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CWA sent a questionnaire to the 2020 presidential candidates to get their responses to questions about issues important to working people. Scroll down to see the answers from candidate Joe Biden.

(We received responses from Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Gabbard, Klobuchar, Patrick, Sanders, Steyer, Warren, and Yang who have all since dropped out of the race.)

Candidates were asked to submit answers to questionnaires, along with a short video explaining what they will do in the first 100 days as President to pass the PRO Act, Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act and expand workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively.

CWA Political - Donald Trump

CWA Questionnaire Answers from Joe Biden

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

I’m running to rebuild the middle class, unify the country, and restore the soul of our nation. I was always taught that there is no greater sin than the abuse of power – and that it’s never enough to just abhor that abuse; it’s every single one of our duties to stand against it, wherever it’s found. Today, our country is facing grave abuses of power: A war on organizing, collective bargaining, unions, and workers that’s been raging for decades, and it’s getting worse with Donald Trump in the White House. Tax giveaways to the rich and funding cuts for the poor. I’ll make sure every American has a fair shot at the American Dream, regardless of race, gender, income, or zip code.

Rebuilding the middle class starts with one word: unions. Strong unions built the great American middle class. Everything that defines what it means to live a good life and know you can take care of your family – the 40 hour work week, paid leave, health care protections, a voice in your workplace – is because of workers who organized unions and fought for worker protections. As president, I will put government back on the side of workers. I will sign new labor and employment laws that encourage union organizing and collective bargaining and establish fair and effective standards for all workers that are enforced aggressively. I will make dramatic investments to create good jobs that provide a chance to join a union and grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class, including access to affordable education and job training. When I say education, I am talking about education that is early, lifelong, affordable, and accessible. I will invest in children from birth, ensuring all Americans can take twelve weeks of paid family leave, afford child care, and send their children to universal pre-kindergarten and quality public schools. I will ensure every American has access to a quality education and training beyond high school, including by providing two years of community college without debt,.

And, my $1.7 trillion plan to combat climate change will create 10 million good-paying jobs with an opportunity to unionize. It will not only dramatically improve our nation’s infrastructure - making us more productive and resilient - but will also be the economic shot-in-the-arm our economy so desperately needs. To ensure that more middle-class jobs are not exported to foreign countries, my trade agenda will put labor and other progressive stakeholders at the center of America’s negotiating strategy and planning and require forceful protection of workers’ rights and the environment in the heart of any future agreements. I will impose tough, aggressive, and consistent enforcement of worker and environmental protections against all our trading partners who may violate them. And, I will ensure all workers have access to quality, affordable health care. Families can’t flourish if they’re worrying about whether they can afford to take their kid to the doctor.

And I’m paying for every one of my policy proposals - from health care to education to infrastructure - by making sure the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share in taxes.

Democrats share a lot of great ideas, but this election boils down to: who can beat Trump, who can bring along a Democratic Senate and grow our majority in the House of Representatives, and who can deliver on progress. I’m running because this is all in my wheelhouse. In 2018, I campaigned in 24 states for 65 candidates. As the Democratic nominee, I’ll campaign with the most candidates. As president, I’ll work with a new Congress to advance our agenda and restore our global standing.

Why are you asking for the endorsement of CWA?

We cannot rebuild the middle class without defending and expanding the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively.

CWA members and President Shelton are critically important leaders of the progressive and labor movements. You bring workplace democracy and economic justice to more than 700,000 members in thousands of workplaces and millions more workers across the United States through your political and legislative advocacy. You give voice to the Americans who bring vital public goods and services to the communities who need them most.

Simply put, CWA and I share the same values. I have been proud to stand with you in a long list of fights. We share the same dedication to working families and the same commitment to equal opportunity, equal rights, equal justice, and an American middle class that works for everybody --- regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.

I am proud to have the reputation “labor stands with Biden,” but I am more proud of “Biden stands with labor.” I was honored to receive CWA’s endorsement when I ran with Barack Obama for president and vice-president in 2008 and 2012. It would be my privilege and honor to receive your endorsement again. I ask for CWA’s endorsement for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States

List any past activities with the CWA.

As a candidate for President, I have proudly stood with CWA members in your strike against AT&T. You have my commitment I will continue to engage with CWA members on all your fights. I will always walk a strike picket line with workers like I did recently with the UAW during the GM strike and the UFCW Stop & Shop strike. My campaign will continue to prioritize engagement with union members as part of our outreach to voters.

 

WORKERS’ RIGHTS & ORGANIZING

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

Yes. I strongly support the Protecting the Right to Organize Act’s (PRO Act).

Strong unions built the great American middle class. Everything that defines what it means to live a good life and know you can take care of your family – the 40 hour work week, paid leave, health care protections, a voice in your workplace – is because of workers who organized unions and fought for worker protections. Because of organizing and collective bargaining, there used to be a basic bargain between workers and their employers in this country that when you work hard, you share in the prosperity your work created.

Today, however, there’s a war on organizing, collective bargaining, unions, and workers. It’s been raging for decades, and it’s getting worse with Donald Trump in the White House. Republican governors and state legislatures across the country have advanced anti-worker legislation to undercut the labor movement and collective bargaining. States have decimated the rights of public sector workers who, unlike private sector workers, do not have federal protections ensuring their freedom to organize and collectively bargain. In the private sector, corporations are using profits to buy back their own shares and increase CEOs’ compensation instead of investing in their workers and creating more good-quality jobs. The results have been predictable: rising income inequality, stagnant real wages, the loss of pensions, exploitation of workers, and a weakening of workers’ voices in our society.

As president, I will grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class – the backbone of the American economy – by strengthening public and private sector unions and helping all workers bargain successfully for what they deserve. I believe the federal government should not only defend workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively, but also encourage collective bargaining. I strongly support the provisions of the PRO Act that will:

  • ban employers’ mandatory meetings with their employees, including captive audience meetings in which employees are forced to listen to anti-union rhetoric;
  • reinstate and codify into law the Obama-Biden Administration’s “persuader rule” requiring employers to report not only information communicated to employees, but also the activities of third-party consultants who work behind the scenes to manage employers’ anti-union campaigns;
  • codify into law the Obama-Biden era’s NLRB rules allowing for shortened timelines of
    union election campaigns; and
  • institute financial penalties on companies that interfere with workers’ organizing efforts, including firing or otherwise retaliating against workers.
  • ensure that workers can exercise their right to strike without fear of reprisal, including banning permanent strike replacements.
  • stop employers from stalling initial negotiations with newly formed unions.

And going beyond the PRO Act, I will enact legislation to impose even stiffer penalties on corporations and to hold company executives personally liable when they interfere with organizing efforts, including criminally liable when their interference is intentional. I will allow workers to use card check as an initial option for forming a union, not merely an option granted when the employer has illegally interfered in the election process. Too many employers pretend to bargain with unions (“surface bargaining”) with no intent of reaching an agreement. I will give the NLRB the necessary power to force any employer found to be bargaining in bad faith back to the negotiating table, as called for in the PRO Act. And, I will require those companies to pay a penalty, in addition to making workers whole for the time the company stalled negotiations.

We must ensure workers in the “gig economy” and beyond receive the legal benefits and protections they deserve. Employer misclassification of “gig economy” workers as independent contractors deprives these workers of legally mandated benefits and protections. This epidemic of misclassification is made possible by ambiguous legal tests that give too much discretion to employers, too little protection to workers, and too little direction to government agencies and courts. States like California have already paved the way by adopting a clearer, simpler, and stronger three-prong “ABC test” to distinguish employees from independent contractors. The ABC test will mean many more workers will get the legal protections and benefits they rightfully should receive. As president, I will work with Congress to establish a federal standard modeled on the ABC test for all labor, employment, and tax laws.

I also will work to extend the right to organize and bargain collectively to independent contractors. Some workers are correctly classified as independent contractors, but are not very different from employees. They bring only their labor, and perhaps a small amount of capital investment, to the organization with which they do business. These workers lack individual bargaining power and, as a result, are at grave risk of exploitation by big business. I support modifying antitrust law and guaranteeing that these independent contractors can organize and bargain collectively for their mutual protection and benefit.

And, I will empower the National Labor Relations Board to fulfill its intended purpose of protecting workers. Congress created the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to encourage union organizing, support collective bargaining, and protect workers’ rights. The Obama-Biden Administration appointed officials to the NLRB who supported workers’ right to organize and collective bargain, and made critically important decisions such as ensuring that workers could organize in micro-units. Trump has undermined this progress and the intent of the NLRB by appointing board members with long histories of anti-union activities. As president, I will appoint members to the NLRB who will protect, rather than sabotage, worker organizing, collective bargaining, and workers’ rights to engage in concerted activity whether or not they belong to a union.

Please read more about my plan to Strengthen Worker Organizing, Collective Bargaining and
Unions at www.joebiden.com/empowerlabor

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

Yes. As president, I will provide a federal guarantee for public-sector employees to bargain for better pay and benefits and the working conditions they deserve. Public-sector unions provide the voice that workers – including educators, social workers, firefighters, and police officers – need to ensure they can serve their communities. And, public sector unions have been and continue to be an essential pathway to the middle class for workers of color and women, who disproportionately work in the public sector. Yet, in many states across the country, public sector workers do not have the right to bargain collectively. In states such as Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, and Indiana, these rights are increasingly under attack. As president, I will establish a federal right to union organizing and collective bargaining for all public sector employees, and make it easier for those employees who serve our communities to both join a union and bargain. I will do so by fighting for and signing into law the Public Safety Employer Employee Cooperation Act and Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. I will work to ensure public sector workers have a greater voice in the decisions that impact their workplaces and their working conditions. I will also strongly encourage states to pursue expanded bargaining rights for state licensed and contracted workers, including child care workers and home health care workers. And, I will look for federal solutions that will protect these workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively. Finally, I will reinstate the Obama-Biden rule, which the Trump Administration has since reversed, making it easier for independent-provider home care workers to join a union.

(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. From my earliest days in public service in 1972, I fought alongside the Delaware State Labor Council and AFL-CIO to oppose “right to work” laws. As president, I will repeal the Taft-Hartley provisions that allow states to impose “right to work” laws. These laws exist only to deprive unions of the financial support they need to fight for higher wages and better benefits.

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

Yes. As president, I will ensure federal dollars do not flow to employers who engage in union-busting activities, participate in wage theft, or violate labor law. I will institute a multi-year federal debarment for all employers who illegally oppose unions, building on debarment efforts pursued in the Obama-Biden Administration. I will also restore and build on the Obama-Biden Administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, which Trump revoked, requiring employers’ compliance with labor and employment laws be taken into account in determining whether they are sufficiently responsible to be entrusted with federal contracts. I will ensure federal contracts only go to employers and sub-contracted employers who sign neutrality agreements committing not to run anti-union campaigns. I also will only award contracts to employers who support their workers, including those who pay a $15 per hour minimum wage and family sustaining benefits. The tax dollars of hard-working families should not be used to damage the standard of living of those same families.

 

GOOD JOBS & OFFSHORING

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

I support the substance and purpose of this bill. I do not believe taxpayer dollars should reward companies that outsource jobs. I will be a President who fights for high-quality jobs in the United States. I not only oppose the outsourcing of American jobs, I will fight to insource jobs—having companies bring back jobs that had been taken overseas.

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

It is not right for American corporations that benefit from the infrastructure, from the labor, from the stability of the United States of America, to offshore jobs just to get a tax break. As president, I will reverse the excesses of Trump tax cuts for corporations and eliminate incentives that encourage firms to send jobs and profits offshore. I will end corporate profit shifting and fight outsourcing, including by imposing sanctions on countries that facilitate illegal tax avoidance and by doubling the corporate Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI) tax rate. Put simply, as president I’ll put an end to tax breaks for companies that move jobs abroad.

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

Yes. I will strongly support Congressional efforts to stabilize multi-employer pension plans. Specifically, I will work closely with Congress to pass the Butch-Lewis Act. This critical legislation will offer low-interest loans to financially troubled multi-employer plans to help them to meet their commitments to beneficiaries. I will not weaken well-funded multi employer pension plans in order to help more troubled plans. Workers need retirement security, and they deserve to have the promises their employers made to them about their pensions fulfilled. I will get real, structural, multiemployer pension reform done and need labor at the table to do that well.

(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. As president, I will secure passage of a national $15 minimum wage. While raising the minimum wage is just a start, it is necessary to reverse decades of wage stagnation for working families and start to remedy income inequality. I strongly support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024 and indexing it thereafter to the median hourly wage of all employees. This increase would include workers who aren’t currently earning the minimum wage, like the farm workers who grow our food. Not only will this directly raise wages of over 28 million workers, but it would also increase wages of nearly 12 million workers already making over $15 as employees seek to attract and retain their employees, lifting the wages of more than one in four wage-earning people in the workforce. I helped get state and local increases to the minimum wage across the finish line – including in New York State and Los Angeles – and as president I will do the same to increase the federal minimum wage to $15.

(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?

Absolutely. When I lost my first wife and baby daughter in a car accident, I became a single parent to my two young sons. I’ve taken care of aging parents. I know how hard it is to raise a family, and what it’s like to take care of a sick family member. American workers deserve to know they can keep their families afloat if they have to take care of a sick family member.

It’s time for our federal government to get its priorities straight, so that workers can care for the people they love when they need it most.

I was proud to fight for the Family and Medical Leave Act, landmark legislation that created important workplace protections and granted 12 weeks of leave to working families. But we need to go further — I believe the United States should guarantee 12 weeks of paid sick and family leave for workers.

I support the coverage and protections in Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act, which recognizes that workers need paid time off to care for newborns or newly adopted children, to take care of themselves or family members with serious health conditions, or to care for military family members and help them prepare for deployments. And, it won’t just help some workers. Part-time workers, independent contractors, workers who change jobs, and workers at small employers will be able to take the time they need too. Instead of instituting a payroll tax on employers and employees like the FAMILY Act does, I will pay for this proposal by returning the estate tax to 2009 levels.

One of the highlights of my career as a public servant has been standing with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault; they shouldn’t be left behind here either. As president, I will guarantee paid leave for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking who need time to seek physical or mental care, seek counsel, find new housing, or take other action related to the violence they experienced

(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. No one should get sick simply because they went to work and every American should have clean air to breathe. I know the Association of Flight Attendants has spent decades improving the safety of cabins, and was proud that the Obama-Biden Administration extended occupational health and safety protections to aircraft cabins in commercial planes. As president, I will ensure air carriers provide safe environments for their employees and passengers.

And, I will increase workplace safety and health for all workers. Every worker has the right to return home from work safely. But Trump has attempted to weaken several occupational and safety regulations established during the Obama Biden Administration. For example, he rolled back regulations requiring companies to report their workplace injuries so they are disclosed to the public. He removed the restrictions on line speeds in pork plants, making meatpacking jobs even more dangerous. He reduced the number of Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) investigators and safety enforcement efforts, despite the fact that OSHA inspections reduce injuries. As president, I will reinstate these critical safety protections and ensure all appointments to committees and advisory boards under OSHA intimately understand the consequences of not having functional safety standards in place. I will direct OSHA to substantially expand its enforcement efforts. I will increase the number of investigators in OSHA and direct relevant agencies to develop comprehensive strategies for addressing the most dangerous hazards workers encounter in the modern workplace.

 

FAIR ELECTIONS & GOOD GOVERNMENT

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

Our politics is broken and excludes too many Americans. Until we fix campaign finance, voting rights, and gerrymandering, it will continue to get more polarized, more ugly, and more mean. A top priority for my presidency will be passing comprehensive legislation to reform our campaign finance system, strengthen voting rights, address gerrymandering, and restore ethics in government.

I strongly support restoring the Voting Rights Act protections that were ripped out by a Supreme Court decision that falsely proclaimed that racial gerrymandering and racist voter suppression efforts were a historical artifact, not a fact of everyday life for voters of color across the United States. I have vigorously supported the Voting Rights Act throughout my career, playing a key role in securing multiple 25-year extensions of the Act during my time on the Senate Judiciary Committee. We need this civil rights law today as much as we needed it in the civil rights era. Last year, 24 states introduced or enacted at least 70 bills to curtail the right to vote. It’s just as un-American now as it was during Jim Crow. I will push Congress to restore and reauthorize the Voting Rights Act and I will direct the Biden Administration’s Justice Department to use every tool at its disposal to protect the franchise of voters of color in every state.

I will ensure our government operates in the public interest—making decisions on the merits, and not to meet the demands of well-heeled interests. Trump has presided over the most corrupt administration in modern history, including by welcoming wealthy special interests into the Oval Office and to the highest levels of his administration to develop and guide policy. The charge facing the president who follows Trump is as big as it is essential: restoring faith in American government. The next president must demonstrate with their actions – not empty words – that public servants serve all Americans, not themselves or narrow special interests. As president, I will strengthen our laws to ensure that no future president can ever again use the office for personal gain.

I will reduce the corrupting influence of money in politics and make it easier for candidates of all backgrounds to run for office. Specifically, I will introduce a constitutional amendment to entirely eliminate private dollars from our federal elections. This amendment will do far more than just overturn Citizens United: it will return our democracy to the people, away from the corporate interests that seek to distort it. I have advocated for public financing of federal campaigns since the very beginning of my Senate career, co-sponsoring legislation to create a public financing system for House and Senate candidates in 1973. While we work toward a constitutional amendment, meaningful change can be made by legislation. I will propose legislation to provide public matching funds for small dollar donations to all federal candidates. This will especially help first-time candidates access the resources needed to compete, freeing them to focus on interacting with voters, not high-dollar donors. During this time, I will also work to pass legislation ensuring that SuperPACs are wholly independent of campaigns and political parties, from establishment, to fundraising and spending.

We must also end the corrosive impact of “dark money” in our system. I will enact legislation to bar 501(c)(4)s from spending in elections – the same bar that applies to Section 501(c)(3) charitable groups. I’ll also lead reform of the Federal Election Campaign Act to ensure that any entity of any kind that spends more than $10,000 on federal elections must register with the Commission on Federal Ethics and publicly disclose its donors.

I will return integrity to the U.S. Department of Justice and other Executive Branch decision-making and hold the lobbied and lobbyists to a higher standard of accountability. These steps are an essential part of renewing our democracy, and to ensuring that it works for the people and includes everyone.

I will also establish the Commission on Federal Ethics (CFE), a single government agency empowered to oversee and enforce federal anti-corruption and ethics laws.

As President, I will require that all candidates for federal office release tax returns dating back 10 years prior to the date they declared candidacy for their first federal office. Many Senate committees require nominees for Cabinet-level positions to provide their tax returns for inspection – because knowing how a person has earned their living can inform decisions on their suitability for office. If we require that of appointed officials, why do we expect less of elected-office seekers? When I began my 2020 campaign for president I released 21 years of my federal tax returns to make them open to inspection by voters and the media.

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

I will name a Secretary of Labor who recognizes that his or her role is to encourage unionization and collective bargaining, and who comes from labor or has worked side by side with labor on their issues. He or she must be committed to the very reasons I’m running for president in the first place: to restore the soul of America, and to restore the backbone of America - the middle class - and this time make sure everyone has a chance to come along. And, they must understand the critical role unions play in building and strengthening a more inclusive middle class, and that it’s time for an economy that rewards those who actually do the work.

While this is especially true for my Secretary of Labor, it will also be the standard for appointees throughout my Administration. Anyone who works in a Biden Administration must understand what the current administration’s leaders do not: that the people who built our country and keep it running are not CEOs and hedge fund managers but people who do the hard work every day of keeping our lights on, keeping our streets clean, teaching our children, ensuring our safety, and so much more. And, they must understand that in America, no matter where you start in life, there should be no limit to what you can achieve. And, I will ensure that everyone who works in my Administration and advises me values the incredibly important expertise and commitment of our federal employees.

Perhaps most important, every appointee in the Biden Administration must recognize they are in the government to serve the American people, not their own interests. I will hold every appointee to the highest ethical standards and exclude any candidate who cares more about special interests than the public interest.

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

As President, I will appoint Supreme Court justices and federal judges who are committed to the rule of law, who understand the importance of individual civil rights and civil liberties in a democratic society, who will protect our constitutional rights, and respect foundational precedents like Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. Look at who I have been for - Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg - and who I’ve been against - Thomas, Alito, Roberts, Bork. That’s my record - and that’s what you should expect to see from me as president.

I will pick individuals from a diverse set of professional experiences, such as representing unions, individual workers or classes of working people, plaintiffs suing large corporations, criminal defendants (as I did as a public defender), state, local or federal governments engaged in labor and employment law enforcement; engaging in environmental or consumer protection; or otherwise serving the public interest.

 

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? 

The reason President Obama and I fought so hard for the Affordable Care Act was to make sure that the peace of mind provided by health insurance is a right for all, not a privilege. As president, I will fight to defend and build upon the Affordable Care Act to ensure every American has access to quality, affordable health care. My plan takes a number of steps to build on Obamacare, including allowing Americans who are uninsured or who don’t like their coverage to buy into a Medicare-like public option. My plan also increases premium tax credits so more people will have lower premiums and lower deductibles.

I believe that Medicaid plays an absolutely critical role in our health care system and it must be protected and strongly funded going forward. As president, I will fight all efforts to undermine it - such as work requirements and other tactics to reduce enrollment. My Administration won’t let states skirt their duties under Medicaid and will take enforcement action against any state that allows profiteering to get in the way of Medicaid beneficiaries’ health. And, I will take steps to ensure Medicaid’s beneficiaries can access home and community-based long-term care when they want it.

I will also protect and strengthen Medicare as we know it. The Affordable Care Act strengthened Medicare by extending the life of the Medicare Trust Fund; giving Medicare beneficiaries access to free recommended preventive services, such as an annual wellness visit; and closing the prescription drug coverage gap, often referred to as the “donut hole.” As president, I will continue to defend our nation’s commitment to older Americans and people with disabilities through Medicare. I will keep Medicare as a separate and distinct program and ensure there is no disruption to the current Medicare system.

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

Lowering prescription drug costs: I have proposed a robust, comprehensive plan to reduce prescription drug costs. I will put a stop to runaway drug prices and the profiteering of the drug industry by:

  • Repealing the outrageous exception allowing drug corporations to avoid negotiating with Medicare over drug prices. Because Medicare covers so many Americans, it has significant leverage to negotiate lower prices for its beneficiaries. And it does so for hospitals and other providers participating in the program, but not drug manufacturers. Drug manufacturers not facing any competition, therefore, can charge whatever price they choose to set. There’s no justification for this except the power of prescription drug lobby in Washington. My plan will repeal the existing law explicitly barring Medicare from negotiating lower prices with drug corporations.
  • Limiting launch prices for drugs that face no competition and are being abusively priced by manufacturers. Through my work on the Cancer Moonshot, I understand that the future of pharmacological interventions is not traditional chemical drugs but specialized biotech drugs that will have little to no competition to keep prices in check. Without competition, we need a new approach for keeping the prices of these drugs down. For these cases where new specialty drugs without competition are being launched, under my plan the Secretary of Health and Human Services will establish an independent review board to assess their value. The board will recommend a reasonable price, based on the average price in other countries (a process called external reference pricing) or, if the drug is entering the U.S. market first, based on an evaluation by the independent board members. This reasonable price will be the rate Medicare and the public option will pay. In addition, my plan will allow private plans participating in the individual marketplace to access a similar rate.
  • Limiting price increases for all brand, biotech, and abusively priced generic drugs to inflation. As a condition of participation in the Medicare program and public option, all brand, biotech, and abusively priced generic drugs will be prohibited from increasing their prices more than the general inflation rate. My plan will also impose a tax penalty on drug manufacturers that increase the costs of their brand, biotech, or abusively priced generic over the general inflation rate.
  • Allowing consumers to buy prescription drugs from other countries. To create more competition for U.S. drug corporations, my plan will allow consumers to import prescription drugs from other countries, as long as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has certified that those drugs are safe.
  • Terminating pharmaceutical corporations’ tax break for advertisement spending. Drug corporations spent an estimated $6 billion in 2016 alone on prescription drug advertisements to increase their sales, a more than four fold increase from just $1.3 billion in 1997. The American Medical Association has even expressed “concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices.” Currently, drug corporations may count spending on these ads as a deduction to reduce the amount of taxes they owe. But taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for these ads. As president, I’ll end this tax deduction for all prescription drug ads, as proposed by Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
  • Improving the supply of quality generics. Generics help reduce health care spending, but brand drug corporations have succeeded in preserving a number of strategies to help them delay the entrance of a generic into the market even after the patent has expired. My plan supports numerous proposals to accelerate the development of safe generics, such as Senator Patrick Leahy’s proposal to make sure generic manufacturers have access to a sample.

Lowering out-of-pocket costs for workers: Lowering out-of-pocket costs for workers is one of the key steps we need to take to build on the Affordable Care Act. My plan will create a new public option to give private insurers a much-needed competitor. This public option will be available to all individuals regardless of whether they currently are uninsured, buying coverage on their own, or getting coverage through their employer. This public option will reduce costs for patients by negotiating lower prices from hospitals and other health care providers. It also will better coordinate among all of a patient’s doctors to improve the efficacy and quality of their care, and cover primary care without any co payments. In addition, my plan will reduce out-of-pocket costs by:

  • Giving middle class families a premium tax credit to help them pay for coverage. For example, take a family of four with an income of $110,000 per year. If they currently get insurance on the individual marketplace, because their premium will now be capped at 8.5% of their income, under my plan they will save an estimated $750 per month on insurance alone. That’s cutting their premiums almost in half. If a family is covered by their employer but can get a better deal with the 8.5% premium cap, they can switch to a plan on the individual marketplace, too.
  • Calculating premium tax credits in a way that helps more families afford better coverage with lower deductibles. Because the premium tax credits will now be calculated based on the price of a more generous gold plan, families will be able to purchase a plan with a lower deductible and lower out-of-pocket spending. That means many families will see their overall annual health care spending go down.
  • Stopping “surprise billing.” Consumers trying to lower their health care spending often try to choose an in-network provider. But sometimes patients are unaware they are receiving care from an out-of-network provider and receive a big, surprise bill. “Surprise medical billing” could occur, for example, if you go to an in-network hospital but don’t realize a specialist at that hospital is not part of your health plan. My plan will bar health care providers from charging patients out-of-network rates when the patient doesn’t have control over which provider the patient sees (for example, during a hospitalization).
  • Tackling market concentration across our health care system. The concentration of market power in the hands of a few corporations is occurring throughout our health care system, and this lack of competition is driving up prices for consumers. My Administration will aggressively use its existing antitrust authority to address this problem.

 

TAKING ON WALL STREET GREED

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

Yes. I will close the carried interest loophole as part of my tax reform plan to ensure the super
wealthy pay their fair share.

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

I will put forward additional policies in the weeks ahead that will be paid for in part by a Financial Transaction Tax that includes a carveout for the middle class. This is another way to make sure the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share and that we use those dollars to grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class.

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

There used to be a basic bargain between workers and their employers in this country that when you work hard, you share in the prosperity your work created. But today, corporations are increasingly using profits to buy back their own shares and increase CEOs’ compensation instead of investing in their workers and creating more good-quality jobs. And, the Republican-passed tax cut for corporations made this problem so much worse by running up our national debt to pad the profits of already profitable companies. Rolling back the Republican tax cut for corporations and the super wealthy is the first step towards fixing this problem.

The second step is rolling back protections for executives who put profits over all else. Ever since the Securities and Exchange Commission put in place a sweeping safe harbor for corporate buyback in 1982, executives have been able to repurchase shares with virtually no oversight from regulators. This is wrong and will end when I am president.

(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? 

We could survive without Wall Street bankers. But we wouldn’t last long without those who literally built this country. We couldn’t survive without the people who make sure we can communicate with each other on the phone and internet, who help deliver our news, and who educate our children and provide our health care. That's why I'm proud that President Obama asked me to lead the implementation of the Recovery Act, which invested in the middle class, kick started 75 months of private-sector job creation during the Obama-Biden Administration alone— the longest uninterrupted streak of job growth in history, and added 15 million jobs to our economy.

Our country saw first hand the massive economic pain caused by banks gaining too much power and taking on too much risk. It’s why the Obama-Biden Administration fought for and signed a sweeping reform of Wall Street: the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act reestablished transparency and rules for Wall Street so taxpayers won’t again be in the position of paying for their greed. It put in place a regulator to oversee the whole system, including safeguards to ensure that no single bank could disrupt the whole economy; it established a critical firewall between risky bets and safe investments for depository institutions; and it established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to make sure that everyday Americans had someone looking out for their interests in the regulatory space. And we would have done so much more if Congress had cooperated, like imposing a tax on the liabilities of large banks--as we proposed in the FY2017 budget.

I’m proud of the financial stability brought by Dodd-Frank, but we must stay vigilant against the ability of large banks to throw our economy into a tailspin with ill-advised investments. As president, I will remain a steadfast supporter of the firewall between depository banking and investment banking, while also appointing regulators who will protect American consumers against the harms of banks that are too big to fail. No single institution should have the ability to sink our entire economy.

And I’ll let the Justice Department – not politics – decide which antitrust cases to bring. I’ll appoint strong advocates for workers, consumers, and fair competition to the Justice Department's Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission, and I will look at whether we need new laws to tackle this problem.

(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?

Yes. Nearly one in five Americans is unbanked or underbanked, causing them to lose large portions of their income to cash their paychecks and leaving them vulnerable to predatory lending. As president, I will work to provide access to banking services to every American. This includes looking to the postal service to offer banking services, as long as it is right for the Postal Service, its workers, and the tens of millions of Americans it serves.

(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 was proud to work with President Obama to get the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau going, returning nearly $12 billion to consumers cheated by predatory and abusive lenders. As president, I will reverse Trump’s efforts to weaken the CFPB and will work to instead strengthen it so it can better protect consumers.

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

President Trump and Republican leadership think this country was built by Wall Street bankers and private equity and hedge fund managers, but they’re wrong. Our country was built by hard-working Americans. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act reestablished transparency and rules for Wall Street, including new regulations on the private equity industry. As president, I will build on this legislation and undo the damage done by the Trump Administration.

Pushing back on the excesses of Wall Street requires a comprehensive approach. It means putting in place tough minded regulators who put the well-being of middle-class families ahead of bank profits; it means raising corporate taxes, including taxes on banks, so that profitable companies pay their fair share; it means raising taxes on investment income of millionaires so that there is less of an incentive for them to take risky bets when managing other people's money; and it means finishing the job President Obama and I started with the Dodd-Frank Act--including rules that prohibit banks from making risky speculative bets that undermine the stability of the financial system.

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

As President, I will fundamentally change our tax system to reward work, not wealth.I’m paying for every one of my policy proposals - from health care to education to infrastructure - by making sure the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share in taxes.

I will start by repealing the Trump tax cuts for the super-wealthy and corporations. The 2017 tax cuts should have been focused on making corporations pay their fair share, instead of giving a sweeping tax cut to companies. Cutting the corporate tax rate through his Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cost $1.4 trillion over the next decade, and will be paid for over the long term by raising taxes on all workers. I will reverse the excesses of the Trump corporate tax cuts (including raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%).

My Administration will not only reverse the Trump tax cuts benefiting the wealthiest Americans and corporations, but go farther to ensure that we are creating opportunity for all Americans by rewarding work. As president, I will reverse Trump’s doubling of the estate exemption and push for the Obama-Biden proposal to return the estate tax to 2009 levels with a 45% top tax rate and an exclusion amount of only $3.5 million (vs. $11.2 million per taxpayer now). I will also end stepped-up basis, so wealthy individuals cannot avoid paying taxes on gains simply by leaving those assets to their heirs, and raise tax rates on upper-income taxpayers’ investment income. As president, my tax plan will ensure that expenses like union dues, union initiative fees, and necessary workplace safety equipment are restored as line-item deductions on tax returns - a tax plan for workers, not millionaires.

By eliminating needless loopholes, we will send every person to community college without debt, provide universal pre K, provide affordable, high-quality health care, invest in a clean energy revolution, and more. I am convinced that when we make these tradeoffs clear to the American people, the vast majority will agree we can raise plenty of money just by getting the wealthiest Americans and corporations to pay their fair share.

 

TRADE

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

Yes. I won’t consider any new trade agreements until we have major investments in American workers, including (a) modern, job-creating infrastructure, (b) widespread investments in education and worker training, in addition to targeted support for American manufacturers, and (c) specific investments in communities to build up research and manufacturing hubs. Any trade agreement will prioritize American jobs and American wages, strong labor protections, and strong action on climate and the environment -- no giveaways to corporations or special interests. And I won’t support any trade agreement that doesn’t have labor and environmental communities at the table, included in a meaningful dialogue, not just a “checked box.”

More specifically, I’ve long argued that we have to go to the mat to get the kind of enforceable changes that create jobs in the United States, rather than export them elsewhere. As president, I will demand that pro-labor provisions be added to all trade agreements, including clearly worded safeguards against worker exploitation such as child labor, unsafe workplaces, and limits on collective bargaining rights. Our workers’ collective bargaining agreements must be respected in our trade deals.

And we cannot separate our trade policy from our climate objectives. I will not allow other nations, including China, to game the system by becoming destination economies for polluters, undermining our climate efforts and exploiting American workers and businesses. As U.S. businesses take steps to address carbon pollution at home, I will impose carbon adjustment fees or quotas on carbon-intensive goods from countries that are failing to meet their climate and environmental obligations. This will ensure that American workers and their employers are not at a competitive disadvantage. And I will condition future trade agreements on partners’ commitments to meet their enhanced Paris climate targets. On a level playing field, American workers will outcompete their counterparts across the globe, but they need an ally in the White House fighting to make sure everyone is playing by a common set of rules. I have a decades long history of fighting to get workers the fair shot they deserve. As president, I will continue this fight by negotiating a trade agenda that makes the wellbeing of American workers - not corporate profits - the top priority.

(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?

As president, I will demand that pro-labor provisions be added to all trade agreements, including clearly worded safeguards against worker exploitation such as child labor, unsafe workplaces, and limits on collective bargaining rights. To protect U.S. labor we have to know our trade partners are committed to labor protections in their country too. And, I won’t support any trade agreement that doesn’t have labor and environmental communities at the table, included in a meaningful dialogue, not just a “checked box.” Our workers’ collective bargaining agreements must be respected in our trade deals. And, when I am president, human rights and tackling climate change will be at the core of U.S. foreign policy, not the periphery.

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

Yes. I don't believe that corporations should get special tribunals that are not available to other organizations. I oppose the ability of private corporations to attack labor, health, and environmental policies through the ISDS process and I oppose the inclusion of such provisions in future trade agreements.

(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? 

First, I want to ensure that unions, such as the CWA, are with USTR at the negotiating table helping to shape these agreements. Labor unions, including CWA, played an important role in helping to reject the flawed version of USMCA that President Trump signed in 2018 and then worked with Congressional Democrats to ensure that the final agreement benefitted America’s workers.

Second, I will be a President who fights for high-quality jobs. I not only oppose the outsourcing of American jobs, I will fight to insource jobs—having companies bring back jobs that had been taken overseas. I will only support trade agreements that protect American workers, including Americans who work in call-centers.

Third, I believe strongly in the need for laws that protect Americans’ data privacy and data security. We need to improve America’s laws to set standards that will better protect Americans’ privacy online—and I will not support any trade agreements that would undercut those objectives.

 

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?

As president, I will oppose actions that undermine collective bargaining agreements. In a Biden Administration, collective bargaining will be sacred. The federal government should encourage union organizing and collective bargaining, not undermine it. And, I will oppose any action that puts workers in harm’s way. Every worker has the right to return home from work safely. Please see my earlier answer about occupational safety and health.

(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?

As president, I will bring broadband to every American household. In a 21st century economy, Americans need broadband. Without it, students face substantial barriers to doing their homework and the sick and elderly can’t access remote health care. Broadband is a prerequisite for starting a business, working remotely, accessing government resources, and engaging in public debate. But today, more than 21 million Americans still don’t have broadband; and many more can’t afford it. This “digital divide” is particularly wide for low-income, older, and rural Americans, as well as for Americans living on tribal lands. At a time when so many jobs and businesses could be located anywhere, high-speed internet access should be a great economic equalizer for rural America, not another economic disadvantage. As president, I will close the digital divide.

I will invest $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure, which alone has the potential to create more than a quarter million new jobs; and triple funding to expand broadband access in rural areas, and to ensure that the work of installing broadband provides high-paying jobs with benefits. I will encourage competition among providers, to increase speeds and decrease prices in urban, suburban, and rural areas. And to encourage those providers to invest in further extending service to rural communities and tribal areas, I will make available key federally-controlled telecom resources, like towers, poles, and rights-of-way. I will also work with the FCC to reform its Lifeline program, increasing the number of participating broadband providers, reducing fraud and abuse, and ultimately offering more low-income Americans the subsidies needed to access high-speed internet. Finally, I will work with Congress to pass the Digital Equity Act, to help communities tackle the digital divide.

Every one of my investments in infrastructure will create good, union jobs that expand the middle class. American workers should build American infrastructure and manufacture all the materials that go into it, and all of these workers must have the option to join a union and collectively bargain. Building on my plan to strengthen worker organizing, collective bargaining, and unions, I will propose infrastructure legislation that incorporates labor provisions contained in Senator Merkley’s Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act, adopting all basic labor protections, ensuring that all investments meet Davis-Bacon wage guidelines, and banning anti-worker provisions like forced arbitration and the overuse of temporary staffing agencies. I will require federally funded projects to source materials in the U.S., to employ workers trained in registered apprenticeship programs, and to prioritize Project Labor and Community Workforce Agreements in federal procurement procedures. My proposal will make sure that national infrastructure investments create millions of middle-class jobs, benefiting union and non-union workers across industries.

(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. As president, I will bring broadband to every American household, and I will ensure that the process for deployment supports good, union jobs and is conducted in the best interest of the community. While our economy and our workers need expedited deployment so that high speed broadband and 5G services are available throughout all of the United States, local governments need to have control over how facilities are constructed in the community. The FCC’s rule to shorten the timeline localities have to evaluate whether deployment projects present risks that I will work to address.

(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? 

Strong unions built the great American middle class. Everything that defines what it means to live a good life and know you can take care of your family – the 40 hour work week, paid leave, health care protections, a voice in your workplace – is because of workers who organized unions and fought for worker protections. Because of organizing and collective bargaining, there used to be a basic bargain between workers and their employers in this country that when you work hard, you share in the prosperity your work created. I am running for president to rebuild the middle class—and make sure that this time everyone comes along.

As president, I will put government back on the side of workers and rebuild the middle class. We need labor and employment laws that encourage union organizing and collective bargaining and establish fair and effective standards for all workers that are enforced aggressively as described in questions above and in my plan for strengthening worker organizing, collective bargaining, and unions at joebiden.com/empowerworkers.

Every one of my investments in infrastructure will create good, union jobs that expand the middle class. American workers should build American infrastructure and manufacture all the materials that go into it, and all of these workers must have the option to join a union and collectively bargain. Building on my plan to strengthen worker organizing, collective bargaining, and unions, I will propose infrastructure legislation that incorporates labor provisions contained in Senator Merkley’s Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act, adopting all basic labor protections, ensuring that all investments meet Davis-Bacon wage guidelines, and banning anti-worker provisions like forced arbitration and the overuse of temporary staffing agencies. I will require federally funded projects to source materials in the U.S., to employ workers trained in registered apprenticeship programs, and to prioritize Project Labor and Community Workforce Agreements in federal procurement procedures. My proposal will make sure that national infrastructure investments create millions of middle-class jobs, benefiting union and non-union workers across industries.

And, I will institute a multi-year federal debarment for all employers who illegally oppose unions, building on debarment efforts pursued in the Obama-Biden Administration. I will also restore and build on the Obama-Biden Administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, which Trump revoked, requiring employers’ compliance with labor and employment laws be taken into account in determining whether they are sufficiently responsible to be entrusted with federal contracts. I will ensure federal contracts only go to employers who sign neutrality agreements committing not to run anti-union campaigns. I also will only award contracts to employers who support their workers, including those who pay a $15 per hour minimum wage and family sustaining benefits. The tax dollars of hard-working families should not be used to damage the standard of living of those same families.

 

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. Dreamers and their parents should have a roadmap to citizenship through legislative immigration reform. And in the meantime, I will remove the uncertainty for Dreamers by reinstating the DACA program and explore all legal options to protect their families from inhumane separation. I will also protect TPS and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders from being returned to countries that are unsafe. TPS/DED holders who have been in the country for an extended period of time and built lives in the U.S. will be offered a path to citizenship through legislative immigration reform. My plan also proposes to modernize our immigration system to allow our economy to grow, while protecting the rights, wages, and working conditions of all workers, and holding employers accountable if they don’t play by the rules. Immigrant rights and worker rights are deeply connected. We must ensure that every worker is protected, can join a union, and can exercise their labor rights–regardless of immigration status–for the safety of all workers.

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

Yes. Building on my strong and vocal support for marriage equality during the Obama-Biden Administration, I will make passing the Equality Act a top priority of my administration. The Equality Act ensures that LGBTQ individuals receive the same civil rights protections as everyone else, including in the workplace, schools, and housing.

I have a proud history as a fighter for civil rights for all Americans through my entire career and I will continue that fight from the White House, just as I did as President Obama’s Vice President. I will begin by appointing leaders in the Justice Department, the Education Department, the Health and Human Services Department, the Labor Department, the Housing and Urban Development Department, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and across the rest of the federal government, who share my commitment to tough and effective enforcement of all civil rights laws. And, as noted above, I will appoint Supreme Court justices and federal judges who are committed to the rule of law, understand the importance of individual civil rights and civil liberties in a democratic society, and respect foundational precedents.