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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 was larger and more diverse than any group of White House hopefuls since the modern primary process began. But with primary season fully underway, the field of over two dozen candidates has been whittled down to eight, a group that includes three senators, three women, a former vice president, two billionaires, and a 37-year-old trying to become America’s first LGBTQ president.

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.


BERNIE SANDERS | JOE BIDEN | MIKE BLOOMBERG | PETE BUTTIGIEG | ELIZABETH WARRENAMY KLOBUCHAR | TOM STEYER | TULSI GABBARD

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 last 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 of 2019, 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.

Last fall, 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 last 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 last 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.”

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