"I've always opposed the death penalty... Part of the need for real criminal justice reform is for the United States to do what virtually every other major country on earth is doing, and that is not to participate in murder itself. The state should not be involved in murdering. You have people who have committed horrific crimes, people who are dangerous, people should spend the rest of their lives behind bars. But I do not believe in capital punishment."
Source: Bernie Sanders, "18 Questions With Bernie Sanders," nytimes.com, June 19, 2019
"At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we need a progressive tax system in this country that is based on the ability to pay... If we are serious about reforming the tax code and rebuilding the middle class, we have got to demand that the wealthiest Americans, large corporations, and Wall Street pay their fair share in taxes. When we are in the White House, we will:
Pass the For the 99.8 Percent Act to establish a progressive estate tax on multi-millionaire and billionaire inheritances...
End special tax breaks on capital gains and dividends for the top 1%.
Substantially increase the top marginal tax rate on income above $10 million."
Source: Bernie Sanders, "Demand that the Wealthy, Large Corporations and Wall Street Pay their Fair Share in Taxes," berniesanders.com (accessed Sep. 4, 2019)
"We will no longer accept 46 percent of all new income going to the top 1 percent, while millions of Americans are forced to work 2 or 3 jobs just to survive and over half of our people live paycheck to paycheck...
In the richest country in the world, there is no state in which working 40 hours at the state minimum wage generates enough income to afford a one-bedroom apartment...
We must: Raise the minimum wage to a living wage of at least $15 an hour."
Source: Bernie Sanders, "Fight for Working Families," berniesanders.com (accessed Aug. 15, 2019)
"What Bernie believes is that the American people deserve freedom – true freedom. You are not truly free when you graduate college with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt. You are not truly free when you cannot pursue your dream of becoming a teacher, environmentalist, journalist or nurse because you cannot make enough money to cover your monthly student loan payments...
When Bernie is in the White House, he will: Cancel the entire $1.6 trillion in outstanding student debt for the 45 million borrowers who are weighed down by the crushing burden of student debt. This will save around $3,000 a year for the average student loan borrower."
Source: Bernie Sanders, "College for All and Cancel All Student Debt," berniesanders.com (accessed Sep. 5, 2019)
"Today, we say to our young people that we want you to get the best education that you can, regardless of the income of your family. Good jobs require a good education. That is why we are going to make public colleges and universities tuition free, and cancel all student debt.
When Bernie is in the White House, he will:
Pass the College for All Act to provide at least $48 billion per year to eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs. Everyone deserves the right to a good higher education if they choose to pursue it, no matter their income."
Source: Bernie Sanders, "College for All and Cancel All Student Debt," berniesanders.com (accessed Aug. 15, 2019)
"Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed a bill [in 2014] to designate 'Democracy Day' as a national election holiday to make it easier for Americans to vote...
In America, we should be celebrating our democracy and doing everything possible to make it easier for people to participate in the political process. Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote. While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy."
Source: Bernie Sanders, "Make Election Day a National Holiday," sanders.senate.gov (accessed Sep. 29, 2019)
"I believe that it is hard to defend the current system in which one candidate receives 3 million votes less than his opponent, but still becomes president. Further, presidential elections cannot be fought out in just a dozen 'battleground' states. I believe that we need to reexamine the concept of the electoral college."
Source: Kevin Uhrmacher, Kevin Schaul, and Jeff Stein, "Where 2020 Democrats Stand on Democratic Changes," washingtonpost.com, Sep. 16, 2019
[Editor's Note: On July 19, 2019, Sanders tweeted "Abolish the Electoral College" with a link to an MSNBC article.]
Con Should the US Expand Fossil Fuel Extraction on Public Land?
"Keep fossil fuels on public lands in the ground. Scientists have been clear that in order to solve the climate crisis, we must leave fossil fuels in the ground. We will immediately end all new and existing fossil fuel extraction on federal public lands."
Source: Bernie Sanders, "The Green New Deal," berniesanders.com (accessed Oct. 15, 2015)
Pro Should the US Adopt a Climate Change Plan such as the Green New Deal?
"As president, Bernie Sanders 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...
We must pass a Green New Deal to achieve 100 percent sustainable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and to fully decarbonize the economy by 2050 at the latest...
[T]he Green New Deal will redress historical injustices, by tackling poverty, inequality, and the disproportionate impacts of environmental damage on poor neighborhoods, communities of color, First Nations, and rural America."
Source: Bernie Sanders, "The Green New Deal," berniesanders.com (accessed Sep. 4, 2019)
Pro Should the US Re-Enter a Nuclear Deal with Iran?
"By withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement, a move opposed by his own top security officials, Trump has isolated the U.S. from its closest allies and put us on a dangerous path to conflict. We should rejoin the deal and work with allies to effectively enforce it."
Con Should the US Have Withdrawn Troops from Northern Syria in Oct. 2019?
"The crisis here... is when you begin to betray people, in terms of the Kurds, 11,000 of them died fighting ISIS, 20,000 were wounded. And the United States said, 'We're with you, we're standing with you.' And then suddenly, one day after a phone call with Erdogan, announced by tweet, Trump reverses that policy.
Now, you tell me what country in the world will trust the word of the president of the United States. In other words, what he has done is wreck our ability to do foreign policy, to do military policy, because nobody in the world will believe this pathological liar."
Source: The Fix Team, "The October Democratic Debate Transcript," washingtonpost.com, Oct. 15, 2019
"Despite major advances in civil and political rights, our country still has a long way to go in addressing the issues of gender inequality and reproductive freedom. Right now, extreme forces on the right are launching political attacks and passing draconian laws at both the state and national level with the goal of ending a woman’s right to choose. We must fight back together, and defend a woman's right to control her own body and economic future. When we are in the White House, we will...
Fully fund Planned Parenthood, Title X, and other initiatives that protect women’s health, access to contraception, and the availability of a safe and legal abortion...
Oppose all efforts to undermine or overturn Roe v. Wade, and appoint federal judges who will uphold women’s most fundamental rights."
Source: Bernie Sanders, "Fight for Women’s Rights," berniesanders.com (accessed Aug. 15, 2019)
Pro Should the US Switch to a Medicare-for-All Healthcare System?
“[H]ealth care in my view is a human right. And we have got to pass a Medicare for all, single-payer system.
Under that system, by the way, vast majority of the people in this country will be paying significantly less for health care than they are right now…
People who have health care under Medicare for all will have no premiums, no deductibles, no copayments, no out-of-pocket expenses. Yes, they will pay more in taxes, but less in health care for what they get.”
Source: Jeremia Kimelman, "Full Transcript: 2019 Democratic Debate Night Two, Sortable by Topic," nbcnews.com, June 27, 2019
Con Should the US Continue to Build a Border Wall at the US/Mexico Border?
"I think the [border] wall is an absurd idea. I think it's a waste of money. It just fans Trump's illusions. No, I am not going to support $5 billion or money for a wall... Everybody is concerned about border security, but if you want to do border security intelligently and cost-effectively, you don't do it with a wall. There are much better approaches than that... We have a lot of needs in this country and spending $5 billion on a wall is not, to me, one of our priorities."
Pro Should the US Decriminalize Illegal Border Crossings?
"If a mother and a child walk thousands of miles on a dangerous path, in my view, they are not criminals. They are people fleeing violence."
Source: Rev, "Transcript of July Democratic Debate 2nd Round Night 1: Full Transcript July 30, 2019," July 30, 2019, rev.com
[Editor's Note: Sanders raised his hand at the June 27, 2019 Democratic Presidential Debate when the moderator asked "raise your hand if you think it should be a civil offense rather than a crime to cross the border without documentation?" His campaign confirmed in an email to NPR that "Bernie believes crossing the border should be a civil, not a criminal, offense," as stated in a Sep. 12, 2019 article by Danielle Kurtzleben, Lexie Schapitl, and Alyson Hurt titled "Immigration: Where 2020 Democratic Candidates Stand on Border Crossings and More," available at npr.org.]
Pro Should LGBTQ+ People Have Protection from Being Fired for Being LGBTQ+?
"People have the right to love who they want to love and get married regardless of their sexual orientation. Incredibly, today in many states, it is still legal to fire someone for being gay. That is unacceptable and must change...
We must: Pass the Equality Act, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act and other bills to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ+ people."
Pro Should Transgender People Be Allowed to Serve in the US Military?
"In announcing this ban on transgender people in the military, the Trump administration has shown once again that it is on the wrong side of history. There is a reason the administration has not provided any scientific evidence to justify this policy: there is no justification for this sort of discrimination. Transgender people have served and continue to serve our country honorably in the military.
Unfortunately, this administration is not treating them honorably. The struggle for equality for all Americans continues, and Donald Trump's efforts to divide us will not succeed."
Source: Bernie Sanders, Facebook.com, Mar. 24, 2018