The Democratic 2020 presidential candidates debated in New Hampshire on February 7 before the New Hampshire primary on February 11. Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, and Joe Biden participated. Pete Buttigieg was also present but he made no reference to climate change or related issues so he is not included in these excerpts.
[Y]ou need to rally the American people to tell the drug companies, to tell Wall Street, to tell the insurance companies, to tell the fossil fuel industry this country belongs to all of us, not a handful of special interests.
[I]f you look at every environmental group in this country, including the Sunrise organization, we’re so proud to have their support, because we have introduced the most comprehensive climate change proposal I think ever authored by a presidential candidate. But they are saying, what the environmental groups are saying, we’re simply exporting fossil fuel emissions to Mexico. There is not one word in that trade agreement. There is not one word in that trade agreement that deals with climate change and I don’t know how in 2020 you can do that. Second of all, there is, in terms of outsourcing of jobs, a major crisis in this country. Nobody believes that under this Trump trade agreement that they will not be continued and significant outsourcing of jobs into low wage Mexico, where workers are paid in some cases less than $2 an hour. So I think the right vote was the vote against that agreement. I don’t apologize for that.
But let me just pick up on a point that Tom made, which is absolutely right. Trump wants to build a wall around America. The problem is if we are going to deal with issues like climate change, not only do we in America have to take on the greed of the fossil fuel industry, we have to lead the entire world. This is not an American issue. It’s a global issue. We got to bring China and Russia and Brazil and Pakistan and India and every major country on earth into the fight against climate change. And here is my dream, maybe it’s a radical dream, but maybe just may be given the crisis of climate change, the world can understand that instead of spending $1.8 trillion dollars a year collectively on weapons of destruction designed to kill each other, maybe we pool our resources and fight our common enemy, which is climate change.
Well, the answer to your question of why we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth, disproportionately high for the African American community, by the way, is the same reason that we give massive trillion dollar tax breaks to the rich and large corporations. Same reason that we give tens of billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry, while half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck. The same reason that we have three people in America owning more wealth than the bottom half of America.
Yeah, I got to agree with Bernie Sanders, I do. Senator Warren is right. Everybody wants to get into our market, and that’s how we convince them that they’ve got to be right on climate too. That we have to stop making foreign policy decisions in the old way. Yeah, of course, we want to make things better for American workers, and it’s absolutely critical that when we think about trade policy, we’re thinking about it from the point of view of the American people, not of the American corporations. That’s a huge positive change. And I agree with the senators on that, but there’s something else going on here when we think about our foreign policy. We talked about whether it was right to kill General Soleimani, and there was no discussion in that about where that leaves the United States in the community of nations around the world.
So if we actually want to be the leaders of the world, the leaders of the free world who can actually negotiate a climate treaty around the world that sticks, that makes a difference, we’re going to have to put climate first, and when we think about doing the wrong thing, the way Mr. Trump did with General Soleimani, we have to ask, does that help us build a coalition of countries around the world to do the right thing? It absolutely does not.
Being all by ourselves, being the Empire in the Star Wars movie does not put us in a position to get done what we need to get done as the leader of the free world. So in fact, the USMCA is something, that’s the first step, but the second step is exactly what Bernie Sanders is saying. Use access to our market as a negotiating thing to make sure not only that we represent American workers, but that we represent the American people in the long run and we make sure that we get a safe climate deal.
And actually this view of the world, that our response should be military is driven by our gigantic military complex and ignores the biggest problem that we face internationally in the world, which is climate change. And it cannot be solved with guns and tanks and planes. It can only be solved with diplomacy and allies and interaction with other countries. So in fact, what we are listening to right here is a discussion of 20 years of failed military action and how we should continue it and how we should continue spending $700 billion dollars a year on defense when we spend $70 billion dollars a year at the federal level on education.
Oh, Bernie and I have been friends for a long time and we have a lot of things in common and we can have a lot of things that we differ on. But there’s fundamental question about how we bring our party together. We have to think about it in new ways. People across this country, whether they’re Democrats, independents, or Republicans, understand that we’ve got a government right now that works great for those at the top. Works great for giant drug companies, just not for people trying to get a prescription filled. Works great for oil companies that want to drill everywhere, just not for the rest of us who see climate change bearing down upon us. When you see a government that works great for those who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers and make big campaign donations and it’s not working so great for everyone else, that is corruption, pure and simple, and we need to call it out for what it is. Corruption, and that’s what we can run on. We bring our party together.
Yes I did [vote for the USMCA trade deal], and I’ll tell you why, because there are a lot of farmers around this country that are really hurting because of Donald Trump’s trade policies. There are a lot of workers who are hurting because they can’t get enforcement of any workers’ rights. So this NAFTA provision, after a lot of negotiation with Democrats, Senator Sherrod Brown helped make it a whole lot better. This makes things somewhat better for workers and for farmers and when I see a law that makes things somewhat better for hardworking people in this country, I’m saying, I’ll sign up for that and then I’ll get up tomorrow morning and I’ll start working hard for a better trade deal on climate, a better trade deal that has a basic coherence to it. Everyone wants to get to the American market. We should be raising standards on climate around the world to get access to our market.
Well, first of all, I want to defend the honor of the incredible two senators from New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, who work so hard for this state every day and I voted with them. Why did I vote with them? Because there were some major improvements in this trade agreement [USMC] when it comes to labor inspections, when it comes to getting rid of a sweetheart pharma deal that was in place and when it comes to climate change, I think we have to have a North American trading block. We have to have Mexico and Canada and America working together and the best way to take on climate change as president, yes, I’ll work to make this a part of every future trade agreement, but the best way to take on climate change is by getting back into the international climate change agreement, which I will do on day one. It is bringing back the clean power rules. It is bringing back the gas mileage standards and it is introducing sweeping legislation to put a price on carbon and you cannot divorce trade from that, and in future trade agreements, that should be part of our negotiations. But I’m telling you right now, having no trade agreement with Canada and Mexico puts us at such a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with China and pushing China to do better when it comes to climate change.
Instead of following GDP and corporate profits off a cliff, we should be measuring our own health and wellness, life expectancy, mental health and freedom from substance abuse, clean air, and clean water, how our kids are doing. The way forward is a new human centered version of capitalism that actually uses the markets to improve our family’s lives.
[C]ompanies running amok, this hyper corporate capitalism where if money’s on one side in this country and people are on the other side, the money is winning. You can see it with the opiate epidemic. You can see it with the military industrial complex, the fossil fuel companies. This is what must change and that’s where I’ll lead as president.
I was also part of the deal putting together the Paris Climate Accord. I brought in the Chinese. I was part of that. I’ve been part of every major initiative we’ve had relative to diplomacy…We must keep our commitments when we make them. Otherwise, we have no power whatsoever.