Sen. John Edwards on the Issues
Tuesday, July 6, 2004; 9:12 AM
Below is a breakdown of Sen. John Edwards's positions on major issues based on his record in the Senate and his statements during the Democratic presidential primaries.
Edwards on Abortion
Did not vote on the bill banning late-term abortions that President Bush signed into law in 2003, but has consistently voted against previous legislation banning the procedure.
Parental Consent for Minors
Has not commented on this issue.
Funding of Overseas Abortion Programs
Opposes President Bush's order prohibiting U.S. funds for international organizations that counsel women on abortion or perform the procedure.
Did not vote on a July 2003 legislative amendment that overturned Bush's order to block U.S. funding for international organizations that counsel women on abortions or perform abortions.
Edwards on Civil Liberties
Voted for the Patriot Act.
Now takes issue with Attorney General John D. Ashcroft's enforcement and calls for a "dramatic revision" of the act.
Gay Marriage/Civil Unions
Opposes civil unions for same-sex couples, but would leave the issue to individual states to decide.
Favors expanding partnership benefits for same-sex couples.
Says he has changed his position over time to favor the death penalty for certain crimes.
President Bush's 'Faith-Based' Program
Has not commented on this issue.
Supports the Supreme Court ruling upholding affirmative action in university admissions.
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
Has not commented on this issue.
Edwards on Economy
Would repeal the Bush tax cuts for people who make more than $200,000 a year and would raise the capital gains tax rate for people who make more than $300,000 a year.
Would eliminate corporate tax loopholes that create incentives for American companies to set up overseas.
Would offer a matching tax credit of up to $5,000 to help "those who need it" to cover a down payment on a first home.
Supports restoration of budget caps and pay-as-you-go enforcement rules.
Says that almost 50 percent of the money recouped from reinstatements of the Bush tax cuts on capital gains and dividends would go directly toward deficit reduction.
Plans to create 5 million "good-paying jobs with good benefits and access to health care" over a two-year period by offering money and tax incentives to businesses interested in bringing jobs to urban communities and other areas with high unemployment rates.
Has proposed a Worker and Shareholder Bill of Rights that would, in part, cut down on CEO pay rates, call for accurate accounting and hold corporations responsible to their shareholders and employees.
Pledges "not to go soft on executives, accountants, and analysts who squander other people's money."
Says the United States should change its trade policy, and he would have voted against NAFTA in 1993 if he was in the Senate.
Supports enforcing all existing trade agreements but would renegotiate terms of NAFTA agreement.
Says he will oppose any trade agreements that fail to include strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards.
Says the United States should incorporate core labor standards including the right to collective bargaining, a prohibition on slave labor, and minimum age requirements for labor, and minimum wage standards.
Edwards on Education
Proposes one free year of college in return for 10 hours of community service a week and will pay for the $5 billion program by reforming federal education loans.
Plans to end subsidies to banks that guarantee against defaults on student loans and by providing the loans directly in an effort to save taxpayers billions of dollars a year.
Did not vote on a Democratic initiative in 2003 that would have increased the maximum Pell Grant scholarship for low-income college students; bill was defeated 46-51.
Opposes federally funded vouchers to help parents pay for private school costs.
No Child Left Behind
Voted for the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.
Criticizes President Bush for not requesting enough money to fully fund the act.
Did not vote on a failed Democratic amendment to a 2003 appropriations bill that would have increased funding to No Child Left Behind from $11.4 billion to $16 billion.
Proposes a national initiative to pay teachers better and promises to give bonus pay to those willing to teach in disadvantaged areas.
Edwards on Energy
Voted in 2003 to strike language from a concurrent resolution that would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Supports designating ANWR as a wilderness area permanently off-limits to development .
Wants to set standards to become less dependent on fossil fuels, including increased fuel efficiency standards for cars.
Supports the use of ethanol and supports the creation of new biorefineries to transform agricultural wastes -- such as corn husks, rice straw and wood chips -- into energy.
Supported a successful legislative amendment in 2003 that called for the administration to develop and implement measures to lessen dependence on foreign oil by 1 million barrels per day by 2013.
Reversed his support for an energy bill designed to revamp the nation's energy policies, reorganize the electricity system and make available billions of dollars in energy-related tax incentives after the bill was changed significantly in conference committee, saying that "Republicans wrote this energy bill in secret, and they wrote most of it simply to serve the energy companies, not the American people."
Edwards on Foreign Policy
Says there's "no easy answers here" but says the U.S. should be a "strong supporter of Israel."
Promises to visit the Mideast as president and pledges his secretary of state will be deeply involved in Middle East peace negotiations.
Proposes an "earned legalization status" for immigrants and wants to improve family reunification laws, create a work visa program and a public-private fund to teach English to immigrants.
Calls for "aggressive and direct dialogue with North Korea."
Says any deal with North Korea on nuclear arms would depend on U.S. ability to verify compliance.
Suggests offering Pyongyang incentives for cooperation, saying North Korea "needs something from us."
Edwards on Health Care
Re-Importation of Prescription Drugs
Supports "safe" re-importation of prescription drugs from Canada.
Co-wrote a 2002 bill that he said, if enacted, would lower the cost of prescription drugs and bring more low-cost, generic drugs into the market.
Expanding Medicare to Include Prescription Drug Benefit
Supports a prescription drug benefit, but opposed the 2003 Medicare bill because the legislation gave economic benefit to HMOs.
Supports allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry for Medicare recipients.
Health Care Coverage
Calls for a new tax credit for parents to help buy health insurance for their children, either through private plans or existing government programs.
Would subsidize coverage for adults below the poverty line -- $ 18,400 for a family of four -- and partially subsidize coverage for those making as much as 250 percent of that amount.
Would require private insurers to cover Americans between the ages of 21 and 24 as part of their parents' policies.
Would allow adults 55 and over to buy into the Medicare program.
Estimates his plan would cost $53 billion per year, which he would pay for by repealing Bush's income tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
Supports a patient's bill of rights that would hold HMOs accountable to consumers.
Proposes applying antitrust laws to insurers, who he says are responsible for high malpractice premiums that increase health costs.
Proposes strengthening state medical disciplinary standards while taking steps to "prevent frivolous lawsuits."
Would require every lawyer bringing a malpractice suit to swear before the court that they have an expert ready to testify to the fact that "real malpractice has occurred."
Edwards on U.S. Security
Transportation and Border Security
Voted for the 2002 bill that established the Department of Homeland Security and allowed commercial pilots to be trained to carry firearms.
Proposes the creation of a new agency to oversee domestic intelligence and to defend civil liberties through public reporting and judicial review.
Wants to offer college scholarships to students agreeing to serve for five years in homeland security.
Proposes an "EZ-Pass"-like system that would allow shippers to move through ports more quickly and maintain security.
Would add anti-terrorism personnel to Immigration and Naturalization Service, the border patrol and the consulates.
Proposes a federal security force for the nuclear power system.
State and Local Security Needs
Promises to provide $10 billion to fund state and local security programs.
Wants to overhaul the color-coded warning system and provide first-responders with better information about terror threats.
Says he would increase safety standards for chemical plants, skyscrapers, arenas and government computer systems.
Edwards on Iraq
Vote on Iraq Resolution
Voted for the congressional resolution that gave President Bush the authority to use military force in Iraq.
Says Bush should have worked harder to secure international support.
Supports the continued presence of U.S. troops.
Opposed President Bush's 2003 request for $87 billion for military and reconstruction spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguing that the administration's policy has been a failure and said the president will change course only if someone "stands up to him and says 'no.'"
Wants a NATO-led peacekeeping force and wants the United Nations to take over reconstruction.
Says Iraq's oil should not be exploited by any country.
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