With 23 Democratic Presidential hopefuls, you'd be forgiven if you've missed the minutiae of each candidate's platforms. Consider what follows to be the rapid-fire, CliffsNotes version.
For the first time during this 2020 campaign cycle, the Democratic candidates now running for U.S. president will square off before a national audience at two debates scheduled for June 26 and 27. (Twenty of the 23 candidates will be split into two groups of 10, between the two days. Three candidates failed to qualify for the debates, as they lacked donations or polling support or both.) While naturally the format won't allow deep policy dives, you can expect the candidates to articulate their visions on a number of business topics including climate change, immigration reform, and the big technology companies.
Here's a preview of some of the candidates' most noteworthy proposals:
1. Breaking Up Big Tech
Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon are collectively valued at more than $4 trillion, and they employ hundreds of thousands of Americans. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) wants to make them smaller. In particular, she wants to break them up, similarly to how Bell System was split into seven companies in 1984.
Warren's proposal includes appointing antitrust regulators who are committed to unraveling some of the larger tech mergers--for example, Amazon might have to surrender Whole Foods and Facebook might need to give up WhatsApp and Instagram. She'd also pass legislation that would prevent big tech firms from owning a marketplace while also contributing to it, meaning that Google wouldn't be able to prioritize its restaurant ratings over another company's, like Yelp's. And Amazon wouldn't be able to promote its products over other sellers'. Warren says the effort would give small businesses a better chance at competing against the tech giants.
"They've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else," Warren wrote in March in a post on Medium announcing her policy. "And, in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation."
Senator Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.) also has said he's considering breaking up those five tech giants, but hasn't released any specific proposals.
2. Raising Worker Pay
Sanders has accused tech companies like Amazon of failing to pay workers properly. Though the minimum wage in the U.S. now stands at $7.25 per hour--and there's no reason to suggest the e-commerce powerhouse is violating the law--Sanders says the wages Amazon pays its hourly workers are substandard, forcing employees to use social safety-net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. He has also criticized Walmart and other large employers for the same issue.
Sanders--along with several other candidates including Warren and former vice president Joe Biden--is calling for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. He also wants to ensure equal pay for men and women through the Paycheck Fairness Act, which passed the House of Representatives in May and is heading to the Senate. The bill, which was first introduced in 1997, would require employers to be more transparent about how much they're paying workers and would eliminate employers' rules that prevent employees from sharing their salaries.
3. Giving Immigrants a Pathway to Citizenship and the Workforce
Beto O'Rourke, a former Texas congressman, may explain how he'd tackle immigration reform in the U.S. In May, he released a plan that included immediately ending the Trump administration's border policy and only detaining undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds. He would also pass legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., which would include an immediate avenue for Dreamers--immigrants brought into the country as children--and beneficiaries of programs like the Temporary Protected Status and the Deferred Enforced Departure.
Julián Castro, who's served as mayor of San Antonio and housing secretary under former president Barack Obama, has suggested reclassifying illegal entry into the U.S. as a civil infraction instead of a criminal one and vowed to create a clearer path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He also hopes to do the same for Dreamers and those under the Temporary Protected Status and the Deferred Enforced Departure through the Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which passed in the House of Representatives in June.
4. Rolling Back Trump's Tax Cuts
Biden announced in June that, if elected, he would reverse Republican corporate tax cuts and use the proceeds--estimated at around $1.7 trillion--to fund a new climate plan. Biden wants to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. He would also have the U.S. reenter the Paris climate agreement and reinstate Obama-era regulations on methane emissions. Methane is a greenhouse gas that's emitted during the production of coal or as a result of agricultural practices.
Just about every other Democratic candidate has similarly called for repealing all or parts of Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Warren's proposal goes a step further: If elected, Warren would levy an "ultra-millionaire tax," or a 2 percent fee on households with assets greater than $50 million and a 3 percent tax on households with assets greater than $1 billion. Her campaign projects the wealth tax to raise $2.75 trillion in 10 years, enough to pay for proposed programs like universal child care, free tuition at public colleges and universities, and student loan debt forgiveness for roughly 42 million Americans.
5. Helping Working Families
Echoing the calls for helping working families, Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) has made paid family leave one of the central themes of her campaign. She wants to create a national plan that would give workers three months of paid leave regardless of whether they're a new parent, caregiver to a family member, or ill themselves. The plan would also pay 66 percent of employees' salaries capped at $4,000 per month per person. Gillibrand would pay for this by imposing a 0.2 percent tax on workers' wages, which would be split between employers and employees, and total about $4 per week for the average worker.
Senator Cory Booker (D., N.J.) wants to aid working families by expanding the existing Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, a refundable tax credit for low- to moderate-income individuals, couples, or families. His policy, called "Rise Credit," would change the age qualifications to include people 18 years or older and low-income students. Currently, participants must have a child under the age of 19 or be over the age of 25. Booker's policy would also increase the maximum EITC credit by 25 percent, which varies depending on the number of qualifying children per household but ranges between $6,557 for three or more children and $529 for no children.
6. Girding for Future Tech Backlash
Andrew Yang says he would spend his term in office pioneering a similar kind of subsidy for workers. In particular, the serial entrepreneur--best known as the founder of Venture for America, a nonprofit that helps recent college graduates become entrepreneurs--would provide all citizens 18 and older with a universal basic income, a form of social security, as a way to support the workforce as new technologies like artificial intelligence and automation replace human workers. Yang wants to provide $1,000 per person, per month.