As Rock Hill forum approaches, a look at Clinton, O’Malley and Sanders on the issues

The three Democratic presidential candidates who will appear at Friday’s First in the South Democratic Presidential Forum at Winthrop University – Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley – overlap significantly in their positions on key issues, each pushing a liberal agenda by different degrees:

Income inequality

While the Democratic candidates say President Obama’s economic recovery brought the country out of recession, they say not enough has been done to make sure growth is broadly shared.

▪ All three candidates have called for increasing the minimum wage, though Clinton has not gone as far as Sanders and O’Malley in support of a $15-an-hour minimum. They also want to end the “carried interest” loophole and expand paid family leave and overtime rules.

▪ O’Malley and Sanders support expanding Social Security benefits.

▪ Sanders has called for wealthy people and corporations to pay more in taxes, while proposing to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure and eliminate tuition at public colleges and universities.

▪ Clinton has proposed less ambitious spending programs, including an education plan to offer a debt-free college education for students who work. She also announced a plan to encourage corporations to share profits with employees.

Wall Street

All three candidates support a financial transaction tax to limit high-frequency trading.

▪ O’Malley and Sanders have argued for breaking up the nation’s largest banks and for restoring the Glass-Steagall Act, which had separated commercial and investment banking.

▪ Clinton has argued for imposing a “risk fee” on the largest financial institutions, and although she would give regulators more authority to break apart big banks, she has stopped short of calling for the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall.

Gun control

All three candidates support closing the so-called gun show loophole that allows people to purchase guns online or at gun shows from a private seller without a background check.

▪ O’Malley advocates fingerprint-based licenses for gun purchases.

▪ O’Malley and Sanders have called for a ban on assault weapons.

▪ Clinton and O’Malley favor overturning a law that shields gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits.

▪ Sanders, who has had a mixed record on guns, voted for that shield law in Congress.

Affordable Care Act

All three candidates have called for the repeal of a planned tax on high-cost employer-sponsored insurance, known as the Cadillac tax.

▪ Clinton and Sanders have put forth proposals to reduce patients’ prescription drug costs.

▪ Pointing out the large number of people who remain uninsured or underinsured despite the Affordable Care Act, Sanders has called for a Medicare-for-all single-payer health care system.


All three candidates support a path to citizenship and have said they would go beyond the president’s actions, including shielding parents of young immigrants from deportation.

▪ O’Malley has pushed for expanding access to health care for undocumented immigrants.

▪ Sanders has been critical of guest worker programs, saying that allowing more temporary foreign workers drives down wages for American workers and hampers efforts to reduce unemployment.

Trans-Pacific Partnership

▪ O’Malley and Sanders have been vocal in their opposition, saying that the agreement would be bad for American workers.

▪ Clinton championed the pact when she was secretary of state. She had avoided taking a position on the completed agreement until recently, when she announced that she was against it.

Climate change

All three candidates oppose drilling in the Arctic and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, though Clinton did not come out against it publicly until September. They also support eliminating tax breaks for fossil fuel companies.

▪ Clinton has laid out an ambitious climate change plan focused on generating renewable energy.

▪ O’Malley went even further, proposing that the country should be fully powered by clean energy by 2050.

▪ Sanders has proposed taxing carbon emissions.

Foreign policy

All three candidates supported the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran, though Clinton expressed skepticism about Iran’s intentions.

▪ O’Malley and Sanders align with President Obama in opposing a no-fly zone over Syria, saying the policy could lead to an escalation in war.

▪ Hawkish on foreign policy and American intervention abroad, Clinton has called for a no-fly zone over Syria and has advocated arming moderate Syrian rebels.

▪ Sanders has said war should be a “last resort,” and has called on Muslim nations to lead the fight against the Islamic State.

DEM 2016 Clinton_Bark (6)
Hillary Clinton Charlie Neibergall AP

Hillary Clinton

Family: Husband, Bill; daughter, Chelsea

Age: 68

Birthplace: Chicago, Ill.

Hometown: Chappaqua, N.Y.

Religion: Methodist

Education: Law degree, Yale University; bachelor of arts, Wellesley College

Resume: U.S. secretary of state, 2009-13; U.S. senator from New York, 2001-09; U.S. first lady, 1992-2000; Arkansas first lady, 1978-80 and 1982-92; Attorney, Rose Law Firm, 1976-92; assistant professor, University of Arkansas Law School, 1975

Online/social: hillaryclinton.com; facebook.com/hillaryclinton; @HillaryClinton; youtube.com/hillaryclinton; instagram.com/hillaryclinton

SOURCE: Project Vote Smart

2016 DEM O-Malley_Bark
Martin O’Malley Jacquelyn Martin AP

Martin O’Malley

Family: Wife, Katie; children, Grace, Tara, William, Jack

Age: 52

Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

Hometown: Baltimore, Md.

Religion: Catholic

Education: Law degree, University of Maryland Law School; bachelor’s degree, Catholic University

Resume: Maryland governor, 2007-15; Baltimore mayor, 1999-2007; Baltimore City Council member, 1991-99; former assistant state attorney, Baltimore; legislative fellow, Office of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., 1987-88

Online/social: martinomalley.com; facebook.com/MartinOMalley; @MartinOMalley; youtube.com/MartinOMalley; instagram.com/MartinOMalley

SOURCE: Project Vote Smart

DEM 2016 Sanders_Bark (4)
Bernie Sanders Jim Cole AP

Bernie Sanders

Family: Wife, Jane; children, Levi, Heather, Carina, David

Age: 74

Birthplace: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Hometown: Burlington, Vt.

Religion: Jewish

Education: Attended Brooklyn College; bachelor of science, University of Chicago

Resume: U.S. senator from Vermont, 2006-present; U.S. representative from Vermont, 1990-2006; Mayor, Burlington, Vt., 1981-89; former documentary filmmaker; former carpenter; journalist; lecturer, Hamilton College, 1989-90; lecturer, Harvard University, 1989; director, American People’s Historical Society, 1977

Online/social: berniesanders.com; facebook.com/berniesanders; @BernieSanders; youtube.com/berniesanders; instagram.com/berniesanders

SOURCE: Project Vote Smart