By Madeline Farber
Published April 12, 2019
Sen. Bernie Sanders is back on the campaign trail.
The 77-year-old self-proclaimed Democratic socialist is once again making a bid for the White House, joining a growing number of lawmakers who plan to take on President Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Sanders will join Fox News Channel for a town hall co-anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum on Monday, April 15, at 6:30 p.m. ET in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
As the seasoned Vermont senator starts stumping for 2020, here's a look at where he stands on key issues such as gun control, healthcare and the economy.
Sanders’ name has arguably become synonymous with Medicare-for-All, a bill he introduced in 2017. The goal? To achieve universal healthcare.
In a nutshell, the single-payer health insurance plan would require all U.S. residents to be covered with no copays and deductibles for medical services. The insurance industry would be regulated to play a minor role in the system.
In other words: A government-run system would replace private health insurance offered through employers, which is the mainstay of coverage some 160 million people.
Sanders recently released an updated version of the legislation, adding coverage for long-term care. Several presidential hopefuls — namely Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. — have already endorsed the new bill.
But the program, which would likely be financed through large tax increases, has been knocked by critics for its expected cost.
Though single-payer healthcare could reportedly save taxpayers roughly $500 billion a year, according to FeelTheBern.org, the plan’s cost could up federal spending by more than $2 trillion per year, according to The New York Times, while several independent studies on the program have estimated it could increase government spending on health care to $25 trillion to $35 trillion or more over a 10-year period.
Sanders is a huge proponent of tuition-free public colleges and universities.
Under the “College for All Act”, which Sanders first introduced in May 2015, per his website, the government would “provide $47 billion in federal funding to incentivize states to increase investments in their public higher education systems and eliminate tuition for undergraduate students.”
Total tuition costs at public colleges and universities totals to roughly $70 billion annually, according to Sanders' campaign. Under the legislation, the federal government would cover $47 billion of that cost, or 67 percent, while states would shoulder $23 billion, or the remaining 33 percent.
"The legislation would eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities for families making up to $125,000 — about 80 percent of the population — and make community college tuition- and fee-free for all," according to a 2017 statement on the legislation.
“College tuition is free in Germany, even for citizens of other countries. It’s also free in Denmark, Norway Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, and Mexico. If they can do it, why can’t we?” questioned Sanders in a 2015 editorial for the Huffington Post. “Why do we accept a situation where hundreds of thousands of qualified people are unable to go to college because their families don’t have enough money?”
Sanders supports immigration reform to address the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S., but the ways in which he thinks the government should go about such a reform largely differs from his Republican and conservative-minded colleagues.
“What I do not support is, under the guise of immigrant reform, a process pushed by large corporations which result in more unemployment and lower wages for American workers,” Sanders told The Washington Post in 2013.
Sanders in 2013 voted in favor of the Senate immigration bill which “proposed a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, doubling the number of border patrol officers, and providing an additional 350 miles of border fencing,” according to PBS, which noted the bill failed to become law.
The senator has also called for the restructuring of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In July 2018, Sanders called for the abolishment of the “cruel, dysfunctional immigration system we have today and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
“That will mean restructuring the agencies that enforce our immigration laws, including ICE. We must not be about tearing small children away from their families. We must not be about deporting DREAMers, young people who have lived in this country virtually their entire lives,” he tweeted, in part, though did not detail at the time how he would plan to abolish the program.
Sanders, too, supported the 2007 Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would grant legal status to a group of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. He later co-sponsored the act in 2011 when it was reintroduced, according to FeelTheBern.org.
Sanders is a supporter of “middle-ground legislation” when it comes to gun control, according to FeelTheBern.org.
“As such, he understands that Americans in rural areas have a very different view towards guns as do those who live in densely populated urban environments. Bernie believes in a solution which promotes gun rights for those who wish to possess them while also ensuring their safe and secure use so that they cannot be used to harm fellow human beings,” reads the website, which noted the senator in the past has voted for a nationwide ban on assault weapons, expanded background checks and a ban on “high capacity magazine over ten rounds.”
In a 2016 speech, Sanders said most Americans who own and use guns are “law-abiding people” and pushed for a “common sense proposal on guns that will have the support, not of everybody, but a significant majority of American people.”
He went on to say those with criminal records or mental health issues should not own guns, echoing his comments from a 2015 NPR interview.
“We need strong sensible gun control, and I will support it," Sanders told the news outlet at the time. "But some people think it's going to solve all of our problems, and it's not. You know what, we have a crisis in the capability of addressing mental health illness in this country. When people are hurting and are prepared to do something terrible, we need to do something immediately. We don't have that and we should have that.”
Sanders has touted raising the so-called estate tax to “invest in the disappearing middle class” and close what he has said is a growing gap between the wealthy and the rest of the country.
Rather recently, in January, Sanders revealed a plan to expand the federal estate tax, which he said on Twitter would only apply to the “richest 0.2 [percent] of Americans,” or those who inherit $3.5 million or more.
That said, Sanders' plan was largely different than a bill proposed by some a few of his Republican counterparts.
Days before, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. introduced a plan to scrap the estate tax altogether. Sanders in a tweet slammed the bill as “absurd.”
Sanders has also made pushes throughout the years to increase the minimum wage.
He recently reintroduced legislation to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024.
"While the official unemployment rate is relatively low, too many workers in America today are making wages that don’t pay enough to make ends meet. Workers and their families cannot make it on $9 an hour or $10 an hour – or even less," Sanders said in a statement in November, claiming it would give 40 million workers a raise. "We have got to raise the minimum wage in this country to a living wage – at least $15 an hour."
At least 20 states increased their minimum wages since the start of the New Year, according to Fox Business.