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Mike Bloomberg and the 2020 Presidential Election: News, Facts and Where He Stands

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 2/14/2020 Lauren Camera
Michael Bloomberg wearing a suit and tie: Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg speaks at a kickoff event in New York January 15, 2020 to launch "Women for Mike", a movement to energise women supporters across the country. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images) © TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg speaks at a kickoff event in New York January 15, 2020 to launch "Women for Mike", a movement to energise women supporters across the country. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Mike Bloomberg

Born: February 14, 1942

Political Party: Democratic Party (registered Republican 2001-2007; registered independent 2007-2018)

Past Positions: Mayor of New York City (2002-2013), founder of Bloomberg L.P. (1981-2001), partner at Salomon Brothers (1973-1981)

Education: Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Johns Hopkins University, M.B.A. from Harvard University

Former New York City mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg stormed into the Democratic primary race in November – an unconventional late entry that shook up an already frenzied field of contenders.

"Defeating Trump – and rebuilding America – is the most urgent and important fight of our lives. And I'm going all in," the former Republican said when he launched his campaign, framing himself as a pragmatic centrist. "I offer myself as a doer and a problem solver – not a talker. And as someone who is ready to take on the tough fights – and win."

His candidacy comes at a time of growing angst among Democratic voters over a deep field with no real front-runner.

His late entry locked him out of the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary and other early voting states, including Nevada and South Carolina, forcing Bloomberg instead to go all in on delegate-rich states like California and Texas.

What he lacks in well-organized state campaign offices, like those of some candidates who have been building in-roads of support in communities for more than a year, Bloomberg is trying to make up for with his deep pockets. The self-made billionaire, whose net worth is estimated to be north of $50 billion, has spent more than $300 million on advertising in places where he believes he can make inroads. And some reporting suggests a recent hiring frenzy to complement that strategy.

But the viability of Bloomberg, who's failed to qualify for a debate and therefore hasn't faced off against any of the Democratic candidates, is a big question mark. There's a lot of material in the post-9/11 mayor's long record for candidates' to attack, including, among other things, denigrating remarks about women that he's admitted to making and his support for stop-and-frisk policing policies that led to a major increase in incarceration among black people in New York City.

Already, the most progressive candidates in the race, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, whose proposed tax hikes on the ultrawealthy are pillars of their campaigns, have called out Bloomberg's presidential bid saying he is trying to buy the presidency.

Personal History

Bloomberg grew up in Medford, Massachusetts, a working-class neighborhood of Boston. His father was a bookkeeper for a local dairy, who he says made no more than $6,000 any given year but instilled in him a sense of duty that he channeled into becoming, at 12 years old, one of the youngest Eagle Scouts in history.

After graduating Medford High School in 1960, he was accepted to Johns Hopkins University. To help cover tuition, Bloomberg took out federal loans and worked as a parking lot attendant. He graduated in 1964 with a degree in electrical engineering. After that, he enrolled in Harvard Business School, where he received his Master of Business Administration in 1966.

He took an entry-level job with a Wall St. investment bank, Salomon Brothers, where he stayed for nearly a decade, eventually becoming a partner. When the firm was bought by a different company, Bloomberg was laid off and received a $10 million severance.

Using that money, Bloomberg designed a computer system that gathered real-time market data and financial analytics for financial companies – the first product in what would become his namesake company, Bloomberg L.P., now a sprawling empire that employs 20,000 people and sees annual revenues of about $10 billion.

In growing the company, however, Bloomberg established what some have characterized as a toxic work culture. A handful of women sued the company for sexual harassment, including one woman who said she was raped.

Upon deciding to run for mayor of New York City, Bloomberg resigned as CEO of the company. In 2014, he returned as CEO after a short-stint as a full-time philanthropist. Bloomberg still owns the business but resigned again to run for president in 2019.

According to Forbes Magazine, Bloomberg is the 14th richest person in the world, with a net worth estimated at $58 billion. Along with other billionaires, like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerbarg, Bloomberg has signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment made by some of the world's richest individuals to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Political Career

Despite having been a life-long Democrat, Bloomberg ran for mayor of New York City as a Republican, pitching himself as the businessman needed to lift the city out of an economic hole in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

He succeeded former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was term limited, and went on to win two re-election campaigns, one in 2005 and the other in 2009 – the latter after successfully pushing city council to extend the city's term limits by arguing that in the wake of the Great Recession, New York City needed someone like him to right the financial meltdown.

During his decade as mayor, Bloomberg put his thumbprint on nearly every part of the city's business – education, crime, transit, health care, the economy and more — using data and analytics to drive decision-making.

Perhaps nowhere was that more obvious than in the city's K-12 education system, where he was a major player in ushering in the so-called education reform era – closing hundreds of low-performing or under-enrolled schools, ushering in dozens of new charter schools, breaking up big schools into campuses of small schools, giving teachers a pay raise, but making it more difficult to obtain tenure, adopting new, more rigorous standards and tests, all the while pushing a new teacher evaluation and pay system based in part on those test scores.

When it comes to health care, Bloomberg gained national attention for significantly decreasing smoking, addressing diabetes by, for example, taxing large, sugary drinks, and expanding access to reproductive rights. He also significantly decreased the number of uninsured people and children in New York City.

His economic record checks out, as well – at least for some. During his time in office, he created 400,00 jobs. According to his campaign, from the end of the recession through 2013, New York City gained back 327% of the jobs lost, while the country as a whole gained back only 87%.

At the same time, however, the number of those living in poverty also increased. By the time his tenure came to an end, close to 50% of New Yorkers were making less than 150% of the poverty level.

Bloomberg's most controversial undertaking was his crack-down on crime, which fell 34% during his decade-long term, but was accomplished, in large part, through a controversial stop-and-frisk policy.

The number of stop-and-frisk instances exploded under his leadership, from 97,000 in 2002 to 686,000 in 2012, disproportionately targeting black and Hispanic men who reported feeling harassed and under surveillance. A federal judge ruled in 2013 that the use of stop-and-frisk violated the constitutional rights of people of color, but Bloomberg pushed back on that decision, lamenting instead that rolling it back would lead to "a lot of people dying."

In February, a clip from 2015 surfaced of Bloomberg defending the policy.

"Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O.," he said. "You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops."

"They are male minorities, 16 to 25. That's true in New York. That's true in virtually every city," he continues. "And that's where the real crime is. You've got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed."

Bloomberg, for his part, has apologized and said that he should have ended the policy faster. He's also admitted that he didn't understand its impact on black and Hispanic communities as well as he should have, underscoring the problems he's likely to face drumming up support from two important Democratic voting blocs.

Since stepping away from city hall, Bloomberg has focused his philanthropy on increasing college access for low-income students, among other things. Last year he donated $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins to forever guarantee tuition assistance for all students.

He's also ramped up his fight against the National Rifle Association, which has long been a priority for him. Bloomberg co-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns in 2006, along with then-Boston mayor Thomas Menino, eventually amassing a bipartisan coalition of more than 1,000 mayors. The group later merged with Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, creating Everytown for Gun Safety, which has spent millions enacting gun safety laws in more than 20 states and donating to political candidates that make gun safety a priority.

Bloomberg has also directed his philanthropy to environmental issues, continuing to push the U.S. toward clean energy. A $50 million contribution to Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign in 2011 helped the campaign shut down coal-fired power plants in 45 states. He made an additional $30 million donation to the campaign in 2015 to expand the effort.

Where Michael Bloomberg Stands on the Issues:

Abortion

Budget and Taxes

Child Care

Criminal Justice

Corporate Reform

Economy and Jobs

Education

Energy

Foreign Policy

Guns

Health Care

Housing

Immigration

Infrastructure

LGBT Rights

Marijuana Legalization

Bloomberg on Abortion:

Bloomberg would work with Congress to codify Roe v. Wade, and also attempt to reverse state laws that restrict access to reproductive services. He would also repeal the Hyde Amendment – which prohibits federal funding toward abortions except to save a woman's life – and increase access to affordable birth control. He would also end Trump's expansion of the global gag rule, which restricts funding toward nongovernmental organizations that discuss or perform abortions.

Bloomberg on the Budget and Taxes:

Bloomberg has a multi-layered tax reform plan with a goal of paying for things like climate resilience, education, health care and infrastructure. His plan would:

  • Reverse Trump's tax breaks for high-income households and increase the corresponding rate from 37% to 39.6%.
  • Impose a new tax on the wealthy – a 5% surtax on incomes from capital and labor above $5 million per year.Tax capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income for taxpayers above $1 million.
  • Lower the estate tax threshold, while protecting family-owned farms and small businesses.
  • Close various tax loopholes, such as the 20% deduction for "pass-through" businesses, whose owners report income on individual tax returns and aren't subject to corporate income tax, according to the Tax Foundation.

Bloomberg on Child Care:

The former mayor of New York supports paid family leave, noting in a piece announcing his candidacy that his company provides six months of paid leave to employees who have a baby. Bloomberg would also increase the child tax credit and make it fully refundable.

Bloomberg on Criminal Justice:

Bloomberg would reform the criminal justice system through a variety of actions:

  • Incentivize states to experiment with the impact of shorter prison sentences.
  • Expand programs that act as alternatives to incarceration and seek to reduce recidivism, such as mental health services, drug treatment and career training.
  • Support efforts that would reduce or eliminate cash bail for non-violent offenders.
  • Seek to cut juvenile imprisonment by half by the end of his first term as president and eliminate incarceration for all non-violent juvenile offenders.

Bloomberg touts that crime fell by 32% while he was mayor of New York City, but he has also come under fire for police practices. He has apologized for supporting the "stop-and-frisk" strategy, which disproportionately impacted blacks and Latinos during his tenure, according to The Associated Press.

Bloomberg on Corporate Reform:

As part of his tax reform plans, Bloomberg would raise the corporate rate from 21% to 28%. But he would also seek to help small businesses by providing funding toward establishing or expanding entrepreneurship centers in cities and towns, reforming the Small Business Administration and expanding services for underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Bloomberg on Economy and Jobs:

Bloomberg describes his jobs plan as the "all-in economy," with the following proposals:

  • Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and enhancing the earned income tax credit.
  • Creating up to 30 new growth hubs for communities that need jobs.
  • Improving career training in the U.S. through investments in apprenticeships and technical and community colleges, as well as partnerships with employers.
  • nvesting in access to rural broadband.

Bloomberg on Education:

Bloomberg's education plan will promote charter schools, according to Politico. He has said that as president, he will prioritize improving student achievement, college preparedness and career readiness.

Bloomberg on Energy and Climate:

The former New York mayor's multi-faceted climate change plan includes initiatives such as:

  • Cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and having 80% of the country's electricity generation come from clean energy sources by 2028.
  • Rejoining the Paris Agreement on combating climate change, which President Trump removed the U.S. from.
  • Pushing for new buildings to be pollution-free by 2025.
  • Electrifying all new cars by 2035, improving access to public transportation and building a high-speed rail system.
  • Helping states like California fight and improve resilience from wildfires through the creation of the Wildfire Corps, among other plans.

Bloomberg on Foreign Policy:

Bloomberg's foreign policy plans are not detailed on his campaign website, but he told The New York Times that he would support using military forces for humanitarian interventions but not regime changes, he would not rule out military action against Iran and he would support shifting the country's foreign policy focus from the Middle East to countries like China and Russia.

Bloomberg on Guns:

Bloomberg's gun safety proposals would:

  • Create a background check system, which would include point-of-sale checks for all gun purchases and permit requirements for everyone seeking to buy a gun.
  • Require buyers to be at least 21 years old in order to purchase handguns, semi-automatic weapons and shotguns.
  • Temporarily ban gun possession by assault and other violent misdemeanor offenders.
  • Provide at least $100 million in annual funding each for local violence intervention programs and gun violence public health research.
  • Reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Bloomberg on Health Care:

Bloomberg's health care proposals are similar to those of former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. As president he would:

  • Create a public option health care plan, similar to Medicare, that would be administered by the federal government, with priority going to the uninsured.
  • Build on the Affordable Care Act by expanding enrollment and subsidies to cap premiums at 8.5% of a household's income.
  • Bring costs down by capping out-of-network charges at 200% of Medicare rates and banning surprise medical bills.
  • ap drug prices at 120% of the average in other advanced nations.

Bloomberg on Housing:

The former New York City mayor would seek to improve housing affordability and reduce homelessness through the following strategies:

  • Guarantee housing vouchers for Americans at or below 30% of the corresponding area's median income.
  • Double federal spending on homelessness from under $3 billion to $6 billion annually, with the goal of cutting homeless in half in four years.
  • Provide short-term rental assistance and increase federal support for rapid rehousing strategies.
  • Expand the low-income housing tax credit.

Bloomberg on Immigration:

As president Bloomberg would look to reverse many of President Trump's immigration policies. His plan includes:

  • Modernizing the legal immigration system through policies such as making employment-based immigration more responsive to the economy.
  • Ending two of Trump's most controversial immigration policies: family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border and the travel ban against a variety of countries.
  • Creating a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people and protecting those who were brought to the United States without legal status as children.
  • Reforming two Homeland Security agencies: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection.
  • Ending construction of the border wall.

Bloomberg on Infrastructure:

Through his plan to improve the country's infrastructure, Bloomberg's administration would repair 240,000 miles of roads and 16,000 bridges by 2025, allocate $850 billion over 10 years to critical infrastructure capital investments and triple annual federal funds toward public transit. He would also seek to modernize the nation's airports and invest $100 billion over 10 years to ensure clean drinking water for all communities.

Bloomberg on LGBT Rights:

Bloomberg would expand LGBTQ+ rights through a variety of actions, including:

  • Work to pass and sign the Equality Act, which passed the House in May 2019 but has not been passed by the Senate. The bill would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in a variety of areas.
  • Launching a federal initiative toward combating bullying, harassment and discrimination.
  • Setting a goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030.

Bloomberg on Marijuana Legalization:

Bloomberg does not have an issue section of his campaign website devoted to marijuana, but he is against federal marijuana legalization, according to Forbes. He does, however, support decriminalizing marijuana possession and in a separate piece on his website, he points out that black Americans are 3.5 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

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