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?
We must boldly address the climate crisis. This starts by setting some ambitious goals, including transitioning to carbon-neutral electricity and reducing greenhouse emission by 50% by 2030, a carbon-neutral economy by 2045. We need to take on big oil companies, build a clean economy that creates good paying union jobs for the future, and properly enforce important environmental protections that the Trump Administration has abandoned, including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. We need to make sure that communities which have been most impacted by environmental injustice have a seat at the table as we craft solutions to this crisis, including through passing my Climate Equity Act.
But, successfully combating the climate crisis must extend beyond our own borders. As a first step to regaining our leadership in the global climate debate, I will immediately re-enter the Paris Agreement. I will demonstrate to the international community that the U.S. is once again committed to global climate action and set forth a bold mid-century strategy of establishing a carbon-neutral economy by 2045.
I’ll ensure that we treat the climate crisis like the national security priority that it is and establish a climate envoy in every U.S. Embassy in the world in order to prioritize U.S. engagements and partnerships. I’ll establish a Defense Climate Advisor position at the Pentagon to ensure that our military is prepared for the changing threat landscape that the climate crisis is creating.
I’ll work to end international support for fossil fuel projects and focus trade agreements and other global financial institutions on investing in clean tech projects. And, I’ll work with our allies to prepare for a future of climate-induced migration and create a plan to welcome future climate refugees. And U.S. agencies such as USAID will work with other countries to support climate resilience and disaster preparedness projects to mitigate some of the factors that may drive future migration.
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?
America’s success in global affairs derives from the strength of alliances we build with others around the world who share our values. One of the most significant accomplishments of U.S. foreign policy has been the post-World War II network of international institutions, laws, and democratic nations that we helped to build. For generations, presidents from both parties were dedicated to not only preserving but expanding this network, resulting in a community of stalwart partners who shared our values and enhanced our global influence. Our democratic allies have contributed to our prosperity and worked with us in war and peace to deal with some of the toughest international crises and to confront a number of generational challenges from the scourge of terrorism and proliferation to global health and climate crises. Meanwhile, institutions like NATO and the UN have magnified U.S. influence, helping America to shape a global order that reflects our values and promotes our interests.
The current president seems intent on destroying all that progress by disregarding diplomacy, withdrawing from international agreements and institutions, shunning our allies, siding with brutal dictatorships over our oldest democratic partners, and exhibiting a level of incompetence in his decision-making processes this country has never seen. He sees our historic partnerships and U.S.-led international institutions not as one of our greatest strengths but as a liability. Make no mistake, Trump’s “America First” means America alone. And an isolated America is one that is weak, poor, and vulnerable.
I will work to restore U.S. leadership by reinvesting in the traditional sources of America’s influence on the global stage —the Department of State that has been hollowed out by Trump, the democratic community of nations that he has disdained, and the international institutions he has undermined. U.S. foreign policy under my watch will be guided by the Americans' belief in the dignity and inherent rights of all humans, not designed to subvert them. It will be coordinated with our closest partners, both taking account for their concerns and making full use of their contributions to our shared interests. America is ultimately safer, freer, and more prosperous with a robust network of democratic friends. As president, I will do everything in my power to restore and to update those relationships, while setting an example for democratic leadership at home and abroad.
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?
I believe healthcare is a fundamental human right, and it’s past time we finally started treating it as such in this country. The Affordable Care Act was a significant step towards achieving this, and I have fought tirelessly to protect it as Attorney General and in the U.S. Senate. I think it’s time to expand on that progress.
I recently released my Medicare for All plan, which will ensure comprehensive health care for every American, including those returning home after living abroad. My plan will cover all medically necessary services, including emergency room visits, doctor visits, vision, dental, hearing aids, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, and comprehensive reproductive health care services. It will also allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.
We will also expand the program to include other benefits Americans desperately need that will save money in the long run such as an expanded mental health program including telehealth and easier access to early diagnosis and treatment, and innovative patient programs to help people identify the right doctor and understand how to navigate the health system.
My plan would exempt households making below $100,000 (or more in certain high cost areas) from any income-based premiums. And, we’ll pay for that by taxing certain Wall Street transactions. It will also include a 10-year transition period so that we take the time to ensure that everyone gets transitioned onto a plan that works for them.
Furthermore, we must bring down the skyrocketing cost of pharmaceutical drugs in this country. My plan will give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to set fair prices for prescription drugs and tax profits made from abusive drug prices in order to offer rebates to consumers. We’ll also end the tax loophole that pharmaceutical companies currently exploit for direct-to-consumer advertising expenses. Instead of taxpayers subsidizing pharmaceutical advertisements, we’ll use that money to fund research at the National Institutes of Health for new treatments.
And, I have made it clear that if Congress refuses to act on this plan to lower drug prices within my first 100 days in office, I will take executive action to investigate price-gouging by pharma companies and lower the cost of their drugs. We will allow the direct importation of alternatives from abroad and investigate anti-competitive behavior. And if after those actions there are still drugs that are still abusively expensive, I will use my authority under the Bayh-Dole Act to “march-in” and license out the patent of drugs that were developed using publicly-funded research to competitors.
And, I believe that access to full reproductive health services is a right that everyone in this country should have, regardless of their income level or where they live. That’s why I’ll fight to repeal the Hyde Amendment. That’s also why I co-sponsored the EACH WOMAN ACT and announced my plan for a Reproductive Rights Act to require states to preclear any new abortion law before it can go into effect. We have to fight back against the attacks on reproductive rights and I won’t leave anyone to fight alone.
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?
As Senator, I have been proud to lead the charge against President Trump’s extreme anti-immigrant agenda, opposing John Kelly’s nomination as Secretary of Homeland Security, voting against Trump’s border wall funding, and was the first Senator to call for Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign.
As president, I will undo the hateful actions of the Trump Administration. I’ll ensure that our asylum system is working again. I’ll restore and expand Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who would face war or catastrophe if forced to return home. I’ll recommit to ensuring that immigrant families remain together, including by passing my REUNITE Act, to create a permanent system of coordination between agencies and non-governmental organizations to expedite the reunification of separated immigrant families and promote humane alternatives for asylum-seeking immigrant families. And, I’ll reverse Trump’s discriminatory “public charge” rule which is hateful and deprives families of the basic assistance they need to make ends meet.
I’ll fix our immigrant detention system, which is currently cruel and out of control. I believe we must end the unfair incarceration of thousands of individuals, families and children. I was one of the first Senators after President Trump was elected to advocate for a decrease in funding to ICE. I have led efforts to urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to decrease detention dollars. As president, I will also close private immigrant detention centers and family detention, increase oversight and transparency of ICE and CBP, and focus enforcement on public safety, not on tearing apart immigrant families. Additionally, I will fight to pass my DONE Act into law which would increase oversight of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities, slash detention, and halt funding for the construction or expansion of them.
And I will fight for immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people living in our communities and contributing to our economy. We have failed to act to repair our broken immigration system and fighting to finally fix it will be a priority for my Administration. But I have also made it clear that I won’t wait for Congress in order to act. I would use my authority under the Immigration and Naturalization Act to take executive action to create a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers. And I will issue a rule clarifying that DREAMers are not responsible for a lapse in their status and direct my Homeland Security Secretary to make sure that all DACA recipients receive work authorization.
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?
We should always be looking at the impact that legislation is having on individuals and ensure that unintended consequences aren’t unduly burdening Americans. However, we also need to ensure that Americans, particularly the wealthiest, are paying their fair share. FATCA does play an important role in creating transparency and ensuring disclosures that allow tax authorities to uphold this principle. My administration will look at all aspects of our tax laws that apply to Americans living abroad, including FATCA, and make recommendations for how those laws can be enforced in a manner which is fair.
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?
My administration will be committed to making sure we have a tax system where everyone pays their fair share and doesn’t place undue burdens on working Americans, including those living abroad. And it will work with experts to examine the impacts and benefits that Residency-Based Taxation could have.
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?
As president, I will fight to protect the right of every American to vote, including Americans living abroad. I do not support withdrawal from the Universal Postal Union. It is an important tool to facilitate seamless communication and commerce beyond our borders, and is integral to Americans abroad being able to exercise their right to vote. And, as we upgrade our election infrastructure, I will ensure that Americans abroad are able to vote in a manner that is secure and accessible.