Where does Bernie Sanders stand on the issues?

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Where does Bernie Sanders stand on the issues?


Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist senator from Vermont, is making another run at the Democratic presidential nomination after making a name for himself but falling short in his 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton. Though he is an independent in the Senate, where he has served since 2007, the former Burlington mayor and Vermont congressman has rallied Democrats' progressive base to sit near the top of most national and early-state polls.

Here is where Sanders stands on some of the top issues voters care about in the 2020 campaign.

Health Care

Sanders is the author of the “Medicare-for-All” bill in the Senate and is fond of reminding his fellow presidential contenders that he “wrote the damn bill.” Sanders, along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., advocates a full single-payer health care system that would essentially outlaw private health insurance in the U.S.

This is in contrast to the stance taken by most of the primary candidates, who would continue to allow private health insurance to exist but would present a government option to consumers. Pete Buttigieg dubs his plan to this effect, calling it “Medicare-for-all-who-want-it.”

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Sanders has been transparent about the cost of his up to $40 trillion health care plan, as well as the fact most Americans would have to pay more taxes in order to fund it.

“It is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up,” Sanders said last year. “For virtually everybody, the tax increase they pay will be substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.”

Also like most of his primary opponents, Sanders would allow government-run health plans to cover illegal immigrants.

Climate and environment

Sanders, like much of the Democratic primary field that is currently in Congress, was a co-sponsor on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal resolution. What separates him from his opponents, however, is the scale of his plan to fight climate change.

Sanders' $16 trillion climate plan dwarfs those of his opponents ⁠— Warren proposes spending $3 trillion on the issue while former Vice President Joe Biden has said he would commit $1.7 trillion.

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Despite the massive price tag of his climate agenda, Sanders falls in line with much of the Democratic field in setting 2050 as the target date for the United States to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

Sanders does clash with the likes of Buttigieg and Biden, however, on a fracking ban. Sanders would ban the controversial natural gas extraction method in the U.S. while the other two would allow the practice to continue.

Economy and minimum wage

Sanders often highlights income inequality on the campaign trail and his corporate tax plan actually takes the degree of income inequality within individual companies into account. He, like some other Democratic candidates, would roll back the 2017 Trump tax cuts, returning corporate income tax rates to 35 percent instead of 21 percent. But Sanders would actually boost corporation's tax rates if their CEOs make what he considers to be too much money.

He proposes incremental increases in a corporation's tax rates if their “CEO-to-median-worker pay ratios” are above 50 to 1. For example, a company with a CEO who makes between 50 and 100 times what its median worker does would see its tax rate boosted by half a percent. If a CEO makes more than 500 times what a company's average worker brings home, it would pay an extra 5 percent in taxes.

Sanders, like Warren, Buttigieg and billionaire Tom Steyer, supports a wealth tax despite questions that have been raised about such a levy's effectiveness and constitutionality.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a fundraiser for the Nevada Democratic Party, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a fundraiser for the Nevada Democratic Party, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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“Taxing the extreme wealth of the top 0.1% is not radical,” Sanders wrote on Twitter in September. “What's radical is that the Walton family makes $25,000 a minute while their workers at Walmart are paid poverty wages.”

His wealth tax would feature several brackets, extracting 1 percent per year from those with a net worth over $32 million and 8 percent per year from those with a net worth above $10 billion, with several levels in between. This contrasts with Warren's plan which features only a 2 percent levy for every dollar of net worth for families worth over $50 million and a 6 percent tax on net worth above $1 billion.

Additionally, Sanders would raise the federal minimum wage to $15, as he has advocated for several years.

Immigration

Sanders is staunchly opposed to President Trump's immigration agenda, including limits on refugees, the border wall and the travel ban.

“Millions live in fear because of Donald Trump’s racist immigration agenda,” he tweeted in November. “Together, we will confront this hatred and create an immigration system that treats asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants with dignity.”

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Sanders opposes a border wall and would change illegally entering the United States from a criminal offense to a civil offense. The latter is a position that puts a distance between himself and the most prominent establishment candidate in the race, Biden.

But like nearly every Democratic candidate, including Biden, Sanders supports a pathway to citizenship for those who are in the U.S. illegally.

Criminal Justice

While Sanders is not an official co-sponsor on the Senate's version of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, a bill that would legalize marijuana federally while providing support to individuals in marginalized groups who start cannabis businesses, his campaign website hits many of the same social justice points addressed in the bill.

Sanders says he would use executive action to legalize marijuana in his first 100 days while expunging previous marijuana convictions and boosting marginalized communities.

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“Our job now is to legalize marijuana and vacate and expunge past marijuana convictions, and ensure that revenue from legal marijuana is reinvested in communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs,” his website says.

Like most Democrats, Sanders says he would abolish the death penalty, but he takes a position unique in the primary field by strongly supporting full voting rights for incarcerated felons. Many 2020 Democrats support allowing felons to vote after their jail terms, and the only person besides Sanders to indicate she would be open to allowing felons to vote from behind bars is Warren.





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