Editor's note: John Delaney dropped out of the race on Jan. 31, 2020
We asked presidential candidates questions about a variety of issues facing the country. This is what Democratic candidate John Delaney 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?
Yes, I believe climate change is occurring and that human activity has made it exponentially worse.
If you could unilaterally make one change, or enact one policy, that would affect the climate, what would that be? And why?
The cornerstone of my climate plan is my carbon fee and dividend proposal, which has been modeled to reduce carbon emissions by 90% (compared to the 2015 level) by 2050. While there is more to do to tackle climate change and protect communities from its effects, the first step must be to put a price on pollution and return the revenue to the American people.
How would you engage foreign leaders to work with the United States on issues related to climate?
On the first day of my presidency, I would re-sign the United States into the Paris Climate Agreement to reestablish American leadership in the international climate discussion. I would also pursue a Paris 2.0 agreement which would focus on international innovation in developing cleaner energy sources to be utilized by countries around the world.
Should the U.S. explore additional use of nuclear power as an alternative energy source? Why or why not?
In order to decrease the amount of fossil fuels the United States uses to meet our energy needs, we can not eliminate any options. We must pursue an all-of-the-above strategy which includes tax credits for renewable energy, massive federal investment in negative emissions technology to remove carbon from the atmosphere, and support advanced nuclear.
Should the U.S. government offer subsidies for renewable energy, such as wind energy or ethanol? Why or why not?
Government support for renewable energy sources will be a vital part of our transition away from fossil fuels and our effort to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
How would you address gun violence in America?
I support universal background checks; a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and accessories like bump stocks and trigger cranks that increase the rate of fire for semiautomatic weapons; closing the boyfriend loophole to prevent people convicted of domestic violence against a dating partner from buying guns; encouraging states to adopt extreme risk protection order laws that allow family members to petition courts to restrict access to guns for people who pose an immediate threat to themselves or others; and federal funding for gun violence research.
How do you propose making schools safer from acts of violence?
The best way to keep schools safe is to keep guns out of the wrong hands and keep the most dangerous weapons off the streets entirely. Universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and extreme risk protection order laws are all solutions that will help accomplish those goals. I do not believe that arming teachers is the answer. I will oppose allowing federal funds to be used to purchase firearms or firearms training for school workers who are not full-time security professionals.
What role, if any, should the government have in regulating large technology companies?
The government should ensure appropriate regulations and laws are in place to protect people’s privacy from abuse by large technology companies. Additionally, Congress must update our antitrust laws to avoid market concentration and power in the hands of a few dominant technology companies.
If you are elected, how would you interact with North Korea? What relationship would the U.S. and North Korea have?
We must engage diplomatically with North Korea. As president, I will reverse the cuts to the State Department to ensure it has the resources necessary to carry out its responsibilities and direct the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to engage with regional leaders to negotiate with the North Korean leadership. I would pursue an agreement that takes steps toward the ultimate goal of denuclearization of North Korea. However, I would not weaken sanctions until North Korea makes verified progress.
Would you re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran? Why or why not?
I would rejoin the nuclear deal with Iran but seek a longer term – 20 years – as a condition. The most significant weakness of the JCPOA was that its duration was not long enough to provide hope for a successor Iranian regime to confirm long-term compliance. We should solve this by returning to the negotiating table instead of scrapping the deal entirely. Withdrawing from the deal when Iran was in compliance with its terms has become a provocation for the Iranians to not feel constrained to abide by the JCPOA, which makes the situation with Iran inherently more dangerous.
How do you plan to address the threat of extremism in the U.S.?
To address the threat of extremism, we need to change the tone at the top. President Trump’s dangerous and irresponsible rhetoric is an affront to our values of decency and diversity, and ending the implicit support of intolerance and even violence that is coming from the White House will make a significant difference. I also support a broad range of gun safety measures to keep the most dangerous weapons off the streets and ensure people who pose a threat to themselves or others don’t have access to guns.
Do you believe there is equal access to voting in the U.S.? If not, how would you go about expanding access to voting?
It is shamefully clear that not everyone in America has equal access to the ballot box. Voter ID laws, complicated registration procedures and deadlines, and inconsistent standards about restoring voting rights to people who have served prison sentences and paid their debts to society all constitute barriers to equal voting rights. As president I will sign the Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore the VRA protections gutted by the Supreme Court, support automatic voter registration and same day registration, and enact a uniform national standard to automatically restore voting rights to people who have completed prison sentences.
Do you believe voter fraud is a problem in the U.S.? If yes, how do you plan to you address it?
Should it be a crime to enter the U.S. illegally?
While I value immigrant communities and support both increased legal immigration and increasing the number of refugees we accept, I do not support decriminalizing illegal border crossings. I agree with Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama Administration, who said that decriminalizing illegal crossings is unworkable and unwise as the number of people to attempt illegal border crossings will multiply.
Should the U.S. expand or limit legal immigration?
I believe that our immigration policy in the United states should be welcoming which is why I support increasing legal immigration including increasing the refugee admission cap.
In many areas of the country, there is a critical shortage of affordable housing. What would your administration do to address it?
We need to increase the supply of affordable housing through direct government spending and by encouraging private investment. First, I will provide $7 billion in annual funding to the Housing Trust Fund, which helps state housing agencies build and maintain affordable housing units. Second, I will create a new block grant program worth $5 billion annually to encourage states and localities to end restrictive zoning policies that limit the construction of multifamily housing. This will lead to increased construction of both affordable and market-rate housing units.
What is your plan to address the growing national debt?
My plan is to limit annual budget deficits to approximately 2% of GDP, which will be lower than our annual rate of GDP growth. Ensuring that our economy grows more than the annual deficit will mean the debt-to-GDP ratio declines over time, reducing the debt burden as a percentage of our economy.
Do you think our national debt is a national security issue? Why or why not?
Debt is a serious issue, and if we don’t get it under control, increasing interest expenses could affect every priority we have, including national security.
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 believe that capitalism is the best economic structure for the United States because it promotes innovation and economic growth. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t need serious changes to our current system. In its current form, capitalism is causing extreme income inequality and leaving too many behind. I am proposing policies that will fix capitalism to make our economic model more just and inclusive.
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 will increase federal support for public education to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn the skills they need for the economy of the future. My education plan includes free Pre-K for every four-year-old child and two years of free in-state tuition or technical training for everyone who completes one year of my mandatory national service program, which will also provide opportunities for participants to earn professional certificates. I am also calling for a national AI strategy that will include job training assistance for workers whose jobs are disrupted by automation or other forms of technological innovation.
Should the government forgive student loans? If yes, why and for whom? If no, why not?
We need to help borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, but forgiving all outstanding student loan balances would be a regressive and overly-expensive policy. Instead, I would improve the Obama administration’s income-based repayment plans by reducing the number of required payments and making loan forgiveness tax-free. I would also lower the interest rate on federal student loans so the government stops profiting on them and increase refinancing options for borrowers with private student loans.
Should community college be free to anyone who wants to attend? Should other colleges and universities be free to attend?
My education plan includes two years of free in-state tuition at a public university, community college, or technical school for everyone who completes one year of my mandatory national service program.
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 increase support for mental health care. The first step is to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for mental health care, which are currently far below the cost of providing care. I will require mental health parity so all insurance plans feature the same coverage for mental health needs as they do for physical health. Mental health parity will also be an essential component of my BetterCare universal health care plan. I will increase the number of mental health providers available to serve at-risk populations, including in schools and correctional facilities, as well as telehealth options for rural populations.
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?
I would allow the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices for Medicare and for my BetterCare universal health care plan, and I would impose an excise tax on pharmaceutical companies equal to 100 percent of the price difference between drugs in the U.S. and the same drugs in other countries with similarly-developed economies. This would lower costs for all Americans and ensure that we don’t pay more for the same drugs.
What do you believe is the biggest health care issue facing Americans? How would you solve it?
The biggest problem in the American health care system is that we spend more on health care as a percentage of GDP than any other high income country but we still don’t have universal coverage. In fact, under the Trump administration, the uninsured rate has gone up. My BetterCare plan will achieve true universal coverage by giving every American a free government health care plan as a right, while still preserving choice and not outlawing private insurance.
How would you address the opioid crisis?
We need to support education and prevention efforts as well as provide additional resources to ensure that people struggling with opioid addiction get the treatment they need. I would require physicians to explain the risks of opioid use when making prescriptions, increase the availability of alternative pain treatments, and hold pharmaceutical executives accountable. For patients, I would require all insurers to cover medical treatment and behavioral health counseling, invest in programs to support people in recovery, and create a new block grant program for states paid for by a 2 cent tax on morphine milligram equivalents in prescription pain pills.
Should marijuana be legalized federally for medicinal use? Should it be legalized for recreational use?
I support the use of medicinal marijunana and believe marijuana should be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
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 universal health care for all Americans and I have proposed my plan, BetterCare, which automatically enrolls Americans in a free health care plan at birth but allows for people to opt-out and buy private insurance if they wish. I believe a mixed model, like BetterCare, is better for access and quality health care than a single payer health care system. The government pays less than the cost of care so if the entire system relied on government reimbursement rates, hospitals and other health care providers could be at risk of closure.
Should the federal government re-institute the death penalty? If yes, for what crimes?
No, I oppose the death penalty.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: John Delaney shares views on gun control, immigration and more