Issues

It’s time to reclaim the values that drive our policy decisions.

We are living through a moment of huge upheaval, but also of great opportunity. This moment demands that our policies reflect a deep understanding of Americans’ everyday lives and embody our country’s highest values — values like Freedom, Security, and Democracy.

As a mayor and as a candidate for president, Pete has heard from voices in communities across the country about the struggles and aspirations we share as Americans. This campaign is about building the kind of democracy and society that works for all of us.

It’s not just about winning an election; it’s about winning an era.

  • Freedom

    Threats to freedom come not just from government, but also from corporations with too much power, and economic and social conditions that undermine the freedom of individuals and communities. Our vision of freedom must address all dimensions of life, including political, economic, and social freedom.

    • Health Care

      Freedom means not having to choose between health care and financial survival.
      Key Policy
      • “Medicare for All Who Want It” as a pathway to Medicare for All

      Pete believes in universal health care. The health care system we have today is both unjust and inefficient. For the first time since World War I, life expectancy is falling. If you’re uninsured, you’re paying too much for health care. If you’re insured, you’re still paying too much. This burdens hard-working families, especially in communities of color, the most. Other developed countries provide universal coverage for less than what Americans currently pay — and with better results. The American people should not have to settle for less.

      Pete supports achieving Medicare for All through a pathway that helps improve people’s lives along the way while allowing the economy to adjust. He calls this “Medicare for All Who Want It.” This plan makes a Medicare-type public option available on the exchange and invites people to buy into it: if corporate insurers don’t lower costs to deliver something dramatically better than what is available today, competition will create the glide path toward Medicare for All.

      Additional Policies
      • Improve health equity
      • Invest in maternal and infant health
      • Lower drug prices
      • Make long-term care affordable
      • Invest resources in mental health
      • Combat the opioid and methamphetamine epidemics
    • Higher Education

      Freedom means access to affordable higher education.
      Key Policy
      • Debt-free college

      For lower-income families, we must make public college truly debt-free. We can do this through a state-federal partnership that makes public tuition affordable for all and completely free at lower incomes — combined with a large increase in Pell Grants that provides for basic living expenses and keeps up with inflation. Middle-income families at public colleges will pay zero tuition. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) are vital for this country and our communities and deserve to receive more dedicated support.

      Additional Policies
      • Confront student loan debt
      • Provide more support for students entering public service
      • Ensure the highest degree of transparency and accountability for higher education institutions
      • Apply strict standards to for-profit higher education institutions
    • Infrastructure

      Freedom means building 21st century infrastructure, because you’re not free to pursue happiness if you don’t have access to safe roads or clean water.
      Key Policy
      • Major federal investment in clean water and wastewater infrastructure, transportation and mobility, rural broadband, and climate adaptation and resilience

      Infrastructure is central to the well-being of communities and the ability of individuals and families to live, work, and thrive. Today, our infrastructure is crumbling, and communities of color are disproportionately hurt by decades of neglect in neighborhoods and by unhealthy water systems. Investments in infrastructure can unlock good jobs, drive economic growth, and most importantly, empower communities to better access recreation, work, and health — connecting people to opportunity and to one another. Pete believes in the need for a major federal investment in our nation’s infrastructure.

    • Consumer Protections

      Freedom means strong consumer protections that don’t allow banks to rip off or discriminate against their customers.
      Key Policy
      • Overhaul the Federal Arbitration Act that stacks the deck against consumers and workers

      When your credit card company rips you off, you should have the right to a day in court with a good lawyer, full rights, and public transparency. In most cases, though, the company probably forced you to sign away that right. As consumers, we should always have the right to a fair process and strong protections that keep companies honest in the first place. 

      Additional Policies
      • Pass strict regulations on predatory lenders
      • Strengthen antitrust standards
      • Protect your rights over your own data
      • Revive the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s enforcement authority
      • Fight big data discrimination
    • Racial Justice

      Freedom means racial justice, and reversing the damage of past and present racism to our communities, policies, and politics.
      Key Policy
      • Create a commission to propose reparations policies for Black Americans and close the racial wealth gap
      Black Americans were enslaved and then systematically excluded from full citizenship through laws and policies that purposely relegated Black Americans into second-class personhood and that sanctioned racial discrimination. The effects are ongoing, and exclusionary policies linger. America must enter a new era that promotes political, economic, social, and racial equity in part by specifically reversing the harms of racist policies and practices.
       
      Only by remedying the vestiges of slavery and confronting our nation’s shameful history of racism can we move to a place where full freedom is attainable for Black communities.
      Additional Policies
      • Invest in entrepreneurship and home ownership
      • Eliminate health disparities, including in maternal and infant health
      • Defend affirmative action and combat the opportunity gap
      • Protect and expand voting rights
      • Support self-determination of Indigenous populations
      • Redress inequality in our criminal justice system
      • Dismantle the prison-industrial complex to end the crisis of mass incarceration
    • Investing in our Teachers

      Freedom means empowering our children by investing in our nation's teachers.
      Key Policy
      • Federal support for higher teacher pay, targeted to districts where it will bring the most benefit

      We need to respect and value our teachers as the essential public servants that they are, and we need to compensate them accordingly. We need federal support for boosting teacher pay, and we need to begin by directing it to Title I schools — the schools with the most economic and racial inequity, and with the most students on free and reduced price lunch.

    • Gender Equity

      Freedom means that your opportunities aren’t limited because of your gender.
      Key Policy
      • Pay transparency

      The United States should pass a new law publicly reporting a simple annual statistic for every large company: for every dollar paid to men, how much less did women make? Companies that don’t hire, pay, and promote women fairly will have to explain themselves and change. It starts with transparency. And it is way past time to enact the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would make it more difficult for employers to hide unfair pay practices.

      Additional Policies
      • Remove the deadline for and support the Equal Rights Amendment
      • Strengthen anti-discrimination protections against gender and sexual identity-based discrimination
      • Strengthen protections for pregnant workers
    • Reproductive Rights

      Freedom means being able to make decisions about your reproductive health based on what’s right for you.
      Key Policy
      • Access to comprehensive reproductive health care

      A woman should have the freedom to make medical decisions on her own or with the counsel of her doctor, family, and faith leaders — those whom she chooses and she trusts. The government’s role should be to make sure all women have access to comprehensive affordable care, and that includes preventive care, contraceptive services, prenatal and postpartum care, and safe and legal abortion.

      Additional Policy
      • Repeal the Hyde Amendment so that those in need can access care equitably
    • Organized Labor

      Freedom means the ability to organize in order to hold employers accountable and advocate for fair pay.
      Key Policy
      • Pass a new Wagner Act to support the role of organized labor and defend the right of workers to organize

      Our nation’s middle class was built by organized labor, and rising attacks on labor have led to the middle class becoming more and more vulnerable. And because of historical exclusions in our labor laws, many women workers and workers of color have been unable to collectively bargain. Pete believes that unions must have a powerful seat at the table — to stand up against unfair and abusive practices and to collaborate in improving work environments and productivity.

    • LGBTQ Rights

      Freedom means living free of discrimination because of who you are and whom you love.
      Key Policy
      • Pass the Equality Act; reverse the ban on transgender military service; enforce the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act and key federal civil rights laws

      Pete knows that our families, communities, and nation are stronger when we allow all individuals to be true to who they are. A person’s sexual orientation or gender identity should not limit them from pursuing their dreams and realizing their full potential — to work, live, and go to school where they want; to love whom they choose, and to live safe, healthy lives.

      Additional Policies
      • Pass safe schools legislation
      • Improve the health and well-being of LGBTQ youth, parents, and families
      • Combat bullying and harassment
      • Protect LGBTQ asylum seekers
      • Combat the overrepresentation and mistreatment of LGBTQ people in the criminal justice system
      • Support LGBTQ human rights around the world
  • Security

    Security is not achieved by putting up a wall: security means paying attention to the real threats of the 21st century.

    • Climate Change

      Security means protecting our environment and treating climate change and climate disruption like the national emergency it is.
      Key Policy
      • Implement a Green New Deal with all available tools including a carbon tax-and-dividend for Americans, and major direct investment to build a 100% clean energy society

      Climate security is a life and death issue for our generation. Pete knows it is long overdue to take bold, decisive action to eliminate greenhouse gas pollution once and for all while creating new, high-paying jobs. We will rise to the challenge and do it in the American way — by building and innovating. We will work with communities to ensure the transition to clean energy is inclusive and fair for all. We will fight for the right to be healthy — to have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. And we will prepare our military and disaster response agencies for the security threats of climate change.

      Additional Policies
      • Increase energy efficiency in homes
      • Invest in building retrofits
      • Strengthen rural resilience and protect rural communities from environmental hazards
      • Decarbonize transportation and industry
      • Commit to the Paris Climate Agreement and collaborate with other countries to increase all our goals
      • Convene state and local leaders for an agreement on community-driven carbon reduction
    • Foreign Policy

      Security means a foreign policy that puts the values, goals, and national security interests of American citizens above personal political interests.

      We need to fundamentally rethink our foreign policy to help America lead and shape a better world for our future. The next president will have to restore American credibility on the world stage, and establish a new and higher standard for the deployment of U.S. military force. It’s time to put an end to endless war and focus on how best to use America’s strengths to address future threats, including climate security as a key basis for diplomacy. Pete is committed to reinventing institutions of international engagement to address 21st century challenges and opportunities and to reversing the rise of authoritarianism abroad while revitalizing democratic capitalism and our democracy at home.

      American and the World: National Security for a New Era

    • Immigration

      Security means immigration and border policy that is compassionate and effective.
      Key Policy
      • Pass comprehensive immigration reform

      We must reclaim our nation’s standing as a human rights leader by implementing common sense immigration reform that will secure our values. The greatest nation in the world should have nothing to fear from children fleeing violence. More importantly, children fleeing violence should have nothing to fear from the greatest nation in the world. We must remember that immigrants are an essential part of our American story. Immigration creates strong families and communities who contribute to our economic growth and participate in our vibrant democracy.

      Comprehensive immigration reform must include a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living, working, paying taxes, and contributing to our American story, including DREAMers; resources to end the backlogs in our lawful immigration and asylum processes; and reasonable security measures at the border. Most Americans support such a package, and it is long past time for Washington to deliver.

      Additional Policies
      • Modernize our immigration laws to reflect today’s humanitarian and economic needs
      • Restore our global leadership in humanitarian relief for refugees
      • End the family separation crisis and evaluate ICE and CBP practices to ensure similar humanitarian crises never happen again
      • Reinstate enforcement priorities and prevent arbitrary targeting of immigrant communities by enforcement officials
    • Gun Laws

      Security means common-sense gun laws.
      Key Policy
      • Raise the standard of gun protection and ownership to make all Americans safer

      Pete belongs to the generation that came of age with school shootings, accustomed to seeing the harm inflicted on our communities as 100 people die from gun violence every day. Pete knows that current gun laws are failing: they are not sufficiently protecting Americans and their communities. He sees the negative impact of our gun laws as a Mayor in South Bend, where daily crime is down but shootings, and the fear of being shot, continue to destroy families and endanger neighborhoods.

      Pete knows that America can protect gun rights and balance the Second Amendment with sensible gun laws. He understands that solving the gun violence epidemic requires a comprehensive approach, and that begins with universal background checks as the foundation for reducing gun violence. Pete also understands that solutions to gun violence are not an “either-or” proposition, and universal background checks must be accompanied by a package of other reforms to reduce gun deaths nationwide — deaths caused by suicide, daily urban violence, school shootings, domestic violence, and accidents.

      Two-thirds of all gun deaths are suicides, and Pete wants to disrupt easy access to firearms through measures including Extreme Risk Protection Orders, also known as red flag laws, and waiting periods. An overwhelming majority of Americans support these measures, and Pete is ready to work with Congress to avoid further gun tragedies.

      Additional Policies
      • Close the “boyfriend loophole” and disarm domestic abusers
      • Hold the gun industry accountable
      • Ban military-style assault weapons
      • Establish a nationwide gun licensing system
      • Invest in evidence-based urban gun violence intervention programs proven to work
    • Election Security

      Security means protecting our democracy.
      Key Policy
      • Strengthen election security

      Our democracy is sacred. But in the 21st century, it is facing unprecedented threats. We need to defend our elections with better cybersecurity and more secure voting infrastructure. We need a paper trail for every vote so Americans can have confidence that their votes are counted in election results. We need a nonpartisan and fully resourced election administration to prevent unfair partisan skewing of our elections. And we need to make clear to foreign governments that if they attempt to interfere in our elections, there will be serious consequences.

    • Minimum Wage

      Security means making sure every American family has economic peace of mind now and in the future.
      Key Policy
      • Raise the minimum wage to $15 and strengthen overtime protections

      For too long, the typical worker’s wages have not kept up with expenses like health care, housing, and education. Pete wants to make sure that workers who are giving their all to an employer are getting paid fairly in return. By raising the minimum wage to $15, we can start taking steps to make sure that the economy is working for all workers. Restoring Obama-era overtime regulations will protect over eight million workers when they put in extra time for their employers and ensure they get paid for those hours.

      We must also have an honest conversation about how to solve the bigger issue of automation and economic disruption. As fewer and fewer people have a lifelong relationship with a single employer, training and job placement programs are critical. But so is what happens to someone’s identity. We need measures to bridge income and benefits when work is disrupted — and to create meaningful non-work opportunities for building identity and community.

      Additional Policies
      • Pass paid family and medical leave
      • Extend pay and benefit protections to uncovered workers
      • Invest in high-quality child care and early childhood learning programs
    • Affordable Housing

      Security means ensuring every American family has safe, affordable housing.
      Key Policy
      • National affordable housing investment; protections for tenant rights

      Families can’t be secure if the cost of housing means they can’t make ends meet, or if they live in fear of being evicted or losing their home. In an era of increasing inequality, tens of millions of Americans are now “housing insecure,” paying over 30% of their income to rent or housing costs. We must invest in affordable housing for working families, reform unnecessary land use rules that prevent affordable housing construction, and redress the history of housing discrimination against communities of color that has limited economic mobility and fueled the racial wealth gap.

      Additional Policies
      • End homelessness for families with children
      • Fund national investment in affordable housing construction
      • Expand federal protections for tenants against eviction and unjust harassment
    • Criminal Justice Reform

      Security means a fair and racially equitable criminal justice system.
      Key Policy
      • Create incentives for states to reverse mass incarceration and abolish policies perpetuating racial inequality and disparities in the criminal legal system

      We need to focus our policing and criminal justice resources on keeping our communities safe. For many Black and Brown communities, the criminal legal system has threatened, rather than promoted, safety and security. Security is not accomplished by racially discriminatory policing. Security is not accomplished by retribution or by discrimination. Mass incarceration has not made our communities safer, and studies have shown that states that have intentionally dropped their incarceration rates have not seen a rise in crime. We need to focus on rehabilitation and reintegration.

      Additional Policies
      • End mandatory minimum sentences for certain offenses
      • Legalize marijuana and address the harmful effects of its criminalization
      • Reform pretrial detention, including cash bail
      • Significantly increase federal support for community-based reentry programs
      • Abolish the death penalty
      • Prevent discriminatory police practices
      • Increase police accountability for misconduct
      • Reduce use of solitary confinement, including abolishing its prolonged use
      • End over-reliance on parole, probation, and supervised release
      • Eliminate the private prison industry
      • Ban the box
      • Reduce fines, fees, and other ways that states criminalize poverty
    • Veterans

      Security means our nation keeps its promises to service-members and their families.
      Key Policy
      • Invest in veterans health care and education

      It is our duty to take care of our veterans in honor of their service and sacrifice, and that begins by providing them excellent health care. As a war veteran, Pete understands the importance of improving our VA health care system by increasing access to and quality of care, rejecting privatization of the VA, lowering wait times for all services, ending harmful staff shortages, and enhancing the disability claims system to make it easier for veterans to navigate.

      Pete also believes that we must invest heavily in treating veteran mental health — one of the most pressing issues facing veterans and their families today — and supporting veterans as they reintegrate back into our communities as our fellow citizens, friends, neighbors, and family.

    • Extremism

      Security means keeping communities safe from all forms of violent extremism.
      Key Policy
      • Increase federal resources for countering domestic terrorism and white supremacist violence

      ISIS is not the only group that advances political stances through mass violence: so do white supremacist terrorists, anti-government militias, and other groups that use forms of domestic extremism.

      All Americans should be able to live without fear of intimidation and violence. Today, white supremacist extremism and domestic terrorist attacks are on the rise, threatening both our citizens and the very soul of the nation. We need to heal the divides between our communities and work with religious leaders, tech companies, and other influencers to reduce hate and extremism in our homeland.

      Pete will focus more resources on countering domestic terrorism while continuing the fight against international and Islamist-inspired violent extremism. He is committed to protecting all Americans from violent extremists and will never allow the office of the President to be used to amplify their hate or traffic in their conspiracy theories.

  • Democracy

    Pete believes in our democratic republic, but knows that our government has not been nearly democratic or accountable enough. Too many communities have been denied their voice in the political process while our democracy has been captured by special interests and those with the greatest economic power.

    • Voting Rights

      Democracy means protecting voting rights so every eligible voter has a voice.

      The American quest to build a more perfect union starts with a democracy that includes every citizen. Voters must not be denied their rights because of badly run elections or because some people on one side think it’s better if fewer eligible voters are able to vote. The federal government has a responsibility to prevent voter suppression and expand voting rights to give us all a voice in our democracy.  

      Additional Policies
      • Introduce automatic voter registration
      • Expand early voting
      • Restore voting rights for the formerly incarcerated
      • Institute voting by mail
      • Make Election Day a holiday
      • Protect birthright citizenship
      • Provide access for people with disabilities
      • Protect voting rights on tribal lands
      • Ensure an accurate and depoliticized Census count
    • Special Interests

      Democracy means that dollars shouldn’t be allowed to drown out the will of the people.
      Key Policy
      • Small-donor matching system for federal elections

      Our democracy should work for the interests of ordinary Americans, not corporations and special interests. We need to have a strong public financing system that provides matching funds to small donations so that average citizens can run for office, not just those with access to big donors.  

      We also need to create common-sense campaign finance rules that clearly establish that corporations do not have the same political rights as people, and dollars cannot outvote human beings. If necessary, we should do this by constitutional amendment. Our democracy is at stake, and the reason the amendment system was created is to fix problems like this.

      Additional Policies
      • Strengthen the Federal Election Commission
      • Overturn Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo, if necessary by constitutional amendment
    • Gerrymandering

      Democracy means ensuring that our districts can’t be drawn by politicians seeking to choose their voters.
      Key Policy
      • Establish independent, statewide redistricting commissions

      Voters should choose their representatives and be able to hold them accountable. But as long as politicians are drawing the lines of their districts, they will pick and choose voters to their own partisan advantage. We need to have independent, statewide redistricting commissions that don’t favor one party over the other. Our representatives deserve to be reelected for serving their communities well, not because they’re able to select whom they represent.

    • Political Representation

      Democracy means that U.S. citizens from Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico deserve political representation.
      Key Policy
      • True political representation for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico

      The problems faced by people living in D.C. and Puerto Rico are no less important than the problems faced by U.S. citizens in our 50 states. Americans in the District of Columbia are entitled to a House member with voting power and two Senators. Puerto Rico should have immediate representation in the Electoral College, and if the people of Puerto Rico want statehood, that should be welcomed by the United States. We saw the direct consequences of Puerto Rico’s disenfranchisement with the Trump Administration’s disastrous denial of aid after Hurricane Maria — every citizen deserves a full voice.

    • Electoral College

      Democracy means that nothing should be allowed to overrule the vote of the American people when it comes to choosing our nation’s leader.
      Key Policy
      • A national popular vote to replace the Electoral College

      It’s simple: the candidate who gets the most votes should win. States don’t vote, people vote, and everyone’s vote should count exactly the same. The Electoral College has to go.

      The best route to removing the Electoral College would be a constitutional amendment. Recognizing that this cannot be done overnight, Pete supports the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact to ensure the president is chosen by the American people while we seek constitutional reform.

    • Judicial System

      Democracy means depoliticizing our judicial system.
      Key Policy
      • Depoliticize the Supreme Court

      We need to reform the Supreme Court in a way that will strengthen its independence and restore the American people’s trust in it as a check to the Presidency and the Congress. One promising idea is to restructure the Court so that ten members are confirmed in the normal political fashion, with the other five promoted from the lower courts by unanimous agreement of the other ten. Others have proposed implementing term limits. As president, Pete will create a bipartisan reform commission for the purpose of recommending structural improvements to protect the Supreme Court from further politicization.

    • National Service

      Democracy means more shared experiences in the service of our country.
      Key Policy
      • Expand opportunities for national service

      We need to grow our national service programs to give more opportunities for young Americans to serve. Service provides a deeper sense of community, tackles critical national and global challenges, and can help heal our divided nation.

      When Pete was a Navy Reserve Officer, he learned to trust and collaborate with women and men from radically different backgrounds — including different races, religions, and political leanings. Right now, we turn away hundreds of thousands of young people who volunteer to serve. Military service, Peace Corps service, and domestic service-year opportunities through efforts like AmeriCorps should be expanded until service becomes a universal expectation for every American youth.

      Bringing together people of different backgrounds in pursuit of a common shared purpose — from climate adaptation to supporting disinvested American communities and neighborhoods — is America at its best.