Primary primer: Where does each Democratic candidate stand on key issues? - Bring Me The News

Primary primer: Where does each Democratic candidate stand on key issues?

There are 5 candidates to choose from on Super Tuesday.
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Primary day is almost here and Minnesotans will take to the polls to make their choice for their presidential nominee starting Tuesday morning.

Minnesota is one of 13 states casting picks on Super Tuesday, in what is being seen as a crucial day for Democratic candidates.

With Minnesota Republicans only being given the choice of President Donald Trump or a write-in option, we're taking a closer look at the 5 remaining candidates in the Democratic race.

The field has been whittled down since the South Carolina primary on Saturday, with Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer withdrawing shortly after, followed by Minnesota's own Amy Klobuchar on Monday.

That means only Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Tulsi Gabbard, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren remain in the race. 

If you haven't made your mind up, here's where they stand on five of the issues most important to Democrats in Minnesota:

Healthcare 

Joe Biden: Wants to offer Medicare as a public option, offering Americans an alternative health plan to private insurance, which he argues should compete with and reduce the cost of private plans. He also wants to make this free to those who would otherwise qualify for the Medicaid expansion in states that haven't expanded it.

Michael Bloomberg: Also wants to offer Medicare as a public option, and allow those on lower incomes who choose the public option to have access to the same subsidies that they could qualify for on private health exchanges (ie. MNSure). He also wants to expand enrollment in Affordable Care Act plans, create a permanent reinsurance program to subsidize the sickest private customers, and expand Medicare to include optional dental, hearing and eye care.

Tulsi Gabbard: Backs Medicare for All, but her healthcare plan is called "Single Payer Plus," and would comprise elements of Medicare for All, but would also allow people to access private insurance plans if they so choose. As The Keene Sentinel explains: "Every American would get a government health insurance plan for providers to bill, and they could buy into additional private plans as they wish."

Bernie Sanders: Backs the single-payer national health insurance program known as Medicare for All, meaning no premiums, deductibles, or co-pays, while medicine costs will be capped at $200-a-year per person. He would pay for this with a 4 percent tax on those earning more than $29,000, which he says would save the average family $4,775-a-year by not having to pay private insurance premiums. He also wants to eliminate $81 billion in past-due medical debt owed by 79 million American families.

Elizabeth Warren: She backs Medicare for All, but has planned for there to be a transition period, and sees a Medicare public option as an incremental measure towards the larger goal of Medicare for All. However, in her public option, the federal government would cover more of the costs (90 percent) compared to that backed by, for example, Joe Biden (80 percent). Deductibles would be eliminated, while those earning under 200 percent of the federal poverty level would not pay premiums.

Work, tax and the economy

Joe Biden: Backs more than doubling the federal minimum wage to $15-an-hour, and make efforts to stop attempts to strip workers' rights and the ability to form unions and collectively bargain. He would also reverse the tax cuts for the wealthy and major corporations enacted under the Trump Administration, and end capital gains loopholes for the mega-rich.

Michael Bloomberg: Also backs increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and link it to inflation, and will also expand the Earned Income Tax Credit. He also intends to invest heavily in America's training system through community and technical colleges, and invest in apprentice programs. He intends to create 30 "growth hubs" in regions where "good jobs" are needed most, focusing on areas such as public health, hydrogen power, green technology and sustainable agriculture. 

Tulsi Gabbard: Wants to re-instate protections for consumers by bringing back the Glass-Steagall Act that separates commercial and investment banking, as well as breaking up the big Wall Street banks. She is also in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15 and plans for making major investments in green technology, re-directing subsidies currently given for fossil fuel generation.

Bernie Sanders: He backs a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and aims to reduce the financial burden on families further by offering free childcare and pre-K education. This would be paid for by a tax on the "extreme wealth" of the top 0.1 percent of U.S. households, ie. those with a net worth of more than $32 million. He would also cap consumer loans and credit card rates at 15 percent.

Elizabeth Warren: She has taken an anti-corruption stance and intends to break up what she calls the "political influence of market-dominant companies" by preventing large corporations from hiring senior government officials to help with lobbying for contracts for four years after they leave office. She also wants to impose a 7 percent tax on corporate profits above $100 million, and end the loopholes that allow companies like Amazon to pay little in the way of federal taxes. She is pledging no income tax hikes on any household worth less than $50 million, but a 2 percent tax on those with a net worth of $50 million to $1 billion, and 4 percent for those with more than that. Also wants to provide paid family and sick leave, and raise the federal minimum wage to $15.

Climate change

Joe Biden: Wants to take executive action so the U.S. can become a 100 percent clean energy economy, and reaches net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Major investment in green energy and to ensure the nation's infrastructure can handle climate change, and make America once again a world leader in the fight against global warming, and take action against polluters that disproportionately harm the poor and communities of color. 

Michael Bloomberg: Wants to rebuild the nation's infrastructure with 100 percent clean energy tech, while reducing carbon pollution by 50 percent by 2030 and reaching net-zero by 2050. He also wants to implement standards so that 100 percent of new cars sold are electric by 2035, and expand tax credits so people can afford them. He would have America immediately rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, and ensure America was a world leader in fighting climate change. He would also bring back regulations on pollution rolled back by the Trump Administration which harm the poor and communities of color.

Tulsi Gabbard: Would redirect "billions" spent subsidizing the fossil fuel industry to invest in wind, solar and geothermal power. She would also ban offshore drilling, and supports a ban on shale gas and oil fracking.

Bernie Sanders: Wants to pay for a transformation of America's energy generation by litigating, taxing and imposing fees on fossil fuel companies. He would make America's energy generation 100 percent renewable while ensuring a "just transition" for fossil fuel workers. Invest in conservation on public lands, rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, declaring climate change a national emergency, and creating 20 million Green jobs are among his other policies.

Elizabeth Warren: Would bring back clear air and water protections enacted under Obama, restore the Clean Power Plan, and impose strict restrictions on vehicle emissions, while incentivizing electric and alternative fuel vehicles. She also has proposed a "Blue New Deal" to protect oceans and waterways, working to restore arine ecosystems including the Great Lakes. Has a more ambitious clean energy plan, hitting net-zero emissions by 2035, while she would also invest $1 trillion into communities by creating "good, middle-class union jobs to fight climate changes," including providing transition help for fossil fuel workers, while "holding corporate polluters accountable."

College education and debt

Joe Biden: His plans would make it easier for graduates to pay off their loans. You wouldn't need to make payments if you earn under $25,000, and those who earn more would only have to pay 5 percent of their "discretionary income" towards loan payments – compared to the current system where it's at least 10 percent. The remaining debt would then be forgiven after 20 years of repayments. He also pledges to fix the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, offering $10K of student loan forgiveness for each year of national or community service for up to 5 years.

Michael Bloomberg: Would expand affordability and access to college by doubling the size of Pell Grants and removing barriers that DREAMers and formerly incarcerated students can qualify. He would cut the cap on student loan payments in half, and will also offer tax-free loan forgiveness after 20 years of repayments. He would also expand investments into Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUS) and institutions serving students from low-income backgrounds and underrepresented groups.

Tulsi Gabbard: Wants to eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities for families making up to $125,000-a-year, and make community college tuition fee-free for everyone.

Bernie Sanders: Plans to make public colleges, universities and trade schools tuition-free and cancel all student debt over the next decade, which he says will be paid for by a tax on Wall Street speculation that will raise $2.4 trillion in 10 years. He would also impose a cap on student loan interest rates at 1.88 percent going forward. He'd invest $1.3 billion a year in private, nonprofit historically black colleges and universities, and expand Pell Grants to cover non-tuition and fee costs.

Elizabeth Warren: On Day 1 she would use a little known provision that allows her to cancel up to $50,000 debt for up to 95 percent of student loan borrowers without going to Congress, paid for by her tax on the top 0.1 percent of earners. This would provide relief to 42 million Americans. She also plans to provide university, tuition-free two-and four-year college and technical school courses, and ban for-profit colleges from receiving federal funding.

Gun safety

Joe Biden: Would ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, including provisions that prevent companies from circumventing the law by making "minor changes that do not limit the weapon's lethality." He would also require existing assault weapons be registered with the ATF under the National Firearms Act, much in the same way machine guns, silencers and short-barreled rifles currently are. He also wants to limit the number of guns a single person can buy to one per month.

Michael Bloomberg: Would reinstate the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Require point-of-sale background checks on all gun sales and end the "private sale loophole" that allows prohibited people to buy guns from unlicensed sellers they find on the internet. Also backs a "red flag" law to prevent guns being bought by those considered to be extreme risks. Would give the federal government more ability to hold gun manufacturers accountable for mass shootings.

Tulsi Gabbard: Backs the ban on bump stocks that have been used in mass shootings, and wants to implement a "red flag" ban on perpetrators of domestic violence from buying guns. She also wants background checks on every firearm sale, including private ones.

Bernie Sanders: Wants to ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons, expand background checks to ensure all gun purchases – including private ones – are subject to the same checks. He would also ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, and start a buyback program to get assault weapons off the streets. He also supports "red flag" laws and wants assault weapons to be regulated in the same way machine guns are, as "a system that essentially makes them unlawful to own."

Elizabeth Warren: Backs a federal assault weapons ban, and require everyone in possession of one to register it. Also would ban high-capacity magazines. Would eliminate the filibuster to curtail the power of the NRA and the gun lobby in Congress. Would revoke the licenses of gun dealers whose weapons are found to be regularly used in crimes. She backs universal background checks on all gun sales, increase taxes on gun manufacturers, increase waiting periods to reduce "impulsive gun violence," including self inflicted violence. Backs "red flag" laws on domestic abusers, and wants to prohibit anyone convicted of a hate crime from owning a gun.

More reading

Here's where you can find every candidate's issues page:

Joe Biden

Michael Bloomberg

Tulsi Gabbard

Bernie Sanders

Elizabeth Warren

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