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Issues

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

Where Pete Stands on the Issues

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.

Latest Plans

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.

Affordable Housing

Security means ensuring every American family has safe, affordable housing.

Key Policy

National affordable housing investment; protections for tenant rights.

Key Policy

Pass a Community Homestead Act to increase affordable housing and revitalize communities.

Our nation’s history of redlining and decades of unfair housing policies–from the New Deal to the G.I. Bill to the Federal Housing Administration of the 1950s and 1960s–has directly invested in white homeownership while purposely excluding Black Americans. These discriminatory policies have entrenched the racial wealth gap.

That is why we propose a 21st Century Community Homestead Act. This Act will launch a public trust that would purchase abandoned properties and provide them to eligible residents in pilot cities while simultaneously investing in the revitalization of surrounding communities. This plan will attack the racial wealth gap by directly fostering asset ownership among those previously prevented from accumulating capital.

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • End homelessness for families with children
  • Fund a national investment in affordable housing construction
  • Expand federal protections for tenants against eviction and unjust harassment

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 support 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 wayby 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 healthyto 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.

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • Resilient Communities: A New Disaster Preparedness Approach
  • Quadruple federal clean energy research and development.
  • Create community-centered Disaster Commission within first 100 days.
  • Support demonstration and deployment of clean energy and resilient infrastructure.
  • Abolish subsidies for polluters.
  • Ban new oil drilling leases on public lands and waters.
  • Establish a Clean Electricity Standard to reach 100% clean electricity no later than 2035.
  • Deploy at least 1 gigaton of annual CO2 removal capacity by 2040, including direct air capture.
  • Support farmers by doubling USDA R&D investments.
  • Establish a National Catastrophic Extreme Weather Insurance program.
  • Immediately re-enter and increase our ambition in the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Host a Pittsburgh climate summit to convene local leaders from around the US to focus US action on a local and regional level.

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. 

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • 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

Criminal Justice Reform

Freedom means a fair and racially-equitable criminal justice system.

Experts agree that far too many people are locked up unnecessarily in the United States. As a result, we have the highest incarceration rate in the world. If we were to reduce this rate by 50%, we would still have the 28th highest incarceration rate globally–just after Nicaragua. In some cases, incarceration actually leads to an increase in crime. It’s not just a matter of closing down prisons; we also need to invest in social services and diversion programs, and allow people to rehabilitate. We need better ways to address crime and poverty, both in the criminal justice system and in society.

We will ensure more people are free by reducing the number of people incarcerated in the United States at both the federal and state level by 50%. To achieve this, we will:

  • Double funding for federal grants for states that commit to criminal justice reform
  • Eliminate incarceration for drug possession, reduce sentences for other drug offenses and apply these reductions retroactively, legalize marijuana, and expunge past convictions
  • Eliminate mandatory minimums
  • Establish an independent clemency commission that sits outside the Department of Justice
  • Fight the profit motive in the criminal justice system
  • Reduce the criminalization of poverty and its link to incarceration
  • Appoint U.S. Sentencing Commissioners, an Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General deeply committed to achieving this goal
  • Nominate judges from under-represented backgrounds, including women, people of color, public defenders, and civil rights attorneys

Disability

Freedom means dignity, access, and belonging.

People with disabilities are—as they have always been—an indispensable part of the American story. Yet in all facets of life, people with disabilities must contend with physical and invisible obstacles. This reality must change. As President, Pete will tirelessly advocate for people with disabilities, so they no longer have to do it on their own.

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • End the subminimum wage.
  • Double labor force participation rates of people with disabilities by 2030.
  • Make inclusive education a national expectation.
  • Eliminate the “benefit cliff” for Social Security Disability Insurance.
  • Require all new transportation projects with federal funding to be 100% accessible.
  • Develop an Accessible Technology Bill of Rights.
  • Make the voting process and polling places accessible to everyone.

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.

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 Electoral College artificially dilutes the power of minority communities and due to projected demographic trends, this problem is likely to get worse over time. We need to abolish the Electoral College and replace it with a National Popular Vote so that every citizen has a say in electing our president. 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.

Equitable Public Education

Freedom means empowering our children by investing in equitable public education and our nation's teachers.

Key Policy

Schools of the Future for equitable public education.

Today, too many children are being denied educational justice. From inadequate resources and critical teacher shortages to discriminatory disciplinary policies, students of color in particular are far too often not afforded the same educational opportunities as their white peers. And when the intellectual lives of students of color are diminished, America loses.

The Schools of the Future Plan is our commitment to provide the resources needed to ensure every child gains access to the skills they need to meet the economy of the future. We will invest in an equitable public education system by massively increasing federal resources for students at Title I schools, issuing new regulations to diversify the teaching profession, and investing in high-quality state and local educational programs.

Key Policy

Federal support for higher teacher pay, targeted to districts where it will bring the most benefit.

We must respect and value our teachers as the essential public servants that they are, and compensate them accordingly. We need federal support to boost teacher pay, and we will begin by dramatically increasing funding for Title I schools–the schools with the highest economic and racial inequity.

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.

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.

Gender Equity

Freedom for women doesn't mean incremental progress—it means lasting power.

Women deserve agency and opportunity in every part of their lives: at home, school, work, the doctor’s office, and the ballot box.

As President, Pete will close the pay and wealth gaps by ending workplace discrimination and harassment, investing over $50 billion to grow women-owned business, and eliminating the trade-off between career and family with affordable child care and paid family leave. He will also work to secure women’s power and influence by ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to recognize women's equal rights in the Constitution, appointing at least 50% women to the Cabinet and judiciary and promoting gender- and racially-diverse leadership across all sectors.

Pete will prioritize advancing women’s health and choice by writing abortion rights into law, ensuring every woman has access to affordable health care, and ending the maternal mortality crisis. A Buttigieg administration will build safe, inclusive communities for women and families through accountability and culture change that combat domestic and gender-based violence, particularly against trans women and women of color.

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • Safeguard the constitutional right to safe and legal abortion
  • Guarantee every woman affordable health coverage through Medicare for All Who Want It
  • Appoint at least 50% women to the Cabinet and judiciary
  • Recognize womens’ equal rights in the Constitution by supporting the Equal Rights Amendment
  • Reinstate the White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure gender equity is at the core of every policy
  • Fight online harassment that targets women, girls and LGBTQ+ people
  • Close the Boyfriend Loophole
  • Address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women
  • Train all students in consent and bystander intervention to change the culture of sexual harassment and discrimination

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. These efforts have often built on other systemic injustices, such as exploiting residential segregation or compounding the effects of mass incarceration.

We will fight discriminatory racial gerrymandering and partisan gerrymandering–which often has the same effect–by ensuring that Congressional redistricting is conducted by independent, statewide commissions using fair and non-discriminatory redistricting rules. Our representatives deserve to be reelected for serving their communities well, not because they’re able to select whom they represent.

Gun Laws

Security means common-sense gun laws.

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.

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • Institute universal background checks
  • Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
  • Enact red flag laws (also known as extreme risk laws) that disarm at-risk individuals and allow friends and family to intervene when they observe warning signs
  • Close the “boyfriend loophole” to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers
  • Close the “Charleston loophole” to allow the FBI additional time to complete every background check
  • Close the hate loophole to prohibit people convicted of hate crimes from acquiring or possessing firearms
  • Hold the gun industry accountable by repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) to end gun industry immunity
  • Establish a nationwide gun licensing system
  • Resume federal funding for gun violence research
  • Invest in evidence-based urban gun violence intervention programs proven to work

Health Care

Freedom means not having to choose between health care and financial survival.

Getting health care in America is too expensive, too complicated, and too frustrating. Our system leaves us feeling powerless and taken advantage of.

Pete knows that addressing this national challenge will require a multifaceted approach that isn't anchored by the ideological arguments Washington has been having for decades, but is instead rooted in helping people.

Pete's New Era for Health in America is a comprehensive set of health care plans that aims to lower the cost of prescription drugs, increase equity, protect and expand access to health care for women, drive innovation, and address many other aspects of care. Centered on his Medicare for All Who Want It plan, Pete's approach will achieve universal coverage and put Americans back in charge of their health

Key Policy

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.

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.

Key Policy

Americans have been paying more for prescription drugs than any other industrialized country for decades, and we've reached a breaking point. Three in ten Americans skip doses or forgo filling prescriptions due to costs, while the pharmaceutical industry is taking in massive profits.

Pete is offering a new kind of bold leadership to rein in drug companies, reduce the cost of prescription drugs, and expand the production of life-saving and healing medicines.

This plan guarantees that everyone will have access to affordable prescription drugs through his Medicare for All Who Want It health insurance plan. It also has clear outcomes: cut out-of-pocket drug spending for seniors on Medicare by 50% by the end of his first term, so that seniors on Medicare pay no more than $200 per month for drugs; cap out-of-pocket drug spending at $250 a month for anyone who chooses the Medicare for All Who Want It plan; and make co-pays $0 for all generic medicines for low-income Americans on a public plan.

Pete is also committed to building a fairer system by allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies to make drugs more affordable for everyone; holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for price gouging by taking patents away from “worst offenders” that refuse to lower prices for essential drugs; and reining in outrageous drug price increases by penalizing pharmaceutical companies that raise prices by more than inflation.

Key Policy

Rural communities help sustain our country and propel our economy. Yet rural Americans are getting sicker and dying younger than people living in cities. That is wrong. Not just because where you live shouldn’t dictate how long you live, but because when we fail one part of our country, we fail our whole country.

We need to lift rural communities up as places of opportunity, both for this generation and future ones. That work begins by deploying investment and innovation to secure the health of all rural residents, whether that’s a veteran struggling with mental health challenges or a Native woman giving birth.

Under Pete’s plan, hospitals that communities rely on will be able to stay open, while America transforms rural models of care and uses technology to make health services more affordable and accessible to all. The plan will also ensure that rural people of color—including Native American, Black, and Latinx people—have fair access to, and higher quality of, health care. These points are further detailed in Pete's National Health Equity Strategy.

People of color and LGBTQ individuals are burdened by daunting social conditions that impact health and receive lower-quality health care due to institutional racism and implicit bias. That’s why we will launch a National Health Equity Strategy to prioritize anti-racism and ensure that quality health outcomes are the norm for every American, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, place, income, or even access to health care.

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • Lower drug prices
  • Make long-term care affordable
  • Assure universal access to prevention and treatment for mental illness and addiction
  • Combat the opioid and methamphetamine epidemics
  • Reduce maternal mortality rates by expanding access to high-quality care and support before, during, and after pregnancy
  • Invest in maternal and infant health
  • Invest in telehealth to make it easier for patients to be treated at or near their home
  • Designate and fund Health Equity Zones to support communities with a history of redlining and marginalization
  • Train our current health workforce to combat bias when treating patients
  • Remove the Medicaid exception for incarcerated people
  • Revitalize the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services

Higher Education

Freedom means access to affordable higher education.

Key Policy

Debt-free college

While higher education remains a clear pathway for much of the middle class, for too many–particularly for students of color and low-income students–those paths are littered with hurdles. We must make public college truly debt-free for lower-income families. We will 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.

We will cancel the debts of borrowers in low-quality, overwhelmingly for-profit programs and invest $50 billion in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving institutions (MSIs), which are critically important institutions that deserve more dedicated support.

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • 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

Immigration

Security means immigration and border policy that is compassionate and effective.

Key Policy

Pass common sense 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.

Common sense 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.

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • 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

Inclusive Economy

Freedom is an inclusive economy without unfair barriers to entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is an engine of economic growth and employment. However, people of color face unique challenges to starting their own businesses, including accessing credit. Pete’s Walker-Lewis Initiative aims to triple the number of entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds within 10 years, in order to create up to 3 million new jobs in minority communities and across the country overall.

This initiative includes investing in entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds, introducing a Debt-for-Jobs Plan to help students start businesses, awarding 25% of federal contracting dollars to small business owners from underserved communities, and convening a task force to identify additional ways to reach our entrepreneurship goals.

Indian Country

Freedom means affirming the inherent rights of tribal nations.

Tribal Nations long predate the United States of America. Yet despite signing treaties with hundreds of sovereign Indian tribes, the federal government attempted to suppress and destroy Native American tribes and their way of life.

In the face of this oppression, tribes and Native communities continue to exist and thrive. The impact of past injustices, however—from attempted genocide to federal policies that forced assimilation and stripped tribes of their native lands—still shadow our nation today. We must be honest about the history of relations with Indian Country and take bold steps to ensure that tribal nations and native communities have the freedom to excel.

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • Move beyond the notion of government-to-government "consultation" towards a relationship respecting free, prior, and informed consent.
  • Respect treaty-enshrined rights to health care and education, ensuring that every Native has the opportunity to reach their full potential.
  • Restore the White House Tribal Nations Conference, the White House Council on Native American Affairs, and high-level Tribal Affairs appointments in every federal agency.
  • Enact laws and strengthen policies that recognize the inherent authority of tribes to govern their territories, especially when it comes to ensuring tribal rights to protect their lands and natural resources.
  • Protect and expand voting rights on tribal lands by modernizing registration, increasing the number of polling places, and ensuring access to the ballot.
  • Support tribal economic development by recognizing the authority of Indian tribes to tax activities on their lands in support of tribal self-sufficiency and government services.

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.

Pete believes in the need for a major federal investment in our nation’s infrastructure. In particular, he will expand enforcement of environmental protections and invest in solutions to environmental threats. To prepare for and rebuild from disasters, he will ensure greater and more equitable disaster preparedness and relief so communities get the resources they need.

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.

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; protect LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers.

Pete knows that our families, communities, and nation are stronger when we allow all individuals to be true to who they are. We're not fully free when too many LGBTQ individuals remain caught in the criminal justice system or asylum process, when poverty puts HIV treatment out of reach, or when your ability to give blood is contingent on who you love. At home and around the world, a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity should not limit them from pursuing their dreams and realizing their full potentialto work, live, and go to school where they want; to love whom they choose, and to live safe, healthy lives.

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • Pass federal legislation to combat bullying and harassment in schools
  • Improve the health, well-being, and housing security of LGBTQ youth, parents, and families
  • Pass federal legislation prohibiting discrimination against prospective LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents
  • Protect access to homeless shelters for transgender youth by undoing the Trump administration rule that would allow homeless shelters to refuse shelter to transgender youth or require placing them according to their birth gender
  • Ban conversion therapy
  • Combat the overrepresentation and mistreatment of LGBTQ people in the criminal justice system, and ensure that incarcerated transgender individuals have access to hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery
  • Combat the spread of HIV by ensuring access to PrEP for everyone who needs it, regardless of ability to pay

Mental Health & Addiction Care

Freedom means everyone has access to the mental health and addiction care they need.

Key Policy

Healing and Belonging in America: A Plan to Improve Mental Health Care and Combat Addiction

Americans are in the midst of a devastating epidemic of despair. At the same time, our mental health care system is in crisis. Pete’s vision embraces prevention and ensures every person in need has the support not only to begin to heal, but also to feel that they belong in their community and in our country.

Pete's plan is holistic. Fully implemented, his plan will prevent 1 million deaths due to drugs, alcohol, and suicide by 2028. He will empower communities to leverage their own innovation and expertise to improve mental health and prevent addiction through a 10-year $100 billion Healing and Belonging grant program.

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • Enforce mental health and addiction treatment parity so mental health care is as accessible as treatment for physical conditions
  • Give everyone access to life-saving opioid use disorder medication
  • Hold drug companies that profited from the opioid crisis accountable
  • Change how we talk about mental health to end harmful stigma
  • Require all schools to teach Mental Health First Aid courses
  • Address disparities in mental health and addiction through national and community-based efforts
  • Decriminalize mental illness and addiction

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 ensure workers access to the predictable hours, wages, and support they deserve.

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 and beyond, we can start taking steps to make sure that the economy is working for all workers. Restoring Obama-era overtime regulations will ensure that over eight million workers who are putting in extra time for their employers 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 disruptedand to create meaningful non-work opportunities for building identity and community.

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • 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

National Service

Democracy means more shared experiences in the service of our country.

Key Policy

Create 1 million paid national service opportunities by 2026.

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.

“A New Call to Service” aims to quadruple service opportunities to 1 million high school graduates by 2026. Our plan calls young Americans to meaningfully engage in key challenges of our time: resilience and sustainability against climate disruption; community well-being, including mental health, addiction, and substance use; and long-term caregiving and intergenerational mentorship.

Read Pete’s proposal for national service: “A New Call to Service.”

Organized Labor

Freedom means the ability to organize in order to hold employers accountable and advocate for fair pay.

Decades ago, we were promised a rising tide of economic growth that would lift all boats. We got the rising tide–GDP went up, productivity went up–but our paychecks didn’t show it. Working class wages have stagnated since 1980. The need for new skills in a changing economy is one piece of the puzzle. But the hard truth is that while the economy changed, workers’ voices were systematically silenced. Our economy has been tilted toward the wealthy and away from the middle and working class because the people in power designed our laws and policies that way. 

Pete’s policies will empower workers and raise wages, going beyond existing legislative proposals, to accelerate wage growth for the vast majority of Americans who are not in the richest tenth. His policies aim to double unionization, restore workers’ rights that have been eroded by decades of anti-worker policies, enshrine the right to multi-employer bargaining, and expand protections for gig economy, farm, and domestic workers.

CRITICAL POLICY AREAS

  • Institute gender pay transparency and create safe, equitable, accessible, and fair workplaces
  • Impose strong, multimillion-dollar penalties that scale with company size when a company interferes with union elections
  • Level the playing field by requiring “equal airtime on company time,” so that workers hear from union organizers and not just employers
  • Establish a consistent preference in federal government contracting for unionized employers
  • End “right-to-work” laws, which ban union security in collective bargaining
  • Guarantee workers access to paid sick leave and paid family leave, and the predictable hours and wages they deserve
  • Ensure that all workers can bargain with the companies that actually control the terms of their employment
  • Stop employers from permanently replacing workers who strike, enhancing workers’ rights to secondary boycotts

Paid Family & Medical Leave

Freedom means ending the trade-off between caring for loved ones and paying the bills when serious family or medical needs strike.

Key Policy

Ensure all working Americans have access to 12 weeks of comprehensive paid family and medical leave. 

Today, just 19 percent of workers have paid family leave through their jobs, and less than 40 percent have personal medical leave through an employer’s temporary disability insurance program. That’s tens of millions of people–mostly middle and working class families, disproportionately people of color, people with disabilities, and women–who are left behind or forced to make impossible choices that damage their economic security. These gaps contribute to a culture where, too often, our families' needs come last. Pete knows this is unacceptable. It's why he offered fully paid parental leave in South Bend, and it's why as President will make sure workers have at least 12 weeks of paid family leave per year as a portable benefit. 

Pete will pass an enhanced version of the FAMILY Act to create a national paid family and medical leave fund. Benefits for lower-income workers will be high enough so they can afford to take leave, and no one will lose their job when they need time away to provide care. Caregiving responsibilities for grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and chosen family members will be included, and new partnerships with health systems and the Department of Veterans Affairs will improve outreach and education on paid family leave. Pete's administration will also decouple medical leave benefits from family care and new child leave benefits to provide a longer total annual leave for workers who have both serious personal health issues and a family health issue or new child within the same year.

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 the full representation afforded to every state: one congressperson, two Senators, and three Electoral Votes. If it were a state, Washington, D.C. would have the highest proportion of Black citizens–approximately 50%–in the union and be the only state where Black Americans were not a racial minority. We need Congress to redefine the District of Columbia to include only government buildings in the city center and create a new state, “New Columbia,” from the remaining territory. 

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 Mariaevery citizen deserves a full voice.

Racial Justice

Freedom means racial justice, and reversing the damage of past and present racism to our communities, policies, and politics.

Key Policy

The Douglass Plan, a comprehensive investment in the empowerment of Black America.

Black Americans were enslaved and then systematically excluded from full citizenship through laws and policies that purposely relegated them 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.

Read the Douglass Plan: A Comprehensive Investment in the Empowerment of Black America

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • Create a commission to study, consider, and propose potential reparations policies for Black Americans and close the racial wealth gap
  • 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 the self-determination of Indigenous populations
  • Redress inequality in our criminal justice system
  • Dismantle the prison-industrial complex to end the crisis of mass incarceration

Reproductive Rights

Freedom means being able to make decisions about your reproductive health based on what’s right for you.

Key Policy

Building Power: A Woman’s Agenda for the 21st Century

A woman isn’t free if she can’t make choices about her health care. And she’s not free if the political decisions that shape her life are made by people who don’t know what it’s like to be in her shoes. Women are subject to health care policies that restrict their freedom, threaten their safety and jeopardize their well being. Pete’s policies are aimed at ensuring reproductive health care for every woman, no matter the state where she lives and works, her insurance status, her race, ethnicity or place of birth. 

Other Critical Policy Areas

  • Guarantee every woman affordable health coverage.
  • Appointing Supreme Court and Federal judges that share Pete’s vision of freedom and choice for reproductive rights.
  • Codify the right to an abortion into law.
  • Abolish the Hyde Amendment.
  • Prohibit state governments from interfering in private insurance coverage of abortion.
  • Roll back Trump administration gag and refusal of care rules.
  • Guarantee under contraception coverage and family planning methods with no cost sharing under Medicare for All Who Want It. 
  • Ensure Title X funds only go to providers who offer comprehensive, evidence-based care.

Rural Economy

Freedom means that all communities, including rural communities, are empowered to thrive and grow.

Key Policy

Rural America is vital to our country’s past, present, and future. Yet our government too often treats rural America as an afterthought, reflected in higher mortality rates, lower incomes, and lagging job growth. Pete believes that by renewing opportunity in rural America, we can unlock its staggering potential.

As President, he will focus on building rural economies by investing in rural jobs, businesses, and entrepreneurs, especially returning veterans; doubling apprenticeship opportunities and ensure an apprenticeship program in a growing industry is available within 30 miles of every American; and ensuring workers get the wages and protections they deserve. With an eye to long-term sustainability, Pete will empower farmers to lead the way in combating climate change.

Education is an important part of Pete's rural economy platform, demonstrated in his plans to reduce the teacher shortage in rural areas by 50% within 15 years; increase the share of rural adults with a bachelor’s degree by 25% within 10 years; and guarantee that everyone—from small business owners to students—has affordable broadband internet access.

Other Critical Policy Area

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. It’s time to create a strong public financing system that matches small donors so average citizens can run for office funded by their communities, not 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. Our democracy is at stake, and the reason the amendment system was created is to fix problems like this.

Other Critical Policy Areas

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

Veterans

Security means our nation keeps its promises to service-members and their families.

The American military represents the best of who we are and what we can be. What unites our service members is a shared commitment to support and defend the United States. In this, they have stepped up and set an example for us, and the world, about the potential of the American experiment. Pete’s plan will honor the commitment of our service members, veterans, and their families and ensure that every veteran has the opportunity to continue to lead on the home front.

Critical Policy Areas

  • Fully fund the VA, increase clinical pay, and cut red tape to make it easier for health care personnel to be hired.
  • Create a White House coordinator between the VA and DoD.
  • Pause student loan repayments for military spouses who have to move on government orders and include spouses in transition assistance.
  • Shift prosecution of sexual assault in the military from military commanders to independent prosecutors.
  • Mandate regular reports from commanders on racism in their ranks.
  • Rescind the transgender military ban.
  • Invest in transition programs and support community organizations that help with reintegration.
  • Close the loophole that excludes the DoD Tuition Assistance and GI Bill funding from student protections.

Voting Rights

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

Key Policy

A 21st Century Voting Rights Act to end all types of voter suppression and expand voting access.

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 citizens 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. 

A 21st Century Voting Rights Act will use every resource of the federal government to end all types of voter suppression, expand voting access, and create a democracy where the rights of each citizen no longer depend on the color of their skin, the community they live in, or for whom they want to vote. To achieve these goals, we need to authorize a new preclearance procedure under the 1965 Voting Rights Act to enable the federal government to block racist voting laws before they take effect. Voting must also be made accessible to all, including through accessible registration materials and other language access provisions, and greater accessibility at polling places. 

CRITICAL POLICY AREAS

  • Introduce automatic voter registration
  • Allow online and same-day registration
  • Allow early voting and vote-by-mail
  • Make Election Day a holiday
  • Restore voting rights for the formerly incarcerated
  • Provide access for people with disabilities
  • Protect voting rights on tribal lands
  • Neutralize the effects of restrictive voter ID bills
  • Increase and enforce criminal penalties for people who try to interfere with a person’s right to vote
  • Protect birthright citizenship
  • Fix the harms caused by a politicized and inaccurate Census count
  • Develop policies that limit the spread of false information online

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