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There has certainly been a lot of mudslinging during this year’s primary season. And while that’s entertaining to some, do you know exactly where the candidates stand on the important issues?

Well, I am here to tell ya.

In particular, I am here to tell you what the top two Republican candidates, Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, as well as their fellow Democratic candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stand on four important issues:

Education

As part of his Five for Freedom plan, Ted Cruz wants to abolish the Department of Education (along with the IRS, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development). He also wants to end Common Core. Why? Well, according to his campaign website: “We need to restore parent and student choice and remove federal barriers to children’s success.” [source: TedCruz.org]

Donald Trump doesn’t have an official position on his website (in fact, he only has five positions in total). However, during his campaign announcement speech, the real estate tycoon said, “As president I’d] end Common Core. Common Core is a disaster. [Jeb] Bush is totally in favor of Common Core. I don’t see how he can possibly get the nomination. He’s weak on immigration. He’s in favor of Common Core. How the hell can you vote for this guy? You just can’t do it. We have to end–education has to be local.” [Source: Wall Street Journal, 2015]

He was also previously quoted saying that he wants to cut the Department of Education “way, way, way down.” [Source: Politico]

Bernie Sanders doesn’t have much to say about what should happen to the DOE (if anything should happen), however, he does have a comprehensive plan for higher education. More specifically, Sanders wants to make college free at public colleges and universities. He also wants to lower student loan interest rates and allow Americans with college debt to refinance their loans at lower rates. How does he propose to pay for all of this? As written on his campaign’s website: “The cost of this $75 billion a year plan is fully paid for by imposing a tax of a fraction of a percent on Wall Street speculators who nearly destroyed the economy seven years ago.” [source: BernieSanders.com]

Like Sanders, Hillary Clinton also has a plan for higher education. But unlike her Democratic challenger, she does not outright plan to make college free. Instead, she wants to make it “more affordable.” More specifically, she wants to “ensure no student has to borrow to pay for tuition, books, or fees to attend a four-year public college in their state; enable Americans with existing student loan debt to refinance at current rates; and hold colleges and universities accountable for controlling costs and making tuition affordable.” In terms of K-12, Clinton wants to make high-quality education available to every child in America. [Source: HillaryClinton.com]

Civil Rights and Social Justice

Cruz wants to defend religious liberties, solid, period. And as written on his campaign’s website: “The Pilgrims risked everything so that they could worship the Lord with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength. The founders enshrined this right to live according to our faith in the First Amendment, and we must continue to celebrate and safeguard citizens’ God-given rights.” [Source: TedCruz.org]

Again, Trump has no official position. But according to On the Issues, he is okay with gay marriage and affirmative action – for now. [Source: OnTheIssues.org]

Sanders has quite a few (extensive) positions on the issue of civil rights. So in the interest of brevity, I’ll just list some of his views on racial justice (for his position on LGBT rights specifically, you can go here). Sanders wants to demilitarize our police forces; invest in community policing; invest in police forces that reflect the diversity of our communities; federally fund and require body cameras for law enforcement officers; require police departments and states to collect data on all police shootings and deaths; establish a new model police training program; return voting rights to felony offenders; reinforce the Voters Rights Act; make Election Day a federal holiday; eliminate mandatory prison minimums; investigate local governments that are using implicit or explicit quotas for arrests or stops; prevent employers from discriminating against applicants based on criminal history by “banning the box”; stop the unequal exposure of people of color to harmful chemicals, pesticides and other toxins; and mitigate climate change and focus on building resilience in low-income and minority communities. Phew…[Source: BernieSanders.com]

While Clinton does not have a specific position on racial justice, she does take a position on criminal justice reform. And as president she said she will “Work to strengthen bonds of trust between communities and police; Make new investments to support state-of-the-art law enforcement training programs; strengthening the U.S. Department of Justice’s pattern or practice unit; support legislation to end racial profiling; providing federal matching funds to make body cameras available to every police officer; collect and report national data on policing; create national guidelines for use of force; reduce mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses; reform the ‘strike’ system to focus on violent crime; eliminate the sentencing disparity for crack and powder cocaine; apply Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactively; end the privatization of prisons; Take executive action to “ban the box”; and support legislation to restore voting rights.” [Source: HillaryClinton.com]

 

Reproductive Rights & Family and Children

Cruz hates abortions and if elected president, he will instruct the Department of Justice to investigate Planned Parenthood. He also believes “Marriage is a sacrament between one man and one woman, it has strengthened societies for millennia, and we must uphold the truth of marriage.” He also wants to do away with “leftist judges.” [source: TedCruz.org]

No surprises here, but Trump has no official position. However, before he was against abortion and Planned Parenthood, Trump was very much in favor of both. [Source: OnTheIssues.org]

Sanders wants to expand funding for Planned Parenthood. He also vows to “only nominate Supreme Court justices who understand that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and recognize the rights of women to have access to family planning services.” Likewise, Sanders also wants to make high-quality childcare and Pre-K available to every American; expand the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program; and require employers to provide at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. [Source: BernieSanders.com]

Clinton is the only candidate to take a position on college campus assaults. More specifically she wants to “ensure fair process for all in campus disciplinary proceedings and the criminal justice system” and “increase sexual violence prevention education programs.” And while she is not as assertive in her language as her challenger, she also pledges to “fight for paid family leave; increase the minimum wage; stand up to Republican attempts to defund Planned Parenthood; address violence against women; and promote women’s rights around the globe.” In terms of family, Clinton also pledges to “guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave; and ensure at least a two-thirds wage replacement rate for workers.” [Source: HillaryClinton.com]

Health Care

Cruz doesn’t have an official position (at least on his website). However, the senator has been very vocal about repealing Obamacare [Source: OnTheIssues.org]

Again, Trump does not have an official position on his website, but according to On The Issues, he feels that Obamacare needs to be both repealed and replaced. With what? Well, according to an interview he gave to ABC News late last year, he is a fan of Ben Carson’s idea to enact health savings accounts as an alternative. He also believes that we don’t have to cut Medicare and Social Security, but rather, we need to focus on how to grow the economy. [Source: OnTheIssues.org]

Sanders wants to create a federally administered single-payer health care program, and he wants to pay for it through a combination of taxes, including a “Responsible Estate Tax” levied on the wealthiest top earners in the country. In addition to free healthcare, Sanders also wants to lower the cost of prescription drugs and strengthen and expand Social Security. [Source: BernieSanders.com]

Yet again, Clinton’s position on healthcare is a bit more measured than her challenger. In terms of social security, she said she will expand and defend Social Security “against Republican attacks” while asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute more. She also pledges to “Fight Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act that would raise costs and limit coverage for seniors; fight back against Republican plans to privatize or ‘phase out’ Medicare as we know it; Drive down drug costs for seniors and other Americans; and expand Social Security benefits for widows and those who took time out of the paid workforce to care for a child or sick family member.” [Source: HillaryClinton.com]

Now that you are better informed, don’t forget to vote.

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