Tom Steyer | 2020 Presidential Questionnaire

 

 

Index:

● Workers’ Rights & Organizing
● Good Jobs & Offshoring
● Fair Elections & Good Government
● Health Care
● Taking On Wall Street Greed
● Trade
● Telecommunications
● Human/Civil Rights

 

Why are you running? What are your policy priorities that would benefit working families?

I began this campaign because corporations have bought our government and are no longer working on behalf of the American people. I am the only candidate who will make addressing climate change my number one priority as President of the United States. I also believe that the income inequality in the country is unbearable and unjust and unsupportable. And the redistribution of wealth to the richest Americans from everyone else has to end. And I proposed a wealth tax a year and a half ago to start to address it and raise the money that we need.

For the last 40 years, Republican policies have shifted the majority of this country’s wealth away from working families and pushed it up to the rich. The GOP agenda of cutting taxes for corporations and the super-wealthy — continued by Donald Trump — has left us with historic levels of inequality. The richest 1% now hold 32% of American wealth. Meanwhile, 40% of Americans would have trouble meeting an unexpected $400 expense.

This is a sustained, calculated attack on the American worker. An economy that forces millions of people to work multiple jobs — who still struggle to save or afford health care — is an economy that’s broken. Despite this, Trump will continue to campaign on his economic strength, and in order to beat him in November, Democrats need a nominee who can expose him as a complete failure. I grew my small investment firm into a multibillion-dollar business and have the experience needed to go toe-to-toe with Trump on the economy. We can create 4.6 million long-term jobs as we update our electricity grid and build a carbon neutral economy.

I have proposed a plan for a Middle Class Tax Cut: working families making less than $250,000 per year — and individuals making less than $200,000 per year — will receive a 10% cut to their current tax rate funded by ending tax give-aways to the wealthy. It will benefit 95% of Americans, help stem widespread wealth inequality in this country and make the tax code fairer and more progressive.

My People Over Profits Economic Agenda is built on three core principles: (1) breaking the corporate stranglehold on our government; (2) investing in the American people; and (3) harnessing innovation and competition. Working people have gotten the short end of the stick for decades. Since 1980, almost all of the increase in income in this country — including the immense gains from skyrocketing productivity enabled by technology — has gone to corporations and the richest people in the country. Labor unions are a powerful check on corporations, and I support their right to organize for worker protections, a living wage, an increased earned income tax credit, and expanded retirement benefits.

As a part of my economic plan, I have also proposed a Wealth Tax to help invest in America and working families: over the next decade, the Institute On Taxation And Economic Policy projects my proposal could raise over $1.7 trillion. That’s enough for our nation to:

● Pay off student loan debt nationwide;
● Repair our roads, bridges, and highways (cost: about $836 billion)
● Upgrade our voting machines for safer, fairer elections (cost: about $130 – $400 million)
● Mitigate climate change with clean energy investments

Under my plan, anyone worth 32 million dollars or more will pay 1 cent more on the dollar. At 500 million, that goes up to 1 and a half cents. And at 1 billion dollars, that number hits 2 cents. Over a decade, that’s 1.7 trillion dollars in tax revenue — which will go towards things like fixing health care, creating new jobs in a clean energy economy, and funding education. I have been calling for a wealth tax long before he was running for president — because it’s the right thing to do.

 

Why are you asking for the endorsement of CWA?

Since I started actively working in politics in 2010, organized labor has always been the best of partners. My relationship with working families is one that I want to continue and deepen as the next president. It’s time to reset the economic table and give workers a true voice in our future. The members and leaders of the Communications Workers of America need a champion in the White House.

 

List any past activities with the CWA.

I helped found For Our Future (FOF), to reach out to infrequent voters, promote progressive values and turn them out to vote in key elections in crucial states. FOF was active in eight swing states in 2016 and seven states in 2018. In addition, I partnered with the California Labor Federation in 2018 on a program to flip seven congressional districts by engaging directly with voters in my home state.

 

Please list any relevant organizations of which you are a member.

I was previously involved involved with: For Our Future

 

WORKERS’ RIGHTS & ORGANIZING

(a) Do you support the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (H.R. 2474/S. 1306)?

Yes.

(b) Do you support the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act (H.R. 3463/S. 1970)?

Yes. The intent of the Supreme Court case “Janus v AFSCME” was to strip away the rights of working people to join a union and, in so doing, curtail the organizational and political power of our nation’s public and private sector unions. The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act is an opportunity to help workers organize and join a union, which I wholeheartedly support.

 

(c) Will you oppose any federal right-to-work (a.k.a. “right to work for less”) policy, and use your platform to oppose any such anti-worker efforts? 

Yes. American economic productivity and sustained economic growth is rooted in the health and welfare of its workers — our auto workers, public service employees, teachers, teamsters, nurses, and communication workers — our brothers and sisters in labor. My economic agenda clearly recognizes labor’s place in our economy. Unchecked capitalism has taken away workers’ healthcare, dismantled pension programs, and curtailed and rolled back workplace protections, hard fought labor victories that must be built upon, not reversed.

 

(d) What policies will you adopt to ensure that the federal contracting process supports good jobs, rather than subsidizing poverty wages?

We need to build up community prosperity and ensure economic diversification by adopting wealth-building strategies for diverse businesses nationally. This includes implementing strong targets for procurement from local, women, and minority-owned businesses; rewarding companies that adhere to fair labor practices and employ a union workforce; advancing community-led economic development strategies by supporting projects that include local hire, targeted hiring, and first-source hiring requirements; and building community benefit agreements, responsible contractor policies and best value contracting in to federal projects.

I will ensure access to good jobs and high road careers by ensuring workers have the skills they need, especially in construction, manufacturing, and engineering sectors by supporting strong workforce pipelines, including apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.

Finally, I will ensure strong partnerships with stakeholders and community based organizations to ensure effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms are in place so that targets are met and adhered to.

 

 

GOOD JOBS & OFFSHORING

(a) Do you support the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 3219/S.1792)?

Yes.

(b) Do you support the No Tax Breaks for Outsourcing Act (H.R. 1711/S.780)?

Yes.

(c) Will you fight to defend existing workers’ pensions, and pledge to oppose any attacks on these had-earned benefits?

Yes.

(d) Do you support legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour regardless of region and linking increases to inflation thereafter?

Yes, in addition, I support a living wage for all Americans.

 

(e) Will you support and strengthen paid leave in all places of employment, and use your platform and influence to actively oppose any attempts to cut such programs?

Yes. As President of NextGen America, our California team advocated for and celebrated key legislative victories in 2017, including SB63, a bill to expand guaranteed family leave. New parents shouldn’t have to choose between the health of their child and keeping their jobs. When I am president, I will advocate for legislation that will allow a minimum of 6 months paid family leave for all workers.

 

(f) Do you support H.R. 2208/S. 1112, the Cabin Air Safety Act, to establish proper training, monitoring, reporting and investigations to ensure that flight crews and passengers are protected from the effects of toxic cabin air?

Yes.

 

FAIR ELECTIONS & GOOD GOVERNMENT

(a) Do you support the For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 949)?

Yes. We need to increase the participation of the American people in our democracy. From overturning Citizens’ United to establishing a National Referendum, I want to push power back to the people. In addition, I will Initiate a National Vote-By-Mail System to make voting more convenient by providing all voters with ballots and allowing voters more time to participate in our democracy. This system would also increase overall election security and participation. I also support establishing independent redistricting commissions in every state to end racist and partisan gerrymandering.

 

(b) What criteria will you use to select your Secretary of Labor?

I will pick a Secretary of Labor who recognizes the value of organized labor to working families, has an extensive history with organized labor, supports a prosperous economy in an America where everyone can thrive, and will always put the interests of working people first, not corporations.

 

(c) What criteria will you use in choosing any potential Supreme Court nominees? 

Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans unilaterally changed the Supreme Court’s composition, stole an appointment, and helped Donald Trump fill court openings with some of the most extreme justices to ever sit on the bench. Their actions could set back generations of Americans, which is why I consider expanding the number of justices who sit on the high court.

In addition to nominating candidates with a record of academic achievement and judicial temperament, I would seek candidates whose life experiences demonstrate a commitment to justice and equity. I would look for someone who understands an individual’s dignity and privacy, and who would be willing to protect our civil rights even when they are opposed by concentrated power. Every American should have the right to an equal vote, the right to clean air and clean water, the right to learn, the right to a living wage, and the right to health care. I would appoint someone who shares my vision and values.

 

 

HEALTH CARE

(a) What is your plan for making health care a basic human right? Where do Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act fall into that? 

With an affordable, quality public option available, the message to private insurers will be crystal clear — compete on cost and quality of care, or lose customers. My plan will enable the government to negotiate costs with medical groups and providers directly, just like Medicare does today. To eliminate surprise billing, my plan will cap emergency room expenses and will ensure that everything required for a patient’s care — including medical professionals on call and lab work — are in-network. Prescription drug prices will be benchmarked against international standards and price-capped, so Americans can receive affordable medication. My administration will enact antitrust regulations and consumer protection laws to break the corporate stranglehold over our health care system.

With millions of low-income Americans living without insurance, we need to make universal access to coverage a reality. I will protect key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and reaffirm the ACA’s commitment to provide for people younger than 26 and those living with pre-existing conditions. My plan for a public option offers fully subsidized enrollment for the nearly 5 million qualifying individuals who should be covered under an expanded Medicaid. My framework allows people who receive coverage through their employer to opt into the public option if it better suits their needs. To increase affordability for the middle class, my plan will expand financial subsidies offered by the ACA.

 

(b) What is your plan for lowering prescription drug costs as well as out-of-pocket costs for workers?

To reduce drug costs, I will build on my record in California to increase drug pricing transparency and work to significantly curtail the costs of prescription drugs. Prescription drug prices will be benchmarked against international standards and price-capped, so Americans can receive affordable medication. My administration will enact antitrust regulations and consumer protection laws to break the corporate stranglehold over our health care system.

 

 

TAKING ON WALL STREET GREED

(a) Do you support closing the carried interest loophole? 

Yes.

(b) Do you support the Inclusive Prosperity Act of 2019 (H.R.2923/S.1587)?

I support a tax on Wall Street transactions. However, I am not necessarily committed to the formula expressed in H.R.2923/S.1587.

(c) Do you support The Reward Work Act (H.R. 3355/S. 915)?

Yes. CEO’s should not be able to use company profits to enrich themselves by manipulating stock prices with share buybacks.

(d) Do you support ending “Too Big to Fail” by breaking up the Wall Street mega banks and separating depository banking from risky investment banking? 

Yes.

(e) Do you support ending predatory lending and expanding access to fair consumer banking services through “a public option” like public banks or postal banking?

Predatory lending is a big problem in our country, and large corporate banks have taken advantage of the American people for too long. I support aggressive enforcement and prosecution of lenders who take advantage of consumers and burden them with debt to increase their own bottom line. I also Student Borrower Bill of Rights and strongly believe in the importance of eliminating predatory lending so that banking works for all Americans, and not just those at the top.

Banks are anchor institutions in a community and they must earn the trust of community members and be held accountable to serve the communities that keep them in business. And many communities, especially in rural America, currently lack a full service bank. As the banking industry has consolidated, rural residents have less access to capital, which is another problem that must be addressed in any comprehensive banking policy.

When Wall Street banks took advantage of millions of Americans during the recession, my wife Kat and I took action. We started a non-profit community bank with a simple theory: give people a fair deal and a shot at real economic power, giving people an alternative to the big financial institutions that have treated customers, communities, and the planet so badly. Corporate greed in the banking industry has left many Americans out of shared prosperity. At Beneficial, we put the interests of consumers and borrowers first, and promote a regulatory framework that aligns with our philosophy that banks must do no harm and operate in a fair, transparent, and inclusive way. We invested in the community, in businesses owned by women and people of color, and affordable housing. As president, I will build on my work in community banking and:

● Expand funding for Community Development Financial Institutions including in rural areas and Tribal lands to promote financial education, reduce predatory lending, and foster entrepreneurship; expand funding from the Community Reinvestment Act to reach more rural residents and foster local economic development.

● Protect against predatory lending to consumers for mobile home loans or mortgages, vehicle loans and payday loans through a fully funded and aggressive Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and an active Department of Justice.

 

(f) Will you defend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from any corporate-sponsored attacks and use your platform and influence to strengthen the Bureau and empower it to further protect consumers?

Yes. I will also restore the integrity of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to ensure that financial institutions and others are putting the interests of consumers and borrowers first.

 

(g) Do you support the Stop Wall Street Looting Act?

Yes.

(h) How will you restore fairness to our tax system? Will you roll back President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act? 

We can no longer allow corporations to write the tax code. For years, they’ve rigged the system, built their own loopholes, and they continue to shirk their duty to pay taxes. Corporations are NOT people. It is long past time that corporations start paying their fair share. Thanks to Donald Trump, at least 60 Fortune 500 companies didn’t pay taxes in 2018 — about twice as many as the year before. I would repeal the Trump Tax cuts, institute a 10% Middle Class Tax cut and expand existing tax credit programs to truly support working families in this country, and pass a wealth tax.

 

 

TRADE

(a) Will you ensure that any free trade agreements advanced during your administration include strong, enforceable labor and environmental protections?

Yes. I will negotiate trade agreements with vital economic partners and emerging regions of the world to strengthen key domestic economic sectors and rebuild American national security relationships. These agreements will be negotiated in a manner that includes the voices and reflects the input of all stakeholders, particularly environmental groups, indigenous populations, and labor unions. No deal will be signed unless it respects and furthers strong labor standards and enforceable environmental protections. My administration will also rebuild our own institutions, respecting the knowledge and skills of career officials to forge and foster partnerships, networks, and collaborations that will protect American national interests, project American leadership and values, and make us safer and more prosperous.

 

(b) Will you support ensuring that countries come into compliance with basic standards protecting worker rights, the environment, and human rights before Congress votes on a trade agreement with those countries?

Yes.

(c) Will you remove harmful Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions from any future or renegotiated trade agreements?

Yes. I believe trade agreements should be negotiated with the input of all stakeholders and that dispute settlement should be handled in a manner that is fair to all parties involved, not behind closed doors in a closed-door proceeding outside the normal justice process that prioritizes multinational claims over local input.

 

(d) Will you ensure that any future trade agreements do not include any provisions that would interfere with efforts to protect data security and privacy for U.S. consumers or to protect high-quality customer service call-center jobs? 

Yes. Trade agreements must be negotiated in a manner that includes the voices and reflects the input of all stakeholders, particularly environmental groups, indigenous populations, and labor unions. These agreements must also protect American’s sensitive information and privacy.

 

 

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

(a) Will you support repealing the Federal Communications Commission’s dangerous One Touch, Make Ready rule, which undermines consumer outcomes and worker safety, while also interfering with fairly negotiated collective bargaining agreements?

Yes.

(b) How will your administration ensure that broadband access is extended to underserved communities across the country? How will you ensure that federal funds utilized in this work protect good, family-supporting jobs?

The modern economy is a knowledge economy. Full participation in commerce depends on reliable, fast, affordable access to the Internet. However, 39% of rural residents do not have access to high speed wireless as Internet Service Providers fail to serve rural populations, despite receiving large government subsidies as an incentive. We need to alter our approach, break the corporate gridlock, and build these networks. Tom’s business experience and acumen will give him the insights needed to:

● Protect the rights of local governments and not-for-profit organizations, including cooperatives, to build their own networks.

● Mobilize $135 billion in Rural Utilities Service grants and loans alongside private investment for broadband, fiber and next generation networks.

● Target 60% of the $135 billion in new funding to disadvantaged communities, with at least 10% of the funds set aside to improve connectivity on tribal lands and at least 20% of funds directed to minority-majority communities, including Southern communities of color; and require investor-owned ISPs that receive federal grant funds to subsidize service to low-income residents to end the digital divide.

● Appoint FCC commissioners who support Net Neutrality.

 

(c) Do you support H.R. 530, the Accelerating Broadband Development by Empowering Local Communities Act to ensure that localities are able to guide successful deployment of small cell technology?

Yes.

(d) Given the legacy of family-supporting union jobs in the wireline telecommunications industry, as well as in certain segments of the wireless industry, how will you ensure that your telecommunications policy supports continued high-quality jobs in the sector? 

We desperately need skilled workers to address a national emergency that threatens us all — climate change. Under my Justice-Centered Climate Plan, we will reward workers for the skills and training they acquire to tackle the challenges of our transition to clean energy and will respect the dignity of working people. One job will be enough, and workers will receive family-sustaining wages and benefits, job stability, and security.

We can create 4.6 million long-term jobs as we update our electricity grid and build a carbon neutral economy. The highest job growth will be in traditionally densely unionized industries, such as the power sector, public works construction, and manufacturing, and we will invest in sectors like agriculture, forestry, efficient buildings and industry, where jobs cannot be outsourced and workers won’t have to compete with exploited workers overseas. But we are also going to mobilize funds towards the telecommunications industry and social resilience professions, such as nursing, social work, and home health care.

 

 

HUMAN/CIVIL RIGHTS

(a) Do you support comprehensive immigration reform that will grant lawful status to individuals eligible for DACA/DAPA and TPS and includes strong protections to prevent exploitation of immigrant workers?

Yes.

(b) Do you pledge to oppose any form of workplace discrimination against LGBTQ workers, in all industries?

Yes.