As we near the 2020 election, here's where the candidates stand on family leave, health care, gun control, and cost of college.

By Kristi Pahr

Though it seems like it’s been going for years, election season is only now getting into full-swing⁠—the final two Democratic presidential candidates are ramping up their campaigns in preparation for state primary elections, slated to begin in early 2020. Since we're down to two Democratic candidates, it's more important than ever to know how their policies will affect you and your family.

To help you cut through the political jargon and complicated analyses and get right to what matters, we took a close look at the leading Democratic contenders and how their policies might affect your family.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, who lost the 2016 primary to Hillary Clinton, has served as Vermont's junior senator since 2007 and, prior to his election to the Senate, served as congressman from 1991-2007 and as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the 1980s.

  • Parental Leave: Like Warren, Sanders believes parents should be guaranteed at least three months paid leave, which is why he also supports the FAMILY Act.
  • Health Care: Sanders is the pioneer of the single-payer system. It was a hallmark of his 2016 presidential bid and is a keystone of his current campaign. Medicare for All will do away with the need for private insurance, providing benefits to everyone. In his plan, employers will pay into the fund by imposing a 7.5 percent payroll tax to employers.
  • Gun Control: Sanders supports implementing a government-sponsored buyback program on assault weapons. He also supports banning high-capacity magazines and is in favor of universal background checks, closing the “gun-show loophole” which allows people to buy weapons with no background check.
  • Cost of College: Sanders is a proponent of free public education and intends to provide free tuition to all public colleges, universities, and trade schools. Under his plan, states would be responsible for 33 percent of the cost with the federal government footing the remainder of the bill. Sanders also plans to eliminate all student loan debt, both privately held and government-sponsored.
  • Disability: Sander's proposals include the protection and expansion of the Social Security Disability Insurance program and fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which guarantees that students with disabilities are provided with free public education that meets their unique needs. Sanders plans to ensure people with disabilities are paid the federal minimum wage. His Medicare For All plan also includes provisions for home-based care for those with disabilities.
  • Child Care: Sanders released a plan to offer every child in the United States free full-day child care for children ages 3 and under as well as free pre-kindergarten starting at age 3. The program would be federally funded and administered by state governments in conjunction with public school systems. Sanders plans to pay for the $1.5 trillion program by increasing taxes on those with an income greater than $32 million.

Joe Biden 

As former vice president to President Barack Obama and longtime senator, Joe Biden served as both member and chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Senate Foreign Relations Committees.

  • Parental Leave: Biden has not yet released a plan for paid leave, but has been vocal in support of 12 weeks of leave during the Democratic primary debates.
  • Health Care: Biden plans to overhaul the existing Affordable Care Act (ACA). He will add a provision that no one will be required to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for medical expenses and allows for the public option that was included in an earlier draft of the ACA under the Obama administration.
  • Gun Control: Biden will implement a voluntary gun buyback program as well as ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
  • Cost of College: Two years of community colleges, as well as other vocational programs, would be free under Biden’s plan. Biden plans to reduce income-driven repayment plans, currently around 10 percent of borrowers’ discretionary income, to 5 percent. Borrowers who earn less than $25,000 per year would not be required to pay anything back and for all other borrowers, after 20 years of repayment, student loan debt would be forgiven completely. 
  • Disability: The Biden administration plans to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act within the next 10 years as well as protect the exemption of preexisting conditions in the Affordable Care Act.
  • Child Care: Currently, Biden has not put forth a detailed proposal on child care, though he is in favor of universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Donald Trump

While presumed Republican nominee President Donald Trump has not yet announced any specific policy changes headed into the 2020 election, he has indicated over the past year that he plans to present a sweeping overhaul to health care, including dismantling the ACA, and his team has hinted that they’re studying possible changes to current gun legislation.


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