Bernie Sanders
Answers Our Top Questions

Climate  |  Foreign Affairs  |  Healthcare  |  Immigration  |  Taxation  |  Voter Protection More about the candidate

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?

Together, we will launch the decade of the Green New Deal, a ten-year, nationwide mobilization centered around justice and equity during which climate change will be factored into virtually every area of policy, from immigration to trade to foreign policy and beyond.

The bottom line is that there is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address its consequences and causes. As president, Bernie will declare a national emergency on climate change and take immediate, large-scale action to reverse its effects. This is an existential threat and we will do whatever it takes to confront it.

Bernie will use executive authority to ban fossil fuel extraction on public lands, ban fracking and mountaintop removal coal mining, ban offshore drilling, ban imports and exports of all fossil fuels, end all new federal fossil fuel infrastructure permits, aggressively regulate greenhouse gas emissions, use regulations to help us decarbonize our transportation and energy sectors, rejoin and strengthen the Paris Climate Agreement, divest federal pensions from fossil fuels, and place a fee on imported carbon pollution-intensive goods. As president, he will impose sanctions on corporations and entities that threaten national and global emissions reduction goals. 

He will also hold the fossil fuel industry accountable by suing and prosecuting corporations who knowingly contributed to climate change and require fossil fuel corporations repair leaking infrastructure, including natural gas and oil pipelines and drilling sites. He will pressure financial institutions, universities, insurance corporations, and large institutional investors still invested in or insuring fossil fuels to transition those investments to clean energy bonds through executive action. He will break up big agribusinesses that have a stranglehold on farmers and rural communities and negatively impact our environment, and enforce the Clear Air and Water Acts on large factory farms. And I will focus the federal government's resources, including procurement, on transitioning to a 100 percent clean energy economy.

Under a Sanders Administration, the U.S. will lead the world in fighting climate change by investing in reducing emissions throughout the world. Bernie knows the importance of American responsibility and leadership on climate change. He will take that role seriously and bring a commitment to the rest of the world on behalf of the American people to promote peace and aggressively reduce our emissions in an effort to get the international community to agree to limit global emissions to keep us at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. This will ensure the U.S. remains in a position of technological leadership and make us competitive on all sustainable energy technology to achieve our global goal of decarbonization by 2050.

In order to help countries of the Global South with climate adaptation efforts, Bernie will invest $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund for the equitable transfer of renewable technologies, climate adaptation, and assistance in adopting sustainable energies. U.S. leadership can ensure that the developing world secures reliable electricity, reduces poverty and pollution-related fatalities, creates greater net employment, and improves living standards — all while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

As President, Bernie will work to bring together the leaders of major industrialized nations with the goal of using the trillions of dollars our nations spend on misguided wars and weapons of mass destruction to instead work together to combat our climate crisis and take on the fossil fuel industry. 

Bernie will renegotiate our disastrous trade deals to protect the environment. Not only have agreements like NAFTA and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China outsourced millions of American jobs, they have allowed corporations to outsource their pollution. Under a Sanders Administration, this will end. Trade deals will be renegotiated to ensure strong and binding climate standards, labor rights, and human rights with swift enforcement.

Finally, Bernie will end overseas fossil fuel financing. The U.S. currently supports investments in fossil fuels through the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, OPIC, the Export-Import Bank, and other multilateral institutions. These international investments are inconsistent with a goal to curb the global climate crisis and must end. A Sanders Administration will lead these international financial institutions in advancing the equitable adoption of sustainable energy across the planet.

And he will work with Congress to pass a comprehensive Green New Deal to create 20 million good-paying union jobs while meeting the IPCC emissions reductions targets and transforming our energy system and our economy.

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?

At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when the world’s top 1% now owns more wealth than the bottom 99%, we are seeing the rise of a new authoritarian axis.

While these regimes may differ in some respects, they share key attributes: hostility toward democratic norms, antagonism toward a free press, intolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities, and a belief that government should benefit their own selfish financial interests. These leaders are also deeply connected to a network of multi-billionaire oligarchs who see the world as their economic plaything.

Those of us who believe in democracy, who believe that a government must be accountable to its people, must understand the scope of this challenge if we are to effectively confront it.

It should be clear by now that Donald Trump and the rightwing movement that supports him is not a phenomenon unique to the United States. All around the world, in Europe, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Asia and elsewhere we are seeing movements led by demagogues who exploit people’s fears, prejudices and grievances to achieve and hold on to power.

The U.S. must lead the world in improving international cooperation in the fight against climate change, militarism, authoritarianism, and global inequality. We need an international movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people, and that addresses the massive global inequality that exists, not only in wealth but in political power. As President, Bernie will implement a foreign policy which focuses on democracy, human rights, diplomacy and peace, and economic fairness.

As President, he will work with pro-democracy forces around the world to build societies that work for and protect all people. In the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, democracy is under threat by forces of intolerance, corruption, and authoritarianism.

It goes without saying, that every person on this planet shares a common humanity, that we all want our children to grow up healthy, to have a good education, have decent jobs, drink clean water, breathe clean air and to live in peace. As President, Bernie will reach out to those in every corner of the world who shares these values to fight for a better world.

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?             

Yes. Bernie is running for president because the time is long overdue for the United States to join every other major country on Earth and guarantee health care to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare for All program. Health care is not a commodity. It is a human right. The goal of a health care system should be to keep people well, not to make stockholders rich. No one deserves to die because they cannot afford health care. Fighting together, we will join every other major country in the world and guarantee health care as a human right. 

Bernie’s Medicare for All program will guarantee comprehensive health care to every person in the United States free at the point of service, no premiums, no deductibles, no copays, no surprise bills.  It is the only plan that guarantees health care as a right to all. 

And we will end the absurdity that one in six Americans has medical debt. When you get sick, you should focus on getting better — not dealing with debt collectors. We will eliminate all past-due medical debt in America.

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. Bernie promises that on day one of his presidency, he will issue executive orders to undo everything Trump has done to demonize and harm immigrants, including Trump’s so-called “public charge” rule. Bernie will work to ensure those who were separated from their families by the U.S. government are quickly reunited, and end the barbaric practice of ripping families apart. 

Use executive action to reverse racist immigration policies and enact humane, comprehensive immigration reform, which includes and goes beyond a pathway to citizenship. We will be issuing a detailed immigration reform proposal based on the principle of creating a humane policy that keeps families together and that aligns with our values and our history as a nation. Bernie firmly believes we can maintain safe and secure borders – which we must – without hatred, without racism and without demonizing people.  In that vein, it is our responsibility to our children, to our nation and to the world to nip it in the bud. Bernie will:

  • Reverse everything Trump has done to demonize and harm immigrants. Including: decriminalizing and demilitarizing our border, closing private detention centers and ending ICE raids, ensuring children separated from their families by the U.S. government are reunited swiftly, including those separated through unjust deportation, and allowing asylum seekers fleeing violence and misery to make their claims in the U.S., as is their legal right under U.S. and international law.
  • Place a moratorium on deportations until a thorough audit of current and past practices and policies is complete.
  • Immediately grant legal status and citizenship to young people eligible for the DACA program and their parents.
  • Enact real immigration reform to create a humane and just system for immigrants, which is much more than a pathway to citizenship.
  • Expand and authorize support for immigrants at the border to ensure access to social workers, community groups, and legal aid. 
  • Ensure a fair and fully funded immigration adjudication system to guarantee due process for immigrants.  

Furthermore, Bernie understands that immigrants are what makes this country great. He will work to create a path to citizenship that is broad, inclusive, and minimizes financial burdens. 

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?

As President, Bernie would direct the Treasury Department to study and implement new guidance to provide relief for ordinary Americans living abroad while ensuring that individuals using offshore accounts to hide untaxed earnings are caught. 

The implementation of a Residency-Based Taxation system is something that deserves serious consideration. Other than Eritrea, the U.S. is the only country that I am aware of that requires the filing of two annual tax returns to reconcile complex tax codes of different countries.

Bernie believes, we can provide tax relief to middle-class families living overseas, while prohibiting large corporations and the wealthy from avoiding over $100 billion a year in taxes by stashing their cash in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens.

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?

Bernie believes that every American, regardless of income, race, identity, disability, background or location must have the freedom to exercise their constitutional right to vote. It is absolutely absurd that thousands of Americans voting abroad are not allowed to participate in their elections and that the institutions they rely on to vote are being weakened. As President, Bernie will fight to protect, strengthen and expand voting rights. Part of that fight, is protecting the Postal Service. Throughout his career, Bernie has been a staunch supporter of the U.S. Postal Service and he will continue to fight to save and improve the U.S. Postal service and ensure the U.S. remains in the Universal Postal Union. 

Today we are faced with a crisis of voter suppression. We must combat voter suppression by cowardly politicians in every state.

What we have to be about is expanding our democracy, and ensuring that every American citizen has the right to vote, period.

To make sure every voter counts, Bernie will:

  • Secure automatic voter registration for every American over 18.
  • End racist voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering.
  • Restore the Voting Rights Act.
  • Re-enfranchise the millions of Americans who have had their right to vote taken away by a felony conviction, including those currently incarcerated, as voting is a fundamental American right. What Bernies believes is if you've committed a crime and you're in jail, you're paying a price. But you're still a member of American society and that means you have a right to vote.
  • End prison gerrymandering, ensuring incarcerated people are counted in their communities, not where they are incarcerated.
  • Abolish burdensome voter ID laws.
  • Make Election Day a national holiday.
  • Ensure voting is fully accessible for people with disabilities.
  • Ensure Americans living abroad are able to vote.
  • Abolish the Electoral College.
  • Pass the For the People Act to expand early voting and also make absentee voting easier.

Our democracy is stronger when we make it easier, not harder, for people to vote, and as President Bernie will make it easier for Americans to vote, including those who live abroad. 

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