Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Urban Issues: Where the Democratic Candidates Stand

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The following table summarizes the positions of the two remaining major Democratic presidential candidates on issues of particular concern to New York City voters. The selection of issues is somewhat arbitrary, since all events and policies affect New Yorkers. We tried to select those topics traditionally considered part of the "urban agenda."

For the candidates' positions on other issues, go to their Web sites or the Washington Post, which profiles each candidate and provides summaries of their views on a range of important topics.

The candidates' views here were compiled from their own Web sites, speeches and press reports.

The Issues

Photo of Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Photo of Barack Obama
Barack Obama


Has created an Urban Policy Committee chaired by Oakland Mayor and former U.S. Rep. Ron Dellums.

Would create a White House office of Urban Policy with director reporting to him.


Would work to reduce budget deficits and roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Opposes efforts to completely eliminate the estate tax. Would provide tax cuts to middle-income people.

Would work to insure his new programs do not increase the deficit. Would repeal tax cuts for oil and gas companies and the wealthy.

School Choice

Has said she supports school choice but not vouchers that could be used at private or parochial schools.

Has reportedly said he opposes vouchers.

Improving schools

Supports pre-k for all four-year-olds and would launch a major program to slash the dropout rate among minority students. Would institute mentoring and internship programs for middle school students.

Would launch programs to recruit and keep new teachers, including a residency program to help prepare teachers for high-needs schools. Supports more early childhood education and would address dropout problem through an increased focus on middle schools.

No Child Left Behind

Although she voted for it, she now calls it an "unfunded mandate" and says she would eliminate it.

Applauds the law for ensuring students meet standards but objects to its reliance on standardized tests and the lack of funding to implement it.


Would seek to reduce electricity consumption and increase automobile fuel efficiency standards. Would create a $50 billion to fund alternative energy and double federal investment in basic energy research.

Would invest $150 billion over 10 years in clean energy technologies including "clean coal" and solar and create stricter energy efficiency standards.


Would implement a cap and trade program to substantially decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Supports green building, including modernization of low-income homes.

Would back a cap and trade system to sharply reduce carbon emissions and increase spending for clean energy and energy efficiency. Would create a kind of Job Corps program -- a program for disadvantaged youth focused on energy efficiency and environmental projects. Hopes all new buildings would be carbon neutral by 2030.

Gun Control

Believes in right to bear arms but with controls, including background checks for people who purchase weapons at gun shows.

Believes in "reasonable gun control measures," including background checks for people who buy firearms at gun shows.

Health Insurance

Would establish universal health care, letting people keep their current plans or enroll in public programs. Working families would get a tax credit, insurance companies could not deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and people wouldn't lose coverage if they changed jobs.

Would establish a new public health insurance plan open to all Americans who want it and provide subsidies to people who need them. All employers would have to contribute to the plan or to employee coverage. Would require coverage of all children – but not all adults.

Improving Health

Would focus on preventive care and coordinate and streamline care for chronically ill patients.

Would fund more biomedical research and take initiatives to prevent lead and mercury poisoning, bolster mental health care and provide support to autistic people and their families.

Homeland Security

Has worked to improve security along the U.S. Canada border. Wants to ensure federal anti-terror funds go where they are needed most.

Has introduced legislation to protect drinking water supplies from terrorist attacks, to keep track of spent nuclear fuel and to establish greater security for chemical plants.


Supports a voluntary moratorium on housing foreclosures, a freeze on interest rates and $30 billion in federal aid to help reeling homeowners and communities affected by the foreclosure crisis.

Would create an affordable housing trust fund. Has not called for a moratorium of foreclosure or an interest-rate freeze. Would dedicate funds to help people facing foreclosure and increase penalties for mortgage fraud.


Supports comprehensive immigration reform, including a stronger border, fair enforcement of laws, penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers. Believes in providing a path to legal status for people already here.

Supports comprehensive immigration reform to protect border security and make it easier for employers to check status of people they hire. Would set up ways for people in country illegally to get citizenship. In favor of granting driver's licenses to undocumented workers.


Has proposed a $10 billion emergency fund for road, bridges and other facilities. Would give state and local governments $250 million in emergency aid to inspect infrastructure and would establish a commission on infrastructure management.

Says infrastructure spending must be a priority.

Mass transit

Believes transportation is key to economic growth and that mass transit and land use decisions should be linked. Has called for spending an additional $1.5 billion a year on public transportation.

Supports Amtrak, creation of a high-speed rail network and linking transit and land use decisions, giving local government money to fight sprawl. Would also work to improve access to transit for low-income people.


Would raise the minimum wage. Would help communities devise strategies to reintegrate former prisoners into the economy and society.

Would boost funding for federal anti-poverty programs, adjust the minimum wage for inflation. Would expand programs in which nurses visit and assist low-income mothers and set up programs across the country modeled on the Harlem Children's Zone, which runs centers for at-risk children and others.


Would create 5 million jobs in clean energy over the next 10 years. Would end tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas.

Would invest in infrastructure and economy to create good-paying jobs. Believes providing broadband access to the internet in all urban homes and businesses would boost economic opportunities. Would use trade agreements to try to make sure they improve rather than hinder U.S. jobs.


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