Where he stands: Bernie Sanders

One in a series profiling Democratic presidential candidates – in their own words:

 

https://berniesanders.com/issues/

 

Immigration

As president, Bernie will:

  • Put a moratorium on deportations until a thorough audit of current and past practices and policies is complete.
  • Work with Congress to codify limitations on the President’s ability to restrict or suspend the entry of people or classes of people into the United States by passing the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act.
  • Instruct DOJ to drop any litigation or funding restrictions relating to sanctuary cities.
  • Connect detainees with sponsors and supports.
  • Ensure all children who were separated from their families by the United States government are reunited swiftly.
  • Convene a hemispheric summit with the leaders of Latin American countries who are experiencing migration crises and develop actionable steps to stabilize the region.
  • Immediately extend legal status to the 1.8 million young people currently eligible for the DACA program, and provide administrative relief to their parents, those with Temporary Protected Status, and parents of legal permanent residents.
  • Use executive authority to allow undocumented immigrants who have resided in the United States for five or more years to stay here free from threat of deportation.
  • Expand parole in place to the families and caregivers of citizens and legal permanent residents and employed workers, and use hardship waivers to remove barriers to green cards and citizenship for as many eligible cases as possible.
  • Push Congress to enact a swift, fair pathway to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently living, working, and contributing in America today.
  • Prioritize expedited citizenship for undocumented youth.
  • Ensure any path to citizenship does not come with a reduction in traditional, family-based visas.
  • Repeal 8 U.S. Code Section 1325, putting border crossings on par with other forms of immigration violations, such as overstaying a visa.
  • Establish immigration courts as independent Article I courts, free from influence and interference.
  • Authorize and fund community-based alternatives to detention, which will connect immigrants with health, legal, educational, and work resources.
  • Ensure any shelters necessary to provide temporary housing for immigrants meet humane, 21st century living standards. This includes medical screenings and access to medical services, nutrition, hygienic conditions and supplies, educational opportunities, and counseling.
  • Ensure justice and due process for immigrants, including the right to counsel and an end to cash bail. Create a $14 billion federal grant program for indigent defense. Ensure access to translation and interpretation services throughout every stage of the legal process. …
  • Break up ICE and CBP and redistribute their functions to their proper authorities. Deportation, enforcement, border and investigatory authority would return to the Department of Justice. Customs authority would return to the Treasury Department. Naturalization and citizenship authority would be given to the State Department.
  • Refocus border enforcement on stemming the flow of firearms and drugs at ports of entry that have contributed to the opioid epidemic, ensuring that labor standards on the border are enforced, and stopping human trafficking. …
  • Ensure schools, places of worship, medical facilities, courthouses and other sensitive areas are exempted from immigration targeting and enforcement.
  • End the use of DNA testing and facial recognition technology for immigration and border enforcement.
  • Work with Congress to pass the Protecting Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act, which would expand the U-visa to protect undocumented immigrants who report labor and workplace violations. …
  • Restructure work visas to make them portable … allow spouses to work, raise the prevailing wage, and include a pathway to citizenship for those seasonal workers who wish to pursue it.
  • Withhold federal contracts for employers found exploiting guest workers.
  • End workplace raids and shift the focus of enforcement from workers to employers who mistreat their workforce.
  • Strengthen labor protections for farmworkers, domestic workers, gig economy workers and other historically under-regulated industries that rely heavily on immigrant and undocumented workforces.
  • Require at least a $15 minimum wage and overtime pay for agricultural workers, and remove farmworker exemptions from the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Direct OSHA and the EPA to create and enforce heat stress and air quality standards.
  • Require employers to provide protective gear and respiratory equipment to farmers working in conditions affected by smoke and wildfires. …
  • Restore and increase aid to Central and South American nations, work to strengthen human rights, and fund programs to curb corruption, political repression, violence, and poverty. …
  • Create a program to welcome migrants displaced by climate change, and set a floor of accepting at least 50,000 climate migrants in his first year in office. …
  • Provide year-round, free universal school meals; breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks through our school meals programs to all students regardless of immigration status, and offer incentives for sourcing food from local sources.
  • Address disciplinary practices in schools that disproportionately affect Black and Brown children.
  • Pass a permanent repeal of the public charge statute, so we do not penalize immigrants who at some point may need to access support programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Ensure customs and immigration agencies have the funding and personnel necessary to eliminate the backlog of pending applications and cut wait times for immigration applications. …
  • Eliminate discrimination facing LGBTQ+ families throughout immigration laws, including making sure that all children born to U.S. citizen parents have acquired citizenship, regardless of a biological relationship.
  • Direct the newly created National Office of Disability Coordination to work with agencies to ensure the immigration and citizenship process is fully accessible to people with disabilities.

Health care

  • Create a Medicare for All, single-payer, national health insurance program to provide everyone in America with comprehensive health care coverage, free at the point of service.
  • No networks, no premiums, no deductibles, no copays, no surprise bills.
  • Medicare coverage will be expanded and improved to include dental, hearing, vision, and home- and community-based long-term care, in-patient and out-patient services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, reproductive and maternity care, prescription drugs, and more.
  • Ensure that no one in America pays more than $200 a year for the medicine they need.
  • Allow Medicare to negotiate with the big drug companies to lower prescription drug prices with the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act.
  • Allow patients, pharmacists, and wholesalers to buy low-cost prescription drugs from Canada and other industrialized countries with the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act.
  • Cut prescription drug prices in half with the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act, by pegging prices to the median drug price in five major countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan.
  • Eliminate the $81 billion in past-due medical debt. Under this plan, the federal government will negotiate and pay off past-due medical bills in collections that have been reported to credit agencies.
  • End abusive and harassing debt collection practices.
    • Prohibit the collection of debt beyond the statute of limitations.
    • Significantly limit the contact attempts per week a collector can make to an individual through any mode of communication, regardless of how many bills are in collection.
    • Require collectors to ensure information about a debt is fully accurate before attempting to collect.
    • Substantially limit the assets that can be seized and the wages that can be garnished in collection to ensure consumers do not lose their homes, jobs, or primary vehicles and will be able to financially support their families.
  • Instruct the IRS to review the billing and collection practices of the nearly 3,000 non-profit hospitals to ensure they are in line with the charitable care standards for non-profit tax status, and take action against those who are not.
  • Reform the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 to use the existing bankruptcy court system to provide relief for those with burdensome medical debt.
    • Eliminate means testing requirements to file for bankruptcy.
    • Allow for the adjudication — including potential discharge — of debt, including interest and penalties, stemming from direct payments to providers and insurers for medical expenses. Assuming documentation, this includes medical debt incurred on credit cards or any other consumer debt product.
    • End “credit counseling” required before filing to discharge medical debt.
    • Include broad “automatic stay” protections, placing an immediate prohibition on any evictions, utility (heat, electric, etc.) interruptions, foreclosure proceedings, wage garnishments, driver’s license suspensions, and other actions.
    • Prohibit requiring the disclosure of medical debt discharge on housing, loan, or other applications.
  • Remove and exclude medical debt from credit reports.
  • Create a secure public credit registry to replace for-profit credit reporting agencies. This registry will use a public, transparent algorithm to determine creditworthiness that eliminates racial biases in credit scores. Allow Americans to receive credit scores for free, and prohibit medical debt from being included.

Climate change

As president, Bernie will:

  • Transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to 100 percent energy efficiency and sustainable energy by 2030 at the latest. …
  • Build enough renewable energy generation capacity for the nation’s growing needs. Currently, four federal Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) and the Tennessee Valley Authority generate and transmit power to distribution utilities in 33 states. We will create one more PMA to cover the remaining states and territories and expand the existing PMAs to build more than enough wind, solar, energy storage and geothermal power plants. We will spend $1.52 trillion on renewable energy and $852 billion to build energy storage capacity. Together, with an EPA federal renewable energy standard, this will fully drive out non-sustainable generation sources.
  • We will end greed in our energy system. The renewable energy generated by the Green New Deal will be publicly owned, managed by the Federal Power Marketing Administrations, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Tennessee Valley Authority and sold to distribution utilities with a preference for public power districts, municipally- and cooperatively-owned utilities with democratic, public ownership, and other existing utilities that demonstrate a commitment to the public interest. The Department of Energy will provide technical assistance to states and municipalities that would like to establish publicly owned distribution utilities or community choice aggregation programs in their communities. Electricity will be sold at current rates to keep the cost of electricity stable during this transition.
  • Build a modern smart grid. A smart grid means a resilient, secure, and intelligent electric grid system that is capable of managing high amounts of renewable energy, charging electric vehicles quickly, and maximizing efficiency. We will spend $526 billion on a modern, high-volt, underground, renewable, direct current, smart, electric transmission and distribution grid.
  • Weatherize homes and businesses to perform energy efficiency upgrades to make buildings more energy efficient and lower energy bills. We will provide $2.18 trillion for sliding-scale grants for low- and moderate-income families and small businesses to invest in weatherizing and retrofitting their homes and businesses. …
  • Phase out the use of non-sustainable sources. This plan will stop the building of new nuclear power plants. … It will also enact a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals in the United States to protect surrounding communities. …
  • Regulate all dangerous greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is a dangerous greenhouse gas, but it is not the only one we must address. Methane is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) can be more than a thousand times more powerful. To ensure we reach our carbon pollution emissions goals, the EPA will, under the Clean Air Act, regulate carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons. …
  • Grants to purchase a new EV. Provide $2.09 trillion in grants to low- and moderate-income families and small businesses to trade in their fossil fuel-dependent vehicles for new electric vehicles. …
  • Vehicle trade-in program. Provide $681 billion for low- and moderate- income families and small businesses for a trade-in program to get old cars off the road. Families with a conventional car will be able to access an additional incentive for trading in for an American-made electric vehicle. …
  • Electric vehicle charging infrastructure. … We will spend $85.6 billion building a national electric vehicle charging infrastructure network similar to the gas stations and rest stops we have today. …
  • School and transit buses. Provide $407 billion in grants for states to help school districts and transit agencies replace all school and transit buses with electric buses. …
  • Replace all shipping trucks. Because this nation depends heavily on goods that are shipped all over the country by truckers, we must ensure that they are able to keep up their pace while we meet our climate goals. That means we must spend $216 billion to replace all diesel tractor-trailer trucks with fast-charging and long-range electric trucks. …
  • Build public transit that is affordable, accessible, fast, and resilient. With a $300 billion investment, we will increase public transit ridership by 65 percent by 2030. …
  • Build regional high-speed rail. A $607 billion investment in a regional high-speed rail system would complete the vision of the Obama administration to develop high-speed intercity rail in the United States. …
  • Retrofit dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure. … The Federal Railroad Administration will adopt new rules requiring companies to retrofit coal and oil trains to prevent explosions, derailments, and spills. We will take similar action to protect communities’ well pads, substations, compressor stations, and pipelines. …
  • Invest in decarbonizing the shipping and aviation industries as soon as possible. … We will fund a $500 billion effort to research technologies to fully decarbonize industry, and a $150 billion effort to fully decarbonize aviation and maritime shipping and transportation.
  • heEstablish a nationwide materials recycling program. …
  • Invest in the Green Climate Fund. … In order to help countries of the Global South with climate adaptation efforts, the U.S. will invest $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund for the equitable transfer of renewable technologies, climate adaptation, and assistance in adopting sustainable energies. …
  • Bring together the leaders of the major industrialized nations with the goal of using the trillions of dollars our nations spend on wars and weapons of mass destruction to instead work together internationally to combat our climate crisis and take on the fossil fuel industry. …
  • Rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and enforce aggressive climate reduction goals. …
  • Renegotiate trade deals to protect the environment. …
  • End overseas fossil fuel financing. The federal government 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. …
  • Create a Climate Justice Resiliency Fund. The CJRF will ensure our infrastructure and communities are protected from the unavoidable impacts of climate change. Once the CJRF is established and funded at $40 billion, the EPA, together with a number of other agencies, will conduct a nationwide survey to identify areas with high climate impact vulnerabilities and other socioeconomic factors, public health challenges, and environmental hazards. Each community will then be eligible for funding in order of most vulnerable to least vulnerable.
  • Rebuild America’s infrastructure, including the nation’s water systems. …
  • Build resilient, affordable, publicly owned broadband infrastructure. Internet access and communications are key in the wake of a disaster. We will provide $150 billion in infrastructure grants and technical assistance for municipalities and states to build publicly owned and democratically controlled, co-operative, or open access broadband networks. This communications infrastructure will ensure first responders and communities are ready to deal with the worst climate emergencies.
  • Increase funding for roads. … Bernie’s Rebuild America Act provides $75 billion for the National Highway Trust Fund to improve roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure in the United States and another $2 billion for other surface transportation needs.
  • Build 7.4 million affordable housing units to close the affordable housing gap across the country. We will greatly expand the National Housing Trust Fund to build the units necessary to guarantee housing as a right to all Americans.
  • Adapt to sea level rise. Forty percent of the U.S. — more than 126 million Americans — live on the coasts. … We will provide coastal communities with $162 billion in funding to adapt to sea level rise.
  • Increase funding for firefighting to deal with more frequent and severe wildfires. … We will increase funding for firefighting by $18 billion for federal firefighters to deal with the increased severity and frequency of wildfires. …
  • Increase investments in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which helps mitigate damage from future disasters. The program saves $4 for every $1 invested up front by decreasing the impact of future disasters. We will invest $2 billion to ensure communities that are rebuilt after disasters strike have necessary resources to build back stronger than before the disaster.
  • Invest in green infrastructure and public lands conservation by reinstating the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). One of the most successful New Deal programs and the most rapid peacetime mobilization in American history, the CCC put millions of men to work building and maintaining trails and conserving America’s wilderness. … We will invest $171 billion in reauthorizing and expanding the CCC to provide good-paying jobs building green infrastructure, planting billions of trees and other native species, preventing flood and soil erosion, rebuilding wetlands and coral, cleaning up plastic pollution, constructing and maintaining accessible paths, trails, and fire breaks; rehabilitating and removing abandoned structures, and eradicating invasive species and flora disease; and other natural methods of carbon pollution sequestration.
  • Fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which helps stimulate our nation’s $1.7 trillion a year outdoor recreation, natural resource protection, and historic preservation industry by conserving millions of acres in our national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and wild and scenic river corridors via more than 41,000 state and local projects. In 2019, the LWCF was permanently authorized. However, it has been chronically underfunded. We will spend $900 million to permanently fund the LWCF.
  • Prosecute and sue the fossil fuel industry for the damage it has caused. President Sanders will ensure that his Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission investigate these companies and bring suits — both criminal and civil — for any wrongdoing, just as the federal government did with the tobacco industry in the 1980s. …
  • End fossil fuel subsidies. The federal government hands out almost $15 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year. …
  • Ban offshore drilling. …
  • Ban fracking and mountaintop removal coal mining. …
  • Ban imports and exports of fossil fuels. …
  • Divest federal pensions from fossil fuels. …
  • Ensure a just transition for energy workers. … We will spend $1.3 trillion to ensure that workers in the fossil fuel and other carbon intensive industries receive strong benefits, a living wage, training, and job placement. …
  • Provide employers with tax credits to incentivize hiring transitioning employees. …
  • Invest in workers and de-industrialized communities’ economic development. Counties with more than 35 qualifying workers will be eligible for targeted economic development funding to ensure job creation in the same communities that will feel the impact of the transition most. Economic development funding will be distributed through an interagency effort spearheaded by the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. Funds will be allocated through the Appalachian Regional Commission, Economic Development Assistance Programs and the Abandoned Mine Lands fund. Other eligible projects include drinking and waste water infrastructure, broadband, and electric grid infrastructure investments. These targeted investments are intended to supplement, not supplant infrastructure and economic development funding throughout the rest of this plan. …
  • Focus job training and local hiring to reflect the racial and gender diversity of the community receiving federal investments. …
  • Incentivize farmers to develop ecologically regenerative farming systems that sharply reduce emissions; sequester carbon; and heal our soils, forests, and prairie lands … with an investment of $410 billion. This assistance will focus on both sequestering carbon and increasing resiliency in the face of extreme weather events. Funds will be used to offset the costs of enterprise-level changes and barriers to transition, including design, technical assistance, purchasing equipment, installing infrastructure, site remediation, contract termination, and repaying farm-debt. …
  • Invest in family farms and rural communities, and break up big agribusinesses that have a stranglehold on farmers and rural communities.
  • Invest in historically underserved communities to grow the number of farmers of color. …

Higher education

When Bernie is in the White House, he will:

  • Guarantee tuition and debt-free public colleges, universities, HBCUs, Minority Serving Institutions and trade-schools to all.
  • Cancel all student loan debt for the some 45 million Americans who owe about $1.6 trillion and place a cap on student loan interest rates going forward at 1.88 percent.
  • Invest $1.3 billion every year in private, non-profit historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions
  • End equity gaps in higher education attainment. And ensure students are able to cover non-tuition costs of attending school by: expanding Pell Grants to cover non-tuition and fee costs, tripling funding for the Work-Study Program, and more.
  • Provide Pell Grants to low-income students to cover the non-tuition and fee costs of school, including: housing, books, supplies, transportation, and other costs of living.
  • Require participating states and tribes to cover the full cost of obtaining a degree for low-income students (normally those with a family income of less than $25,000) by covering any gap that may still exist after we eliminate tuition, fees, and grants.
  • Place a cap on student loan interest rates going forward. … Today, the average interest rate on undergraduate student loans is more than 5 percent. Under this proposal, we will cap student loan interest rates at 1.88 percent.
  • In addition to eliminating tuition and fees, we will match any additional spending from states and tribes which reduces the cost of attending school at a dollar for dollar rate. This funding goes beyond closing the cost gap – participating states and tribes could use this money to hire additional faculty, ensure professors get professional development opportunities, and increase students’ access to educational opportunities.
  • Triple funding for the Work-Study Program. … Today, this program provides about $1,760 per year to some 700,000 students. When we are in the White House, we will expand the program to reach at least 2.1 million students – a 1.4 million student increase. And we will ensure that funding targets schools that have large low-income student enrollment.
  • Provide $1.3 billion to private, nonprofit HBCUs and MSIs per year to eliminate or significantly reduce tuition and fees. This funding would support some 200 schools which serve at least 35 percent low-income students.
  • Double funding for the TRIO Programs and increases funding for the GEAR UP Program so more low-income students, students with disabilities, and first-generation students can attend and graduate college with a degree. By increasing our investment in these programs, we will reach 1.5 million students through TRIO programs and more than 100,000 additional students through GEAR UP than the program reaches today.

Public education

As president, Bernie Sanders will:

  • Increase federal funding for community-driven strategies to desegregate schools.
  • Triple Title I funding to ensure at-risk schools get the funding they need.
  • Establish a dedicated fund to create and expand teacher-training programs at HBCUs, minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and tribal colleges and universities to increase educator diversity.
  • Fully fund the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
  • Fund school transportation to help integration.
  • Increase funding for public magnet schools to $1 billion annually to help integrate our schools.
  • Increase access to English as a Second Language instruction.
  • Ban for-profit charter schools and support the NAACP’s moratorium on public funds for charter school expansion until a national audit has been completed to determine the impact of charter growth in each state. That means halting the use of public funds to underwrite new charter schools.
  • Charter schools must be made accountable by:
    • Mandating that they comply with the same oversight requirements as public schools.
    • Mandating that at least half of all charter school boards are teachers and parents.
    • Disclosing student attrition rates, non-public funding sources, financial interests and other relevant data.
    • Matching employment practices at charters with neighboring district schools, including standards set by collective bargaining agreements and restrictions on CEO pay.
    • Supporting the efforts of charter school teachers to unionize.
  • Rethink the link between property taxes and education funding.
  • Establish a national per-pupil spending floor.
  • Eliminate barriers to college-readiness exams by ensuring states cover fees for the ACT, SAT and other college preparatory exams for all students.
  • Provide schools with the resources needed to shrink class sizes.
  • Provide $5 billion annually for career and technical education.
  • Ensure schools in rural communities, indigenous communities, Puerto Rico and other U.S. Territories receive equitable funding.
  • Give schools the funding needed to support arts, foreign language and music education.
  • Ensure that the federal government provides at least 50 percent of the funding for special education.
  • Guarantee children with disabilities an equal right to high-quality education by enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Address the shortage in special education teacher recruitment, training opportunities, workload and pay.
  • Set a starting salary for teachers at no less than $60,000 tied to cost of living, years of service, and other qualifications; and allowing states to go beyond that floor based on geographic cost of living.
  • End racial and gender disparities in teacher pay.
  • Triple the above-the-line tax deduction for educator expenses and index it to inflation to reimburse teachers for the nearly $500 on average they spend on out of pocket classroom expenses each year.
  • Create a grant program to provide teachers with funds explicitly meant for classroom materials.
  • Empower teachers to provide a teacher-supported curriculum.
  • Spend $5 billion annually to substantially expand access to summer and after-school programs, teen centers and tutoring.
  • Provide year-round, free universal school meals; breakfast, lunch and snacks through our school meals programs, and offer incentives for sourcing food from local sources.
  • Expand Summer EBT across the country to ensure no student goes hungry during the summer.
  • Pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act into law to protect the rights of LGBTQ students.
  • Protect students from harassment, discrimination, and violence in educational institutions by protecting and enforcing Title IX.
  • Enact gun violence prevention laws to end the epidemic of gun violence in this country and in our schools.
  • Ensure that immigrant children and their parents are free from harassment and surveillance at school, regardless of their immigration status.

Workplace democracy

Bernie’s pro-union plan would:

  • Provide unions the ability to organize through a majority sign up process, allowing the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify a union if it receives the consent of the majority of eligible workers. …
  • Enact “first contract” provisions to ensure companies cannot prevent a union from forming by denying a first contract. Employers would be required to begin negotiating within 10 days of receiving a request from a new union. If no agreement is reached after 90 days of negotiation, the parties can request to enter a compulsory mediation process. If no first contract is reached after 30 more days of mediation, the parties would have a contract settlement through binding arbitration.
  • Eliminate the “Right to Work for Less.” Bernie’s plan would repeal Section 14(b) of the Taft Hartley Act, which has allowed 28 states to pass legislation that eliminates the ability of unions to collect dues from those who benefit from union contracts and activities, undermining the unions’ representation of workers.
  • Give federal workers the right to strike. …
  • Make sure every public sector union in America has the freedom to negotiate.  …
  • Require companies that merge to honor existing union contracts.  …
  • Deny federal contracts to employers that pay poverty wages, outsource jobs overseas, engage in union busting, deny good benefits and pay CEOs outrageous compensation packages.  …
  • Ban the permanent replacement of striking workers.  …
  • Protect the pensions of workers. 
  • Establish federal protections against the firing of workers for any reason other than “just cause.”  When Bernie is president he will fight to make sure workers cannot be fired “at will.”
  • Create a sectoral collective bargaining system with wage boards to set minimum standards across industries, not just employer-by-employer.  In addition, under this plan all cities, counties, and other local jurisdictions would have the freedom to establish their own minimum wage laws and guarantee other minimum standards for workers.
  • Guarantee the right to unionize for all workers. Bernie will ensure farm workers and domestic workers, historically excluded from labor protections, are afforded the same standards as all workers, including the right to overtime pay and to join a union. He will enact a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to secure safe working conditions, collective bargaining, and a living wage for domestic workers.
  • Allow for secondary boycotts. This plan reinstates a union’s freedom of speech to take action to pressure clients and suppliers of companies opposing unions.

Social Security

Today, a billionaire pays the same amount of money into Social Security as someone who makes $132,900 a year because the Social Security payroll tax is capped.  Bernie’s Social Security plan would lift this cap and apply the payroll tax on all income above $250,000 in order to accomplish four things:

  • We will make sure that Social Security will pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 52 years.
  • We will expand benefits across-the-board including a $1,300 a year benefit increase for seniors with incomes of $16,000 a year or less.
  • We will increase the minimum benefits paid to low-income workers when they retire.
  • We will increase cost-of-living adjustments to keep up with the rising cost of health care and prescription drugs by establishing a Consumer Price Index for the Elderly.

Housing

When Bernie is president, he will:

  • Invest $1.48 trillion over 10 years in the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund to build, rehabilitate, and preserve the 7.4 million quality, affordable and accessible housing units necessary to eliminate the affordable housing gap, which will remain affordable in perpetuity. Units constructed with this funding will be eligible to be located in mixed-income developments.
  • Invest an additional $400 billion to build 2 million mixed-income social housing units to be administered through the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which will help desegregate and integrate communities.
  • Expand USDA’s Section 515 program by $500 million to build new affordable developments in rural areas, and protect existing units from being converted to market rate housing.
  • Increase funding for the Indian Housing Block Grant Program to $3 billion.
  • Invest $70 billion to repair and modernize public housing, including making all public housing accessible and provide access to high-speed broadband for all public housing residents.
  • Ensure that public housing has high-quality, shared community spaces.
  • Fully fund tenant-based Section 8 rental assistance at $410 billion over the next 10 years and make it a mandatory funding program for all eligible households.
  • Strengthen the Fair Housing Act and implement a Section 8 non-discrimination law, so that landlords can no longer discriminate against low-income families based on their source of income.
  • Expand and strengthen enforcement of the Small Area Fair Market Rent rule to make sure that landlords are fairly compensated when they participate in Section 8, but do not make a windfall from the program.
  • Enact a national cap on annual rent increases at no more than 3 percent or 1.5 times the Consumer Price Index (whichever is higher) to help prevent the exploitation of tenants at the hands of private landlords. Allow for landlords to apply for waivers if significant capital improvements are made.
  • Allow states and cities to pass even stronger rent control standards.
  • Implement a “just-cause” requirement for evictions, which would allow a landlord to evict a tenant only for specific violations.
  • Provide $2 billion in federal matching grants for states and localities to provide a right to counsel for persons in eviction or foreclosure proceedings, or at risk of losing their Section 8 rental assistance.
  • Create an office within the Department of Housing and Urban Development to coordinate and work with states and municipalities to strengthen rent control and tenant protections, implement fair and inclusive zoning ordinances, streamline review processes and direct funding where these changes are made.
  • Pre-empt laws that prevent inclusionary zoning for luxury developments.
  • Make federal funding contingent on creating livable communities. Encourage zoning and development that promotes integration and access to public transportation to reduce commuting time, congestion and long car commutes. Prioritize projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create walkable and livable communities, and reduce urban sprawl.
  • Encourage zoning and development designed to expand and maximize the number of units fully accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Place a 25 percent House Flipping tax on speculators who sell a non-owner-occupied property, if sold for more than it was purchased within 5 years of purchase.
  • Impose a 2 percent Empty Homes tax on the property value of vacant, owned homes to bring more units into the market and curb the use of housing as speculative investment.
  • Encourage “circuit breakers” on property taxes to protect homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods from being priced out of their own homes as their property values rise.
  • Prioritize 25,000 National Affordable Housing Trust Fund units in the first year to house the homeless.
  • Double McKinney-Vento homelessness assistance grants to more than $26 billion over the next five years to build permanent supportive housing.
  • Provide $500 million in funding to states and localities to provide outreach to the homeless to help connect them to case management and social services.
  • Create an independent National Fair Housing Agency similar to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dedicated to protecting renters from housing discrimination, investigating landlords who misuse Section 8 vouchers, and enforce housing standards for renters. The Fair Housing Agency will also conduct audits to hold landlords and sellers engaged in housing discrimination accountable.
  • Create an office within the Fair Housing Agency to protect mobile home residents from housing discrimination, rent instability and unjust evictions.
  • Fully fund the Fair Housing Assistance and Fair Housing Initiatives Programs at $1 billion over the next 10 years.
  • Pass the Equality Act to include LGBTQ+ Americans in the Fair Housing Act.
  • Make sure that people who have served their time are not excluded from public housing.
  • Guarantee that renters have the right to form tenants unions free from retaliation by landlords or managing agents.
  • Invest $50 billion over 10 years to provide grants to start and expand community land trusts and other shared equity homeownership models. This funding will enable more than 1 million households to purchase affordable homes over the next 25 years.
  • Invest an additional $15 billion to enact a 21st Century Homestead Act to purchase and revitalize abandoned properties to create community and individual wealth and assets for historically disadvantaged communities.
  • Invest an additional $2 billion at USDA and an additional $6 billion at HUD to create a first-time homebuyer assistance program.
  • Expand pre-purchase housing counseling to all prospective homebuyers.
  • End the mass sale of mortgages to Wall Street vulture funds and thoroughly investigate and regulate the practices of large rental housing investors and owners.
  • Make data such as evictions, rent increases, and safety violations for large landlords available to the public and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Implement legislation to prevent “contract for deed” transactions and use existing authority to protect communities of color, which for too long have been exploited by this practice.

Veterans services

As president, Bernie will:

  • Work to fill the nearly 50,000 vacancies at the VA during his first year in office. The VA must hire the doctors, nurses and medical professionals necessary to provide the care that veterans need when they need it.
  • Ensure that all those with prior military service in every state and territory have access to the full complement of health care services they need to stay healthy and well.
  • Guarantee comprehensive dental care to all former service members.
  • Greatly expand access to VA mental health and suicide prevention services. …
  • Guarantee home and community based long-term care services. …
  • Provide more than $62 billion in new funding for VA infrastructure. …
  • Ensure VA providers have the option of appropriately prescribing medical marijuana to their patients.
  • Improve and simplify the claims process so veterans receive the compensation they have earned quickly, accurately, and without bureaucratic red tape.
  • Eliminate the VA benefits backlog. A Bernie Sanders Adminimstration will no longer tolerate more than 70,000 veterans having to wait more than 125 days for a determination on their benefits and up to seven years to wait for a decision by a Veterans Law Judge. …
  • Expand the list of injuries and illnesses presumed to be connected with military service. … Ensure that veterans exposed to toxic substances from asbestos and ionized radiation in World War II to Agent Orange in Vietnam to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan are compensated for the myriad of diseases associated with these chemicals.
  • Improve and expand VA’s comprehensive caregiver program. … Expand eligibility for the VA’s Caregiver Program to include not only those veterans with injuries connected to their military services but also illnesses, like cancer, blindness and dementia. … Their families also deserve to be compensated for the care they already provide; they deserve education on how to best care for their loved one, transportation to and from medical appointments, and respite care that allows them the time needed to care for themselves.
  • Ensure any service member discharged from the military for marijuana use or possession can apply for a discharge upgrade, so they can become eligible for the full complement of services and benefits provided by the VA.
  • Immediately terminate deportations of non-citizen members of our armed forces, veterans and their families.
  • Improve and simplify education benefits. …
  • Ensure access to better jobs and job training. …
  • Guarantee housing for veterans. …

Justice

As president, Bernie will:

  • Ban for-profit prisons.
  • Make prison phone calls and other communications such as video chats free of charge.
  • Audit the practices of commissaries and use regulatory authority to end price gouging and exorbitant fees.
  • Incentivize states and localities to end police departments’ reliance on fines and fees for revenue.
  • Remove the profit motive from our re-entry system and diversion, community supervision, or treatment programs, and ensure people leaving incarceration or participating in diversion, community supervision, or treatment programs can do so free of charge.
  • End the use of secured bonds in federal criminal proceedings.
  • Provide grants to states to reduce their pretrial detention populations, which are particularly high at the county level, and require states to report on outcomes as a condition of renewing their funding.
  • Withhold funding from states that continue the use of cash bail systems.
  • End federal programs that provide military equipment to local police forces.
  • Create a federally managed database of police use of deadly force.
  • Provide grants for states and cities to establish civilian oversight agencies with enforceable accountability mechanisms.
  • Establish federal standards for the use of body cameras, including establishing third-party agencies to oversee the storage and release of police videos.
  • Mandate criminal liability for civil rights violations resulting from police misconduct.
  • Ban the use of facial recognition software for policing.
  • Require and fund police officer training on implicit bias (to include biases based on race, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion, ethnicity and class), cultural competency, de-escalation, crisis intervention, adolescent development, and how to interact with people with mental and physical disabilities.
  • Ban the practice of any law enforcement agency benefiting from civil asset forfeiture. Limit or eliminate federal criminal justice funding for any state or locality that does not comply.
  • Provide funding to states and municipalities to create civilian corps of unarmed first responders, such as social workers, EMTs, and trained mental health professionals, who can handle order maintenance violations, mental health emergencies, and low-level conflicts outside the criminal justice system, freeing police officers to concentrate on the most serious crimes.
  • Incentivize access to counseling and mental health services for officers.
  • Diversify police forces and academies and incentivize officers to live and work in the communities they serve.
  • Triple congressional spending on indigent defense, to $14 billion annually.
  • Establish federal guidelines and goals for a right to counsel, including policies that reduce the number of cases overall.
  • Create a federal agency to provide support and oversight for state public defense services.
  • Abolish the death penalty.
  • End mandatory sentencing minimums.
  • Reinstate a federal parole system and end truth-in-sentencing. People serving long sentences will undergo a “second look” process to make sure their sentence is still appropriate.
  • End “three strikes” laws. No one should spend their life behind bars for committing minor crimes, even if they commit several of them.
  • Expand the use of sentencing alternatives, including community supervision and publicly funded halfway houses. This includes funding state-based pilot programs to establish alternatives to incarceration, including models based on restorative justice and free access to treatment and social services.
  • Legalize marijuana and vacate and expunge past marijuana convictions, and ensure that revenue from legal marijuana is reinvested in communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs.
  • Provide people struggling with addiction with the health care they need by guaranteeing health care — including inpatient and outpatient substance abuse and mental health services with no co-payments or deductibles — to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program.
  • Decriminalize possession of buprenorphine, which helps to treat opioid addiction, and ensure that first responders carry naloxone to prevent overdoses.
  • Raise the threshold for when drug charges are federalized, as federal charges carry longer sentences.
  • Ban the prosecution of children under the age of 18 in adult courts.
  • Work to ensure that all juvenile facilities are designed for rehabilitation and growth.
  • Ensure youth are not jailed or imprisoned for misdemeanor offenses.
  • Ensure juveniles are not be housed in adult prisons.
  • End solitary confinement for youth.
  • Abolish long mandatory minimum sentences and life-without-parole sentences for youth.
  • Eliminate criminal charges for school-based disciplinary behavior that would not otherwise be criminal and invest in school nurses, counselors, teachers, teaching assistants, and small class sizes to address disciplinary issues.
  • Ensure every school has the necessary school counselors and wrap-around services by providing $5 billion annually to expand the sustainable community school model.
  • End the use of juvenile fees.
  • Decriminalize truancy for all youth and their parents.
  • Eliminate federal incentives for schools to implement zero-tolerance policies.
  • Invest in local youth diversion programs as alternatives to the court and prison system.
  • Work with teachers, school administrators, and the disability rights movement to end restraint and seclusion discipline in schools.

Enact a Prisoner Bill of Rights that guarantees:

  • Ending solitary confinement.
  • Access to free medical care in prisons and jails, including professional and evidence-based substance abuse and trauma-informed mental health treatment.
  • Incarcerated trans people have access to all the health care they need.
  • Access to free educational and vocational training. This includes ending the ban on Pell Grants for all incarcerated people without exceptions.
  • Living wages and safe working conditions, including maximum work hours, for all incarcerated people for their labor.
  • The right to vote.
  • Ending prison gerrymandering, ensuring incarcerated people are counted in their communities, not where they are incarcerated.
  • Establishment of an Office of Prisoner Civil Rights and Civil Liberties within the Department of Justice to investigate civil rights complaints from incarcerated individuals and provide independent oversight to make sure that prisoners are housed in safe, healthy, environments.
  • Protection from sexual abuse and harassment, including mandatory federal prosecution of prison staff who engage in such misconduct.
  • Access to their families — including unlimited visits, phone calls, and video calls.
  • A determination for the most appropriate setting for people with disabilities and safe, accessible conditions for people with disabilities in prisons and jails.
  • Create a federal agency responsible for monitoring re-entry.
  • “Ban the box” by removing questions regarding conviction histories from job and other applications.
  • Enact fair chance licensing reform to remove restrictions on occupational licensure based on criminal history.
  • Increase funding for re-entering youth programs. We will also pass a massive youth jobs program to provide jobs and job-training opportunities for disadvantaged young Americans who face high unemployment rates.
  • Guarantee safe, decent, affordable housing.
  • Guarantee jobs and free job training at trade schools and apprenticeship programs.
  • Provide funding to end the national rape kit backlog and institute new rules requiring that rape kits be tested and that victims are provided with updates on the status of their rape kits.
  • Address gender-based violence on college campuses.
  • Provide housing assistance and paid leave for victims of sexual assault.
  • Expand non-police interventions for domestic violence, including a national help hotline and state-funded, long-term counseling.
  • Invest in diversion programs as alternatives to the court and prison system for people with disabilities and ensure those people have the community-based supports and services they need.

Wealth tax

This tax on extreme wealth would have a progressive rate structure that would only apply to the wealthiest 180,000 households in America who are in the top 0.1 percent.

It would start with a 1 percent tax on net worth above $32 million for a married couple. That means a married couple with $32.5 million would pay a wealth tax of just $5,000.

The tax rate would increase to 2 percent on net worth from $50 to $250 million, 3 percent from $250 to $500 million, 4 percent from $500 million to $1 billion, 5 percent from $1 to $2.5 billion, 6 percent from $2.5 to $5 billion, 7 percent from $5 to $10 billion, and 8 percent on wealth over $10 billion. These brackets are halved for singles.

Under this plan, the wealth of billionaires would be cut in half over 15 years, which would substantially break up the concentration of wealth and power of this small privileged class.

Define the terms, and then …

Define the terms.

I met the father of our church’s new worship leader last weekend, visiting from out of town. As we chatted for a few minutes, I mentioned that I write a blog. “What about?” he asked. “Issues of the day, and my faith, mostly,” I said.

“Define the terms,” he said.

I knew exactly what he meant.

It’s why I don’t often engage in your conversations, preferring to carefully avoid most of those terms.

Love.

Hate.

Inclusion.

Discrimination.

Racism.

Believe.

Faith.

Freedom.

Addiction.

The economy.

Right vs. wrong.

Rights.

This list is hardly exhaustive.

Every one of these words means different things to different people. That’s why Facebook memes are so inflammatory. You post something to make a point, and someone else interprets it entirely differently.

Even worse, most of you have no intention of discussing the issue, but only in preaching to your choir.

A poll

Case in point:

“Do you think Trump is a racist? Simple yes or no.”

Depends who you ask.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

No. No. No. No.

Never the twain shall meet in this online poll currently making the rounds. Neither side has any intention of discussing the issue.

“Intelligent discussion” is an oxymoron.

Love, hate

What is “love?”

That word has a myriad of definitions and meanings. Each of us defines it slightly differently, from our own perspective.

Indeed, we define all these hot-button words from our own perspective.

“Hate.” Is there really as much hate out there as we say there is?

What is hate, anyway?

Some of you define “hate” as any stance different than yours. I’m not exaggerating.

How do you expect to get along with anyone while throwing that word around? You’ve marginalized yourself.

The economy

Is “the economy” doing great? Depends who you ask.

If the stock market is your indicator, then yes. If finding a good job that pays the bills is your indicator, then no. There are lots of jobs out there, but many of them are outsourced or lower-paying service jobs, with fewer well-paying manufacturing and management careers than there used to be. We don’t like to talk about that.

Inclusion, discrimination

“Inclusion.” Oooh, there’s a good word. Of course all should be welcome just about anywhere. But that’s not what inclusion means in today’s America. A certain sector of society has taken over that word, and politicized it.

Even inclusive people exclude those who don’t think like they do.

Let that sink in (I don’t like this phrase, but it fits here).

“Discrimination” is another often misunderstood word. I’m a member of AARP, and I get emails and Facebook posts almost daily talking about “age discrimination.”

When I say discrimination, that’s not what most of you think about, is it? But it’s very real. I switched jobs several times in my 50s, and I’m sure I experienced age discrimination to some degree while job searching.

Most of you put “discrimination” and “racism” in the same sentence. And you should. Because racism is very real as well.

But again, what is it? To those of you who have experienced racism: Do you have any interest at all in ending it? I’m serious. Because I’m a white male, I’m often guilty by association.

Many white males are racist. I am not defending them. But if you look down on me only because of the color of my skin, you’re racist too. By definition. I can change my attitude, but I cannot change the color of my skin.

Can we have an intelligent discussion about that?

Probably not, because there’s another issue at work here besides defining the terms.

Getting personal

I’ll explain this by quoting an article in the Aug. 20 edition of the (Elyria, Ohio) Chronicle-Telegram. The Avon Lake City Council was prepared to enact a law increasing the penalties for drivers passing a stopped school bus – until a resident, who’s also an attorney, objected, calling the local law unconstitutional. He claimed it was an attempt to supersede state law.

Well, OK. The attorney has a right to say that.

A city councilman didn’t think so. He said the local law had been reviewed by Avon Lake’s law director, then added, “I’m sure everyone is very familiar with his reputation,” referring to the attorney.

The attorney responded, “That’s a personal attack on me. I want him sanctioned. Discipline him, chair – or don’t you have the guts?”

Then this: (The attorney) spoke out several times at Monday’s meeting, talking over council members to the point police officers were called to keep the meeting civil. Following the meeting he was escorted out of Council chambers by police.

That’s the problem with civil discourse today. We can’t discuss issues without getting personal. Neither side can.

We must stick to the issues, and agree to disagree at times. There are ways to oppose a law without name-calling.

Rights

Perhaps we need to tone down the social rhetoric in public, and focus on issues of real government (federal, state and local):

  • Paying for and improving public schools.
  • Maintaining roads and bridges.
  • Balancing the budget.
  • Ensuring trash pickup.
  • Improving water quality, both in our homes and in our lakes and rivers.

These issues get lost behind abortion, gay rights, women’s rights, gun rights and other rights.

Right?

Who decides what rights are right?

Are certain issues topics of right vs. wrong? Which ones?

We answer that question differently, so we aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on much these days.

Here’s a thought. Let parents teach their children whatever social values they choose. In school, all children matter – because all children belong there. Teach them reading, writing and arithmetic.

Can we start with that?

Can we set up an educational system where every child has a chance to succeed, no matter who he or she is or what their background is?

It can be done, if all of us start with that question.

Believe

“Believe.”

Believe what? Everyone believes something. Everyone believes lots of things. We believe the sun will come up tomorrow, for example.

What do you believe in? Why?

Let’s talk. Not argue or curse, but actually talk.

Which requires two listening ears. By both of us.

How to take back our country from politicians

Here in Ohio, I wish far left U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and very far right U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan had lost in Tuesday’s election (I voted that way so I can say that, right?).

That would have sent a clear message across the United States: We’ve had enough with partisan politics. Let’s learn to get along with each other again.

It didn’t happen, of course.

Brown, first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, received 53.2 percent of ballots cast. Jordan, serving since 2007 and founding member of the Freedom Caucus, received support from 65.4 percent of voters who cast a ballot in his U.S. House district.

Nationwide, Democrats regained control of the U.S. House and Republicans kept their dominance in the U.S. Senate. We’ll see how that plays out in the next two years.

National politics gets an awful lot of attention, far more than local politicians and tax issues do, which is too bad, really.

Locally, there weren’t any surprises in the political races.

Opioid issue defeated

Voters across the county decided quite a few tax requests, some renewals and some new millages. Results were mixed. A tax to fund a local opioid recovery program, for example, was defeated, 52 to 48 percent. That surprised me. Opioids affect all of us in some way, either with people we know who are affected by it or by the crimes addicts commit to finance their habit.

Is drug addiction an illness or a disease? Are individuals responsible for their habits? I think this played into the issue’s defeat. Rather than trying to help those who suffer, no matter how it began, we choose to blame them for getting addicted in the first place.

Prevention is the ideal, yes. But how to do that?

Volunteering at school

On another issue, the local school district renewal passed; I was glad to see that. I’m passionate about supporting our local public schools.

Not everyone is. I talked with a good friend who sent his now-grown children through Christian schools, and said he rejected all tax requests – including for schools – because he wishes the state offered vouchers so he wouldn’t have to pay for public education. Instead, his education dollars could be re-directed to a private school of his choice.

I don’t agree with him on this issue. Jesus wouldn’t either, in my opinion.

Jesus met the needs of people right where they were. He spent time with children, drug addicts, outcasts, immigrants, church leaders, politicians – all types of people. He didn’t create a separate church or school where he taught or expected children to attend. He preached on hillsides, yes, but then he sent everyone home. Be a Christian right where you live, he told them.

Public education in this country is available to all. If parents choose to send their children to a private school, that’s their choice. They should pay for their choice.

And private schools, including Christian-based schools, face the same social issues – bullying, teen pregnancy, drugs – that public schools do.

The vast majority of our nation’s residents can’t afford a private education or the transportation to get there, even if they wanted to send their children to one. Instead, we need to support our students and teachers – all of them. We need to give them the resources they need to do their jobs well, then hold them accountable for that.

Since my children also are long beyond the 12th grade, it’s easy for me to sit back and point fingers at those directly involved in public education. No. I need to get involved, and I do. I’ve been mentoring elementary school students for about a decade, even though we’ve lived in three states during that time. A couple of mentoring programs I’ve participated in have disbanded. I keep searching for another one.

I began doing this at Stone Elementary School in Saginaw, Mich., across the street from the church we attended. That was a low-pressure lunchtime program where mentors played a game or two and ate lunch one-on-one with a student.

When we moved to Rockford, Ill., I found a mentoring program within two months. In that program, I read with second-grade students for an hour in 15-minute segments, in the classroom. The teacher sent me students who needed the most help with reading. As a journalist, that was right up my alley, a win-win for everyone.

Here in northeast Ohio, I’ve served through several programs. One at Midview schools in Grafton disappeared after a year. The next one in Cleveland schools disbanded this summer. I recently found an elementary in Lorain, the next town over, and am just getting to know a fifth-grader there. And through our church, several of us are mentoring high school students in Lorain as well. That’s something new for me, but I’m excited about that too.

Instead of complaining about how our public schools are failing, let’s get involved. Locally, we can make a difference.

Reducing the influence of politicians

If your passion is visiting the sick in a hospital or spending time with drug addicts or pregnant teens or another issue, there are ways to offer support and encouragement. Such programs need money, yes, but they also need our involvement.

The one irrevocable asset we possess is time. Once it’s gone, we can never get it back. Let’s make it count.

Money? We can earn more. Politics? We get another chance every two or four years.

Giving money and voting for people and causes we believe in are important, of course.

But they aren’t enough. Let’s do something with our lives. Choose an issue or two you’re passionate about and make a difference.

We talk about taking back our country from the politicians. This is how we do it. We as citizens must take control of our own lives, and of public life as well.

One student at a time. One opioid addict at a time. One struggling marriage at a time. One pregnant teen at a time. One cancer victim at a time. One veteran at a time. One hungry child at a time. One lonely neighbor at a time.

Et cetera, et cetera.

Open your eyes. Opportunities are everywhere, literally.

Enough with the conservative-liberal hatred. Let’s change lives instead.

One person at a time.