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Beto O’Rourke on impeachment and 8 other issues



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By Alex Seitz-Wald

WASHINGTON, Iowa — Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke has begun to flesh out some of his policy ideas as he makes his way across Iowa, backing away Friday from his support for full single-payer health care and declining to say whether President Donald Trump should be impeached.

“I’m no longer sure that’s the fastest way for us to get there,” O’Rourke told reporters outside a campaign stop here.

The Texas Democrat once endorsed Medicare for All, which in its purest form would replace every American’s health insurance plan with one run by the government, in effect ending private health insurance in the United States.

O’Rourke said Friday he’s open to a full single-payer program in the long-run, but that he sees a more immediate solution in proposals that would allow Americans to choose to buy into Medicare or keep their current plans.

“It allows people to keep employer-based insurance, many of whom want to do that,” he said. “Over time, I hope Medicare has the investment, the buy-in necessary, becomes attractive enough that people choose to leave employer-based insurance instead of being forced to join Medicare.”

While O’Rourke said his presidential campaign will continue the grassroots, populist theme of his Senate run, which broke fundraising records despite rejecting all PAC money, he will need to carve out a policy space for himself in a crowded Democratic field. Fans have likened him to former President Barack Obama, and his policy positions might cover more centrist ground than some of his Democratic rivals on several issues.

Here’s what we know about where O’Rourke stands on other issues.

1. Impeachment

During his Senate campaign against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz last year, O’Rourke said he would vote to move forward with impeachment hearings against Trump.

Asked again about the issue Friday, O’Rourke said it’s up to Congress to decide and that the 2020 presidential election is the best way to remove Trump from office. But he hasn’t changed his opinion on the president’s guilt.

“If you’re asking me, has the president committed impeachable offenses? Yes. Period,” O’Rourke said.

2. Immigration/border security

O’Rourke, who switches fluidly between English and Spanish, represented the border city of El Paso, and has supported comprehensive immigration reform. He also has said he believes undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, or Dreamers, deserve a path to citizenship. O’Rourke has sharply denounced Trump’s border wall and anti-immigration policies, railing against the administration’s family separations and attempts to reject asylum seekers at the border.

He said the border barrier in El Paso should be taken down.

3. Taxes

O’Rourke told CBS This Morning on Friday that he favors raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, though he declined to name numbers.

“I think corporations should be asked to pay a greater share into the success of this country,” he said. “The wealthiest at a time of historic income inequality should be asked to pay a greater share. I don’t know what the levels should be at, but I know that the tax cuts from nearly two years ago of $2 trillion at a time that we had $21 trillion in debt, at a moment of extraordinary need across the country, was one of the most irresponsible things that the country has ever done.”

4. Climate change/environment

O’Rourke, who has a 95 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, would reverse Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. As a Senate candidate, he touted incentives for new and renewable energy sources, and previously has called for investment in clean energy and opposed the Keystone XL pipeline.

He said after announcing his run for president on Thursday that he supports the idea of a Green New Deal, but without delving into specifics.

5. Capitalism

It’s a question every 2020 Democrat has been asked, thanks to the presence in the race of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a self-described democratic socialist.

O’Rourke, who owned a small web design business, calls himself a capitalist but makes it clear he sees major flaws with the system.

“Now having said that, it is clearly an imperfect, unfair, unjust and racist capitalist economy,” O’Rourke said at a campaign event in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, on Friday.

6. Criminal justice

As a Senate candidate, O’Rourke, who has said he was arrested as a young man for forcible entry and for drunk driving, called for eliminating private, for-profit prisons, legalizing marijuana and expunging the records of those imprisoned for its possession. He also backed ending mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses and instead treating addiction as a public health concern. O’Rourke backed eliminating the cash bail system, which he says punishes the poor disproportionately and creating “meaningful reentry” programs to reduce recidivism.

7. Economy

O’Rourke, who was a member of the fiscally moderate New Democrat Coalition, says the country needs to use the power of the market to address major challenges. But he also supports some regulations to protect consumers and stronger antitrust laws to break up monopolies.

He has opposed Trump’s tariffs, saying they lead to tit-for-tat treatment that makes U.S. products more expensive and less competitive and ultimately impacting jobs, while also saying that he supports fairer trade deals. O’Rourke has rated highly with labor unions, calling for beefed-up worker retraining programs and a $15 minimum wage.

8. Gun control

He has called for a ban on certain semiautomatic assault rifles, supported universal background checks and opposed concealed carry reciprocity, which would allow those permitted to carry a concealed firearm in one state to do so in others.

9. Education

O’Rourke has opposed school vouchers and called for increasing aid to public schools in low-income areas, according to The Washington Post. He also has supported focusing less on standardized testing and giving teachers more autonomy.

Vaughn Hillyard contributed.

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MPS have voted to back an extension on Article 50 – effectively asking for a delay to Brexit. But how long could the delay be?

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Booker denounces Trump’s rhetoric as ‘causing pain and fear’



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By Ludwig Hurtado

Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker said in an interview set to air Monday night that President Donald Trump’s rhetoric “hurts people” and is “causing pain and fear.”

“Racists think he’s racist, and his language hurts people,” the New Jersey senator said when asked by MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews if he believes Trump is racist. “His language is causing pain and fear. The way he’s talking is making people afraid.”

In making the criticism, Booker, who spoke with Matthews while in Davenport, Iowa, referenced an increase in hate crimes around the country, saying, “people are afraid to go worship at a mosque or a synagogue because hate is on the rise, and these hate incidents are rising.”

“We have a president that can’t stand up with any moral authority and remind us that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and it’s despicable,” he added.

Booker’s comments come in the wake of the New Zealand mosque massacre on Friday, in which a white supremacist allegedly killed 50 people. The alleged shooter wrote in an apparent manifesto that he supported Trump “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” although he said he disagreed with his policies.

Trump, who has made inflammatory comments about immigrants, Muslims and white nationalists, condemned the shooting on Friday. But when asked if he believes white nationalist terrorism and violence is a rising concern globally, the president said, said, “I don’t really.” He added that he thinks “it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”

On Monday morning, Trump tweeted, “The Fake News Media is working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand. They will have to work very hard to prove that one. So Ridiculous!”

There have been several white nationalist or white supremacist attacks in the U.S. over the past few years, including the massacre of 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue last fall and the murder of nine black churchgoers at a congregation in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

At a campaign event in Detroit on Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke also condemned Trump’s rhetoric.

“A president who calls Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, a president who wants to ban all Muslim travel to the United States of America because, the implication being, Muslims are somehow more dangerous or violent than people of other traditions of faith, a president who calls Klansmen, and Nazis and white nationalists ‘very fine people’ is giving permission to others in this country and around the world to commit acts of hatred,” the former Texas congressman said.

Beto O’Rourke speaks with Chuck Todd in Iowa for “Meet The Press.”NBC News

O’Rourke noted that a mosque in his home state was burned to the ground on the day that Trump signed his Muslim travel ban.

“It’s not just the words,” O’Rourke said. “It’s the actions that follow.”

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defended Trump during a pair of interviews on the Sunday political talk shows.

“You’ve seen the president stand up for religious liberty, individual liberty,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that. And to simply ask the question, every time something like this happens overseas, or even domestically, to say, ‘Oh, my goodness, it must somehow be the president’s fault,’ speaks to a politicization of everything that I think is undermining sort of the institutions that we have in the country today.”

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