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?
Combating climate change is a defining challenge of our time. Americans are already living with the effects of climate change. We see longer fire seasons and more destructive natural disasters. Yet Donald Trump and dark money groups representing the energy industry have taken us backward by gutting clean air standards, expanding oil and gas drilling into sensitive areas, and abandoning our global leadership.
I will take immediate action during my first week in office to begin to address this crisis:
─ On day one, I will rejoin the Paris Agreement, which was agreed to by nearly 200 countries. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, but I believe we should aim to beat that by a decade or earlier.
─ Restore Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, which are critical to our efforts to combat climate change given that the transportation sector accounts for 37% of our total greenhouse gas emissions.
─ Direct the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to achieve net-zero emissions on our public lands by 2030.
─ Direct the Defense Department to set realistic emissions reduction targets for the U.S. military. The military consumes over $8.7 billion in fuel each year, a costly burden that drains resources and ties our forces to vulnerable supply lines. I will use my power as Commander in Chief to reduce our military’s dependence on fossil fuels and improve efficiencies — saving billions and reducing vulnerabilities by requiring fewer personnel to protect fuel convoys.
Addressing climate change will require a sustained, comprehensive plan. I propose:
─ Aggressively expanding clean energy like solar and wind power and energy conservation efforts.
─ Take on the energy industry and stop dark money groups like the Koch Network. These special interest groups flood our elections with outside dollars and prevent Washington from taking even the first step to address climate change.
─ Increase research investments to unleash American innovation in our colleges, labs, small businesses, minority and women-owned businesses, and farms and ranches to catalyze a nationwide clean energy boom.
─ Work with state governments, the private sector, and unions to update our national electric grid
— the oldest technology and equipment still operating. An updated grid will create jobs, modernize delivery, and spur economic growth across the country.
─ Recruit top climate scientists to work in federal agencies after increased departures during the Trump Administration.
─ Follow the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendation and invest in new carbon capture technologies. These innovations can capture and use carbon in advanced ceramics, cement, or other products key to commerce and infrastructure. These advancements can drastically cut carbon pollution while creating sustainable jobs in the clean-energy economy.
─ Invest in the workers and communities who powered our country for generations and lead the way in the new clean energy economy.
─ Direct the Department of Labor to strengthen training and credentialing programs for workers in communities that are going through economic transition.
─ Engage farmers and ranchers — the original conservationists who know first-hand the importance of dealing with a changing climate. I will work with them and draw on their expertise to develop the next generation of biofuels, better leverage carbon-reducing cover crops to improve soil health, restore forest and wetlands to build resilience to extreme weather, and further incentivize reductions in greenhouse gases.
─ Direct the Department of Agriculture to work cooperatively with farm and ranch trade groups to see how they can develop models like the U.S. dairy industry’s plan to cut greenhouse emissions by 25% from 2010 levels by next year.
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?
President Trump’s “America First” approach is actually “America Alone,” and has isolated us from our allies and eroded our credibility. I will keep America safe and restore our standing and leadership in the world.
My approach to foreign policy rests on four pillars:
─ Protect the American People
─ Strengthen our alliances
─ Deter adversaries
─ Promote American values including human rights and democracy
Protecting the American People
Protecting the United States will be my number one priority as Commander In Chief. I will ensure that our military has the resources necessary to effectively address the threats faced by the United States and our allies. America needs a military that can deter and defeat current threats, but is flexible enough to address new and emerging challenges like cyber attacks, chemical weapons, drones, and artificial intelligence.
Upon assuming office, I will initiate a major review of U.S. defense strategy, forces, and budgets to ensure that we are protecting America, cutting waste, and delivering the best value for our taxpayer dollars. As President, I will pursue diplomatic efforts to reduce nuclear risks, including re-engaging on the Iran Nuclear Deal and evaluating arms control opportunities with Russia and China.
Strengthening Our Alliances
Trump’s “America Alone” foreign policy is undermining our alliances, emboldening our adversaries, and abandoning our values, especially support for human rights.
America’s international alliances are a key advantage over authoritarian states like Russia and China. The NATO Alliance has been a success for America and our allies since 1949. Our alliances make the world safer, such as when the international community came together to freeze Iran’s march toward a nuclear weapon until Trump recklessly withdrew from the agreement. And no one nation can solve the challenge of climate change alone.
My first trip as President will be to meet our NATO allies and reestablish respectful relationships and mutual aid.
Deterring our Adversaries
I will work with the military, our diplomatic corps, and our allies to deter and contain our adversaries. In the absence of strong U.S. leadership, and U.S.-led coalitions, China and Russia are making inroads in economies and regions around the world. This is a direct cost of Trump’s “America Alone” policy and we must reverse course and re-engage with the world.
Further, I will restore trust in our intelligence community by again relying on their assessments and insights to help guide our foreign policy and protect our national security.
Promoting Our Values
I will ensure American again leads the community of nations with international diplomacy based on American values and promoting a rules-based international order.
I will ensure our military is not used for political purposes along our border, and that we will only deploy our brave men and women for missions that serve America’s national security interests.
I will rejoin the Paris Agreement on Day One and ensure that we are meeting our financial commitments under the agreement. Addressing climate change is a global imperative, and the U.S. will be better positioned to drive swift and immediate action when we start working as part of the community of nations.
As President, I will also call for increasing foreign aid for initiatives that empower women, foster democracy, and fight discrimination based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. I will also overturn the
global gag rule, which unnecessarily limits aid workers’ ability to educate women about their reproductive health options.
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?
Under my administration, Americans living abroad at all income levels will be able to receive access to quality healthcare when they return to the U.S. by making a return to the U.S. a “qualifying life event”
enabling them to buy into a marketplace plan outside of open enrollment. But with over 27 million Americans still uninsured, we still have more work to do to complete the promise of the Affordable
Care Act. To ensure high quality, universal healthcare access, we must take bold action.
As President, I will:
─ Provide a public option to improve access and ensure competition in the marketplace.
─ Work to pass Medicaid expansion for those who live in states that have not yet expanded this vital program. In Montana, I successfully expanded Medicaid to nearly 100,000 people, and we can do that in states across the country.
─ Increase subsidies to defray the cost of buying health insurance on the ACA exchange for families whose income is below 400% of the federal poverty level.
─ Automatically enroll families who are eligible for zero-premium Medicaid or eligible for a 100% cost subsidy on the ACA exchange.
─ Lower insurance costs by increasing credits and automating enrollment for plans bought on an exchange.
─ End surprise billing and cap out-of-network charges, building on my successful efforts as Governor.
─ Strengthen Medicare by negotiating and capping drug costs. As Governor, I negotiated lower costs between hospitals and the state insurance plan, leading to significant savings. It’s long past time for the federal government to take similar action to lower drug costs.
─ Protect Title X funding and access to high quality reproductive healthcare.
─ Rethink traditional payment models to include alternatives that encourage value, not volume.
─ Eliminate the $52 billion in annual improper payments wasted in Medicare.
─ Allow more Americans to buy into Medicare to strengthen the program and reduce costs.
─ Invest in rural communities’ healthcare. As Governor, I expanded Medicaid and helped stop the closure of rural hospitals. As President, I will make sure that rural hospitals receive the funding they need to continue serving their communities.
─ Direct the DOJ and HHS to quickly investigate and rectify any claims of denial of services or discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
─ Work to address the opioid crisis while still ensuring access for legitimate needs to address pain:
─ Increase funding for state substance abuse grants and incentivize grants that go to the hardest-hit rural areas.
─ Increase investments in “return to work” programs that help those who have struggled with addiction return to the workforce.
─ Work with experts to ensure access for Americans with disabilities
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?
America’s greatest strength has been the promise of freedom and opportunity. Almost all of our families have been immigrants at one point, coming to this country in search of a better life. Immigrants today are no different—escaping violence, persecution, or devastated economies. And they’re here starting businesses, paying taxes, going to school, and serving our country in the military or in our communities. In fact, over 100 of the 350 American Nobel prize winners were born outside of the U.S. The biggest problem with our immigration system right now is Donald Trump. As President, I will restore the principle of family reunification. I will strongly support comprehensive immigration reform to provide citizenship to DREAMers, provide a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented people already living here, and ensure that families presently at the border remain together until their claims have been adjudicated. I’ll work to make sure we modernize our refugee program, ensure we have adequate judges to swiftly process asylum cases, and refocus the mission of ICE so the agency focuses on deporting serious criminals, not kids.
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?
FATCA is an important tool to combat tax evasion, but has had some unintended consequences for Americans living and working overseas. As President, I will direct the Treasury Department to study these unintended consequences - such as foreign institutions being unwilling to do business with American clients - and develop recommendations to ensure Americans abroad are treated fairly. I also will have the Department of Treasury look into Residency-Based Taxation and develop revenue-neutral proposals for this potential system.
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?
I also will have the Department of Treasury look into Residency-Based Taxation and develop revenue-neutral proposals for this potential system.
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?
All Americans are supposed to be equal at the ballot box. But unfettered and unaccountable special interest money, constant fundraising, long lines at polling places, unsecure voting machines, gerrymandered districts, and outright voter suppression have eroded confidence in our nation’s democracy. America must restore confidence at the ballot box in order for our 243-year experiment in representative democracy to survive. We must combat Donald Trump’s efforts to limit voting rights for all Americans, including those living abroad.
That is why I will enact several policies to improve Americans’ access to the ballot box:
─ Require states to accept ballots for the final vote tally if it is postmarked before the election.
─ Require states to have a minimum period of no-excuse early voting, both in-person and absentee, and voters in every state shall be able to register up to, and including, Election Day.
─ There are still 17 states which have no form of no-excuse early voting. This includes Michigan, with the second largest urban center of the Midwest. A uniform, national early-voting law would help alleviate many of the issues that polling places face on Election Day.
─ Require states to allow same-day voter registration – something only 17 states and D.C. currently offer. Same-day registration is correlated with higher turnout, which means greater participation in our democracy.
─ Encourage early and mail-in balloting.
─ Prohibit states from purging voter rolls simply because registered voters did not vote in previous federal elections.
─ Make Election Day a national holiday.
─ Incentivize automatic voter registration (AVR). In the 15 states that have adopted AVR, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Oregon adopted AVR in 2016, and since then the number of registrations at the DMV quadrupled.
─ Improve language access: voting is not a privilege solely for those who have already learned English; it is a right of all citizens. But states and localities must do better to ensure that elections officials understand the rights of people with lower English proficiency.
─ Ensure that a tribal ID issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs is accepted by states as an eligible form of documentation for registration or voting.
─ Restore the voting rights of the 6.2 million Americans who were previously convicted of a felony and have served their time.
─ Require states and local governments to have enough polling places to serve their population, including in largely minority areas.
─ Establish a federal commission to explore internet-based voting and invest in 21st century voting technology.
─ Expand voting rights to 17-year-old Americans for primaries who will be 18 by the general election.