2020 Candidates

2020 Candidates: The #1 Thing They Each Plan to Tackle

We asked: “If you could tackle one issue during your presidency, what would it be?” Here’s what they said.

Most voters in America want to know what the priorities are with the presidential candidates. As part of our series, 20 Questions for 2020, NowThis sat down with candidates and asked them 20 questions. One of them was, “if you could tackle one issue during your presidency, what would it be?”

Here are their answers:

Michael Bennet:

“It would be the lack of economic mobility in America. The fact that we’ve got the greatest income inequality that we’ve had in 100 years.”

Pete Buttigieg:

“Well, the most important thing we have to deal with is our democracy itself, because every other issue I care about — from climate change, to gun violence, to education — isn’t going to get handled very well until we fix the structures of our government itself. 

It’s why we need, if necessary, constitutional reform to get money out of politics. To make sure that districts are actually drawn so that politicians are chosen by voters, instead of what’s happening now, which is that politicians choose their voters by the district lines. We need a stronger and more robust system for handling all of the policy issues of the day, and the most elegant feature of our constitutional system is its capacity for self-healing. Our ability, through law, and sometimes even through amendments, to make the system work better for all of us.”

John Delaney:

“Climate change has to be an issue that has to be tackled if we want to leave the world better than we found it. And I think that’s our most fundamental responsibility. 

Amy Klobuchar:

“Now, if it wasn't for Donald Trump, I would probably say economic justice, which still will be a major, major focus of my first year. But given what's happening right now with our climate and the fact that he has done nothing, and that we are moving backwards at a time when we're seeing horrific storms coming in places like Louisiana, when we've seen flooding in the Midwest, in Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa — just record levels of flooding and wildfires and tornadoes. 

It is not just the coasts that are seeing this with the rising sea level; we're seeing it all over the country. And that's why I think it's very clear to Americans right now that the climate crisis is not happening in 100 years. It's happening right now. And that's why I think there are things one we can do even without Congress. 

Day one I'd sign [us] back into the international climate change agreement. And day two, bring back the clean power rules that the Obama administration — as well as the gas mileage standards— that the Trump administration just left on the cutting room floor. From there you introduce sweeping legislation and work with Congress through the first year to get something done. I just don't think we can wait.”

Bernie Sanders:

“No, that's not the way I look at it, no. It’s not ‘If elected president we’re only gonna accomplish one thing.’ I don't look at politics like that. I look at a political movement in this country which transforms this nation. And that is what we're gonna do, and again this is not a radical idea but it gets to the heart of what this campaign is about, and that is none of the ideas that I talk about, making universal child care, public colleges and universities tuition free, or transforming our energy system so we protect the planet from the ravages of climate change, while making sure that we defend a woman's right to choose, whether we have common sense gun safety legislation—none of that stuff is radical. None of that stuff is not supported by a majority of the American people. 

The ultimate crisis in American democracy is that you have a Congress and a White House that do not represent the needs of ordinary Americans, but represent wealthy campaign contributors and lobbyists and corporate America. And once we overcome that very difficult hurdle, admittedly, overcome then the other things flow. Then you do have Medicare for All, because we're gonna take on the insurance companies, then you can lower military spending and not get involved in endless wars because it will not be the military industrial complex that calls the tunes. 

Our job is not just to win the Democratic nomination, it is not just to defeat Donald Trump, the worst president, the most dangerous president in modern American history, our job is to transform this country. So it's not just one thing. It's not combating climate change, or Medicare for All, or making public colleges and universities tuition free. It is doing all of those things and we can do ‘em because that is what the American people want.”

Tom Steyer:

“Corruption. Look, when you talk about climate, the issue is not climate. We all know the answer on that, there’s no other side of the debate. The problem is the oil and gas companies run the Congress. We know we can solve it, but the oil and gas companies won’t let us. So the real question there is legalized corruption of our government.”

Bill Weld:

“It probably would be climate change because that's an existential threat to the planet. I think what we have to do is put a price on carbon. That would collect about $200 billion a year at a price of $40 to $50 a ton, and that would then be remitted to the taxpayers so that this would not be a tax. So it would be a fee on carbon.” 

Andrew Yang:

“My flagship proposal is a freedom dividend of $1,000 per month for every American adult starting at age 18. This is a re-naming of something called universal basic income. Martin Luther King [Jr.] fought for it, and it was what he was fighting for every day, up to the day he was assassinated in 1968. Milton Friedman and 1,000 economists signed a study saying this would be tremendous for America, and it even passed the U.S. House of Representatives twice in 1971. It came this close to being law. So, this is not as radical as you might think. When you hear me say everyone gets 1,000 bucks a month, you’re like, ‘wow this sounds too good to be true.’ It is not too good to be true. This close to being law, and there is one state that has had a dividend for almost forty years. Do you know what state that is? It’s Alaska. And Alaska funds it with oil money. And what I’m saying to you is technology is the oil of the 21st century, and what they’re doing for Alaskans with oil money, we can do for all Americans with technology money. 

Our economy’s up to a record $20 trillion — up five trillion in the last 12 years. We can easily afford [a] $1,000 dividend for every American adult. Especially because when you get that money, what are you going to do with it? You know what you’re going to do. You’re going to spend it on the things you’re already spending money on, so it might go to student loan debt—and I’m going to bring that down and forgive a lot of it, because that stuff’s immoral, the way we’ve loaded you up with $1.5 trillion in student loan debt and blamed you for it, it’s ridiculous. So, if you get this thousand bucks, hopefully over time you’d be able to save up and buy a home, maybe start a business, maybe do the kind of arts and creative work you want to do but right now, people will tell you you can’t make a living at. 

There are a lot of things we know people want to do, that $1,000 a month could actually free them up to do. This would create over two million new jobs in the U.S. economy, and would start to put resources behind entrepreneurship, arts, creativity, caregiving, nurturing, community work, in an unprecedented way. We can make this happen. We have to make this happen, because if we don’t, we’re going to witness the disintegration of most of our existing jobs right now. 44% of American jobs will be subject to automation in the next 20-30 years, and 20-30% in the next 10-20 years. I mean, think about what that means. This is the trickle up economy, and it starts with universal basic income of $1,000 a month, for every American adult, starting [in] 2021, and that is why I’m running for president.”

NowThis has reached out to representatives of former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren to participate in the 20 Questions for 2020 series.