What the 2020 Democrats are saying about economic inequality
Democrats are toying with a number of ideas to address economic inequality in the U.S., with candidates such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) making it an integral part of their campaign messaging.
The big picture: Addressing economic inequality means different things to different candidates. There's a push to address tax cuts for the rich, affordable housing, minimum wage, income inequality, labor and unions.
- There's a general consensus among Democrats to repeal President Trump's tax plan which some say disproportionately benefits the wealthy.
- Most Democrats agree on raising the minimum living wage and closing the gender pay gap.
What they're saying:
Former Vice President Joe Biden:
- He's characterized himself as "the" advocate for the middle class, with a strong focus on labor laws and tax codes.
- He's attacked Trump's tax cuts saying they benefited the wealthy.
- Biden recently said he wants to increase the national minimum wage to $15, but previously advocated for $12.
- Yang's key proposal is the Universal Basic Income plan which would give every American $1,000 with no strings attached.
- He also wants to reduce student debt interest rates.
Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Tex.):
- O'Rourke supports raising the minimum wage to $15.
- He supports raising taxes on the wealthy and large corporations.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.):
- Sanders advocates for higher quality universal child care and passing the Green New Deal for job creation.
- He wants to lower student debt interest rates.
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sanders introduced a bill to cap credit card interest at 15%.
- He wants to eliminate incentives for companies to send jobs overseas, limit tax deductions for corporations and provide support for small businesses.
- Sanders wants U.S. post offices to offer basic and affordable banking services to end discrimination against Americans.
- Sanders co-sponsored legislation that would have raised the minimum wage to $15.
Sen. Elizabethe Warren (D-Mass.):
- Warren wants to break up Big Tech companies she says monopolize industries and harm small business.
- She wants workers to elect 40% of their company's board members.
- Warren proposed a $640 billion student loan debt cancellation plan.
- She is proposing a tax hike on households with incomes exceeding $50 million annually.
- Her housing plan aims to cut down rent by 10% and create 1.5 million jobs because of construction needs.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.):
- Booker proposed an expansion to income tax credit.
- He has a job plan that will guarantee a minimum of $15/hour in 15 urban and rural areas over 3 years.
- Booker has proposed baby bonds, giving newborns $1,000, totaling $2,000 annually for children in low-income households.
- He wants to ban banks' overdraft fees, saying they disproportionately affect lower-income Americans.
Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska):
- He wants to establish the American National Fund that would increase taxes on the wealthy, real estate and IPOs to be redistributed to Americans 18 years and older.
- Gravel wants to establish a $15 minimum wage, and eliminate the tipping minimum wage.
- He wants to repeal the Taft-Harley Act, saying it prevents labor unions from having authority.
- Gravel wants to establish a free credit registry.
- To increase access to affordable housing, Gravel wants to enact a vacancy tax, increase tenant's rights and pass rent control legislation.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.):
- She wants to reverse Trump's tax plan, saying it only benefits the wealthy and corporations.
- Harris wants to raise the minimum wage to $15.
- She wants to pass the Rent Relief Act, giving a tax credit to people who spend more than 30% of their incomes on rent and utilities.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.):
- Gillibrand supports closing the gender pay gap and raising the minimum wage to $15.
- She wants to reverse Trump's tax plan, saying it only benefits the wealthy.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg:
- Buttigieg wants to implement a national affordable housing investment so fewer Americans feel "housing insecure."
- He wants to raise the national minimum wage to $15.
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper:
- Hickenlooper supports raising the minimum wage to $15.
- He wants to give small businesses and startups in rural areas tax credits to incentivize development.
- Hickenlooper created an apprentice program for high schoolers and launched a website to retrain displaced workers.
Mayor Bill de Blasio:
- De Blasio supports a $15 minimum wage.
- He's established a universal pre-K initiative in New York City, for which studies show leads to higher incomes.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.):
- He says the issue of economic inequality is more pressing than anything else, including health care and climate change.
- Bennet proposed the American Family Act that would've increased the child tax credit to reduce child poverty.
Gov. Steve Bullock:
- Bullock established the Equal Pay for Equal Work task force with the goal of making Montana the first state to close the gender pay gap.
Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro:
- Under Castro, HUD provided $173 million in grants to develop affordable housing.
- He advocates for a higher minimum wage.
- Williamson wants to repeal Trump's tax plan saying it only benefits the wealthy.
- She wants to reduce or forgive student loan debt.
- Williamson supports closing the gender pay gap and increasing the minimum wage.
- She proposes eliminating the income cap on payroll taxes, carried interest and ETF tax loopholes.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.):
- She supports raising the minimum wage to $15.
- Klobuchar proposed a bill to tax the wealthy to fund retirement plans for middle-income Americans.
Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.):
- Delaney supports closing the gender pay gap.
- He focused on how the future of artificial intelligence could affect job prospects, and called for a national plan.
Rep. Tusli Gabbard (D-Hawaii):
- She's proposed legislation to close the gender pay gap and supports raising the minimum wage to $15.
Gov. Jay Inslee:
- Inslee supports strong labor unions, and says their decline is tied to increasing economic inequality.
- He believes combating climate change will create more jobs.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio):
- Ryan opposes further tax cuts, saying cuts are responsive for wage stagnation and increased health-care costs.
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.):
- He co-sponsored legislation that would've raised the minimum wage to $12 by 2020.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.):
- Swalwell wants to raise the cap on the Social Security payroll tax so the wealthy pay more into the program.
- He wants to raise the minimum age to $15 by 2024.
Mayor Wayne Messam:
- He increased minimum wage in the city of Miramar.
Go deeper: What you need to know about the 2020 presidential candidates, in under 500 words