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?
I have proposed a $4 trillion plan to allow the US to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, which the IPCC says is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C and avoid the worst effects of climate change. The centerpiece of my plan is a carbon fee and dividend, which will put a price on greenhouse gas emissions and return all of the revenue to the American people. The fee will start at $15 per metric ton of CO2 equivalent and increase by $10 each year (increases will be greater if intermediate emission reduction targets are not met), which will result in a 90% reduction in US emissions by 2050. My plan also includes increased funding for renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, and energy transmission research, as well as federal support for negative emissions technologies, including direct air capture, that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere and help us eliminate net CO2 emissions.
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?
I will restore environmental regulations, like the EPA rule that limits methane emissions from oil and gas production, that the Trump administration is attempting to roll back or undermine, but achieving the emissions reductions necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C can only be done through legislative action and international cooperation.
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 US must reengage diplomatically and economically with traditional allies, global institutions, and the international community. Entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership, rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, and rejoining and strengthening the Iran nuclear deal are all concrete steps we can take to reverse the damage caused by the Trump administration’s isolationist tendencies and erratic foreign policy.
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, my BetterCare universal health care plan will guarantee that every American has access to affordable, high-quality care. Under my plan, individuals will be automatically enrolled in a new public plan that covers pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits. The public plan will be free, with no premiums, and only higher income households will be required to make copays. Individuals and employers can then choose to purchase supplemental plans, or individuals can decide to opt out of the public plan and purchase their own private insurance coverage. My plan will also address high prescription drug prices by allowing the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies and by implementing a 100% excise tax, levied on pharmaceutical companies, on the difference between the average price of a drug sold in the US and the price of that same drug in similarly economically developed countries.
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?
Immigration provides a tremendous benefit to American society and the economy. I support our family-based immigration system, and I am calling for a comprehensive immigration reform package that will create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who reside in the US, improve guest worker visa programs, increase the refugee admission cap, and strengthen border security.
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?
While I am open to policy changes that would make tax filing less burdensome for Americans living abroad, I would not support legislation or regulations that could undermine the effectiveness of measures designed to prevent tax evasion.
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 believe that American citizenship carries extraordinary benefits regardless of whether an individual lives in the US or in a foreign country, and that every American with the ability to pay should contribute their fair share.
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?
My administration will require states to make election-related websites accessible everywhere, which will allow voters living abroad to get the information they need about absentee voting procedures and to request absentee ballots, and I will encourage more states to allow electronic submission of absentee ballots for voters living abroad. Additionally, I am committed to remaining in the Universal Postal Union.