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?
When I’m president, America will lead the world to defeat the climate crisis. I know Americans abroad face the difficult challenge of explaining Donald Trump’s actions, including his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement to their neighbors and colleagues. My first official act will be to recommit the United States to the Paris climate agreement and convene a global summit, with both our allies and our adversaries, to build on President Obama’s progress so we can lead again on climate. In my climate plan, I have laid out a path forward, to include a clean energy standard, clean transportation standard, and a carbon pollution fee. My plan also recognizes that climate change is a tremendous opportunity, not just a crisis. We can grow the clean energy economy and create millions of new jobs, including in the solar and wind industries. My goal is to get the United States to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and marshal the world’s to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
I believe on January 21, 2021 at 12:01PM, we will have a Democratic Presidency, Democratic House, and Democratic Senate. I recognize that it can take time for Congress to act and while confronting climate change will be a toplegislative priority for me, I am committed to taking executive action. I would restore the Clean Power Plan foremissions from the electricity sector, Clean Water Act regulations such as the Waters of the United States rule, andCAFE standards for transportation. I also recognize that after Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris climateagreement, hundreds of state and local leaders, including the mayor of my home town of San Antonio, RonNirenberg, stood up. I know the role state and local governments can make. When I was mayor of San Antonio,America’s 7th largest city, I moved to shut down a large coal power plant and instead invest in utility-scale solar. Thistransition benefited San Antonio as we negotiated to bring hundreds of jobs manufacturing solar panels to the city. As President, I would allow state and local governments to go beyond federal commitments and support them in that process, unlike Donald Trump who has stopped California from moving forward with stronger emission standards for vehicles. I would also get the coal and fossil fuel lobbyists out of the Environmental Protection Agency and ensure scientists and those who understand climate change implement climate policy. I also believe the United States needs to lead by example. Other countries will hesitate taking action as long as the world’s largest economy does nothing. I would invest in our diplomatic capabilities and ensure the State Department and my Secretary of State are leading voices coordinating the world’s action against climate change.
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 value-based American leadership more than ever. President Trump has devastated our international standing, something that Americans living abroad feel acutely. As president, I will recommit the United States to being a responsible member of the international community and restore confidence that our word still means something. I would begin by building on President Obama’s successes by re-entering the Iran Deal and the Paris climate agreement, in addition to resuming efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. I will also immediately end Donald Trump’s disgraceful immigration policies such as the Muslim Ban that discriminate against the Muslims and family members of American citizens. I will also take care to restore the confidence of our Canadian and European allies, including by making clear my unwavering commitment to NATO.
President Trump’s actions will require more than going back to how things were before he became President.American mistakes like the invasion of Iraq had already severely impacted our reputation around the world. In addition to seeking diplomatic resolutions to the multiple conflicts our forces are engaged in, I will seek to build new alliances to confront challenges like climate change.In particular, we need to invest in engagement with the nations of Southeast Asia, the African continent, and our neighbors in Latin America. I will invest in diplomacy, rebuild the U.S. Foreign Service after the devastation of the Trump administration, and restore the faith of our allies in our nation’s commitment to their security. In the 21st century, the United States must lead in making the world a better place for everyone.
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?
Yes. Americans living abroad have seen the approaches different countries take to health care and your experience has informed the debate here in the United States. I believe we should have a health care system that is fundamentally built on Medicare that would strengthen Medicare for those who have it and extend it to everybody. If people want to have a supplemental health insurance plan or a private plan that is strong and solid, I believe is okay. My focus would be on a strong Medicare plan to achieve universal coverage at the lowest cost without anyone living in fear of bankruptcy due to a health emergency. Americans abroad should not worry about returning home because of our inefficient and unaffordable health care system, and I am committed to guaranteed high-quality, affordable health care for all.
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?
First, our nation’s greatest comes not from the size of our economy or the might of our military, but the strength of our values. America’s founding was based on an idea, not any one race or religion, but on the principle that all people are created equal. I completely reject the Trump Administration's policy of cruelty toward immigrants. From the public change rule to the Muslim Ban to family seperations and children in cages, he’s failied to fix our broken immigration system. I was the first candidate to put forward a bold immigration plan based on common sense and compassion. As president, I will restore the principle of family reunification, including clearing the backlog of over 4.4 million applications today. My plan calls for reclassifying spouses and minor children of permanent residents as ‘immediate family’ to allow them to immediately move to and work in the United States. It would also recapture unused visas each year, including visas lost to bureaucracy between 1992 and 2005, to expedite immigration for non-citizen family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. I would also reverse Trump administration policies that make it harder for children of U.S. citizens living abroad to be considered American citizens at birth. That would include ensuring the children of U.S. citizens, whether adopted, through a marriage to a non-citizen, or born through surrogacy, are able to enjoy U.S. citizenship. I would also work to ensure children from American LGBTQ couples, including those born through surrogacy and to couples who are living in countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage, are recognized as U.S. citizens.
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?
I absolutely would. I want to make sure we have a tax system that does not create undue burdens on Americans living abroad and ensure they can open up a bank account to conduct their financial affairs. We should not put more stress on you and your families. At the same time, I know we can prevent tax evasion. I want to focus, not on everyday Americans who are abroad, but on those who engage in this behavior. I will direct my Treasury Department to study and implement new guidance and will instruct them to closely consult with Americans living abroad on their experiences to inform these regulations. I have executive experience actually achieving this goal as HUD Secretary when I cut red tape for FHA mortgages.
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 support reforming our tax code when it comes to residency and citizen-based taxation and ensuring Americans living abroad are treated fairly while at the same time addressing the issue of tax evasion, especially if we can do it in a revenue-neutral way. We need to evaluate the change in tax law for corporations after the 2017 tax law, see its effects on foreign earnings and American companies, and use that to inform further changes to our tax law.
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?
Americans abroad should be able to participate in our democratic process. It is ironic that as we look at the state of voting in the United States, the last thing I want to do is not count a ballot from someone who is so motivated, who are not living within the United States but are american citizens, took all the time to cast their ballots. I will commit to ensuring your voice is heard. As president, I want to give states and counties, in addition to the Postal Service, the resources they need to build these systems. I would work with state and county governments that administer their own elections to harmonize overseas voting forms and guidelines. I also would review existing practices to identify gaps and ensure States are living up to their responsibilities in respecting the vote of citizens, including through a renewed Voting Rights Act that creates requirements. I believe the United States must remain in the Universal Postal Union and ensure Americans abroad can continue to send and receive mail and packages to and from the United States without impediment.