Updated Mar 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy
Bernie Sanders on the issues, in under 500 words
Bernie Sanders is an independent Vermont senator whose platform has been a force in driving the party to the left. He is one of the last major candidates standing — alongside former Vice President Joe Biden — in the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
- Current position: Senator from Vermont — 12 years served
- Age: 77
- Born: Brooklyn, New York
- Undergraduate: Brooklyn College, University of Chicago
- Date candidacy announced: Feb. 19, 2019
- % of votes in line with Trump, per FiveThirtyEight: 14.4%
- Previous roles: House Representative for Vermont's at-large congressional district, Mayor of Burlington, Vermont
Stance on key issues:
- Medicare for All: Spearheaded a sweeping Medicare for All plan introduced in 2017.
- Green New Deal: Co-sponsor and has spoken consistently about the severity of climate change.
- Reproductive health care: His plan aims to codify Roe v. Wade, make birth control available over-the-counter, and ban abstinence-only sex education. He also wants to fully fund Planned Parenthood and Title X, and appoint federal judges who align with Roe v. Wade.
- Taxes: Supports raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Proposed hiking estate taxes for millionaires and billionaires, including a top rate of 77% for estates over $1 billion.
- Minimum wage: Co-sponsored a bill in April 2017 that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15. In September 2018, he introduced the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act, to tax companies for public benefits their workers accessed.
- Voting rights: Says felons should be allowed to vote from prison.
- College tuition: Plans to eliminate all $1.6 trillion of student debt and pay for it by raising taxes on Wall Street. Public universities, community colleges and trade schools would become tuition-free.
- Marijuana: Co-sponsored Sen. Cory Booker's Marijuana Justice Act to legalize marijuana federally.
- Agriculture: Proposed helping revitalize rural farming communities and breaking up big agriculture corporations.
- Criminal justice: Promises to end "profiteering" by corporations, reform police and prison systems and end mass incarceration.
- Regrets voting for Joe Biden's 1994 crime bill.
- Hong Kong violence: Willing to sanction foreign officials involved in human rights abuses, including violence against demonstrators.
- Education: His K-12 plan focuses on the needs of students of color and low-income students.
- Labor: Wants to overhaul labor laws and increase union membership and rights.
- Broadband access: Expand access and break up large companies.
- Socialism: That he's too far left or the party has moved past him and he is no longer the only potential candidate who carries the "progressive" label.
- Campaign staff sexual misconduct: Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign was plagued by patterns of sexism and inappropriate behavior.
- Age: A recent poll found 43 of Iowa's 76 Democratic county leaders say they want a young candidate as their 2020 nominee for president.
- Lack of loyalty: Despite running for president as a Democrat in 2016, Sanders has long identified as an independent and said he won't join the party.
- Pragmatism: Many of Sanders' proposals would need high levels of government spending, prompting questions about how feasible some actually are.
1 fun thing:
- While serving as mayor of Burlington, he recorded a folk album — titled "We Shall Overcome" — with 30 Vermont musicians.
Go deeper: Everything you need to know about the other 2020 candidates