New Hampshire Public Radio when asked about adding justices to the court or abolishing the electoral college.

Reproductive Rights

Delaney supports abortion rights and has defended government funding of Planned Parenthood. “I’m going to fight extreme right-wing attempts to defund Planned Parenthood in Congress every step of the way,” he said in 2017.

Voting Rights

While in Congress, Delaney introduced the Open Our Democracy Act, which would prohibit gerrymandering and require an independent commission to draw congressional boundaries. Delaney also supports automatic voter registration, making Election Day a national holiday and restoring the Voting Rights Act.

Reparations

Delaney has said he would support H.R. 40, a bill that would create a commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Sestak speaks at the Iowa Federation of Labor convention, in Altoona, IowaElection 2020 Joe Sestak, Altoona, USA - 21 Aug 2019

Joe Sestak

Medicare-for-All

Sestak plans on allowing Americans to either enroll in a government plan modeled after the Veterans Health Administration (in which doctors and hospitals would be run by the government), subscribe to a public option resembling Medicare-for-All (in which the government would work with private health care providers), or retain their private insurance. After a period of time, the efficacy of each option would be evaluated, with the ultimate goal of moving Americans onto whichever universal system makes the most sense. “I believe we should be studying the feasibility of both options, and walk down both paths to determine the best choice,” he wrote on his website, “because as I learned in the Navy: “piss-poor planning produces piss-poor execution” — and we must get this right first before the full implementation of a single-payer system.”

Foreign Policy

Sestak, also known as “Admiral Joe,” is a former high-ranking Navy officers who served for 31 years before retiring in 2005. At the heart of his approach toward foreign policy is the belief that America’s strength lies in its power to bring its allies together toward a common purpose. “America’s greatest power is its power to convene, to convene the world for a common cause that serves us all,” he told Vox in August.

Sestak also supports working to resurrecting the Iran nuclear deal.

The Climate Crisis

As with foreign policy, Sestak believes the world must unite to tackle the climate crisis. “We cannot beat climate change without all of the world coming together, led by us, to save the planet,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner in October. “We must not just rejoin, but actually lead the Paris process to collectively increase and enforce national commitments.”

Packing The Supreme Court

Sestak told the Washington Post that he does not support adding justices to the Supreme Court, but that he is open to term limits for justices.

Abolishing the Electoral College

Sestak does not support eliminating the Electoral College.

Immigration

Sestak supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

 

 

Mayor of Miramar, Florida and Democratic candidate for United States President Wayne Messam addresses members of the New Hampshire Young Democrats at A&E Coffee / Apotheca Flower and Tea Shoppe in Goffstown, New Hampshire, USA 21 May 2019. Messam, the son of Jamaican immigrants, is on a two day campaign swing through New Hampshire, the first state to hold a primary for the 2020 Presidential election.Mayor of Miramar, Florida and Democratic candidate for United States President Wayne Messam, campaigns in New Hampshire, Goffstown, USA - 21 May 2019

Wayne Messam


Free College

The tentpole of Messam’s campaign is his proposal to cancel all $1.5 trillion of outstanding student loan debt. “It is time for the federal government to cancel all federal and private student loans,” his website reads. “This one-time policy would boost the annual GDP between $86 billion and $108 billion and create 1 million to 1.5 million new jobs each year.”

Messam’s plan calls for all 44 million Americans with outstanding student loan debt to be informed of its relief within 60 days. The United States Treasury would pay off the debt. Messam argues that lifting this economic burden off tens of millions of Americans would outweigh the financial cost to the nation, which he says would ultimately be paid for by canceling the Trump’s tax cut for the wealthy that was passed in 2017.

Medicare-for-All

Messam has said he supports the idea of Medicare-for-All, and is open to a system that retains the private insurance industry. “As President, I will be open to ideas to fix a broken system that right now does more to protect the bottom line of insurance and pharmaceutical companies than protecting patients,” his website reads.

Closing the Wealth Gap

Messam has proposed canceling the Trump administration’s 2017 tax cut for the wealthy. He tweeted in June that all Americans “should earn a wage that allows them to meet their basic needs.”

The Climate Crisis

Messam told the Washington Post that he supports “the urgency and the end goal” of the Green New Deal, but has said that he will unveil his own climate policy. He was also one of 407 mayors to sign a pledge to uphold the principles of the Paris climate accord despite President Trump’s decision to remove the United States from the agreement.

Guns

Messam has been strong on gun safety, and has often cited the shooting at Parkland, which is less than 50 miles away from his home of Miramar, in calling for reform. His goals as president are pretty ambitious: “It will be my goal as your President to cut gun deaths in half by the end of my first term, with the goal to eliminate this threat entirely by the end of my presidency,” his website reads.

Foreign Policy

Though he hasn’t offered many specifics, Messam has said that “we need to change course, rebuild our fractured alliances and lead by example” on the global stage. He has also advocated for a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Immigration

Messam has said that America’s immigration system needs to be overhauled. “Washington had failed the American people when it comes to immigration,” he told CBS in April, adding that “when we have a process and a political will in place to ensure comprehensive immigration reform, we will be able to subside some of the issues that we are currently seeing right now.”

Legal Weed

Messam has said that states should be able to legalize marijuana without interference from the federal government.

Abolishing the Electoral College

Messam believes the Electoral College should be abolished. “It’s very rare that I will say this, but Donald Trump was correct. He once called the electoral college a ‘disaster for democracy.’ Boy, was he right,” Messam told the Washington Post. “If we believe [every vote counts], we shouldn’t have a system where a candidate can lose by three million votes and somehow be declared the winner.”

Packing the Supreme Court

Messam is open to the idea of adding justices to the Supreme Court. “Make no mistake, the court is already packed,” he told the Washington Post. “If Senator McConnell chooses to play by a different set of rules, as he so often does, then so will I.”

Reproductive Rights

“As President, I will vigorously defend the a woman’s right to choose and nominate a @USSupremeCourt justice that recognizes his question became settled law in 1973,” Messam tweeted in May.

Voting Rights

“Across this country, voting rights are under attack as politicians create barriers that make it harder for people to register to vote and cast their ballots, cut back early voting, and engage in unconstitutional acts of voter suppression,” Messam’s website reads, adding that “we must protect Americans’ right to vote regardless of economic and societal status — not limit participation in the democratic process and discriminate against our own people.”

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