Four Policy Distinctions Between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

By Rob Moore

With less than 2 weeks to go until the Iowa Caucuses, Bernie Sanders has come within striking distance of Hillary Clinton in Iowa and currently leads the polls in New Hampshire. With Sanders gaining momentum, many Democratic voters are starting to take their first serious look at him as a candidate.

While the two candidates voted the same way in the senate 93% of the time, they have also worked hard to draw some sharp policy distinctions throughout the course of the campaign. Below are a few worth paying attention to.

1. Foreign Affairs
Sanders’s record on foreign affairs has been a bit more dovish than Clinton’s, with the most high-profile example being Clinton’s 2002 vote to authorize the War in Iraq, an authorization Sanders voted “no” on. This orientation has persisted through the current discussion of how to deal with ISIS, with Hillary Clinton calling for a no-fly zone in Syria, a step Sanders opposes.

2. Health Care
One of Sanders’s most ambitious proposals is to create a “Medicare for All” health insurance program, a universal, public health insurance program for all Americans. Clinton, on the other hand, supports a more conservative approach, expanding coverage by building on the Affordable Care Act. Clinton has also received Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s first-even presidential primary endorsement, signaling that the nation’s largest provider of abortion services believes Clinton will be a stronger proponent for reproductive rights than Sanders.

3. Minimum Wage
With the high-profile passage of a $15 minimum wage in Seattle in 2014, a new threshold was created in the debate for higher workers’ wages nationwide. While Sanders supports a federal $15 threshold, Clinton thinks a $12 federal minimum, with local options to go higher, would allow for community variability in purchasing power.

4. Public Safety
Two public safety issues in particular draw distinctions between Sanders and Clinton. First, Clinton has been a strong supporter of federal gun control legislation, an issue which Sanders has been more lax on, voting for a bill to allow guns on Amtrak trains and against the Brady Bill. Second, Clinton broke her fifteen-year silence on the issue of the death penalty last year, saying that she still supports the use of it in “certain egregious cases.” Sanders thinks the death penalty should be banned in the United States.

Rob Moore is a Master of Public Policy student at the Goldman School of Public Policy. He writes on state policy and the politics of public policy.