Senator Bernie Sanders's Political Positions

Office: U.S. Senate (VT) - Jr, Independent
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Bernie Sanders has refused to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2016 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests. Historically, candidates have failed to complete our test due to the advice they receive from their parties and advisors and out of fear of negative attack ads.

What is the Political Courage Test?

This candidate has demonstrated 0% courage during the test.

*Note: This percentage is calculated based on the number of issue areas addressed by the candidate on the Political Courage Test at the conclusion of the testing period. It does not indicate support or lack of support by Project Vote Smart.

Issue Positions

In response to the increasing unwillingness of candidates to answer issue questions, Project Vote Smart has researched Presidential and Congressional candidates' public records to determine candidates' likely responses on certain key issues. These are provided below as a courtesy to voters.

Vote Smart's Research

  • Signed a letter stating "Dear Senator Davis: Thank you for your courage and determination in defeating S.B. 5, a bill that would have severely limited women's reproductive choices in Texas. Your steadfastness sets an example that one person's voice and commitment can make a difference."http://votesmart.org/public-statement/794890/letter-to-wendy-davis-senator-anti-abortion-filibuster#.VPdGgqC0SXU (votesmart.org)

Vote Smart's Research

  • "At a time of obscene levels of income and wealth inequality, President Obama's plan moves us in the right direction. I look forward to working with the administration to adopt a tax system that eliminates unfair tax loopholes that only benefit the wealthiest people and largest corporations and to increase the take-home pay of working Americans." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/946247/sanders-says-obama-plan-moves-us-in-the-right-direction#.VT5TI6C0QVY (votesmart.org)
  • "It is apparently not good enough for my Republican colleagues that 99 percent of all new income today is going to the top 1 percent... In the eyes of my Republican colleagues, the wealthy and the powerful and the big campaign contributors need even more help. Not only should they not be asked to pay more in taxes, not only should we not eliminate huge loopholes that benefit the wealthy and large corporations, some of my Republican friends believe we should protect these loopholes, not change them at all or maybe even make them wider." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/963407/concurrent-resolution-on-the-budget-fiscal-year-2016#.VT5TMaC0QVY (votesmart.org)

Vote Smart's Research

  • Huffington Post "The Democratic presidential candidate specifically called for reforming sentencing policies, like eliminating mandatory minimums for non-violent offenses and examining police militarization and police officers' use of force." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-criminal-justice_55b04b36e4b0a9b94853b3a4 (www.huffingtonpost.com)

Vote Smart's Research

  • "The president's budget begins to move us in the right direction. By rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, we can create millions of good-paying jobs. By making community college free, we can finally provide affordable access to higher education for working-class families." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/948920/sanders-statement-on-budget-proposal-for-fy-2016#.VT5TKKC0QVY (votesmart.org)

Vote Smart's Research

  • "By ending outrageous corporate loopholes, and by providing tax breaks to the middle class, we can begin the process of addressing the obscene levels of income and wealth inequality we are experiencing." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/948920/sanders-statement-on-budget-proposal-for-fy-2016#.VT5TKKC0QVY (votesmart.org)

Vote Smart's Research

  • "Earlier this week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions debated legislation to reform the highly flawed Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act. The legislation includes an innovative program developed by Sen. Bernie Sanders that would allow schools to move away from standardized testing, broaden the curriculum and allow educators to focus on the critical thinking and teamwork skills that are vital in the 21st century economy." http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsletters/reforming-no-child-left-behind (www.sanders.senate.gov)
  • "Sen. Sanders has been a vigorous opponent of the standardized testing regimen put in place by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) because it narrows school curriculum and constrains the development of critical thinking and creativity." http://www.sanders.senate.gov/legislation/issue/education (www.sanders.senate.gov)
  • Do you support requiring states to implement education reforms in order to be eligible for competitive federal grants? "No. I believe states, which along with communities have traditionally been the main support for our public schools, should be the entities which decide on reforms. I strongly support both early education (and child care) and extended education (after school programs, summer programs) as ways to strengthen our education of children and youth. I strongly support Pell grants, which help make college more affordable to the children of working families." http://votesmart.org/candidate/political-courage-test/27110/bernie-sanders/#learnmore (votesmart.org)
  • "If I have anything to say in the coming months, we would end [No Child Left Behind]." http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/06/19/bernie-sanders-and-martin-omalley-talk-testing-equity-with-teachers-union-chief (www.usnews.com)

Vote Smart's Research

  • "KEY ACTIONS Introduced the gold standard for climate change legislation with Sen. Barbara Boxer to tax carbon and methane emissions. Led the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Secured $3.2 billion in the economic stimulus package to fund grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a program that has funded upgrades for more than 86,000 buildings and installed more than 9,500 solar energy systems." https://berniesanders.com/issues/climate-change/ (berniesanders.com)
  • "I applaud President Obama for vetoing the Keystone XL legislation and the Senate for sustaining that veto. The Senate and President Obama have sent an important message that the United States finally is listening to the scientific community and recognizing that global warming poses a real threat to our planet." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/961825/senate-sustains-tar-sands-pipeline-veto/?search=keystone#.VT5Z-qC0QVY (votesmart.org)

Vote Smart's Research

  • "Sustainable energy sources, like solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, as well as energy efficient technologies, including compact fluorescent light bulbs and efficient appliances are vital and cost-effective tools in the battle against global warming. Sanders is committed to promoting these technologies and continuing to find new opportunities to promote clean energy." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/329261/issue-position-global-warmingenergy-and-environment/?search=greenhouse#.VT5XzaC0QVY (votesmart.org)
  • "The United States must lead the world in tackling climate change to make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren. We must transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels and towards energy efficiency and sustainability. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized and we need to greatly accelerate technological progress in wind and solar power generation." https://berniesanders.com/issues/climate-change/ (berniesanders.com)

Vote Smart's Research

  • "Sanders' Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act... would implement aggressive policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avert the most catastrophic changes associated with global warming." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/329261/issue-position-global-warmingenergy-and-environment/?search=greenhouse#.VT5XzaC0QVY (votesmart.org)
  • "KEY ACTIONS Introduced the gold standard for climate change legislation with Sen. Barbara Boxer to tax carbon and methane emissions. Led the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Secured $3.2 billion in the economic stimulus package to fund grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a program that has funded upgrades for more than 86,000 buildings and installed more than 9,500 solar energy systems." https://berniesanders.com/issues/climate-change/ (berniesanders.com)

Vote Smart's Research

  • " While the legislation [to expand background checks] recently brought forth in the Senate would by no means have solved all our gun-violence problems, it would have been a step forward, and that's why I voted for that legislation." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/819690/playboy-the-playboy-interview-bernie-sanders#.VT5fX6C0QVY (votesmart.org)
  • "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today voted for expanded background checks on gun buyers and for a ban on assault weapons" http://votesmart.org/public-statement/778262/sanders-votes-for-background-checks-assault-weapons-ban#.VT5e3aC0QVY (votesmart.org)

Vote Smart's Research

  • "Republicans offered nothing to help 40 million uninsured Americans during all of President George W. Bush's eight years in office. Now Republican governors in more than 20 states are rejecting an opportunity to provide their citizens with Medicaid coverage -- at no cost to the states -- under the Affordable Care Act. "We have got to tell every governor out there who was denying people the right to have health care that they`re doing a terrible, terrible thing," Sanders told Rev. Al Sharpton in an interview on Monday. Democrats should stop being defensive about the Affordable Care Act and call out Republicans for believing it's a "terrible thing" that millions more Americans now have health insurance under the new law." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/868997/the-week-in-review/?search=Affordable%20Care%20Act#.VT5yHaC0QVY (votesmart.org)

Vote Smart's Research

  • "I strongly support a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Bringing undocumented workers out of the shadows and giving them legal status will make it more difficult, among many other things, for employers to undercut the wages and benefits of all workers and will be good for our entire economy--a very important step forward." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/790874/border-security-economic-opportunity-and-immigration-modernization-act-continued-/?search=illegal#.VT50KKC0QVY (votesmart.org)

Vote Smart's Research

  • "This is good news for all Americans who believe in the words carved in marble on the front of the Supreme Court building, equal justice under law. But it is a special victory for gays and lesbians married in Vermont and the increasing number of other states that followed our lead in granting same-sex couples the same rights as everyone else" http://votesmart.org/public-statement/794923/supreme-court-victories-for-gay-marriage/?search=same-sex#.VT50xaC0QVY (votesmart.org)

Vote Smart's Research

  • "The way the drone program has been handled is a major reason I voted against the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA. Of course we must defend ourselves against terrorism, but I am not convinced Brennan is adequately sensitive to the important balancing act required to make protecting our civil liberties an integral part of ensuring our national security. Drone attacks that kill innocent people are immoral and create an enormous amount of anti-Americanism." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/819690/playboy-the-playboy-interview-bernie-sanders/?search=drone#.VT51RaC0QVY (votesmart.org)
  • "While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and the civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans. With regard to the use of drones and other methods employed by the Central Intelligence Agency, I am not convinced that Mr. Brennan is adequately sensitive to the important balancing act required to make protecting our civil liberties an integral part of ensuring our national security." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/769314/sanders-statement-on-cia-director/?search=drone#.VT51S6C0QVY (votesmart.org)

Vote Smart's Research

  • "some are talking about raising the retirement age, at which point seniors will be able to get benefits, and some in fact are talking about privatizing Social Security and giving that program over to Wall Street. That is one approach. That is one way we could deal with Social Security and the future of the program. Needless to say that is an approach I very strongly disagree with." http://votesmart.org/public-statement/963412/social-security/?search=privat#.VT52IKC0QVY (votesmart.org)

Key

Candidate Answer Official Position

Candidate had the Political Courage to address this issue directly.

Inferred Answer Inferred Position

Candidate refused to address this issue directly, but Project Vote Smart inferred this issue position based on the candidate's public statements, voting record, and evaluations from special interest groups.

Unknown Answer Unknown Position

Candidate refused to address this issue.

 Project Vote Smart's Research

Click on this icon to reveal more information about this candidate's position.

Vermont Congressional Election 2012 Political Courage Test

This candidate has responded to a Political Courage Test in a previous election. As a continued effort to provide the American public with factual information on candidates running for public office, these archived responses are made available here.

Pro-choiceCandidate AnswerDo you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation?
Other or expanded principles

I support a woman's right to choose.

NoInferred Answer Do you support United States' combat operations in Afghanistan? View Citations
YesDo you support a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan?
Other or expanded principles

I support a timetable for quick and complete US withdrawal from Afghanistan. We went to war against Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden. He is now dead, and our reason for being there no longer pertains/.

Indicate which proposals you support (if any) for balancing the federal budget.

In order to balance the budget,

YesCandidate Answerdo you support reducing defense spending?
YesCandidate Answerdo you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket?
Nodo you support reducing Medicaid spending?
Nodo you support reducing Medicare spending?
YesIs balancing the budget a legislative priority?
Other or expanded principles

We should move toward serious deficit reduction, most importantly by taxing the wealthy, who do not pay their fair share of the tax burden, and by closing tax loopholes for large corporations and corporations which ship jobs abroad to fatten their corporate profits. We should NOT blance the buget on the shoulders of the elderly, children, the poor, veterans or the currently hard-pressed middle class.

YesDo you support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions?
Other or expanded principles

Citizens United, which decided that corporations are persons and have an almost unlimited capacity to contribute to political campaigns and the issues which shape political campaigns, is one of the two or three worst decisions in the history of the Supreme Court. I jhave introduced legislation which would, by constitutional amendment, reverse Citizens United.

Do you support capital punishment for certain crimes?
Other or expanded principles
YesCandidate AnswerDo you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
YesCandidate AnswerDo you support providing tax incentives to businesses for the purpose of job creation?
YesDo you support spending on infrastructure projects for the purpose of job creation?
YesDo you support the temporary extension of unemployment benefits?
Do you support the 2010 temporary extension of tax relief?
Other or expanded principles

[...support the temporary extension of tax relief?] Candidate answered "Yes" and "No".

I support the extention of tax relief for middle class and working families. I do not, emphatically, support the extension of tax breaks for those earning over $250,000 a year.
I believe that federal investment in infrastructure both creates jobs, and makes our nation stronger and more economically competitive. In terms of stimulating our economy and creationg jobs -- as well as sustaining those trapped by this severe economic recession -- I think both unemployment compensation at food stamps are essential to support Americans devastated by the recession.

NoCandidate AnswerDo you support requiring states to implement education reforms in order to be eligible for competitive federal grants?
Other or expanded principles

I believe states, which along with communities have traditionally been the main support for our public schools, should be the entities which decide on reforms. I strongly support both early education (and child care) and extended education (after school programs, summer programs) as ways to strengthen our education of children and youth. I strongly support Pell grants, which help make college more affordable to the children of working families

NoCandidate AnswerDo you support reducing restrictions on offshore energy production?
Other or expanded principles

Global warming is real, and a threat to not only future generations, but to our very planet itself. I strongly support sustainable energy -- solar, wind, biomass, geothermal -- as a way to reduce carbon emissions, and to reduce our dependence of foreign oil.

YesDo you believe that human activity is contributing to climate change?
YesCandidate AnswerDo you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions?
Other or expanded principles

Global warming, and climate change, are one of the great challenges we face today. We must act aggressively to reduce carbon emissions. Solar, wind, thermal and biomass can greatly help us to move in tht direction. I ction. So can the development of hybrid-electric and electric vehicles, energy efficiency, and greater investment in mass transit.

Unknown PositionInferred Answer Do you support restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns? View Citations
Other or expanded principles

I believe that most concerns about owndership, purchase and possession of guns is best addressed at the state level. As a senator, I believe in deferring this question to the states.

YesCandidate AnswerDo you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act?
YesShould individuals be required to purchase health insurance, as mandated in the 2010 Affordable Care Act?
Other or expanded principles

The Affordable Care Act is a step forward toward universal health care, but it is imperfect, and so I voted for it but without strongly endorsing it. I have long believed that health care is a right of every citizen -- every citizen -- and that the best way to achieve a strong and fair health care system is through a Medicare-for-all, single payer system. I have consistently introduced, and strongly supported, legislation to establish a single-payer approach to health care.

NoCandidate AnswerDo you support requiring illegal immigrants to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship?
YesDo you support allowing illegal immigrants, who were brought to the United States as minors, to pursue citizenship without returning to their country of origin?
Do you support the enforcement of federal immigration law by state and local police?
Other or expanded principles

Legal immigration is and should be our practice and our goal. But with 11.5 undocumented immigrants currently residing in the US, we must address that reality. I support the DREAM Act, which would confer citizenship on young people who grew up in the United States if they serve in the military or graduate from high school.
The 14th amendment of the Constitution makes the federal government, not the states, the arbiter of citizenship.

YesCandidate AnswerDo you support same-sex marriage?
Other or expanded principles
NoCandidate AnswerDo you support targeting suspected terrorists outside of official theaters of conflict?
NoShould the U.S use military force in order to prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon?
Other or expanded principles

While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and the civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans.

NoCandidate AnswerDo you support allowing individuals to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts?
Other or expanded principles

I am opposed to the privatization of Social Security.

Spending

Indicate what federal spending levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one number per category; you can use a number more than once.

Slightly Decreasea) Agriculture
Maintain Statusb) Arts
Greatly Decreasec) Defense
Greatly Increased) Education
Slightly Increasee) Environment
Maintain Statusf) Homeland Security
Maintain Statusg) International aid
Slightly Increaseh) Medical Research
Maintain Statusi) Scientific Research
Slightly Decreasej) Space exploration
Maintain Statusk) United Nations
Maintain Statusl) Welfare
m) Other or expanded categories

1 Develop sustainable energy and create green jobs
6 Eliminate corporte welfare

Taxes

Indicate what federal tax levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one number per category; you can use a number more than once.

Greatly Increasea) Capital gains taxes
Greatly Increaseb) Corporate taxes
Maintain Statusc) Excise taxes (alcohol)
Maintain Statusd) Excise taxes (cigarettes)
Maintain Statuse) Excise taxes (transportation fuel)
Slightly Decreasef) Income taxes (low-income families)
Maintain Statusg) Income taxes (middle-income families)
Greatly Increaseh) Income taxes (high-income families)
Greatly Increasei) Inheritance taxes
j) Payroll taxes
k) Other or expanded categories

Payroll taxes: I favor ending the payroll tax reduction, which was instituted as a short-term measure to stimulate the economy, because over the long term it will weaken the Social Security Trust Fund. I favor removing the cap on payroll taxes for those earning over $250,000 a year, because doing so would guarantee that all Social Security benefits could be paid for the next 75 years. I believe, I stated earlier, that the wealthy and corporations need to pay their fair share of taxes.

Please explain in a total of 100 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.

REversing the decline of the middle class, which is in good measure due to outsourcing of American jobs and an unfair tax code which has greatly reduced taxes on the wealthy while their share of both the ntion's ealth and its income have soared dramatically,

REducign glob al warming and creating new, good-paying jbos by investing in sustainable energy and eenrgy efficiency.

Bringing transparency to the banking industry, to the Federal Reserve, and to military contracting.

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