Pete Buttigieg
Answers Our Top Questions

Climate  |  Foreign Affairs  |  Healthcare  |  Immigration  |  Taxation  |  Voter Protection 

Climate

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?

Climate change is one of the greatest tests that the American people have ever faced, and history will judge us for how we rose to meet it. My plan to combat climate change includes three pillars: building a clean economy, investing in resilience, and demonstrating leadership abroad. To reduce greenhouse gases below Paris Agreement targets, we will unite all Americans–the public sector, the private sector, farmers, factory workers, cities, and states–to build a net-zero emissions electricity grid by 2035 and a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. I will quadruple federal R&D funding for clean energy, push for legislation that puts a price on carbon, and invest $550 billion in technology deployment across America, so we can build and deploy systems for clean manufacturing, transportation, electricity generation, and energy efficiency.

In terms of leading the global effort, I will rejoin Paris and push for more ambitious commitments to greenhouse gas reductions through bilateral negotiations with India and China and in the G7 and G20. I will create a Tipping Points Coalition, a group of major emitting economies who are committed to cutting emissions, and double our commitment to the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries.

On Day 1 as President, I will rejoin the Paris Agreement. I will work to raise standards set by agencies like the Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy for clean fuel emissions and clean electricity and sign a “Buy Clean” executive order mandating that any new material the federal government uses or pays for to construct buildings, roads, bridges, or other infrastructure, must be under a specified level of carbon emissions. In addition, my Administration will support R&D for clean energy across every sector and provide grants and technical assistance to states and cities, who are leading the way on setting and meeting ambitious climate goals. 

Foreign Affairs

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?

The world needs America right now, but it can’t just be any America. It can’t be an America that abandons our allies while cozying up to dictators. It can’t be an America whose silence is for sale when it comes to critical human rights abroad. And it can’t be an America where essential tools like diplomacy and development are hollowed out. The world needs the best America that we can be, now more than ever.

Americans who live abroad or who interact regularly with foreign counterparts know firsthand the damage that this president has done to America’s credibility around the world, and what’s at stake in this election. 

When the sun comes up on the day after the Trump presidency is over, we will need robust American leadership more than ever. And we will need a strategy not just to deal with individual threats, rivalries, and opportunities, but to manage global trends that will define the next half-century and beyond.

We will need an America that sets a high bar on the use of force, and an exceedingly high bar on doing so unilaterally. And we will need an America that takes a strategic, deliberate approach before engaging in military action – an approach that includes consultation with Congress and our allies.

We will need an America that can mobilize the world to confront our shared challenges, and we will need strong alliances and partnerships to do it. America alone simply won’t cut it.

That’s why as President, there will be no higher priority than repairing our alliances and partnerships. I will strengthen NATO, not denigrate it. I will rejoin the Paris Agreement and marshal countries and cities and communities at home and abroad to prioritize climate security as the existential threat that it is. 

On the day after the Trump presidency we will also need an America whose word is trusted and an America that lives up to her highest ideals. The greatest strategic advantage for America has always been the fact that our country has stood for values shared by humanity, touching aspirations felt far beyond our borders. However imperfectly, we have represented and defended principles of freedom and democracy that stir human beings wherever they live. And whenever such principles have been vindicated around the world, American strength has grown. 

We need to model those values at home, first and foremost, and continue to speak out for those values overseas. When I’m President, we won’t abandon our values. And our silence on issues like Hong Kong and Xinjiang will not be for sale.

Finally, more than ever, we need to recruit and retain a new generation of Americans, from all walks of life, willing to engage internationally on behalf of the United States. Our national security and foreign affairs strategy will only be as robust and sophisticated as the people we recruit to carry it out. 

The world is not standing still. On the day after the Trump presidency, we know that the critical global challenges–from climate change to trade, North Korea to China to Iran to Russia and more–will all be waiting on the next president’s desk. To meet this moment, and for America to be at her best, we will need to restore American credibility in the world, strengthen our alliances and partnerships, lead with our values, and invest in the people who will make our international engagement successful for the next century.

Healthcare

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? 

Freedom is at the core of my campaign, and we are not free if we have to choose between health care and financial survival. My plan, Medicare for All Who Want It, will make comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage available to all Americans. Under this plan, my administration will add an affordable public alternative to the health insurance marketplaces, while also increasing financial assistance for lower-income individuals and making more generous subsidies available to more middle class families. That way, everyone will have an affordable option for coverage and every family will have a choice to pick the plan that works best for them.

Immigration

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?   

Yes. I am committed to expanding legal immigration and ensuring that family members of American citizens living abroad are able to come to the U.S. and stay here. To accelerate family reunification, I will work to reduce the backlog of family-based visas and increase the number of visas issued for family reunification each year. I will also fight for reforms to immediately admit those who have been waiting in backlogs over five years, re-classify spouses and children of permanent residents as immediate relatives, eliminate discriminatory annual per-country caps, and recognize same-sex partners from countries lacking marriage equality. 

Taxation

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?

FATCA was a crucial step toward curbing international tax evasion. As President, I will direct the Treasury Department to look at any unintended consequences of FATCA on law-abiding Americans living abroad. If changes can be proposed that can address those unintended consequences while maintaining the scrutiny necessary to ensure that high earners pay their fair share, I will support them. I will also support studying the effects of our laws and policies on citizens living abroad, such as the Commission on Americans Living Abroad Act.

On Residency-Based Taxation, I understand the concern that VAT, capital gains, and other tax differences across countries can impose significant burdens on Americans living abroad who do not want to be double-taxed. However, in many cases, tax cuts on foreign earnings could be tax cuts for relatively high earners. We need to raise more, not less, revenue from high earners. I support directing the Department of the Treasury to study RBT and develop revenue-neutral proposals to ensure that tax burdens are as fair as they can be.

Voter Protection

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?

Democracy is at the heart of my campaign, and transforming our democracy will be one of my top priorities. We can only come together to solve problems like climate change and gun violence if our democracy actually works for everyone. I will support automatic and online voter registration as well as making voting-by-mail and early voting much easier. I will also make sure our election administration is fully resourced so we have a paper trail to trace every ballot.

My administration will prioritize tracing overseas ballots so all of these votes get counted. I will support efforts to educate overseas voters, including active service members and their families, about the different ways they can return their ballots. One immediate step I will take is to include resources for overseas voters on my campaign website.

Climate  |  Foreign Affairs  |  Healthcare  |  Immigration  |  Taxation  |  Voter Protection