Click any of the issues below to compare what each candidate has said about the selected issue.
Environment & Energy
Entitlements & Welfare
Finance & Banking
Military Preparedness & Budget
War On Terror
Free Speech & Religious Liberty
As a senator, Clinton voted against President George W. Bush’s major tax-cut packages. That said, once they were enacted, she did generally vote to extend many of the existing cuts.
She has endorsed the so-called “Buffett Rule,” which aims to make high-income earners pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes, without providing many details other than a 5 percent surtax on personal income over $5 million, unveiled in early January 2016.
In order to pay for her five-year, $275 billion infrastructure spending proposal, Clinton has said she would raise taxes on businesses (which she terms “reforms”), but she has not specified what taxes would be raised.
Clinton voted in favor of a bill to extend the moratorium on Internet taxes.
According to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, Clinton’s tax policies would raise approximately $1.1 trillion over the next decade, with the top 1 percent of earners paying nearly three-quarters of those new taxes.
As a senator she voted to increase the minimum wage. She has announced her support for a $12 federal minimum wage, well above the current $7.25 standard but below the $15 level many progressive activists prefer.
She also voted in favor of the Sarbanes-Oxley bill to impose heavy accounting and bookkeeping regulations on certain industries and was a co-sponsor of legislation after the housing crisis that would have imposed a temporary moratorium on foreclosures. She endorsed Obama’s call for tough “net neutrality” regulations to be imposed on Internet service providers.
As part of a proposal to reduce energy use in the U.S., she announced she would work to establish energy-efficient model building codes, expand the number of products covered under Energy Star ratings, and subject more appliances and equipment to energy efficiency mandates.
Clinton is on the record speaking of the benefits of fracking, though she favors regulating the practice.
As a senator, Clinton supported a so-called card check bill, which would allow unions to dispense with the need for a vote to organize at a particular company. The bill also curtailed an employer’s ability to influence the outcome of organization efforts.
Clinton is on the record speaking of the benefits of fracking, though she favors regulating the practice. She nominally supports exporting natural gas and oil production and sees gas as a clean, job-creating alternative to coal. After months of declining to weigh in on whether the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved, citing her role as secretary of state in helping guide the assessment process, Clinton finally announced in September 2015 that she opposed construction of the pipeline.
Clinton opposes drilling in the Arctic Wildlife National Reserve and voted in favor of an amendment to that effect. She does support some offshore drilling, but again calls for heavy regulation by government in that arena. In August 2015 she announced her opposition to an Obama administration decision to allow drilling in the Arctic Ocean. She has also said that she would prevent any further development of fossil fuel resources on federal lands, although it wasn’t clear if she would allow extraction to continue on sites that have already been developed.
In a March 2016 forum, she said a Clinton administration would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Clinton strongly favors efforts to curb carbon emissions in response to what she perceives to be a threat posed by global warming. A firm supporter of cap-and-trade schemes, she also supports the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. As a senator, she supported a bill that would have expanded federally protected lands and waters.
As part of her 2016 campaign, Clinton has called for a goal of 500 million additional solar panels installed across the country and for renewable resources to generate enough electricity to power every home in the country.
Like Obama, Clinton proposed a stimulus package during her 2008 campaign. Her $110 billion plan would have focused on helping low-income families. She has long been opposed to a balanced budget amendment, though she did vote in favor of a one-year moratorium on earmarks. In 2001, she voted in favor of an additional $123.1 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.
Clinton has been sharply critical of the budget sequestration enacted as part of the debt limit deal in 2011, focusing in on the reduction in spending on scientific research. She also praised the 2013 Ryan-Murray budget compromise deal to increase spending in the short term in exchange for promised cuts in later years.
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Clinton has said she does not support a single-payer plan but meeting notes from her early health care reform efforts during her husband’s presidency show she favored it at that time. She has expressed her support for Obamacare and said she is open to making changes to it, and she proposed repealing the so-called “Cadillac tax” imposed on expensive health plans with the caveat that the lost revenue should be made up elsewhere.
She has also laid out specific proposals to limit out-of-pocket health care costs, including requiring insurers to provide three “sick” visits to the doctor at no out-of-pocket cost, offering a tax credit for out-of-pocket costs, and capping out-of-pocket drug costs at $250 a month.
She reiterated her support for a “public option” in Obamacare, a government-run insurer that would compete with private insurance companies in the market. She supported this idea in her 2008 campaign as well.
She also would require pharmaceutical companies to invest a specific percentage of their profits in research and development, eliminate the tax deductibility of consumer advertising, give Medicare the power to set drug prices for the program, and reduce the number of years biological medicines received patent protection from 12 to seven.
Her campaign has suggested that funds collected from pharmaceutical companies that fail to invest the required percentage in research and development be given to generic medicine manufacturers to encourage competition.
In December 2015, Clinton proposed spending $2 billion a year over 10 years to find a cure to Alzheimer’s disease.
Clinton was also instrumental in passing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a program that provides federal matching funds to states to provide health insurance for low-income families with children.
Clinton joined most of her Democratic colleagues in the Senate in voting against President Bush’s expansion of Medicare to create a prescription drug plan, largely based on a belief it was not generous enough to seniors and did not do more to control drug prices.
During her 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton proposed a plan that would mandate insurance coverage for all Americans. The plan’s cost, estimated (by her campaign) at $110 billion, would have been funded by repealing the Bush tax cuts.
One area Clinton did focus on during her Senate career was entitlements. In the past she supported keeping the cap on taxable income for Social Security, but more recently has suggested she might consider extending payroll taxes at income above the cap. She has proposed an initiative that would create retirement accounts for Americans but opposes any effort to privatize Social Security by allowing individuals to control their own accounts. She has said she wants to “enhance” Social Security, thought to mean offering more generous benefits to poorer retirees, but has not provided specifics or addressed the question of whether benefits should be increased for all retirees. She has said she would not rule out raising the retirement age for some people in the future, although she also said she doesn’t favor it.
In 1996, she was heavily criticized for supporting her husband’s decision to sign the welfare reform bill, and she supported a bipartisan plan to increase work requirements for welfare recipients. She has proposed an initiative that would create retirement accounts for Americans but opposes any effort to privatize Social Security by allowing individuals to control their own accounts. She has said she wants to “enhance” Social Security, thought to mean offering more generous benefits to at least some retirees, without providing specifics.
While not overtly opposed to NAFTA, given that it was a signature priority for her husband, she did state that she thought there ought to be higher priorities, such as health care. She went on to criticize NAFTA during her 2008 campaign for the presidency. She also opposed the Central America Free Trade Agreement, though she favored trade agreements with Singapore, Chile and Oman. More recently, Clinton has expressed reservations about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal recently concluded by the Obama administration, and announced she would have to study the deal to decide whether to support it.
Clinton strongly favors immigration reform. She supported a comprehensive immigration reform plan in 2007 that would create a new type of visa allowing anyone in the U.S. without a valid visa to remain in the country for the rest of their lives. After 13 years, these immigrants would then be eligible for citizenship. She voted for the construction of a fence between the United States and Mexico and supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here, which she calls “essential” to reform.
More recently, she vowed to go beyond Obama’s executive orders on immigration to expand the ability of illegal aliens to stay in the U.S. She has criticized the “sanctuary city” policies that prevent or hinder the deportation of illegal immigrants who commit other serious crimes.
She has seldom weighed in on agricultural issues. She did vote in favor of an amendment limiting subsidies to a married couple to $250,000, and more recently said she would double funding to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development program, which provides training and assistance to people new to agriculture.
Clinton supports maintaining the Export-Import Bank, a taxpayer-supported institution that primarily benefits large U.S. corporations including Boeing and General Electric. At an event for the biotechnology industry, she suggested the federal government should subsidize companies in the industry against the risks they face as investors, and she proposes doling out to generic medicine manufacturers funds that have been collected from pharmaceutical companies that don’t in her view invest enough in research and development.
As part of a $25 billion program aimed at supporting small businesses, particularly those owned by women and minorities, she has pledged that she will “encourage banks, businesses, and foundations to match capital and financing” to entrepreneurs who have gone through government-approved training and support programs, which could put the government in the business of directing private investment into favored firms.
As a senator she previously opposed an ethanol mandate requiring an increasing amount to be blended into gasoline, but in 2015 she reversed her position to favor the mandate.
Clinton voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008, generally described as a bailout for large banks, when she was still in the U.S. Senate.
Clinton revealed a Wall Street reform agenda in October 2015 that would extend the statute of limitations for financial crimes, devote more Department of Justice and SEC resources to investigation and prosecution of financial crimes, place a “fee on risk” aimed at leverage and short-term loans by financial firms, and impose requirements that bonuses paid to senior managers and executives be returned if the bank later loses money and has its financial health imperiled. She has also called for giving regulators the authority to re-organize or break up large firms, without providing details, as well as imposing a tax on high-frequency trading.
Clinton voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008, generally described as a bailout for large banks, when she was still in the U.S. Senate.
Clinton voted in favor of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation imposing new accounting and investment regulations on companies and has opposed efforts to reform or repeal the Dodd-Frank regulations of the financial industry. She has also opposed efforts to bring back the Glass-Steagall Act’s separation of investment and commercial banking. As part of her rural development agenda, she has proposed simplifying regulations for community banks that often provide credit in rural areas.
She has also proposed increasing the potential rewards for Wall Street whistleblowers who come forward with information, currently capped at $1.6 million, and banning “golden parachute” payouts to persons in the financial industry who go to work for government.
As a senator, Clinton proposed a bill to increase the size of the Army by 80,000 soldiers. This was even as she opposed the Bush administration on Iraq and Afghanistan.
She has been dismissive of allegations of widespread problems with the Veterans Health Administration, saying that veterans who get care are generally pleased with it and accusing Republicans of criticizing the agency due to an “ideological agenda.” Following severe criticism from veterans groups and others about her comments, she retracted her statement and weeks later while unveiling her VA reform plan called the problems “serious, systemic, and unacceptable.” Her plan would allow veterans to seek care outside the VA system in certain circumstances, but she has pledged she would oppose plans to privatize most services.
While she opposed many elements of the war on terrorism as a senator, she is generally thought to be more hawkish than most members of her party, having voted for military intervention in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Even within the Obama administration, Clinton was considered to take a relatively proactive posture on military efforts abroad.
She also voted for the Patriot Act in 2001 and again in 2005. Clinton has expressed concern that the international community is not taking the threat of terrorism and war seriously enough.
She has suggested (possibly inaccurately) that Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents exposing domestic surveillance programs before fleeing to China and later Russia, could have come forward as a whistleblower and received protection, but instead broke the law and should face criminal sanctions if and when he returns to the U.S.
According to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who served under Obama while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, Clinton admitted that her opposition to the troop surge in Iraq was based on political concerns and her 2008 presidential campaign. Clinton has denied the charge, saying Gates misunderstood what she had said.
In 2008 Clinton argued that the Iraq War had diverted focus from the fight in Afghanistan and said she would send more troops to that country, and as secretary of state she supported President Obama’s decision for an 18-month “surge” to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida. More recently she has said she agrees with Obama’s decision to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan through at least 2017.
As secretary of state, Clinton supported military intervention in Libya and the training of Syrian rebels, positions which compelled the administration to take a more aggressive pose. She has spoken against the use of U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS and and recently called for the U.S. to accept 65,000 refugees from the war-torn area. She has also backed the establishment of U.S.-enforced “no fly zones” in Syria and said she would increase the number of U.S. Special Forces personnel on the ground in Syria and Iraq as well as step up airstrikes against ISIS.
She has also called for United Nations sanctions against Iran, and stated that the use of military force against that country should not be taken off the table. In March 2015 she sharply criticized the Republican senators who signed a letter to the Iranian leadership warning them on the limits of a deal that was not ratified by Congress, and she praised the deal that Obama agreed to with Iran in July 2015.
She accused NATO of sliding into “military irrelevance” and fought for tougher sanctions against Russia. She supports financial and military aid for Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed separatists and has described Russia’s annexation of Crimea in harsh terms, comparing it to Nazi aggression. She has also said she favors imposing more sanctions on Russia if it assists Hezbollah in Syria.
As a U.S. senator, Clinton voted against the nominations of Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, as well as to Roberts’ elevation to the role of chief justice.
Clinton has praised the court’s opinions in King v. Burwell and Obergefell v. Hodges. She has called the court’s opinion in Citizens United v. FEC “a grave error” and has promised to “do everything I can to appoint Supreme Court justices who protect the right to vote and do not protect the right of billionaires to buy elections.” She has said her Supreme Court nominees must support overturning Citizens United. In terms of the type of nominee she would appoint, she cited those who “respected precedence, felt what life was like for normal Americans, and had a career path outside of school and a conservative think tank.”
She has also promised to “appoint judges to our courts who understand that Roe v. Wade isn’t just binding legal precedent,” but “the touchstone of our reproductive freedom, the embodiment of our most fundamental rights, and no one – no judge, no governor, no Senator, no President – has the right to take it away.”
Clinton has described the U.S Constitution as a “living and working” document.
On crime, Clinton has said she supports the death penalty in “egregious cases” that she thought would be “limited and rare.” She also suggested she favors significant changes to the criminal justice system to address “mass incarceration” and intends to offer specific policy proposals in the future.
She has made an amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and limit political speech a centerpiece of her campaign. She called the Supreme Court’s religious liberty decision in the Hobby Lobby case “deeply disturbing” and criticized the idea that the religious views of a company’s owners deserved constitutional protection.
Clinton has supported affirmative action policies in the past and is credited with helping to push Bill Clinton’s administration to fill half of all positions with women.
Clinton has generally favored stricter gun control laws, although she has endorsed the idea that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. She supports passage of a new “assault weapons” ban similar to the one passed in 1994, and favors allowing states and localities to determine their own gun laws, possibly including complete bans such as Washington, D.C., once had. She voted against legislation that would have prohibited lawsuits against gun manufacturers and sellers if their product were used in a crime.
In her 2000 U.S. Senate race she backed federal legislation that would have required gun owners to be licensed and handguns to be registered, but by her 2008 presidential campaign had backed off her support for this. More recently she has called for allowing lawsuits against firearm manufacturers and dealers if their products used in a crime, eliminating the requirement that gun sales be allowed if a background check doesn’t clear the system in 3 days, and imposing background checks on private firearm sales through executive action.
She has been a consistent advocate for abortion rights, most recently criticizing a House bill that would prohibit the procedure after 20 weeks. Her “HillaryCare” proposal in 1994 included language requiring abortion to be covered by all insurance plans. She has said she could not support any U.S. Supreme Court nominee who didn’t support the Roe v. Wade decision.
Clinton recently shifted her longstanding position against same-sex marriage, endorsing it in March 2013 after opposing it during the 2008 campaign. She praised the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
Clinton criticized Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that would have allowed individuals, companies, and other organizations the opportunity to claim a religious exemption from having to follow certain laws. She said a Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses following the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage was “breaking the law by denying other Americans their constitutional rights.” She also denounced the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case that protected the rights of religious business owners to not have to include certain forms of contraception in their employee health plans.
She was a co-sponsor of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, along with a bipartisan group of U.S. senators including Sam Brownback, Tom Coburn, and Chuck Schumer, but has also endorsed the so-called Equality Act, which could trample the religious freedoms of individuals and organizations who object to same-sex marriage.
She has made an amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and limit political speech a centerpiece of her campaign. She called the Supreme Court’s religious liberty decision in the Hobby Lobby case “deeply disturbing” and criticized the idea that the religious views of a company’s owners deserved constitutional protection. Clinton supported the Family Entertainment Protection Act, legislation that would regulate the video game industry for violent content.
In the aftermath of the Bush v. Gore decision following the 2000 election, Clinton stated that the electoral college should be scrapped in favor of a national popular vote. She is also on the record asserting Congress ought to be more respectful of presidential authority.
As first lady of Arkansas, Clinton worked to establish teacher testing and tougher state standards for curriculum and classroom size. Clinton has been a supporter of charter schools for several decades, although she has recently criticized them, saying that “most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them.” She further explained that she views the role of charter schools as a way to “learn what worked and then apply them in the public schools.” She remains a backer of charter schools, however.
She also voted in favor of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), though she opposes school choice and any sort of voucher program for low-income students. She has also voiced concerns over what she considers excessive testing of schoolchildren required under NCLB. She has proposed providing federal funds to states that offer universal kindergarten.
She has endorsed Obama’s call for community colleges to be free and has proposed a $350 billion plan to make college more affordable that includes federal funds to states who increase their spending on higher education, reducing loan rates, and requiring colleges to repay some portion of defaulted student loans.
Bush has the record of a tax cutter and reduced the tax burden in Florida by $19 billion, including repeal of a tax on investments. He opposed attempts to increase taxes and has characterized his approach to economic freedom as the “right to rise.” He supported the extension of the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003, often called the “Bush tax cuts,” referring to his brother.
Testifying to the U.S. Congress in 2012, Jeb Bush noted that many tax policies give advantages to favored companies and industries while disadvantaging other companies, and called for a reduction in tax expenditures in favor of cuts to tax rates.
Bush did not sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge in any of his three campaigns for governor.
Bush generally favors deregulation of industry, arguing in a Wall Street Journal piece that regulations beget unintended economic consequences and stifle economic growth. In September 2015 he unveiled an ambitious regulatory reform agenda that would establish a budget for regulation’s costs, requiring the cost of a new regulation to be offset by eliminating or changing other regulations. He would also establish a commission to review and have a “spring cleaning” of regulations, as well as freezing all Obama administration regulations that have not yet been implemented.
Bush generally favors deregulation of industry, arguing in a Wall Street Journal piece that regulations beget unintended economic consequences and stifle economic growth. The governor’s reliance on private industry permeated his efforts to rein in government institutions.
Bush described net neutrality, which imposes 1930s-era telephone regulations on the Internet, as “the craziest idea I’ve ever heard.” He has also argued against raising the federal minimum wage because it limits entry-level opportunities, saying the private sector should be setting wages.
He has demonstrated support for statewide right-to-work laws throughout the country (Florida has been a right-to-work state since 1968) and penned a Washington Times op-ed in praise of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s efforts to get such laws passed in his state. Among other things, right-to-work laws allow employees of unionized companies to opt out of paying union dues.
While he hasn’t been particularly vocal on the issue of climate change, Bush has evinced skepticism. Speaking in defense of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Bush said, “It is not unanimous among scientists that (global warming) is disproportionately man-made. What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can’t have a view.” He has said that humans may be contributing to climate change, but that policy should focus on adaptation that doesn’t harm the economy.
Bush has also spoken against the EPA’s power plant regulations to limit carbon dioxide, saying, “[I]t does virtually nothing to address the risk of climate change.
He has become an increasingly vocal supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline, though he has tempered this enthusiasm with rhetoric broadly favoring “rational” regulations on so-called fracking and opening up federal lands for drilling. On the latter score, as governor, Bush signed a bill funding a program through which the state of Florida would purchase private land in order to preserve it. Further, in 2002, he worked with the federal government to prevent off-shore drilling off the Florida coast, a position he reversed in 2005 citing “new political realities.”
Bush was critical of President Obama’s comments surrounding the budget sequestration, referring to them as “crying wolf” and trying to convince people the effects of budget cuts would be draconian. As governor, Bush vetoed $2 billion in spending, much of it the pet projects or earmarks of legislators that hadn’t been requested by his administration. He has called for a federal balanced budget amendment, line-item veto power for the president, and a federal hiring freeze. He has pledged to cut the federal bureaucracy by 10 percent as president.
On his second day in office, Jeb Bush halted taxpayer funding for a high-speed rail project that was widely regarded by most conservatives as a boondoggle and waste of money. The legislature responded by putting the bullet train on the ballot, which passed, and construction was to commence in 2003. But Bush vetoed a bill to fund construction and staff to oversee the project. The issue made national headlines, and Bush launched a successful campaign to repeal the ballot issue.
Bush has not been afraid to spend taxpayer dollars in an effort to improve his state. During his eight years as governor, spending increased by 45 percent overall as general fund spending increased by 57 percent, from $18.0 billion to $28.2 billion. It should be noted that, during his tenure, the population of Florida increased by 16 percent, while inflation grew 24 percent.
He endured some criticism for his proposal to spend $310 million to bring the Scripps Research Institute to Florida. Of the institute, Bush said, “Scripps (Institute) is the brand name in biomedical research and we are honored they have chosen Florida to expand their current research facilities. Already known for breakthroughs for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, this new bi-coastal presence will bring even greater opportunities for life-saving and life-enhancing research.”
The governor’s reliance on private industry permeated his efforts to rein in government institutions. According to the AFL-CIO, by 2005 he had entered into 140 contracts with private entities to perform services previously performed by state employees.
Bush, a staunch critic of Obamacare, has publicly supported its full repeal. In mid-October of 2015 Bush proposed repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a more market-oriented system. His plan would provide a tax credit that increases with age for Americans without access to employer-provided coverage, and money left over from the credit after paying premiums could be deposited in a Health Savings Account (HSA). Limits on contributions to HSAs would be increased from $3,350 to $6,550, and the deduction for employer-provided insurance would be capped at $12,000 for an individual and $30,000 for a family.
Bush would also give states more flexibility on Medicaid, including allowing them to convert the program to premium assistance, establish work requirements, and experiment with different forms of care delivery and payment.
Health care reform featured prominently in Bush’s policy agenda during his tenure as governor. He spearheaded a bipartisan compromise on malpractice reform. One of the stated goals of the plan was to attract malpractice insurers to the state while increasing the transparency of health care data. Core aspects of the health care law have since been thrown out by the Florida Supreme Court, including the limits on damages and awards for pain and suffering. He also signed a bill into law to convert the state’s Medicaid system to a voucher program, with special incentives for enrollees to meet certain health benchmarks. He has endorsed providing block grants to states to implement reforms.
Bush unveiled his Social Security reform agenda in late October 2015, which includes raising the retirement age by one month every year, reaching age 70 in 2058. Wealthier workers and recipients would see smaller benefit checks, as would workers who take early retirement.
In the past he has suggested that private accounts for younger workers should be added to Social Security, but his current proposal does not include private accounts.
On Medicare, he praised the House Republican budget offered by Paul Ryan and specifically singled out the Ryan plan’s proposal to convert Medicare to a premium support model that would allow seniors to shop for private coverage. He has said he would allow retirees to keep their Health Savings Accounts and push for the creation of new plan options, including those that specialize in treating specific conditions.
Bush has proposed requiring Medicare recipients to sign “end of life” directives, something many conservatives strongly objected to when a similar provision of Obamacare was made known.
In early January 2016 Bush unveiled a significant welfare-reform plan that would end the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly called food stamps), replacing them with federal grants to states to fund programs for low-income individuals and families. States would have to include work requirements in their programs.
He also endorsed the Ryan budget’s provision to consolidate federal job training programs in an effort to reduce waste and duplication.
In line with his opposition to an isolationist approach, Bush strongly supports free trade agreements. One of CAFTA’s most prominent supporters, he has criticized Obama for failing to engage Asian and Latin American countries. He also supports expanding trade with Peru, having visited that country to make the case for a free trade agreement.
On immigration reform, Bush has in the past supported citizenship for those currently in the U.S. illegally, but more recently suggesting in a 2013 book that only legal residency and not citizenship should be available. After publication of the book, however, he appears to have reverted to his original position supporting citizenship, saying the legal-residency-only position was offered as a politically viable option, not his preferred solution. He has said that those who were brought illegally to the country as children should be eligible for citizenship.
He has also said he supports more border enforcement and giving states the power to help enforce immigration laws as well, such as using local law enforcement to enforce expiring visas and giving them the authority to determine which services immigrants are eligible for.
Bush has also said illegal immigration is “not a felony. It’s an act of love,” and suggested increased immigration (both legal and illegal) will ameliorate the Social Security system’s potential insolvency.
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Bush has advocated numerous partnerships between the public and private sector, often a breeding ground for “crony capitalism.” In addition to using state dollars to help fund private ventures as governor, Bush supported faith-based initiatives similar to those proposed by George W. Bush as president. These allowed religious organizations to address issues related to social welfare, and they are controversial among many conservatives for entangling the state with religious groups as well as funneling tax dollars to private groups.
On another form of corporate welfare, ethanol subsidies and the mandate that refiners include it in their gasoline blends, Bush suggested that they would disappear over time as ethanol became more established but did not commit to ending the subsidies and preferences. He has also said that subsidies should be phased out for all forms of energy, including solar, wind, gas, and oil.
Bush advocated taking money currently funneled to “clean energy” companies and instead investing it in basic research, noting the federal government shouldn’t be playing venture capitalist.
He was criticized for his proposal to spend $310 million to bring the Scripps Research Institute to Florida.
Bush supported a $60 million subsidy to the Florida Marlins for a new stadium in 2004.
Bush said in 2012 he supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program, often called a government bailout of Wall Street and banks, but opposed the bailout of Detroit automakers. He also said he thought Dodd-Frank, which imposed onerous regulations on Wall Street, was “the wrong approach.”
In February 2015 Bush criticized the budget sequestration cuts to defense spending and said he would increase spending on the military. Bush has proposed making cybersecurity a higher priority in terms of national defense, and called for devoting more resources to address this threat.
In mid-November 2015, Bush proposed adding 40,000 new Army soldiers and 4,000 new Marines to active duty rolls as part of a military buildup. He would deploy an Army Special Forces Group to Europe with a focus on preparing the Baltic states to resist Russian aggression. His plan would increase the size of the Navy including acquiring two Virginia-class attack submarines per year and building at least 100 of the Air Force’s next-generation bomber. He also plans on continuing production of the F-35 fighter and possibly restarting production of the F-22 fighter.
In a major foreign policy speech, Bush laid out how he would address the crisis in the Middle East. In Iraq he called for accelerated training of the country’s security forces, embedding U.S. forces with and providing air support for Iraqi military units, and providing more support to the Kurds. He advocates “safe” and “no fly” zones in Syria as well as greater effort to unite and support moderate Syrians fighting the Assad regime and ISIS, and following attacks in Paris he called for the U.S. to declare war on ISIS.
Bush recently called for the U.S. to do more to help refugees, primarily Syrians fleeing the conflict in their home country, flooding into Europe. He specifically has said the U.S. should focus its aid efforts on Syrian Christians who are being persecuted.
Bush has long considered Iran to be a threat, and has stated that he does not believe the option of military force should be off the table. To that end, he has been critical of the Obama administration, saying, “I think the president could start by being less timid in his support of the democracy and freedom movement in Iran. A democratic Iran would not be a threat to its neighbors or to the United States.” He has sharply criticized the nuclear arms deal the Obama administration negotiated with Iran and urged Congress to reject it.
Even before 9/11, he was one of the original signatories on the Project for the New American Century’s statement of principles. The group, co-founded by neoconservatives William Kristol and Robert Kagan, promotes a strong military and enhanced “American global leadership.” As one would expect, he was a vocal supporter of the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, and he praised the surge of troops in 2007.
After first saying he would have made the same decision to invade Iraq if he had the same intelligence available when the decision was originally made, Bush declined to answer a hypothetical question about what decision he would have made based on what is now known about Iraq’s lack of weapons of mass destruction, and then said he would not have authorized the invasion based on what is now known. He has said the Obama administration’s decision to withdraw troops from Iraq early has led to the rise of ISIS and the deteriorating situation in Iraq and the region.
Bush has been supportive of the Patriot Act’s anti-terror programs, including restoration of the National Security Agency’s collection of what is known as bulk metadata.
Bush advocates what he calls “liberty diplomacy,” using diplomatic efforts to promote the values of individualism and liberty.
He criticized the Obama administration’s improving ties with Cuba, arguing the U.S. received nothing and left the Castro brothers in power. Bush said he would “probably not” keep the U.S. embassy in Cuba open if he were elected president.
He favors continued economic cooperation with China. In 2012, he met with then-Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who has since become that nation’s leader. Xi praised the Bush family’s role in developing closer ties between the two nations, and according to Chinese state-run media Bush pledged to contribute to economic diplomacy between the two nations. He has offered few policy specifics, however, and has not made relations with China a centerpiece of his rhetoric and advocacy.
He has said the U.S. should provide arms to Ukraine to allow them to defend against Russian aggression and stated that it is the duty of NATO to protect members from Putin, whom he called a “ruthless pragmatist” who will “push until someone pushes back.”
Bush has said that he favors appointing judges with “a proven record of judicial restraint” and judges who “have a proven record of not legislating from the bench.” As governor he made numerous judicial appointments, and his two appointees to the state Supreme Court were considered reliably conservative.
He is credited with reforming the process under which judges are nominated in Florida, wresting control away from the state bar association and giving the governor more authority to select nominees. Discussing his approach to nominating judges in 2006, Bush said, “I think the greatest threat to the independence of the judiciary is when judges overstep their bounds. That creates the greatest danger, perhaps, than anything else. In order to protect the separation of powers, make sure judges apply the law rather than use their position to legislate.”
Bush said he was disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell (Obamacare tax credits). He criticized the court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (same-sex marriage), saying he believes the court should have “allowed the states to make this decision.”
Bush supports the death penalty, having signed a bill implementing lethal injection in the state. In general, he has a track record of supporting tougher sentences for those found guilty of committing felonies. More recently, he came out in opposition to Florida’s Medical Marijuana Initiative, which voters failed to enact in 2014.
In the September 2015 GOP debate, Bush argued that it should be left to individuals states to set drug policy, saying “What goes on in Colorado, as far as I’m concerned, that should be a state decision.”
Bush has been a strong proponent of gun rights. As governor he signed the nation’s first “Stand Your Ground” bill into law in 2005, which removed the so-called “duty to retreat” when threatened by an assailant. He also signed a bill to allow non-Florida residents to carry a concealed weapon, provided they have concealed carry permits in other states.
Regarding a proposed ban on gun purchases by people on government terrorist watch lists, he generally opposed the idea unless the ban were narrowed to those under active investigation.
Bush has been consistently pro-life, believing abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is endangered. He gained national attention for his actions in the Terri Schiavo case, when he attempted to prevent life support from being removed from a comatose woman. He has also supported parental consent laws and regulation of abortion clinics.
Bush’s views on same-sex marriage are nuanced, favoring traditional marriage and believing there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage while arguing the decision should be left to individual states. He does not appear to favor a constitutional amendment to overturn the recent Supreme Court decision on this issue and has called for respect “for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue — including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections.”
Bush has defended religious liberty, arguing, “A big country, a tolerant country, ought to be able to figure out the difference between discriminating against someone because of their sexual orientation and not forcing someone to participate in a wedding that they find goes against their moral beliefs. This should not be that complicated.” He also supported the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision affirming the right of business owners to not be forced to provide contraception that violated their religious beliefs and was critical of subpoenas sent to pastors in Houston demanding their sermons and statements concerning a nondiscrimination ordinance.
As governor, Bush supported faith-based initiatives to address a number of social and economic issues. While he feels this is in line with his commitment to empowering private citizens to solve societal problems, he was been willing to use state dollars to this end.
In the September 2015 GOP debate, Bush argued that it should be left to individuals states to set drug policy, saying “What goes on in Colorado, as far as I’m concerned, that should be a state decision.”
He has also proposed moving the Department of the Interior, which manages vast federal landholdings in Western states, out to the West and giving states more authority over those lands.
Bush announced an ambitious education reform plan in January 2016. One key element of the plan includes converting tax-deferred college savings accounts, called 529 plans, into Education Savings Accounts that allow money to be contributed by anyone and the funds to be used for early childhood, elementary and secondary school, college, job training, tutoring, or other educational purposes. Contributions made to the accounts of low-income children would be tax-deductible. States would also have the flexibility to give federal funds directly to parents or have it “portable” and follow the child in order to increase educational choice. His plan also includes supporting charter schools and Washington D.C.’s school voucher program.
For higher education, Bush would eliminate current federal loan programs and instead give every high school graduate a $50,000 line of credit through their Education Saving Account, with repayment linked to income and paid over 25 years. Pell grants for low-income students would also be increased, colleges would bear some of the risk for students who default on their loans, and student loans would be dischargeable in bankruptcy.
As governor, Bush was a fervent advocate for school choice, and in 1999, he introduced the first statewide school choice program in the country. Prior to that, he co-founded the state’s first charter school in a struggling Miami neighborhood. At an education summit in August 2015, he suggested that “total voucherization” should be considered, giving funds directly to parents and allowing them to spend it directly on their children’s education and save unspent money for college.
Under Bush’s “A+” plan in Florida, students were required to meet certain standards in order to be promoted to the next grade, and teacher salaries were similarly tethered to those standards. The plan recently turned 15 years old, and Bush has been vocal in promoting its success in improving student outcomes.
Bush was an early supporter of the controversial Common Core program and appears to remain supportive. He sees Common Core, which has earned the ire of constitutional conservatives, tea party groups, homeschoolers, and teachers unions alike, as an extension of his “A+” plan. His nonprofit group, Foundation for Excellence in Education, has vigorously defended Common Core, though Bush’s rhetoric on it has shifted and so he no longer mentions it by name in public appearances and has suggested the problem isn’t Common Core but the Obama administration’s efforts to “hijack” it to intrude on state education.