Climate | Foreign Affairs | Healthcare | Immigration | Taxation | Voter Protection | More about the candidate
The climate crisis is a significant contributing factor to many conflicts and refugee situations around the globe, putting Americans abroad - and all global citizens - at risk due to political insecurity. How will you ensure that the U.S. will reduce greenhouse gas emissions below Paris Accord targets and lead the global effort to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown and the global insecurity it would cause?
What do you think a U.S. President in early 2021 can do, independently of the cooperation of Congress or other countries, to respond to this crisis?
Mike considers climate change to be the top threat to the United States and the planet and one of his absolute top priorities. As a sign of the seriousness of his commitment to curb climate change, his first act as president will be to re-join the Paris Agreement, and he will immediately initiate a series of executive actions to dramatically reduce the United States’ contribution to carbon pollution beyond what President Obama committed to in the Paris Accords. These will be the first steps in an effort to restore U.S. moral authority on climate change and rally other countries to reduce carbon pollution 50% by 2030, the level necessary to avoid the worst impacts. His specific climate change plans and priorities include:
- Restoring global climate leadership. Mike will make climate change a top priority of his foreign policy, using trade and security agreements, as well as international convenings, to encourage other countries to commit to more ambitious carbon reduction. He will also protect the country from climate-related security risks, creating an Office of Climate Security in the White House to coordinate across intelligence, diplomacy, development, and defense, and he’ll support protecting the world’s most vulnerable people from the impacts of climate change.
- Building a 100% clean energy economy. Mike’s plans to reduce carbon pollution 50% economy-wide in 10 years are integrated with his plans for a $1 trillion investment in modernizing America’s infrastructure, creating millions of good jobs while building a clean energy economy. His plans include:
- Shifting the country to 100% clean energy, by extending incentives to make clean energy affordable for all families, funding the build-out of a clean energy power grid, instituting new emissions standards for fossil-fuel power plants that encourage a shift from fossil fuels to clean energy, investing to protect the most affected communities and workers, and quadrupling clean energy research and development.
- Investing in clean transportation, making electric vehicles affordable and charging convenient for all families, pushing automakers to make more models available with stronger gas mileage and pollution standards and a zero-emissions vehicles standard that requires that all new cars be electric by 2035, reducing diesel pollution in urban neighborhoods by funding efforts to switch to electric school and transit buses and freight trucks, and tripling investment in public transit systems to reduce urban air pollution and congestion.
- Getting fossil fuels out of homes and buildings, reducing energy bills and indoor air pollution, by offering financial incentives to families and building owners to upgrade homes and buildings and replace oil and gas furnaces with pollution-free ones and by improving building codes and appliance standards.
Many of these plans can be implemented by executive action, or by the use of budget and tax bills that can avoid the filibuster or appropriations bills that are still bipartisan. For the power sector, Mike will lead a shift to 80% clean energy by the end of his second term, with or without Congress -- he will use EPA regulatory authority to establish emissions limits for coal and gas plants that lead to a phaseout of coal by 2030 and a major reduction in pollution from gas, at the same time that he works with nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to level thing level the playing field for clean energy and encourage the building of a smart clean energy grid.
For pollution from the transportation sector, he will use EPA authority to establish stronger pollution limits for cars and trucks, and a national zero-emissions vehicles standard that shifts gradually to all new cars being electric by 2035. He will use energy standards for appliances and equipment, and model building codes, to reduce the use of fossil fuels in homes and buildings. He’ll use budget, tax, and appropriations bills to fund new incentive programs to make clean energy, electric vehicles, and pollution-free buildings available to families and communities at all income levels.
To address the increasing risk of conflict and instability, and protect vulnerable people abroad from impacts of climate change, he’ll prioritize clean energy assistance and climate resilience investments in development budgets.
Americans abroad hear from our neighbors and colleagues that the standing of the U.S. in world affairs has plummeted over the past three years. What would you do to re-establish trust and re-build the confidence of the U.S. government in global institutions and with other countries?
Mike understands better than most how much damage the current administration has done to America’s standing in the world. Running a global company and philanthropy across more than 120 countries, and serving as a U.N. special climate envoy, he has seen up close the impact of President Trump’s assault on international institutions and agreements such as the Paris Climate Accords. He knows intimately just how critical U.S. leadership and values are at this moment, and how much work is needed to renew both.
As president, Mike will repair this damage. He’ll start at home—investing in education, cutting-edge infrastructure and R&D; implementing a humane and efficient immigration system; and reviving a sophisticated and principled diplomatic corps so that America again projects the hopeful example that has attracted so many nations to our side. Abroad, he will partner not just with other democracies but with cities, businesses and civil society groups to address the challenges of this century—from climate change to pandemics, refugee flows and cyberattacks—not the last one. He will be a consistent advocate for human rights and American values at home and abroad. He will seek new, high-standard trade agreements that protect American workers and spread prosperity. And he will lead a concerted effort, with America’s friends and allies, to modernize global institutions such as the World Trade Organization, in order to meet new challenges and to restore faith in the value of a rules-based international order.
In a 2019 survey of Americans living abroad, Democrats Abroad found that 2.2% cited their reason for living abroad as “affordable healthcare.” These numbers include ‘healthcare refugees’ who cannot afford to return to live in the U.S. due to the high cost of healthcare and the threat of bankruptcy due to illness. Under your healthcare plan, will Americans currently abroad at all income levels and states of health be able to return to live in the U.S. and receive quality, affordable, accessible healthcare for their families at reasonable cost without threat of bankruptcy?
Health care in the United States costs too much. It leaves too many people uninsured; eats into workers’ wages, public budgets, and employers’ bottom lines; and puts vulnerable families one medical emergency away from financial ruin. Health care costs are also the top financial concern for American families.
President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have done little to help. On the contrary, they have gone after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and made it harder for the vulnerable to get Medicaid coverage. And while health costs are almost double those of other affluent countries, the U.S. has lower life expectancy and higher infant-mortality rates than other advanced nations.
Mike’s plan is politically practical and achievable, working toward universal coverage, lower costs, and improved health for Americans.
Mike’s Plan on Health care includes the following elements:
- Public option
The first step is to create a Medicare-like public option — health insurance that will be administered by the federal government but paid for by customer premiums. In rolling out this option, priority would go to the uninsured, including low-income people who are in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid under the ACA. A public insurance option will improve consumer choice and increase competition in the private insurance market, pushing down everyone’s premiums. People of modest means who buy the public option will be eligible for the same subsidies that will apply on the health insurance exchanges.
- Build on the Affordable Care Act
The ACA made great strides in helping people who don’t get health insurance through an employer afford coverage in the individual market. Mike will reverse the Trump administration’s attempts at sabotage: He will expand enrollment efforts, restrict the sale of health plans that don’t meet ACA standards, and defend the law against politically motivated lawsuits. He will expand subsidies to cap premiums at 8.5% of a household’s income. He will create a permanent reinsurance program that, by helping insurers with the largest claims, would reduce customer premiums roughly 10%. Finally, because about a third of Americans choose not to see a dentist regularly because it is too expensive, Mike will expand Medicare to include an optional policy covering dental, hearing, and vision care, and would require all states to cover oral health services for adults in Medicaid.
- Cap health care prices and ban surprise medical bills
Expanding insurance coverage is not enough to protect Americans from high medical bills. The U.S. health care market has been unable to restrain costs. And this problem has been compounded by provider consolidation. To bring prices down, Mike will cap hospital out-of-network charges at 200% of Medicare rates. (Medicare does something similar; beneficiaries enrolled in private plans, known as Medicare Advantage plans, have capped prices for out-of-network providers. This cap protects beneficiaries and, at the same time, gives private insurers greater leverage in negotiating rates with hospitals and clinicians.)
- Lower drug costs
Mike will work with Congress to authorize the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. The government would cap drug prices at 120% of the average in other advanced nations — and this cap will apply to consumers with public or private insurance. Mike will ban drug company payments to pharmacy benefit managers so that drug makers compete on the cost and value of their products — not on the amount of money they pay to get preferential treatment. Mike will also reform the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit to encourage greater competition, and cap beneficiaries’ annual out-of-pocket costs at $2,000.
Taken together, these changes would lower health care costs, insure millions more Americans, and promote competition and efficiency in the health care market.
How Mike Will Get It Done:
- Create a Medicare-like public insurance option
- Improve and expand enrollment in Affordable Care Act plans
- Allow people to keep their private insurance
- Cap health care prices
- Lower drug costs
- Expand access to dental, hearing, and vision coverage
- Create a permanent reinsurance program that reduces customer premiums
Read the full plan: Health Coverage
Executive orders such as the one exploiting the term "public charge" demonstrate that our current immigration system was founded in a shameful era of discrimination and bigotry, and that family members of Americans abroad are allowed entry to the U.S. due to a patchwork of fragile bandaids and weakly defended interpretations. Would you restore the principle of family reunification?
Our broken immigration system isn’t working for any of us. Congressional inaction — compounded by President Trump’s cruel and inhumane policies — has created chaos at the border, separated families and trapped millions of immigrants in legal limbo.
As the grandson of immigrants, Mike understands that immigration has been and always will be one of America’s greatest strengths. His plan focuses on reclaiming America’s role as the beacon of opportunity for people around the world and tapping into the dedication and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants to grow our economy and enrich our communities.
Mike’s Plan on Immigration:
- Restore fairness, transparency and accountability to the immigration system.
Mike’s plan will protect Dreamers and TPS holders and create an earned pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented. Mike will reform Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), implementing sensible immigration enforcement priorities that promote public safety and national security. Mike will also end construction of Trump’s ineffective wall, invest in smart security measures and upgrade our ports of entry to protect the border and increase efficiency.
- Open America’s doors to the immigrants our communities and economy need.
Mike’s plan will modernize our legal immigration system while protecting and investing in U.S. workers—and will protect all workers, including immigrants, from exploitation and labor violations. Mike will make employment-based immigration more responsive to economic conditions and reduce the backlogs that keep families apart. He will implement policies that attract job-creating innovators and entrepreneurs and create new place-based visas that allow localities to address unmet needs.
- End policies that run counter to our deepest values as Americans.
Mike will rescind President Trump’s disgraceful travel ban, end family separations at the border, establish rigorous safeguards for children, and promote alternatives to detention for individuals and families who pose no threat to public safety. Mike will set the annual refugee resettlement target at 125,000 and also restore fairness and timeliness to the asylum process. And he will honor and protect immigrant service members, veterans and their families.
- Give new Americans and their neighbors the tools they need to thrive together.
Mike will encourage eligible immigrants to become U.S. citizens by clearing the naturalization backlog, reducing the naturalization fee and investing in community-based efforts to promote citizenship, including English and civics courses and immigration legal services. Mike will create a federal Office of New Americans to support the integration of newcomers, offer CDBG funding for projects that promote cohesion and community-building in places experiencing demographic change, and launch a national competition to support job-creating entrepreneurs.
How Mike Will Get It Done:
- Protect Dreamers
- End family separation at the border
- Rescind Trump’s travel ban against Muslim-majority countries
- Create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people
- Shift resources from Trump’s wall to smart security measures
- Create place-based visas to address unmet economic and social needs
Read the full policy in English: Immigration Plan
Read the full policy in Spanish: El Paso Adelante
Regulatory guidance from the Treasury Department could mitigate the harms of FATCA suffered by thousands of Americans living and working abroad. Will you commit to directing the Treasury Department to study and then implement, as a high priority, new guidance that will provide relief to ordinary Americans living abroad who are demonstrably not evading taxes?
Most Americans living abroad think that the time has come for Residency-Based Taxation, the principle guiding all other countries' tax systems and a fix for numerous unjust burdens on Americans living and working abroad. There are bi-partisan, revenue-neutral proposals to implement RBT that include robust provisions to protect the law from abuse by tax evaders. All we need is a moment of leadership to get this done. Will you be that leader?
Mike recognizes that FATCA causes difficulties for Americans living and working abroad, that hard-working U.S. citizens not seeking to avoid or evade taxes are heavily burdened by the existing rules, and that many face difficulties in accessing financial services while working abroad as a result. He will direct the Treasury Department to urgently review these rules so that procedures can be simplified where possible and needless burdens lifted, while ensuring that adequate safeguards to prevent evasion and avoidance aren't compromised. Looking farther ahead, this review will extend to studying the case for residency-based taxation.
Mike is proposing tax reforms targeting the wealthiest people and corporations in the country, to pay for critical priorities like health care, infrastructure, education, climate resilience, and affordable housing. Mike believes that the current tax system is deeply unfair because it taxes income from capital at a much lower rate than income from work, allows accumulated wealth to pass from generation to generation with little or no tax due, and provides countless loopholes that the rich can exploit to reduce their taxes still further. To improve the nation’s tax system and make it fairer for everyone, Mike proposed raising rates on high-income taxpayers, taxing capital income more equitably, closing loopholes, and bolstering enforcement.
Mike’s Plan on Taxation:
- Raise rates for high-income taxpayers: The 2017 tax reform gave most of its benefits to the rich. In other words, instead of working to reduce inequality, Trump is making it worse. Mike sees growing inequality as a threat to all Americans. It is unacceptable. He will dedicate his administration to turning this dangerous trend around.
- Reverse the Trump tax changes for high-income households, restoring the top rate on ordinary income from 37% to 39.6%.
- Tax capital income more equitably: One of the biggest defects in our tax system is the way we tax capital gains for high-income taxpayers. Mike will ensure that wealthy owners of capital are taxed on equal terms with workers.
- Tax capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income for taxpayers above $1 million. Taxes won’t rise on the savings of ordinary taxpayers.
- Strong new measures to curb avoidance and deferral for the wealthiest Americans.
- Impose a new tax on the very rich: Getting taxes on capital and taxes on income from employment on an equal footing is essential – but not enough to pay for vital investments. Mike will ask the wealthiest to make an additional contribution toward paying for necessary improvements in infrastructure, education, health care and more.
- A 5% surtax on incomes above $5 million a year.
- Will apply to income from capital and labor.
- Will affect less than 0.1% of taxpayers.
- Reform the estate tax: In the U.S., only very large estates are liable to face tax, and owners of the biggest estates are expert at gaming the system to reduce what they owe. One of the most egregious loopholes is “stepped-up basis at death,” which erases taxes due on trillions of dollars in capital gains – allowing enormous wealth to move virtually untaxed from generation to generation. Under Mike’s leadership, all this will change.
- Lower the estate-tax threshold, so that more estates are taxed. This plan will protect family owned farms and small businesses. Estates liable to pay tax will still be less than 1% of the total.
- End stepped-up basis for unrealized capital gains at death.
- Shut down multiple estate-tax avoidance schemes.
- Close loopholes: The U.S. tax system is full of complexities that could have been designed – and in many cases were designed – purely to give high-income taxpayers ways of paying less. This is deeply unfair to the ordinary working families that pay every cent of what’s owed, and lack the means to find and use these loopholes. Mike will work for a thorough simplification of the system, so that tax preferences serving no good purpose are purged. For example, he will:
- Close the “pass-through” 20% deduction that lets many rich taxpayers pay less.
- End the “like-kind” provision that lets real-estate investors defer tax indefinitely.
- End the carried-interest loophole.
- Move firmly to shut down other tax-avoidance strategies.
- Make businesses pay their fair share: Trump’s tax reform cut business taxes too much – giving U.S. businesses a bigger tax cut than they had even asked for. While our tax code needs to ensure that our producers stay competitive with foreign companies, they can and should contribute more. We also need smarter and more effective measures to prevent companies using financial engineering to shift reported profits to foreign tax havens.
- Raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.
- Raise the minimum tax on foreign income and apply it on a per-country not global basis.
- Tighten rules on transfer pricing and reporting of foreign taxes.
- Apply pressure to countries that set up as tax havens.
- Take the lead on cooperative international efforts to defeat profit-shifting.
- Equip the IRS: The agency’s systems are out of date. IRS staffing has been cut by a third since 2010. The rate of audit of high-income households has fallen by almost half. This decline in IRS capacity has worsened under Trump, and the message has gone out to tax cheats: Don’t worry about getting caught. The so-called tax gap – the difference between what’s owed and what’s actually collected – stands at roughly $6 trillion to $8 trillion over ten years. An IRS equipped to do its job could cut that gap substantially.
- Reverse Trump’s efforts to cripple the agency and give it the resources it needs to do its job.
- Collect many hundreds of billions in taxes owed but never paid.
These and other reforms will raise approximately $5 trillion over ten years.
How Mike Will Get It Done:
- Raise rates for high-income taxpayers
- Tax capital income more equitably
- Impose a new tax on the very rich
- Reform the estate tax and close other loopholes
- Make businesses pay their share
- Give the IRS the resources it needs to do its job
Read the full plan: Taxation Plan
While federal legislation provides some protection for overseas voters, this legislation does not go far enough to counter the challenges that states, and recently the Trump administration, have set up to limit voting from abroad. 67% of abroad ballots are returned by mail, largely due to state requirements, yet postal delivery of ballots is fraught with problems, and during each election thousands of ballots do not arrive on time to be counted. To make matters worse, in less than a month the U.S. may withdraw from the Universal Postal Union, likely leading to serious delays and postal mail price increases. How will you help protect the rights of Americans abroad to vote while helping states ensure that ballots are returned safely?
The right to vote is the fundamental right that protects all our other rights, but it is under attack in states around the country. Onerous voter ID restrictions, purging inactive voters from the rolls, and other efforts to prevent Americans from exercising their rights undermine the democratic process. Mike’s solution protects the voting rights of all Americans while securing the integrity of U.S. elections.
Mike’s plan to expand voting access in federal elections and ensure all Americans’ votes are counted will combat President Trump’s efforts to undermine the democratic process by expanding free and fair access to the ballot, preventing states from disenfranchising African-Americans, and ending partisan gerrymandering.
Mike’s Plan on Voter Protection:
- Protecting Voting Rights for All Americans: Mike will fix burdensome voting laws and practices that make it more difficult for Black and Latino voters, Native Americans, transgender people, citizens living abroad, and people with disabilities to vote in federal elections. And he’ll end voter suppression by banning states from purging eligible voters.
- Preventing Gerrymandering and Eliminating Partisan Influence in Elections: Mike will require states to establish independent redistricting commissions to draw federal congressional districts, through a transparent and inclusive process, that produces fair representation. This is especially important for communities of color that have long been disenfranchised by unfair, partisan redistricting.
- Making It Easy for All Eligible Voters to Cast Their Ballots: Mike will make it simpler to vote by implementing uniform standards for federal elections across states, requiring policies like automatic voter registration and early voting, and ensuring the availability and accessibility of polling places.
- Modernizing Election Infrastructure So Our Elections are Safe and Secure: Mike will upgrade election infrastructure and protect the integrity of our federal elections by mandating the use of state-of-the-art voting machines, providing training and technical assistance for election officials, and requiring the Department of Homeland Security to assess threats prior to elections.
- Encourage Democrats Abroad to Vote: Mike will help protect the voting rights of Americans abroad while helping states ensure that ballots are returned safely by:
- Advocating for all citizens to vote in the primary and general elections, including those living abroad;
- Annually remind citizens abroad that they must request a ballot every year if they wish to vote through Votefromabroad.org;
- Upgrade systems so that overseas ballots get counted if delayed or lost by mail.
How Mike Will Get It Done:
- Revitalize the Voting Rights Act
- Prevent voter suppression
- End gerrymandering
- Make it easier to register
- Make it more convenient to vote
- Upgrade and standardize voting machines and ballots
Read the full plan: Voter Protection Plan