Editor's Note: Marianne Williamson dropped out of the race on Jan. 10, 2020.
We asked presidential candidates questions about a variety of issues facing the country. This is what Democratic candidate Marianne Williamson had to say about climate change, gun control, health care and other issues.
Do you believe the earth’s climate is changing? If yes, do you believe it is caused by humans?
Greenhouse gas emissions by humans is the main cause of climate change. We must transition rapidly from fossil fuels to a clean green economy. I would invest massively in energy efficiency and renewable energy. We need a WWII mass mobilization involving government, citizens and industry. Forces that did industrial scale harm are needed to do industrial scale repair: I am uniquely qualified to enroll a large swarth of Americans in the effort. Many people make their living in fossil fuels. We need a just transition, where professional skills are repurposed not discarded.
If you could unilaterally make one change, or enact one policy, that would affect the climate, what would that be? And why?
Put a price on carbon, whether through a carbon tax or cap and trade. This would create a strong market incentive for companies which emit carbon to find innovative ways to cut carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change. The market will be a powerful force to decrease carbon emissions.
How would you engage foreign leaders to work with the United States on issues related to climate?
First and foremost, the U.S. needs to exercise leadership on climate change by demonstrating the bold and powerful actions now required. I would recommit to the Paris Accord, and work to reduce dramatically the target emission levels globally. I would work to make U.S. technology available at affordable prices to countries that need support in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And I would consider countries' record on reducing greenhouse gas emissions when negotiating trade deals with them.
Should the U.S. explore additional use of nuclear power as an alternative energy source? Why or why not?
No. Nuclear energy is extremely dangerous. A nuclear accident could be catastrophic. An example is the plant at Fukushima, Japan, where an earthquake triggered a nuclear accident which polluted the Pacific Ocean and fisheries which are still closed due to contamination of marine life. Additionally, we have the problem of where to store nuclear waste. It's radioactive, and nobody wants radioactive waste stored near them or transported through their neighborhoods. We can meet our energy needs with increased energy efficiency and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
Should the U.S. government offer subsidies for renewable energy, such as wind energy or ethanol? Why or why not?
Yes. We need a rapid shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. The federal government can encourage both producers and consumers of renewable energy with incentives, such as tax breaks and subsidies. All subsidies to the fossil fuel industries should stop and funds redirected to energy efficiency and renewable power.
How would you address gun violence in America?
I support gun safety measures including universal background checks, a federal red flag law, a ban on assault weapons and bump stocks, and a requirement to have a license to own a gun. We need a license to drive cars, we should require the same for guns. I support a waiting period for gun purchases, and reinstatement of funds to research gun violence. I will establish a U.S. Department of Peace. Gun violence is a symptom and we must also address the cause. Many elements foster violent behavior, and I will lead a national effort to create a nonviolent society.
How do you propose making schools safer from acts of violence?
Guns have no place at schools, except with police officers. We should build on efforts to make schools gun-free zones. We need stricter gun safety measures as described above. We do NOT need to arm teachers.
What role, if any, should the government have in regulating large technology companies?
Large tech companies are abusing people’s privacy, providing a platform for lies and misinformation, limiting competition, and endangering democracy during elections. They have too much power, and we need to break them up. We need to enforce anti-trust laws in the technology sector, to allow for more competition and innovation. And we need stronger protections against invasion of privacy as well as lies and misinformation.
If you are elected, how would you interact with North Korea? What relationship would the U.S. and North Korea have?
Denuclearization will follow more easily with decreased tensions. We can aim for improved relations with clear-eyed respect and steps towards thawing the ice. We can reduce tension and build a stable peace by:
- Principled progress on diplomacy, including citizen diplomacy
- A statement declaring an end to the Korean War, replacing the armistice agreement with a peace regime
- Support South Korean efforts for confidence-building and tension reduction
- Include women and civil society in negotiations
Would you re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran? Why or why not?
Yes. I would rejoin the JCPOA. Every IAEA report confirmed Iran's compliance. U.S. withdrawal and sanctions violated the trust that had been painstakingly built. Rejoining the JCPOA will require healing from this rupture and rebuilding trust, both with Iran and our allies. The UAE and Saudi Arabia do not want the U.S. to improve relations with Iran. We must not be drawn into war by those who want us to fight Iranians for them. Instead I would increase diplomacy, decrease tensions, and transform relations to create a context to address nuclear weapons, human rights and more.
How do you plan to address the threat of extremism in the U.S.?
There is rising white nationalism in the U.S. The FBI says the greatest threat of terrorism comes NOT from foreigners, but from homegrown violent extremists. White nationalism needs to be addressed vigorously. I will call it out. I will ensure the Department of Justice and FBI work vigorously with local law enforcement to monitor extremists and prosecute hate crimes, and I will make sure they have the resources to do so. I will work for social media companies to shut down hate speech that incites violence.
Do you believe there is equal access to voting in the U.S.? If not, how would you go about expanding access to voting?
There is NOT equal access to voting in the U.S. Equal access was guaranteed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but after the Supreme Court gutted major provisions in 2013, voting access has become increasingly restricted. We should restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act, protect election systems, re-enfranchise returning citizens, curtail gerrymandering of districts, expand voting locations and hours, and stop voter suppression. Additionally, the voting age should be lowered to 17, with registration automatic on a person’s 17th birthday.
Do you believe voter fraud is a problem in the U.S.? If yes, how do you plan to you address it?
No. Voter fraud is not a problem in the U.S., and is a distraction intended to draw attention away from the real problem. The real problem is NOT people voting who should not (which is virtually non-existent), but rather efforts to suppress the vote by knocking qualified voters off the voter rolls and limiting voting locations and hours. We must stop voter suppression and make it easier, not harder, to vote.
Should it be a crime to enter the U.S. illegally?
Yes, we should protect our borders. Yet seeking asylum is not a crime but a statutory right. There is a backlog of almost one million cases in our immigration courts, many of them seeking asylum. We should add more personnel, technology, and points of entry to process asylum requests more quickly. We should treat people with respect. We should stop separating families. The federal government has a moral responsibility to keep families together. For those who have been torn apart by the current administration, we must take immediate action to reunite children with their families.
Should the U.S. expand or limit legal immigration?
Yes, we should expand legal immigration. I would give a path of citizenship to every undocumented immigrant who has not committed an offense against the U.S. Moreover we should address the situations in their homes that cause people to flee, by increasing security and economic opportunity that enable them to stay in their homes in Central America.
In many areas of the country, there is a critical shortage of affordable housing. What would your administration do to address it?
Every American deserves a safe and affordable place to live. I would address the shortage of affordable housing by focusing on the root cause: lack of opportunity among too many Americans. We must give a massive infusion of hope and opportunity to the average American. I would strengthen working families’ ability to pay rent with my economic plan including increasing income ($15/hour minimum wage), strengthening unions, and reducing taxes. I would also expand affordable housing trusts, preserve current affordable units, and offer incentives for building affordable housing where most needed.
Read what all the candidates have to say about education, housing and jobs here.
What is your plan to address the growing national debt?
I would reduce the national debt by increasing revenue and reducing expenditures. Specifically I'd increase revenue by fair taxes including repeal of the 2017 tax bonanza where 83 cents on every $1 went to the top 1% at a cost of nearly $2 trillion; return the estate tax to begin at $5 million; "Scrap the Cap" on the payroll tax so those earning over $132,900 pay the same percentage into the Social Security fund as others; and add a tax of 2% on wealth above $50 million and 3% above $1 billion. I would reduce expenditures by cutting subsidies to fossil fuel companies and reducing military spending.
Do you think our national debt is a national security issue? Why or why not?
We should reduce our national debt in times of prosperity, so the federal government can stimulate the economy when a recession hits.
Is capitalism the best economic structure for the United States? If yes, why? If no, what is better and how do you believe it will benefit Americans?
I support capitalism with a conscience. People respond to financial incentives, inspiring them to create companies that provide what people need and want. The problem in America is not that people are rich; the problem is that not enough people are able to get rich. We need to expand the ability for more Americans to pursue their dreams, by expanding quality education and increasing access to capital and other resources to thrive. I do not believe the average person who has created wealth in America wants to think they did so at the expense of someone else having the opportunity.
In many parts of the country, there is a skilled worker gap. How would you close that gap to get more people employed in the industries that need them?
I would develop a national industrial policy to ensure that we have capacity to produce vital goods like steel and trains within our own country, and not be dependent on other countries like China. I would do a national skills needs assessment to determine where there is a skilled worker gap. Then I would expand apprenticeships and training through colleges, community colleges, and trade programs to prepare people for the jobs currently available and expected in the next generation.
Related: 2020 candidates on the issues
Should the government forgive student loans? If yes, why and for whom? If no, why not?
Yes. The government should forgive all student loans. Public college tuition and worker training programs should be made very affordable or free going forward. This would lift the yoke of student debt that is holding back the next generation from pursuing their dreams, and will help stimulate prosperity.
Should community college be free to anyone who wants to attend? Should other colleges and universities be free to attend?
Yes, community colleges and public colleges should be tuition-free for all qualified students. Private colleges can charge whatever they wish for a private education.
Is more funding needed for mental health care in America? If yes, what amount and how should it be allocated? Where should that money come from?
We need to provide more mental health services — and ask why so many need them. Many policies contribute to despair and isolation. We need to realign policies with a moral vision: that every policy helps people thrive. A massive infusion of economic hope and opportunity will uplift the psychological conditions of millions. Additionally, we need more funding for community health centers. Money comes from repealing tax cuts to the wealthiest and negotiating drug prices. People deserve needed treatment, but this should not be a giveaway to pharmaceuticals to treat every condition with drugs.
How would you address rising prescription drug costs, specifically for medications that are necessary for people to live, such as insulin and mental health medications?
Pharmaceuticals use patents developed with U.S. taxpayer funds, then charge Americans 3 to 15 times more than other countries for the medicine. Americans are dying because they can't afford the medicine. I would take back the ability for government to negotiate prices with pharmaceuticals. I would use the “march-in rights” under the Bayh-Dole Act that allows government to ignore the exclusivity of a patent developed with public funding, and license the patent to another party (that) charges less for medicine. It’s a safeguard for when drugs are not put on the market, or are on with unreasonable terms.
What do you believe is the biggest health care issue facing Americans? How would you solve it?
The biggest health care issue is that Americans are eating toxic food, drinking contaminated water, and breathing toxic air that make them sick. Industry deregulation has left consumers insufficiently protected. Key policies have been gutted — for example, the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. Agencies like the Food and Drug Administration are too cozy with the industries they are supposed to regulate. I would restore the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, and appoint strong leaders independent of the industries they oversee to run agencies such as the FDA and the EPA.
How would you address the opioid crisis?
We need to reign in pharmaceutical companies which knowingly pushed opioids on people, destroying lives so they could increase profits. These predatory executives must be stopped and held accountable. We need to fund treatment to help opioid addicts. We also need to ask, what is going on that so many people feel the pain of living is so great? We need to address root causes. We need a comprehensive review of policies in all areas — including education, health and food — that contribute to the isolation and despair that lead people to depression, anxiety, and dysfunctional behavior.
Should marijuana be legalized federally for medicinal use? Should it be legalized for recreational use?
Yes and yes.
Do you support a public health insurance option for all Americans? If yes, do you support the elimination of private health care in favor of a government-run plan, or do you support an option where Americans can choose a public or private plan? If no, why?
Yes, I support a public health insurance option for all Americans, by making Medicare available to all who want it. I support the right of Americans to choose a public or private plan. There are about 160 million Americans currently on a private health plan. Those who wish to keep it should be allowed to do so.
Should the federal government re-institute the death penalty? If yes, for what crimes?
No, I am opposed to the death penalty.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Marianne Williamson shares views on gun control, immigration and more