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John Edwards' Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)

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What is the Political Courage Test?

Presidential Election 2008 Political Courage Test

The Political Courage Test asks candidates which items they will support if elected. It does not ask them to indicate which items they will oppose. Through extensive research of public polling data, we discovered that voters are more concerned with what candidates would support when elected to office, not what they oppose. If a candidate does not select a response to any part or all of any question, it does not necessarily indicate that the candidate is opposed to that particular item.
Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding abortion.
a) Abortions should always be illegal.
b) Abortions should always be legal.
c) Abortions should be legal only within the first trimester.
d) Abortions should be legal when the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape.
e) Abortions should be legal when the life of the woman is endangered.
f) Dilation and extraction or "partial-birth" abortion procedures should be legal.
g) Medicare, Medicaid, or federal subsidies should be prohibited from being used on abortion procedures.
h) Other or expanded principles.

The decision about whether to become a parent is one of the most important life decisions that a woman can face. She should make it with her family, her doctor, and in the context of her religious and ethical values; government and politicians should not make the decision for her. I support a woman’s right to choose and believe that the Constitution protects it. I oppose the anti-choice movement’s efforts to restrict health choices for women who depend on the government for their health care needs. I also oppose bans on abortion procedures (such as the so-called "partial birth" legislation)....

Indicate what federal funding levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one number per category, you can use a number more than once.
1) Budget Priorities
a) Agriculture
b) Arts
c) Defense
d) Education
e) Environment
g) Homeland security
h) International aid
i) Law enforcement
j) Medical research
k) National parks
l) Public health services
m) Scientific research
n) Space exploration programs
o) Transportation and highway infrastructure
p) United Nations
q) Welfare
r) Other or expanded categories

Our country is facing great challenges, and there are large investments we need to make to meet them. We need to provide true universal health care, develop renewable energy and energy efficient technologies, and invest in education. Making these investments in our future is more important than balancing the budget. We can pay for these new investments and still reduce the deficit if we are honest about the choices we face. At the same time, we need to cut wasteful spending such as student loan subsidies and subsidies for large corporate farms.

2) Defense Spending
a) Armed forces personnel training
b) Intelligence operations
c) Military hardware
d) Modernization of weaponry and equipment
e) National missile defense
f) Pay for active duty personnel
g) Programs to improve troop retention rates
h) Research and development of new weapons
i) Troop and equipment readiness
j) Other or expanded categories

I believe in a strong national defense, confronting the growing threat of terrorism, and doing more for the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed on behalf of our country. I also believe we owe it to taxpayers to closely scrutinize our military budget, ask tough questions, root out waste and abuse, and transform our force structure to address the threats of the post-Cold War era.

Of course, the most obvious and tragic example of military waste today is the war in Iraq. The war has cost us dearly in dollars, in credibility America once had, and in....

3) Taxes
Indicate what federal tax levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one number per tax, you can use a number more than once.
Family Income Taxes
a) Less than $12,000
b) $12,001-$40,000
c) $40,001-$100,000
d) $100,001-$180,000
e) $180,001-$350,000
f) $350,001 and above
g) Other or expanded categories

I will cut taxes for middle class families. I will create a new Get Ahead credit that will match up to $500 a year in savings dollar-for-dollar. I will also expand tax breaks for child care and low-income workers.

I will repeal the unfair Bush tax cuts for families making more than $200,000 a year, while making them permanent for working families. Making investments in energy, health care, and a lower deficit will do far more for economic growth than Bush’s regressive tax giveaways.

Other Taxes
a) Alcohol taxes
b) Capital gains taxes
c) Cigarette taxes
d) Corporate taxes
e) Gasoline Taxes
f) Inheritance taxes
g) Other or expanded categories

To ensure that wealthy investors pay a tax rate that is similar to that paid by working class families, I will raise the top tax rate on long-term capital gains to 28 percent for families earning more than $250,000 a year, the same rate signed into law by President Reagan. Finally, I will collect unpaid taxes and close abusive tax loopholes.

a) Charitable contribution deduction
b) Child tax credit
c) Earned income tax credit
d) Medical expense deduction
e) Mortgage deduction
f) Student loan credit
g) Other or expanded categories
4) Do you support the permanent repeal of the federal estate tax?
5) Do you support requiring the federal budget to be balanced each year?
6) Other or expanded principles

Estate Tax
I will reform the estate tax but retain it on very large estates.

Balanced Budget Requirement
I oppose symbolic mandates that let politicians campaign for balanced budgets without addressing the hard choices our country faces and that could damage the economy.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding campaign finance and government reform.
a) Support public taxpayer funding for federal candidates who comply with campaign spending limits.
b) Remove all contribution limits on federal campaigns and parties.
c) Support prohibiting ads containing candidates' name that are paid for by third parties from airing 60 days before a primary and 30 days before a general federal election.
d) Support instant run-off voting (IRV).
e) Support designating Election Day as a national holiday.
f) Support giving the President the power of the line item veto for items concerning appropriations.
g) Support limiting the President’s use of signing statements in order to prevent an alternative interpretation of the bill.
h) Support a federal shield law to protect reporter-source privilege.
i) Other or expanded principles

I would strengthen the public financing system. I will rewrite the rules to put small donors in charge by matching the first $100 of donations at a rate of eight to one, making two $100 donations as valuable as a single $1,000 donation. I will also reduce the maximum contribution from $2,300 to $1,000 per person to better reflect the incomes of most Americans and update the campaign spending limits to attract all candidates into the system. Finally, I will create a public financing system for congressional candidates.

To put an end to the rampant abuse of earmarks, I will....

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding crime.
a) Support the use of the death penalty for federal crimes.
b) Eliminate the use of the death penalty for federal crimes.
c) Support programs to provide prison inmates with vocational and job-related skills and job-placement assistance when released.
d) Support programs to provide prison inmates with drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
e) Reduce prison sentences for those who commit non-violent crimes.
f) Support mandatory jail sentences for selling illegal drugs.
g) Decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
h) Support strict penalties for internet crime (e.g. hacking, identity theft, worms/viruses).
i) Other or expanded principles

I believe the death penalty is the most fitting punishment for the most heinous crimes, but I am also deeply troubled by disparities by race and class in its application and the fact that more than 200 people have been sentenced to death and later exonerated. I support reforms in the death penalty to ensure that capital defendants receive fair trials, with zealous and competent lawyers, and with full access to DNA testing.

I will reform sentencing rules to address punishment disparities for crimes involving crack and powder cocaine and review mandatory minimum sentences for first-time, non-violent offenses....

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding education.
a) Support the federal government funding universal pre-kindergarten programs.
b) Allow parents to use vouchers to send their children to any public school.
c) Allow parents to use vouchers to send their children to any private or religious school.
d) Allow teachers and professionals to receive federal funding to establish charter or magnet schools.
e) Increase funding for the Pell Grant program.
f) Decrease interest rates of Stafford Loans.
g) Support federal tax incentives to help families save for college.
h) Ban university financial aid officers from owning stock in or accepting gifts from student loan lenders.
i) Require universities to disclose financial relationships with lenders.
j) Support federal education standards and testing requirements for k-12 students (No Child Left Behind).
k) Eliminate all federal education standards and testing requirements for k-12 students (No Child Left Behind).
l) Other or expanded principles

Quality preschool education should be as common as kindergarten. I will create a Great Promise program to help states offer universal high-quality early childhood education programs for four-year-olds. I also support a national Smart Start initiative to make child care more affordable and higher quality for younger children.

I strongly oppose private school vouchers. Vouchers are a dangerous effort to drain resources from public schools, while doing nothing to help the vast majority of students who will never enroll in private schools. Our first priority should be to strengthen the schools that teach the vast majority of our children....

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding employment.
a) Increase funding for national job-training programs that retrain displaced workers or teach skills needed in today’s job market.
b) Reduce government regulation of the private sector in order to encourage investment and economic expansion.
c) Encourage employers to offer child care services, flex-time scheduling, comp-time, and unpaid leave for family emergencies.
d) Increase the federal minimum wage.
e) Support the right of workers to unionize.
f) Eliminate all federal programs designed to reduce unemployment.
g) Other or expanded principles

I will create a new Training Works initiative to help workers gain skills and move ahead in their careers. The initiative will build career ladder and support on-the-job and customized training.

It’s never been harder to be a working parent. Families are working 10 more hours a week than they did a generation ago. I will expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to let workers take time off when they need it to care for themselves or family members, and I support legislation guaranteeing paid sick days. I support more resources for childcare and after-school programs to give children....

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding the environment and energy.
a) Strengthen the regulation and enforcement of the Clean Water Act.
b) Strengthen the regulation and enforcement of the Clean Air Act.
c) Support increased development of traditional energy resources (e.g. coal, natural gas, oil).
d) Strengthen emission controls on all gasoline and diesel-powered engines, including cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles.
e) Strengthen fuel efficiency standards on all gasoline and diesel-powered engines, including cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles.
f) Support domestic oil exploration in areas that are currently restricted.
g) Encourage further development and use of alternative fuels.
h) Support the use of ethanol as an alternative fuel.
i) Support research and development of nuclear reactors as an alternative energy source.
j) Allow energy producers to trade pollution credits under "cap and trade" laws.
k) Support international mandatory emission targets to limit global warming.
l) Support international voluntary emission targets to limit global warming.
m) Other or expanded principles

I strongly support the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. I have strongly opposed efforts to roll back clean water laws. While in the Senate, I fought hard against Bush proposals that would allow increased amounts of arsenic in our water supply and that would deny federal protection to bodies of water across America. I also proposed legislation that would prohibit new or expanded confined animal feeding operations.

Coal will be an important source of U.S. and global electricity for decades, but it is responsible for more than 30 percent of America’s carbon dioxide emissions....

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding guns.
a) Allow individuals to carry concealed guns.
b) Require a license to carry a concealed gun.
c) Require a license to possess a gun.
d) Ban the sale, ownership or possession of handguns except by law enforcement or other government officials.
e) Require gun owners to store guns in a safe or lockbox, or to have them disabled with a trigger lock.
f) Allow individuals to carry guns on college campuses.
On (g) and (h), indicate what levels (#1-6) you support for the following categories.
g) Enforcement of existing restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
h) Restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
i) Other or expanded principles

I grew up in a small town where many families owned guns, and I hunted when I was young. In areas throughout the United States, owning a gun is part of a way of life. I respect that way of life, and I believe the Second Amendment protects it.

But we have all seen the terrible consequences when guns fall into the wrong hands, and we must do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other people who may pose a danger to themselves or others. I support renewing the assault weapons ban, strengthening the system....

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding health.
a) Implement a universal healthcare program to guarantee coverage to all Americans, regardless of income.
b) Expand eligibility for tax-free medical savings accounts.
c) Allow the importation of prescription drugs into the United States.
d) Support expanding prescription drug coverage under Medicare.
e) Offer tax credits to individuals and small businesses to offset the cost of insurance coverage.
f) Support expanding child healthcare programs.
g) Allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients for medicinal purposes.
h) Providing healthcare is not a responsibility of the federal government.
i) Other or expanded principles

I was proud to be the first major presidential candidate to propose a specific plan to guarantee truly universal health care for every man, woman and child in America. Under my plan, businesses will either cover their employees or help pay their premiums. The government will make insurance affordable through new tax credits and by leading the way toward more cost-effective care. New “Health Care Markets” will give families and businesses purchasing power and a choice of quality plans, including one public plan. Finally, once these steps have been taken, all American residents will be guaranteed insurance by law....

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding immigration.
a) Decrease the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country.
b) Establish English as the official national language.
c) Support a temporary worker program.
d) Support harsher financial punishments for employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants.
e) Support amnesty for illegal immigrants already working in the United States.
f) Illegal immigrants should have to return to their countries of origin before being considered for citizenship.
g) Illegal immigrants should be given a pathway to citizenship.
h) Support merit-based visas over family-based visas.
i) Other or expanded principles

Our immigration system needs a fundamental overhaul. Our security is threatened by borders we cannot control. Our economy is harmed by an underground economy featuring a large and unprotected labor force. And our values are violated when 12 million people live in the shadows of our society, vulnerable to abuse and fearful of deportation.

The first step is to control our borders and stop illegal trafficking. We need to increase the number of border patrol agents and invest in surveillance technology to police the borders. We also need to crack down on employers that employ undocumented immigrants....

International Aid
Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding international aid.
a) Support the United States granting aid to countries when extraordinary circumstances cause disaster and threaten civilian lives.
b) Support the United States granting aid to countries when it is in the security interests of the United States.
c) Eliminate United States aid for any nation with documented human rights abuses.
d) Aid granted by the United States should be scaled back and eventually eliminated.
e) Other or expanded principles

As president, I will fundamentally transform America’s approach to the world. As part of my $5 billion initiative to restore America’s standing, I will bring high-level attention to help people in five priority areas: global poverty, primary education, preventive health, and greater economic and political opportunity.

I believe that the United States must be a global leader in the fight against poverty. Despite its importance to our national security, the United States still lacks a comprehensive strategy to fight global poverty. Solving global poverty is both a moral imperative and a security issue: poverty creates a safe harbor for instability....

International Policy
Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding international policy.
a) Should the United States continue to provide leadership in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?
b) Should the United States support the creation of a Palestinian state?
c) Should the United States impose greater international sanctions on Iran if it continues to defy United Nations mandates?
d) Should the United States support the Lebanese government against insurgent forces?
e) Should the United States maintain its troop levels in Iraq?
f) Should the United States withdraw its troops from Iraq?
g) Discuss your proposals for Iraq.

There is no military solution to Iraq; we need a political solution. All of the parties in Iraq need to take responsibility for their country, and that will only happen when American troops are really leaving. We should immediately withdraw 40,000 to 50,000 combat troops and bring home the rest in nine or ten months.

We need a diplomatic offensive involving all regional parties, including Iran and Syria. As we withdraw our combat troops, we will most likely need quick reaction forces across the border to prevent genocide, regional spillover of a civil war, or an al Qaeda safe haven.

h) Should the United States apply greater economic and diplomatic sanctions against North Korea if it fails to suspend its nuclear program?
i) Should the United States increase financial support for Afghanistan?
j) Should the United States increase military support for Afghanistan?
k) Should the United States trade nuclear fuel to India for civilian purposes?
l) Should the United States decrease financial support for Pakistan?
m) Should the United States decrease military support for Pakistan?
n) Should the United States be involved in bringing an end to the violence in Darfur, Sudan?
o) Should the United States be involved in bringing an end to the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo?
p) Should the United States provide economic and military support to the Transitional Government of Somalia?
q) Should the United States use sanctions to encourage the government of Zimbabwe to end its human rights abuses?
r) Should the United States support the creation of an independent nation of Kosovo?
s) Other or expanded principles

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process today stands on the brink of either great promise or great peril. Israel and the Palestinian Authority could achieve more in the coming years than they ever have before, but they could also slide back to the past. Nobody can play a greater role in this process than the United States, and we must stand by Israel and prevent the backsliding by the Palestinian Authority that has prevented progress in the past. Progress will require a steady and firm hand in putting the region back on the roadmap to peace authored by the U.S., the European....

International Trade
Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding international trade.
a) Do you support the United States imposing economic sanctions on China?
b) Do you support the United States imposing trade sanctions on Venezuela?
c) Do you support the United States involvement in free trade agreements?
d) Do you support the United States involvement in intergovernmental organizations dedicated to trade?
e) Other or expanded principles

I will change our trade policies. Trade deals need to make sense for American workers, not just corporations, and include strong labor and environmental standards. NAFTA is an example of exactly the wrong kind of trade deal.

I will be a tough negotiator, insisting that any new deals benefit regular families and not just multinational corporations. They must include strong labor and environmental standards and clear language on currency manipulation.

I will also enforce the trade deals on the books, including holding China to its trade commitments. I will put top prosecutors at the Justice Department in charge of enforcing....

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding national security.
a) Do you support using military tribunals to try suspected terrorists when ordinary civilian courts are deemed inappropriate or impractical?
b) Should law enforcement agencies have greater discretion to monitor domestic communications, to prevent future terrorist attacks?
c) Should the United States hold foreign states accountable for terrorists who operate in their country?
d) Should the federal government increase funding to states and cities for homeland security?
e) Do you support pre-emptive military strikes against countries deemed to be a threat to United States national security?
f) Do you support the creation of a federal identification card system?
g) Do you support long-term use of National Guard troops to supplement the armed forces in assignments overseas?
h) Should the United States expand its missile defense shield?
i) Other or expanded principles

America must do whatever it takes to defeat terrorism, but securing a lasting victory will take moral as well as military strength. President Bush's failure to respect the Constitution and our commitment to the fundamental rule of law has badly damaged our security and our standing in the world. President Bush has sent a message that torture and other human rights violations are acceptable, creating a precedent of disregard for the law that is being exploited by terrorists and repressive governments across the world. We must restore our moral leadership in the world, and we should begin here at home....

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding social issues.
a) Should same-sex couples be allowed to form civil unions?
b) Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?
c) Do you support a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman?
d) Should sexual orientation be included in federal anti-discrimination laws?
e) Do you support federal funding for research on existing embryonic stem cell lines?
f) Do you support federal funding to create lines of stem cells from new embryos?
g) Should the federal government consider race and gender in government contracting decisions?
h) Do you support affirmative action in public college admissions?
i) Should the federal government continue affirmative action programs?
j) Should the federal government regulate internet gambling?
k) Other or expanded principles

I support civil unions to guarantee gay and lesbian couples the same rights as straight couples. I believe that the right president could lead the country toward consensus around equal rights and benefits for all couples in committed, long-term relationships and oppose divisive Constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriages.

Workers should be judged by the quality of their performance, not subject to discrimination. While in the Senate, I cosponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He also believes that stronger enforcement is necessary to prevent employment discrimination by federal agencies.

Stem cell research holds great promise for medical breakthroughs that could provide....

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding Social Security.
a) Allow workers to invest a portion of their payroll tax in private accounts that they manage themselves.
b) Ensure the viability of Social Security by increasing the payroll tax.
c) Decrease benefits paid to retirees.
d) Support proportional increases of Social Security benefits based on the cost of living index.
e) Raise the retirement age for individual eligibility to receive full Social Security benefits.
f) Other or expanded principles

Social Security is one of the most successful government programs in history. It lifts 13 million senior citizens out of poverty every year and allows Americans to retire with dignity. I am committed to protecting retirement benefits for working Americans.

I strongly oppose President Bush’s efforts to privatize Social Security. Private accounts would cut guaranteed benefits, risk individuals’ Social Security funds in the stock market, and hasten the day that Social Security Trust Fund is exhausted.

I oppose proposals to raise the retirement age and cut benefits. One alternative is an additional tax on high-income workers who do not pay....

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding welfare and poverty.
a) Require welfare recipients to spend at least 40 hours a week in a combination of work and training programs.
b) Continue to give states and local governments flexibility in and responsibility for welfare programs through federal block grants.
c) Support housing assistance for welfare recipients.
d) Abolish all federal welfare programs.
e) Other or expanded principles

The federal government not only can seek an end to poverty—it must end it. I have a plan to cut poverty by a third in a decade and end it within 30 years. I believe we cannot go on as Two Americas – one favored, the other forgotten – if we plan to stay productive, competitive and secure. I want to live in an America where we value work, not just wealth. Together we can build One America – a place where everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream.

To create One America where everyone’s hard work is....

Please explain in a total of 200 words or less, your top two or three priorities if elected. If they require additional funding for implementation, please explain how you would obtain this funding.

We must re-establish America's leadership role in the world, and the place to start is Iraq. We have to show that we have the moral authority to lead because you can't lead through raw power. Iraq demands a political solution, not a military solution. I will immediately withdraw 40,000 to 50,000 American combat troops, with the rest to follow within 9-10 months.

We desperately need true universal health care that covers every single American while bringing down costs and improving care. It’s important to be honest about the cost – between $90 and $120 billion a year. I pay for my plan primarily by repealing the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $200,000 a year.

How we respond to the fact that 37 million among us live in poverty says everything about the character of America. We must end poverty within a generation, and we can do it with an ambitious agenda to reward work, create opportunity and strengthen families.

We must halt climate change. Global warming is a crisis that could fundamentally change our planet. However, capping and reducing greenhouse gas pollution and investing in renewable energies like wind, solar, and biofuels can stop global warming while....

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