In order to help undecided voters familiarize themselves with the potential presidents in time for the February 5 primary, The Indy is offering the following rundown of the major candidates’ positions on four subjects Indy staff deemed the most socially relevant: healthcare, the Iraq War, the environment, and immigration. Information below was drawn from candidates’ Web sites and public statements they have made on the given subjects. (Note: Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Duncan Hunter, and Fred Thompson have dropped out of the race and therefore do not appear here. For a comprehensive list of all presidential candidates, visit smartvoter.org.)
Healthcare: Would reduce care costs by giving tax benefits to those without employer-provided health insurance; would also make it easier and faster for the FDA to approve new drugs.
Iraq War: Believes removing troops from Iraq would indicate weakness because Iraq is only part of a larger war on terror.
Environment: Believes America must explore all alternative energy sources ranging from clean-burning coal to nuclear power by investing into energy research and other technologies such as hybrid vehicles.
Immigration: Would complete the border fence and improve its design with newer technology; would develop a system where all foreigners in the U.S. are issued an ID card and are tracked by a database and when entering or leaving the country.
Healthcare: Is against universal healthcare because it would mean too much government control; would instead work with the private sector to lower prices on insurance and focus on a consumer-based health system as opposed to the current employer-based insurance programs.
Iraq War: Supports the continuation of the Iraq war until total success is achieved; views it as an important battle of the larger war on terror; would push for a summit of regional leaders to commit them to supporting the stabilization of Iraq.
Environment: Would promote and encourage energy independence strategies such as research into alternative energy and vehicles.
Immigration: Supports legislation that will add 23,000 more agents and 700 miles of fence while upgrading technologies such as cameras and radar along the border; opposes legislation granting amnesty to illegal immigrants and supports criminal prosecution of anyone who hires illegal immigrants; border security plan would detain, process, and deport anyone caught crossing the border illegally.
Healthcare: Dislikes government-controlled healthcare systems; opposes mandated health insurance and universal coverage; suggested an insurance reward for people who avoid alcohol, tobacco, obesity.
Iraq War: Said the invasion of Iraq “would not have been his choice,” but also would not have asked the United Nations’ permission to do so; believes political rebuilding of Iraq should have been left to the UN, however.
Environment: Supports marketable pollution credits; opposes regulations; advocates research into alternative fuels; opposes the Kyoto Protocol.
Immigration: Believes open borders undermine sovereignty; says existing anti-immigration laws should be enforced; opposes guest worker programs; would rescind President Bush’s order allowing Mexican trucks on U.S. roads.
Healthcare: Favors total reform of the healthcare industry with the ultimate goal of providing affordable healthcare to all citizens, especially retirees and veterans; aims to lower prices and improve quality by promoting competition between health insurance providers.
Iraq War: Believes more troops are necessary to clear out the insurgency, at which point U.S. advisers will train and equip Iraqi security forces and sectarian violence will be stopped; opposes pulling out of Iraq because it would encourage Iran and other perceived enemies of the U.S.
Environment: Supports alternative energy research and conservation of National Parks; hopes to improve quality of the environment by making economic decisions that will limit dependence on foreign oil and limit pollution in America.
Immigration: Plans to reinforce security not just at the border but at all other ports of entry; would work with Latin American allies to build strong economies in their countries.
Healthcare: Opposes the prominence of corporate interests such as pharmaceutical companies in the healthcare system; plans to make all medical expenses tax-deductible and eliminate federal regulations that limit the coverage small businesses can provide for their employees.
Iraq War: Declares that the war in Iraq is unconstitutional; supports plans to bring troops home immediately not just from Iraq but from around the world to focus on securing America instead of spreading our forces thinly in more than 130 countries.
Environment: Opposes subsidizing logging of National Forests and other schemes that allow companies to pay to pollute; has cosponsored bills to develop sustainable alternative energy such as solar energy.
Immigration: Opposes amnesty and supports strict enforcement of visa regulations; would end birthright citizenship and end welfare for illegal immigrants.
Healthcare: Would encourage states to deregulate healthcare markets in order to help reduce insurance costs; would spend money currently used to give “free care” to the uninsured to help the poor buy insurance.
Iraq War: Opposes quick withdrawal from Iraq and would instead keep troops there as long as there is a “reasonable probability” of success; views Iraq as key to stability in the region and America’s security.
Environment: Plans to end energy dependence by investing in nuclear power technology and research into other alternatives.
Immigration: Would end illegal immigration by strengthening the current border and by rejecting amnesty; would punish those who hire undocumented workers and implement a stronger employer verification system.
Hillary R. Clinton
Healthcare: Supports universal healthcare; would lower prices for health insurance and offer citizens the same choice of health plan options that members of Congress receive; vows to eliminate discrimination by insurance companies.
Iraq War: Would immediately start bringing troops home within 60 days, bring aid to government and humanitarian agencies in Iraq, and support the appointment of a UN representative to broker peace between Iraq’s sectarian groups.
Environment: Would establish new energy efficiency standards for automobiles as well as funding in environmental protection and energy research through a $50 billion Strategic Energy Fund; would require that all federal buildings designed after 2009 be zero-emission buildings.
Immigration: Advocates an employer verification system that is universal, accurate, timely, and does not lead to discrimination and abuse by employers; supports strengthening borders through cooperation with our neighbors; Would make family reunification the guiding principle of our immigration system.
Healthcare: Believes Americans will have better access to health insurance by requiring businesses and other employers to either cover their employees or help finance employees’ plans.
Iraq War: Supports immediate withdrawal of 40,000 troops from Iraq and the complete withdrawal of all combat troops within nine to 10 months, leaving a small force to guard embassy and humanitarian workers.
Environment: Would encourage world leaders to sign a new climate treaty dedicated to reducing greenhouse gases; would invest in new energy technologies and repeal subsidies for oil companies.
Immigration: Would secure borders and stop illegal trafficking while giving the more than 12 million undocumented people in the U.S. a chance to earn their citizenship.
Maurice “Mike” Gravel
Healthcare: Envisions a universal healthcare system that provides equal medical services to all citizens and is paid for by a retail sales tax. Citizens would not pay for health benefits.
Iraq War: Wants withdrawal of all troops from Iraq within 120 days, followed by a cooperative effort by neighboring countries to help Iraq find diplomatic solutions; would call for a U.S. corporate withdrawal from Iraq and hand over reconstruction contracts to Iraqi businesses to empower Iraqi nationals to rebuild their own country.
Environment: Supports taxing carbon emissions; would work with developing nations to fight deforestation and other environmental woes.
Immigration: Would secure borders and institute a guest worker program; would seek to introduce fair-trade policies that will benefit the U.S. and other countries to attack the poverty at the source of illegal immigration.
Healthcare: Proposes a universal, single-payer, not-for-profit healthcare system that would establish Medicare for all Americans.
Iraq War: Advocates the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq; pushes for cutting money from the defense budget.
Environment: Would immediately sign the Kyoto Treaty and start the U.S. toward adopting regulations and solving environmental problems.
Immigration: Sponsored a bill that allows undocumented immigrants who have been in U.S. for more than five years to legalize their status; would work with Mexico to establish an agreement on the flow of immigrants; opposes punishment of employers who hire undocumented workers.
Healthcare: Proposes plan that would create competition within pharmaceutical and insurance industries in order to guarantee all Americans will be eligible for affordable healthcare regardless of age, illness, or other conditions and would also legally require that children have health coverage.
Iraq War: Opposed war from the beginning; would bring all troops home within one year at a rate of two combat brigades a month while providing humanitarian relief to Iraq; would hold a United Nations-supported council of Iraqi diplomats to draft a new constitution aimed at healing political and religious separation.
Environment: Supports investing in clean energy alternatives and putting harsher environmental restrictions on coal and oil companies; would reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050; wants to reduce oil consumption by at least 35 percent by increasing fuel economy standards.
Immigration: Advocates reinforcing existing border security with more personnel and better technology; wants renovation of the nation’s immigration system in order to facilitate legal immigrants’ getting citizenship; supports imposing strict fines on employers who hire undocumented workers.