Where the Candidates Stand, or Kneel

Below are 10 basic questions for U.S. Presidential Candidates and the answers they have thus far provided, if any.

  1. What would you like the U.S. discretionary budget to look like? Roughly what percentage should go to what project? With 60% now going to militarism, approximately what percentage would you like that to be?
  2. With some super-profitable corporations paying no taxes, some individuals with super-high incomes paying a lower tax-rate than ordinary people, a regressive cap on taxes for Social Security, no wealth tax, and no tax on the vast majority of estates, what will you do to make taxation less regressive and more progressive?
  3. Do you support a Green New Deal, and if so what exactly does it look like?
  4. How would you change the funding of education, including pre-school and college, and addressing student debt?
  5. Would you halt or continue expenditures on the production and so-called modernization of nuclear weapons?
  6. Do you support the creation of a single-payer health coverage system or enhanced Medicare for all?
  7. Would you end discriminatory bans on immigrants?
  8. How would you address the problem of mass incarceration?
  9. What changes, if any, would you make to Social Security and the funding thereof?
  10. What should the minimum wage be in the United States and should that wage be set to automatically keep pace with the cost of living?

Most people are surprised at how difficult it is to find any answers to such questions from candidates running for the office of U.S. president and receiving voluminous media coverage of various trivial details. Some candidates have answered some of these questions. Most have not answered most of them. You can ask your favorite and least favorite campaigns for their positions on these questions, and post their answers as comments at davidswanson.org/candidates

1. What would you like the U.S. discretionary budget to look like? Roughly what percentage should go to what project? With 60% now going to militarism, approximately what percentage would you like that to be?

Mike Gravel: Cut military spending by 50%.

Howie Hawkins: Cut military spending by 50%.

Bernie Sanders: Cut military spending by an unknown amount. He has voted against military budgets.

Marianne Williamson: Convert to a peaceful economy over 10 to 20 years.

Andrew Yang: Cut military spending by an unknown amount; move 10% to military-like infrastructure force.

Tulsi Gabbard: One website provides no positions on anything, another doesn’t say. We can look to her voting record. She has voted against cutting the military budget.

Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything. She has voted for enormous military budgets.

Joe Biden: Website doesn’t say. As Senator, he voted for enormous military budgets.

Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything. She has voted for enormous military budgets.

Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything. He has voted for enormous military budgets.

Donald Trump: Proposes to move yet more funding from almost everything else into military spending, boosting the latter to roughly 65% of federal discretionary spending across departments, not counting another 7% for Veterans Affairs.

Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say. She has voted for enormous military budgets.

Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say, but promotes hostility toward Russia and China.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Website doesn’t say.

Beto O’Rourke: Website doesn’t say.

Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.

Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate, which position avoids mentioning the military either as a destroyer of climate or a source of funding that could be moved to climate.

Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education.

John Delaney: Website provides an array of positions as if 96 percent of humanity and 65 percent of discretionary spending doesn’t exist: no budget and no foreign policy, except that he wants mandatory “service” with the military being one type of “service.”

Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.

Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.

John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.

Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.

2. With some super-profitable corporations paying no taxes, some individuals with super-high incomes paying a lower tax-rate than ordinary people, a regressive cap on taxes for Social Security, no wealth tax, and no tax on the vast majority of estates, what will you do to make taxation less regressive and more progressive?

Bernie Sanders: Website says:

  • Pass the For the 99.8 Percent Act to establish a progressive estate tax on multi-millionaire and billionaire inheritances.
  • Eliminate offshore tax scams through the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act.
  • Tax Wall Street speculators through the Inclusive Prosperity Act.
  • Scrap the income cap on Social Security payroll taxes through the Social Security Expansion Act so that millionaires and billionaires pay more into the system.
  • End special tax breaks on capital gains and dividends for the top 1%.
  • Substantially increase the top marginal tax rate on income above $10 million.
  • Close tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy and large corporations.

Elizabeth Warren: Website says: “stop handing out giant tax giveaways to rich people and giant corporations and start asking the people who have gained the most from our country to pay their fair share.” She has posted a plan for a wealth tax. She has posted a proposal for a tax on corporate profits.

Mike Gravel: Website lists numerous progressive policy changes here.

Marianne Williamson: Website says: “Make permanent the middle-class tax cuts, while repealing the corporate tax cuts from the 2017 Tax Bill. . . . Close the loopholes that give big breaks to big business, and ensure they pay their fair share of taxes to level the playing field so small business can compete. . . . Raise the estate tax (with special care given to help family businesses pay-off the estate tax bill over time so we don’t shut down small businesses). Eliminate the carried interest and ETF tax loopholes enjoyed by Wall Street.”

Andrew Yang: Capital gains tax. Make taxes fun.

Howie Hawkins: Website lists proposals here.

Beto O’Rourke: Website doesn’t say.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Website doesn’t say.

Joe Biden: Website doesn’t say. He has worked to cut Social Security.

Tulsi Gabbard: Website doesn’t say.

Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say.

John Delaney: Website doesn’t say.

Donald Trump: Nothing.

Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.

Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education.

Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate.

Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.

Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.

Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything.

Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything.

Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything.

John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.

Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.

3. Do you support a Green New Deal, and if so what exactly does it look like?

Bernie Sanders: Website explains his support for a Green New Deal. Has cosponsored S. Res. 59.

Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say. Has cosponsored S. Res. 59.

Jay Inslee: Yes.

Mike Gravel: Website supports and expands upon a Green New Deal.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Yes. Has cosponsored S. Res. 59. Her support is reported on here.

Marianne Williamson: Yes.

Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything. Has cosponsored S. Res. 59. Has written about her support here.

Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything. Has cosponsored S. Res. 59.

Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything. Has cosponsored S. Res. 59.

Wayne Messam: Yes, vague.

Howie Hawkins: End capitalism.

Andrew Yang: Not clear.

Beto O’Rourke: No.

Tulsi Gabbard: Has not cosponsored H Res 109. Environmental policies don’t mention Green New Deal.

Joe Biden: Website doesn’t say.

Donald Trump: Hell no.

John Delaney: Opposes the Green New Deal.

Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.

Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education.

Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.

Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.

John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.

Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.

4. How would you change the funding of education, including pre-school and college, and addressing student debt?

Bernie Sanders: He has advocated these steps for years. Website lays out plans here and also says:

  • Make public colleges, universities, and trade schools tuition-free.
  • Fully fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • Substantially lower student debt.
  • Significantly lower interest rates on student loans.

Elizabeth Warren: She has posted a plan for free college and the cancellation of (much of) student debt. She has posted a plan to make child care free for many and “affordable” for others.

Mike Gravel: Would make education free and cancel debt.

Marianne Williamson: Website proposes many significant steps.

Eric Swalwell: Website says: “no-interest federal student loans, tax-free employer contributions, and debt-free college for public university students who do work-study and commit to bettering their communities after graduation.”

Andrew Yang: Control the cost of higher education. Reduce student loan burden. Making community college “affordable.” Early childhood education for all. Expand selective schools. Increase teacher salaries.

Howie Hawkins: Website says: “Free Public Education from Pre-K Child Care through College.”

Tulsi Gabbard: Free college.

Wayne Messam: Vague. Except for this: Cancel student debt.

John Delaney: “Guaranteeing free Pre-K through 14 public education.” Other proposals here.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Website provides some partial steps.

Beto O’Rourke: Completely vague.

Joe Biden: Website doesn’t say.

Donald Trump: Would make problems worse.

Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.

Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate.

Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.

Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.

Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything.

Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything.

Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything.

John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.

Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.

5. Would you halt or continue expenditures on the production and so-called modernization of nuclear weapons?

Mike Gravel: He would get rid of all nukes.

Howie Hawkins: He would get rid of all nukes.

Beto O’Rourke: Website mentions “nuclear disarmament.”

Bernie Sanders: Website doesn’t say.

Tulsi Gabbard: Website provides no positions on anything, or doesn’t say. But she has voted to fund new nukes.

Donald Trump: Continue.

Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say.
Marianne Williamson: Website doesn’t say.

Andrew Yang: Website doesn’t say.

Joe Biden: Website doesn’t say.

Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Website doesn’t say.

Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.

Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate.

Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education.

John Delaney: Website provides an array of positions as if 96 percent of humanity and 65 percent of discretionary spending doesn’t exist: no foreign policy, except that he wants mandatory “service” with the military being one option.

Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.

Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything.

Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.

Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything.

Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything.

John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.

Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.

6. Do you support the creation of a single-payer health coverage system or enhanced Medicare for all?

Bernie Sanders: Website lays out plans here. He sponsored S 1129. Has supported and advocated for single-payer for many years.

Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say. Has cosponsored S 1129.

Mike Gravel: Yes.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Yes. Has cosponsored S 1129.

Marianne Williamson: Yes.

Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything. Has cosponsored S 1129.

Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything. Has cosponsored S 1129.

Tulsi Gabbard: Yes. Has cosponsored HR 1384.

Howie Hawkins: Yes.

Andrew Yang: Sort of.

Eric Swalwell: No.

Joe Biden: No.

Beto O’Rourke: No.

Donald Trump: No.

Wayne Messam: No.

John Delaney: Not exactly.

Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.

Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate.

Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.

Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.

Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything.

John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.

Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.

7. Would you end discriminatory bans on immigrants?

Bernie Sanders: Yes.

Tulsi Gabbard: Yes.

Mike Gravel: Yes.

Howie Hawkins: Yes.

Julian Castro: Yes.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Yes.

Marianne Williamson: Yes.

Donald Trump: No.

Joe Biden: Not clear.

Andrew Yang: Not clear.

Beto O’Rourke: Not clear.

John Delaney: Not clear.

Wayne Messam: Not clear.

Everybody else is silent.

8. How would you address the problem of mass incarceration?

Bernie Sanders: Website includes policy proposals here. Sanders has a long record as a leading opponent of creating mass incarceration.

Mike Gravel: End the war on drugs. Institute extensive reforms, including of prisons.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Website says: “legalize marijuana at the federal level and expunge past records; reform our sentencing laws so that judges can have more flexibility when dealing with low-level, nonviolent drug offenses; change federal rules for our prisons; end cash bail; and invest resources in communities harmed by the racist war on drugs.”

Marianne Williamson: Website includes plan here.

Andrew Yang: Reduce mass incarceration. Decrease pre-trial cash bail.

Howie Hawkins: Website says: “Appoint Public Defenders to the Federal Judiciary; Fully Fund the Legal Services Corporation.”

Tulsi Gabbard: Reform policies here.

Wayne Messam: A few reforms here.

Beto O’Rourke: Reform proposals sketched here.

Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say.

Donald Trump: What problem?

John Delaney: Website doesn’t say.

Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.

Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education.

Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate.

Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.

Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.

Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything.

Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything.

Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything.

John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.

Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.

Joe Biden: Website says: “We need to reform the criminal justice system to prioritize prevention, eliminate racial disparities at every stage, get rid of sentencing practices that don’t fit the crime, and help make sure formerly incarcerated individuals who have served their sentences are able to fully participate in our democracy and economy. We have to take action to reduce gun violence and hate crimes, strengthen the landmark Violence Against Women Act, and insist on real community policing that builds trust and makes every community safe.” Biden has a record as a leading creator of mass incarceration.

9. What changes, if any, would you make to Social Security and the funding thereof?

Bernie Sanders: He would lift the cap so that those with large incomes pay for Social Security at the same rate as everyone else.

Marianne Williamson: She would lift the cap so that those with large incomes pay for Social Security at the same rate as everyone else.

Mike Gravel: Website doesn’t say, but offers alternative proposals.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Website is vague.

Tulsi Gabbard: Website doesn’t say.

Beto O’Rourke: Website doesn’t say.

Howie Hawkins: Website doesn’t say.

Joe Biden: Website doesn’t say.

Andrew Yang: Website doesn’t say.

Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say.

Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say.

John Delaney: Website doesn’t say.

Donald Trump: Cut it or privatize it.

Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.

Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education.

Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate.

Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.

Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.

Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything.

Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything.

Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything.

John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.

Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.

10. What should the minimum wage be in the United States and should that wage be set to automatically keep pace with the cost of living?

Mike Gravel: $15, indexed to Consumer Price Index.

Bernie Sanders: “At least $15 an hour.”

Kirsten Gillibrand: $15.

Tulsi Gabbard: “$15/hour by 2024.

Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say. She has spoken often about restoring value to the minimum wage, but does not clearly have any specific proposal.

Marianne Williamson: “Increase minimum wage to a rate that provides a living wage in its given geographical area – and set the rate to adjust for inflation from now on.”

Howie Hawkins: “Living wage.”

Andrew Yang: Website doesn’t say.

Joe Biden: Website doesn’t say.

Beto O’Rourke: Website doesn’t say.

Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say.

John Delaney: Website doesn’t say.

Donald Trump: $0.

Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.

Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education.

Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate.

Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.

Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.

Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything.

Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything.

Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything.

John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.

Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.

 

10 Replies to “Where the Candidates Stand, or Kneel”

  1. What about some REAL questions such us: Should the USA continue to give Israel 3.8 bl dollars per year? Should the USA inquire whether Israel has atomic bombs?

  2. Although Pete Buttigieg doesn’t have his policies and positions written out on his site yet, you can see and hear his positions on this page. There are links to many videos here that are searchable by keyword.
    https://meetpete.org/

  3. A highly informative post. It looks to me that Marianne Williamson has the most complete coverage of topics, along with Bernie. Plus, her background in working to heal the spirit of people, would make her my choice, were we voting today. Devil-in-the-details topics, like Israel’s nukes, Myanmar’s religious war on Rohyngas, Central American policies to make the area more hospitable for its inhabitants, etc. could be topics for some of the debates. Unfortunately, Ms. Williamson is not getting the media exposure she needs, and her fund raising seems to be struggling.

  4. DavidSwanson:

    If you’re not finding much on Tulsi Gabbard’s positions, try https://www.tulsigabbard.org. It has the most extensive discussion of policy positions that I’ve seen on a politician’s web site.

    Ending imperialist wars is the very raison d’etre of Tulsi’s campaign. I believe that her positions are very much in agreement with your own, and I fervently hope that you will interview or perhaps hold a forum with her.

    ps.
    Deepest thanks for the work you do.

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