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.
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.
Security means ensuring every American family has safe, affordable housing.
National affordable housing investment; protections for tenant rights.
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.
Security means protecting our environment and treating climate change and climate disruption like the national emergency it is.
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 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.
Freedom means strong consumer protections that don’t allow banks to rip off or discriminate against their customers.
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.
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:
For Pete’s additional criminal justice policies, read The Douglass Plan.
Security means protecting our democracy.
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.
Democracy means that nothing should be allowed to overrule the vote of the American people when it comes to choosing our nation’s leader.
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.
Freedom means empowering our children by investing in equitable public education and our nation's teachers.
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.
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.
Security means keeping communities safe from all forms of violent extremism.
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.
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.
Freedom means that your opportunities aren’t limited because of your gender.
Closing the gender pay gap requires not only that women are equally compensated, but also that women are promoted into and retained in the well-paid jobs they deserve. Transparency can help. The public should know which companies are doing right by their female employees with fair pay, promotions, and family-friendly work arrangements, and which ones have glass ceilings.
Pete will propose legislation to immediately make public the total pay gap at every large company: for every dollar that the company pays to male employees as a whole, how much does it pay to female employees? Total pay gap transparency would be a down payment on more granular reporting requirements, such as by gender, race, and job within companies. 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.
Democracy means ensuring that our districts can’t be drawn by politicians seeking to choose their voters.
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.
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.
Freedom means not having to choose between health care and financial survival.
“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.
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.
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.
Freedom means access to affordable higher education.
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 $25 billion in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving institutions (MSIs), which are critically important institutions that deserve more dedicated support.
Security means immigration and border policy that is compassionate and effective.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Democracy means depoliticizing our judicial system.
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.
Freedom means living free of discrimination because of who you are and whom you love.
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 potential–to work, live, and go to school where they want; to love whom they choose, and to live safe, healthy lives.
Security means making sure every American family has economic peace of mind now and in the future.
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 disrupted–and to create meaningful non-work opportunities for building identity and community.
Democracy means more shared experiences in the service of our country.
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.”
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
Democracy means that U.S. citizens from Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico deserve political representation.
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 Maria–every citizen deserves a full voice.
Freedom means racial justice, and reversing the damage of past and present racism to our communities, policies, and politics.
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.
Freedom means being able to make decisions about your reproductive health based on what’s right for you.
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.
Democracy means that dollars shouldn’t be allowed to drown out the will of the people.
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.
Security means our nation keeps its promises to service-members and their families.
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 with 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–supporting veterans as they reintegrate back into our communities as our fellow citizens, friends, neighbors, and family.
Democracy means protecting voting rights so every eligible voter has a voice.
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
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