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Ben Cardin's Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)

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Official Position: Candidate addressed this issue directly by taking the Political Courage Test.

Inferred Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, but Vote Smart inferred this issue based on the candidate's public record, including statements, voting record, and special interest group endorsements.

Unknown Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, or we could not infer an answer for this candidate despite exhaustive research of their public record.

Additional Information: Click on this icon to reveal more information about this candidate's position, from their answers or Vote Smart's research.

Other or Expanded Principles & Legislative Priorities are entered exactly as candidates submit them. Vote Smart does not edit for misspelled words, punctuation or grammar.

Ben Cardin has failed to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2018 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart and voters like you.

What is the Political Courage Test?

Issue Positions

For Presidential and Congressional candidates who refuse to provide voters with their positions, Vote Smart has researched their public records to determine their likely responses. These issue positions are from 2018.

  • "Texas has been among those states aggressively trying to chip away at the constitutional rights of women by making it extremely difficult for them to exercise decisions over their own health care. The Supreme Court has rightly said the State of Texas went too far and needs to stop," said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. "We must allow women the unfettered ability to exercise their constitutional rights. Women in Maryland, Texas and nationwide should have the same access to health services without unreasonable restrictions, including family planning and abortion services, when they deem necessary. I support the Supreme Court's decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which codified this essential right to privacy and rejected undue burdens on a women's right to choose." (votesmart.org)
  • Rated 0% by National Right to Life Committee (votesmart.org)
  • Rated 100% by Planned Parenthood Action Fund (votesmart.org)
  • "Low- and middle-income families would be protected from unfair consumption taxation through a PCT rebate, and important benefits would be retained in a much simpler income tax code." (www.cardin.senate.gov)
  • "I am amazed that self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives think it is acceptable to increase America's deficit by $1.5 trillion dollars to finance tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Historical precedent shows very clearly that tax cuts for the 1 percent will not magically grow our economy or pay for themselves -- no matter how many times the President or Secretary Mnuchin says they will." (votesmart.org)
  • "We need a systemic change, but this Republican plan is not the change we need. I urge my colleagues to scrap this deficit-busting, double-taxing scheme and work with Democrats to develop an honest tax reform plan that truly benefits the American people and not just the privileged few" (votesmart.org)
  • "We need a tax reform plan that is meaningful to every American, not just the privileged few. What was passed by the Republicans in the Senate today is far from meaningful tax reform." (votesmart.org)
  • Despite exhaustive research, Vote Smart was unable to find information about this candidate's position.
  • Despite exhaustive research, Vote Smart was unable to find information about this candidate's position.
  • "I will continue to work to ensure Maryland’s small businesses have access to credit and other tools essential for their success, and that the federal government is a partner and not an obstacle to their success." (www.cardin.senate.gov)
  • "It is crucial that we invest in core programs that will restore America’s competitive edge globally and help create jobs today and into the future." (www.cardin.senate.gov)
  • "We must revitalize our nation's transportation infrastructure to ensure sustained economic growth in Maryland and keep America competitive in an increasingly globalized economy" (www.cardin.senate.gov)
  • "That’s why I’ve developed the Progressive Consumption Tax Act. The Progressive Consumption Tax Act creates a Progressive Consumption Tax, or "PCT," that changes the way the federal government raises revenue. Rather than taxing income, the PCT generates reasonable revenue by taxing the purchase of goods and services. This revenue is used to exempt most households from any federal individual income tax liability and significantly lowers the corporate income tax rate." (www.cardin.senate.gov)
  • "We need a tax reform plan that is meaningful to every American, not just the privileged few. What was passed by the Republicans in the Senate today is far from meaningful tax reform." (votesmart.org)
  • "We need a systemic change, but this Republican plan is not the change we need. I urge my colleagues to scrap this deficit-busting, double-taxing scheme and work with Democrats to develop an honest tax reform plan that truly benefits the American people and not just the privileged few" (votesmart.org)
  • "The tax legislation passed by Senate Republicans today is a highly partisan product designed to permanently cut taxes for corporations at the expense of the rest of America. It is designed to fulfill a campaign promise, not to help our economy. It does not help middle-income and working families, as promised, and even makes them pay more in only 10 years." (votesmart.org)
  • "I will advocate for federal education policies that allow students to succeed in the classroom, educators across our state to be excited about teaching, and for parents and community advocates to have a voice in the education of their children. I am committed to providing funding for early childhood education, teacher and principal training, civic and government education, the arts, and environmental literacy curriculum, literacy and mental health supports for our students. Working with Morgan State University and others, I have been a strong proponent of increasing student access to training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs." (www.cardin.senate.gov)
  • "Investing in new technologies creates new jobs. Diversifying our energy sources creates competition – stabilizing and lowering energy prices. And thinking beyond fossil fuels buried in unstable or unreliable countries strengthens our national security. Moving to alternative and renewable energy sources also will help reduce the impact of climate change." (www.cardin.senate.gov)
  • "I championed President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, strong-but-flexible-and-fair carbon pollution standards for power plants that protect the air Marylanders breathe while checking the impact of energy generation on the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem." (www.cardin.senate.gov)
  • "There are several pieces of legislation that are ready to go. The Democrats and some Republicans have been willing and ready to act. Leader McConnell could move any one of these bills right now. Let's start by making it clear that weapons of war are not needed by civilians of any age. I have cosponsored S. 2095, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017, offered by Senator Feinstein." (votesmart.org)
  • "Affordable, quality health coverage should be a right and not a privilege in the United States of America. I believe access to health care is a moral issue and I am proud of my work to pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA)." (www.cardin.senate.gov)
  • "Our nation's immigration and border security system is broken and must be fixed. We must ensure that our borders are secure." (www.cardin.senate.gov)
  • "The President is willing to shut the government down over a wall that: -he said Mexico would pay for; -could easily be defeated by anything from a rope to a plane ticket; -distracts from his attacks on healthcare, free press, civil rights, rule of law, our democracy and logic." (twitter.com)
  • Despite exhaustive research, Vote Smart was unable to find information about this candidate's position.
  • Despite exhaustive research, Vote Smart was unable to find information about this candidate's position.
  • "I strongly believe that we must therefore adjust our strategy to fill that space with an all-out ``diplomatic surge,'' one that results in serious, hard constraints on North Korea's nuclear ambitions and a more peaceful, stable, and prosperous Northeast Asia for all. The initial objective of this surge would be to begin a diplomatic process, with Pyongyang first verifiably halting their nuclear and ballistic missile testing and the United States and our allies taking steps to deescalate the current tensions on the Korean Peninsula." (votesmart.org)
  • "I will end by saying that the United States has relied for too long on military force as the first response to the problems of terrorism, insurgency, and instability abroad. What makes this issue even more urgent is this Administration's growing reliance on military force, while at the same time pushing dramatic reductions in budgets and resources for diplomacy and development. It's really quite astonishing--and deeply troubling--and I think the American public needs to hear more about it. Diplomacy, development, and support for human rights are the critical means through which we are safer in the world." (votesmart.org)
This candidate has responded to a Political Courage Test in a previous election. As a continued effort to provide the American public with factual information on candidates running for public office, these archived responses are made available here.
The Political Courage Test asks candidates which items they will support if elected. It does not ask them to indicate which items they will oppose. Through extensive research of public polling data, we discovered that voters are more concerned with what candidates would support when elected to office, not what they oppose. If a candidate does not select a response to any part or all of any question, it does not necessarily indicate that the candidate is opposed to that particular item.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding abortion.

a) Abortions should always be illegal.
b) Abortions should always be legal.
c) Abortions should be legal only within the first trimester of pregnancy.
X d) Abortions should be legal when the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape.
X e) Abortions should be legal when the life of the woman is endangered.
f) Prohibit the dilation and extraction procedure, also known as "partial-birth" abortion.
g) Prohibit public funding of abortions and of organizations that advocate or perform abortions.
X h) Other or expanded principles
I support the framework of Roe v. Wade governing abortion

Using the key, indicate what federal funding levels you support for the following general categories. Select one number per category.Budget Priorities

Greatly Decrease a) Agriculture
Slightly Increase b) Arts
Maintain Status c) Defense
Greatly Increase d) Education
Slightly Increase e) Environment
Slightly Increase f) Homeland security
Slightly Increase g) International aid
Maintain Status h) Law enforcement
Slightly Increase i) Medical research
Slightly Increase j) National parks
Slightly Increase k) Public health services
Slightly Increase l) Scientific research
Maintain Status m) Space exploration programs
Slightly Increase n) Transportation and highway infrastructure
Slightly Increase o) Welfare
p) Other or expanded categories

Defense Spending

Maintain Status a) Armed Forces personnel training
Slightly Increase b) Intelligence operations
Slightly Decrease c) Military hardware
Maintain Status d) Modernization of weaponry and equipment
Greatly Decrease e) National missile defense
Maintain Status f) Pay for active duty personnel
Slightly Increase g) Programs to improve troop retention rates
Maintain Status h) Research and development of new weapons
Maintain Status i) Troop and equipment readiness
j) Other or expanded categories

Using the key above, indicate what federal tax levels you support for the following general categories. Select one number per category.TaxesIncome Taxes:Family IncomeRetiree IncomeOther Taxes:Deductions/Credits:

Maintain Status a) Less than $25,000
Slightly Decrease b) $25,000-$75,000
Maintain Status c) $75,000-$150,000
Slightly Increase d) Over $150,000
e) Other or expanded categories
f) Over $40,000
g) Other or expanded categories
Slightly Increase a) Alcohol taxes
Slightly Increase b) Capital gains taxes
Slightly Increase c) Cigarette taxes
Slightly Decrease d) Corporate taxes
Slightly Increase e) Gasoline taxes
Maintain Status f) Inheritance taxes
g) Other or expanded categories
Maintain Status a) Charitable contributions
Maintain Status b) Child tax credit
Slightly Increase c) Earned income tax credit
Maintain Status d) Medical expense deduction
Maintain Status e) Mortgage deduction
Slightly Increase f) Student loan credit
g) Other or expanded categories
No 4) Do you support permanent repeal of the federal estate tax?
No 5) Do you support eliminating taxes on dividends paid to individual investors?
Yes 6) Should a married couple filing jointly pay the same taxes as if they were an unmarried couple filing separately?
7) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding campaign finance and government reform.

X a) Support public taxpayer funding for federal candidates who comply with campaign spending limits.
b) Increase the amount individuals are permitted to contribute to federal campaigns.
c) Prohibit Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions to candidates for federal office.
d) Allow unregulated soft money campaign contributions to political parties or committees.
e) Allow ads paid for by soft money that support or attack a candidate for federal office.
f) Allow issue advocacy commercials by corporations, labor unions, and non-profit groups which appear within 60 days of a general election and within 30 days of a primary election.
g) Remove all contribution limits on federal campaigns and parties.
Undecided h) Do you support instant run-off voting (IRV)?
No i) Should Election Day be a national holiday?
Yes j) Should same-sex couples be allowed to form civil unions?
Yes k) Should marriage be restricted to a union only between a man and a woman?
l) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding crime.

X a) Support the use of the death penalty for federal crimes.
b) Eliminate the use of the death penalty for federal crimes.
c) Impose "truth in sentencing" for violent criminals so they serve full sentences with no chance of parole.
X d) Support programs to provide prison inmates with vocational and job-related skills and job-placement assistance when released.
X e) Support programs to provide prison inmates with drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
f) Reduce prison sentences for those who commit non-violent crimes.
g) Support additional criminal penalties if a fetus is killed in the commission of a federal crime against a pregnant woman.
X h) Require that crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, and disability be prosecuted as federal hate crimes.
X i) Support programs that provide job training and placement services for at-risk youth.
X j) Impose stricter penalties for those convicted of white-collar crimes.
X k) Enforcement of civil rights should primarily be the responsibility of the federal government.
l) Minors accused of a violent crime should be prosecuted as adults.
m) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding drugs.

a) Support mandatory jail sentences for selling illegal drugs.
X b) Expand federally sponsored drug education and drug treatment programs.
c) Decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
d) Allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients for medicinal purposes.
X e) Increase border security to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the United States.
f) Eliminate federal funding for programs associated with the "war on drugs."
g) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding education.

X a) Support national standards for and testing of public school students.
b) Allow parents to use vouchers (equal opportunity scholarships) to send their children to any public school.
c) Allow parents to use vouchers (equal opportunity scholarships) to send their children to any private or religious school.
X d) Allow teachers and professionals to receive authorization and funding to establish charter schools.
X e) Increase funding for block grants to states to aid in the hiring of additional teachers.
X f) Support teacher testing and reward teachers with merit pay.
X g) Increase funding for school capital improvements (e.g. buildings, infrastructure, technology).
h) Support granting states limited control over Head Start programs.
i) Support changing the mission of Head Start to emphasize improving the math and reading skills of disadvantaged children.
j) Providing education is not a responsibility of the federal government.
X k) Support affirmative action in public college admissions.
X l) Increase funding of programs such as Pell grants and Stafford loans to help students pay for college.
X m) Support federal tax incentives to help families save for college.
n) Other or expanded principles

1) Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding employment.2) Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding affirmative action.

X a) Increase funding for national job-training programs that re-train displaced workers or teach skills needed in today's job market.
b) Reduce government regulation of the private sector in order to encourage investment and economic expansion.
X c) Provide tax credits or grants to businesses that offer child care services to employees.
X d) Encourage employers to offer flex-time scheduling, comp-time, and unpaid leave for family emergencies.
e) Eliminate all federal programs designed to reduce unemployment.
X f) Increase the federal minimum wage.
X g) Support the right of workers to strike without fear of being permanently replaced.
X h) Allow workers to sell company stock and to diversify their company retirement funds into other investment options.
i) Other or expanded principles
a) The federal government should consider race and gender in government contracting decisions.
b) The federal government should discontinue affirmative action programs.
X c) The federal government should continue affirmative action programs.
X d) Include sexual orientation in federal anti-discrimination laws.
e) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding the environment and energy.

X a) Strengthen the regulation and enforcement of the Clean Water Act.
X b) Strengthen the regulation and enforcement of the Clean Air Act.
c) Require states to compensate citizens when environmental regulations limit uses of privately-owned land.
d) Relax logging restrictions on federal lands.
e) Relax standards on federal lands to allow increased recreational usage.
f) Support increased development of traditional energy resources (e.g. coal, natural gas, oil).
X g) Strengthen emission controls and fuel efficiency standards on all gasoline and diesel-powered engines, including cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles.
h) Support opening a select portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration.
X i) Encourage further development and use of alternative fuels to reduce pollution.
X j) Support the use of ethanol as an alternative fuel.
X k) Allow energy producers to trade pollution credits.
X l) Support the U.S. re-entering the Kyoto treaty process to limit global warming.
m) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding guns.

X a) Renew the ban on the sale or transfer of semi-automatic guns, except those used for hunting.
X b) Maintain and strengthen the current level of enforcement of existing federal restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
c) Ease federal restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
d) Repeal federal restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
e) Allow citizens to carry concealed guns.
X f) Require manufacturers to provide child-safety locks on guns.
X g) Require background checks on gun sales between private citizens at gun shows.
h) Require a license for gun possession.
X i) Establish a national database of ballistic "fingerprints" to track guns used in criminal activities.
j) Support legislation that would protect manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms from civil lawsuits by crime victims.
k) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding health care.

a) Providing health care is not a responsibility of the federal government.
X b) Implement a universal health care program to guarantee coverage to all Americans regardless of income.
X c) Support a Patient's Bill of Rights which includes appeal mechanisms when claims are denied.
X d) Support a Patient's Bill of Rights which includes the right to sue when claims are denied.
e) Expand eligibility for tax-free medical savings accounts.
f) Establish limits on the amount of punitive damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits.
X g) Support expanding prescription drug coverage under Medicare.
h) Support expanding prescription drug coverage under private managed care plans.
X i) Offer tax credits to individuals and small businesses to offset the cost of insurance coverage.
X j) Support automatic enrollment of children in federal health care programs such as CHIP and Medicaid.
X k) Allow 55-65 year-olds to buy into Medicare.
X l) Support stem cell research on existing lines of stem cells.
X m) Allow laboratories to create new lines of stem cells for additional research.
n) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding immigration.

a) Decrease the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country.
b) Establish English as the official national language.
c) Increase the number of visas issued for agricultural workers.
X d) Relax restrictions barring legal immigrants from using social programs (e.g. public housing, food stamps).
e) Support amnesty for certain illegal immigrants who already reside in the United States.
f) Support the detention of asylum seekers from countries known to sponsor terrorism.
g) Other or expanded principles

International AidIndicate which principles you support (if any) regarding United States economic assistance.

X a) Aid should be granted to countries when extraordinary circumstances cause disaster and threaten civilian lives.
X b) Aid should be granted to countries when it is in the security interests of the United States.
c) Aid should be eliminated for any nation with documented human rights abuses.
d) Aid programs should be scaled back and eventually eliminated.
e) Other or expanded principles

International Policy1) Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding the Middle East.2) Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding Central and East Asia.3) Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding the United Nations.

Yes a) Should the United States continue to provide leadership in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?
Yes b) Should the United States support the creation of a Palestinian state?
No c) Should the United States withdraw its troops from Iraq?
Yes e) Other or expanded principles
Yes a) Should the United States use diplomatic and economic pressure to encourage North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program?
No b) Should the United States use military force to destroy the North Korean nuclear weapons program?
Undecided c) Should the United States remove the North Korean government from power?
Yes d) Should the United States increase financial support to Afghanistan?
Yes e) Should the United States increase military support to Afghanistan?
f) Other or expanded principles
Yes a) Should the United States maintain its financial support of the United Nations?
No b) Should the United States decrease its financial support of the United Nations?
Yes c) Should the United States commit troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions?
d) Other or expanded principles
Yes 4) Should the United States lift the travel ban to Cuba?
No 5) Should the United States increase its financial support to Colombia to combat "the war on drugs"?
Yes 6) Should aid to African nations for AIDS prevention programs fund distribution of contraceptives?
Yes 7) Should aid to African nations for AIDS prevention fund abstinence education?
Yes 8) Other or expanded principles
I would internationalize the reconstruction effort and fund many projects with loans rather than grants.
Any Palestinian state must recognize and guarantee Israel's security
AIDS prevention programs should include broad education, prevention and treatment efforts. In Africa, drug companies must help make treatment accessible.

International TradeIndicate which principles you support (if any) regarding international trade.

Yes 1) Do you support the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)?
Yes 2) Do you support the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)?
Yes 3) Do you support continued U.S. membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO)?
Yes 4) Should a nation's human rights record affect its normal trade relations (most favored nation) status with the United States?
Undecided 5) Do you support the trade embargo against Cuba?
Yes 6) Should trade agreements include provisions to address environmental concerns and to protect workers' rights?
7) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding national security.

Yes a) Do you support using military tribunals to try suspected terrorists when ordinary civilian courts are deemed inappropriate or impractical?
Yes b) Should the United States adopt stricter rules for student visa applications from nations known to sponsor terrorism?
Undecided c) Should the United States grant law enforcement agencies greater discretion to read mail and email, tap phones, and conduct random searches to prevent future terrorist attacks?
Yes d) Should the United States hold foreign states accountable for terrorists who operate in their country?
Yes e) Should the federal government increase funding to states and cities for homeland security?
No f) Do you support a policy of pre-emptive strikes against countries deemed to be a threat to national security?
g) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding Social Security.

a) Allow workers to invest a portion of their payroll tax in private accounts which they manage themselves.
b) Allow workers to invest a portion of their payroll tax in private accounts managed by private firms contracted by the government.
X c) Invest a portion of Social Security assets collectively in stocks and bonds instead of United States Treasury securities.
d) Increase the payroll tax to better finance Social Security in its current form.
e) Lower the annual cost-of-living increases.
f) Raise the retirement age for when individuals are eligible to receive full Social Security benefits.
g) Other of expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding technology and communication.

X a) Collect taxes on commercial Internet transactions.
b) Continue the moratorium on Internet taxation.
c) Implement regulation of Internet content.
X d) Support government mandates to curtail violent and sexual content on television.
X e) Support strict penalties for Internet crimes (e.g. hacking, identity theft, worms/viruses).
X f) Support legislation to detail how personal information can be collected and used on the Internet.
g) Regulating the Internet is not a responsibility of the federal government.
X h) Impose regulations on "spam" emails.
i) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding welfare and poverty.

a) Require welfare recipients to spend at least 40 hours a week in a combination of work and training programs.
X b) Increase funding for child care programs.
X c) Continue to give states and local governments flexibility in and responsibility for welfare programs through federal block grants.
d) Direct federal poverty aid through religious, community-based, or other non-profit organizations.
e) Abolish all federal welfare programs.
X f) Support housing assistance for low-income families.
g) Other or expanded principles
On an attached page, disk, or via email, please explain in a total of 75 words or less, your top two or three priorities if elected. If they require additional funding for implementation, please explain how you would obtain this funding.

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