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Joe Sestak, Jr.'s Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)


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

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Joe Sestak, Jr. has provided voters with clear stances on key issues by responding to the 2020 Political Courage Test.

What is the Political Courage Test?

Presidential Election 2020 Political Courage Test

Pro-choice Do you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation?
I support a woman's right to choose.
Yes In order to balance the budget, do you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket?
Yes Do you support expanding federal funding to support entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare?
I support increasing funding for Medicare and Medicaid, and I only support increasing income taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
Yes Do you support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions?
We need to reform our campaign finance system to prevent the unrestricted use of "dark money."
No Do you support increasing defense spending?
I believe we need to measure our readiness based on force posture, our overall capabilities, not just force structure, the bulk numbers of soldiers, tanks, ships, etc. To this end, we need to steer more resources toward technological advancements like cyber (defensive and offensive), sensors, robotics, etc. As an officer in the Navy, I advocated reducing the size of our fleet in order to focus more of our energies on key technologies, and I still believe in that effort.
Yes Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
Yes Do you support lowering corporate taxes as a means of promoting economic growth?
I will work with Congress to close loopholes that allow corporations to pay very little in taxes compared to workers. While I do in theory support corporate tax rates lower than they were before the recent cuts, I only support those reduced rates in concert with closing all loopholes and creating a program to repatriate overseas corporate profits. Corporations should be held accountable for putting so much of their newfound gains into stock buybacks, rather than creating new jobs. I will focus tax relief on lower and middle-income Americans, and make the wealthy pay their fair share.
Yes Do you support requiring states to adopt federal education standards?
My experience in the Navy taught me that the best decisions are made based on facts and data, and that there must be benchmarks and measurements in place to determine the effectiveness of any course of action. I believe that, to a large extent, our national inability to make meaningful policy about K-12 education is the result of a lack of assessable data on what students are expected to know in each grade. A full discussion of my policies on education is available at
Yes Do you support government funding for the development of renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, geo-thermal)?
Yes Do you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions?
Climate change is an existential threat to humanity. I believe we must take immediate action, beginning with re-joining the Paris Accords and re-asserting US leadership in that process. Here at home, I favor a carbon fee and dividend program with the proceeds of the fee returned in equal measure to all Americans. We must also reserve a portion of the proceeds for investments into renewable energy research and development and other climate change mitigating efforts. It is time for us to lead. My full plan is available at
Yes Do you generally support gun-control legislation?
I believe in the right to bear arms, but I am also a strong proponent of common sense gun laws, such as closing the "gun show loophole," closing the "gun kit" or "ghost gun" loophole, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and creating a more effective national background check system, including enabling states to add felons, domestic abusers, and other violent criminals to the background check database. We also need to repeal the Dickey Amendment, a law which prevents the CDC from making recommendations on how to deal with the public health threat of guns. See for more.
No Do you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")?
I proudly voted for the Affordable Care Act. I support strengthening it, including adding a public option, and eventually moving to a truly universal system. Healthcare is a critical part of our national security. Please see for my full platform on this important issue.
No Do you support the construction of a wall along the Mexican border?
No Do you support requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship?
I support comprehensive immigration reform. We need to get undocumented people out of the shadows, and, following criminal background checks, assessment of fines, and moving to the back of the line, onto a real path to citizenship. Moreover, I firmly believe immigration is a net positive for our country. Without immigrants, we would be in a population death spiral like Japan. I believe we need better guest worker programs, especially for industries with chronic job shortages (agriculture and food processing, home health aides, among others), in order to keep our economy firing on all cylinders.
Yes Should the United States use military force to prevent governments hostile to the U.S. from possessing a weapon of mass destruction (for example: nuclear, biological, chemical)?
Yes Do you support reducing military intervention in Middle East conflicts?
As a veteran with 31-years of military experience, I understand the true costs of war. Therefore I firmly believe military intervention should only be undertaken as an absolute last resort. The military can stop a problem, but it can never fix a problem. The great geopolitical problems of our day should be dealt with through diplomacy, which is why I strongly support rejoining the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA). I will only ever start a war if I know in advance how to end it, unlike those who launched the Iraq war, a tragic misadventure we never should have started.
Yes Do you generally support removing barriers to international trade (for example: tariffs, quotas, etc.)?
I oppose President Trump's scattershot tariffs, which are hurting American consumers, manufacturers, and especially farmers. I support fair trade deals that take into account the needs of workers, small businesses, and the environment. We cannot close ourselves off, but we also cannot allow globalization to destroy entire sectors of our economy. And when jobs are lost to trade, we need a "Training for a Lifetime" program, as I've proposed, to ensure that all Americans have access to job re-training throughout their careers.
My top priority is to restore accountability to the White House, first and foremost for the American people, who deserve a President who is truly accountable to them; and next, though nearly as important, for our allies and adversaries on the world stage. America must be the leader of the free world once again. Restoring accountability is required before we can deal with the pivotal issue of our time, putting the brakes on climate change and preserving our natural world for generations to come.

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