Michael Bloomberg entered the crowded 2020 Democratic primary race last month, reversing a decision he made earlier this year not to seek the presidency. Bloomberg served three terms as mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013, earning a reputation for being fiscally conservative and socially liberal.
Before entering public service, Bloomberg worked on Wall Street and founded Bloomberg LP, a financial services company that helped him amass an eye-popping personal fortune of $55.5 billion. A major philanthropist and climate change and gun control activist, Bloomberg is the eighth-richest person in the world.
Here’s where Bloomberg stands on key issues in the 2020 presidential election.
Economy: Strengthen middle class, supports raising taxes on wealthy
Bloomberg raised property, income and sales taxes as mayor, turning the multi billion-dollar deficit he inherited after taking office in 2002 into a surplus by the time he stepped down in 2014. He boosted tourism, an important part of the New York economy, and rezoned large swaths of the city, paving the way for a major real estate boom. On his campaign website, Bloomberg claims his reforms created 400,000 new jobs in New York.
At the same time, Bloomberg drew heavy criticism for cutting spending, privatizing some city services, and failing to resolve labor disputes with unions seeking pay hikes. He once backed a plan to raise New York State’s minimum wage, but also vetoed city legislation aimed at raising wages for some workers with city contracts, angering critics who argued that Bloomberg was a billionaire technocrat disconnected from ordinary New Yorkers.
The former mayor has not yet released a detailed economic plan since launching his presidential run. His campaign website touts his economic record as mayor and says as president he would “strengthen the middle class” through policies that “open the door of opportunity to every American.” In a campaign ad, Bloomberg promised the “wealthy will pay more in taxes,” a position shared by several 2020 rivals, including progressive Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Health care: Expand Obamacare and Medicare, opposes Medicare-for-All
In January Bloomberg criticized the Medicare-for-All proposal backed by several 2020 Democrats, saying the country “could never afford that.” Bloomberg told reporters at the time that the plan would cost trillions of dollars and “bankrupt” the U.S. According to his campaign website, Bloomberg supports expanding the Affordable Care Act and the existing Medicare program in order to “achieve universal health care.” The campaign has not released a detailed health care plan.
As mayor, Bloomberg banned smoking in bars and restaurants — an initiative that his mayoral administration said helped prevent thousands of premature deaths. Bloomberg also banned large sugary drinks, though the move was struck down by the courts. Bloomberg also reduced childhood obesity in New York, by expanding healthy food standards for schools, requiring restaurants to post calorie counts on menus, and other measures. He also increased life expectancy among New Yorkers by three years, according to his campaign website.
Climate change: Backs U.S. and international efforts to tackle reduce carbon emissions
During his tenure as mayor, Bloomberg reduced New York City’s carbon footprint by banning the dirtiest kinds of residential heating oil. Bloomberg also took other steps to promote energy efficiency and improve air quality, including retrofitting buildings, creating new park space and introducing a citywide bike-sharing program.
Bloomberg stepped up his focus on climate change after stepping down as mayor. In 2014, he was named the United Nations special envoy for cities and climate change. In 2018, Bloomberg was appointed as the U.N. special envoy for climate change. Bloomberg has also launched several climate change initiatives and spent heavily to promote action on the issue.
In 2017, Bloomberg pledged $64 million to help fund the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants. Earlier this year, Bloomberg said he would spend $500 million on an initiative run by his philanthropic organization aimed at creating a carbon-free U.S. economy.
Bloomberg has criticized Trump’s record on climate change, including the president’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate accord. Bloomberg has also criticized the Green New Deal, arguing the ambitious climate change plan could never pass Congress.
Immigration: Supports immigration reform, opposes cutting back immigration
Bloomberg was a strong advocate for immigrants as mayor of New York. He supported initiatives to provide immigrants with legal aid in immigration cases and help in starting small businesses. Bloomberg also took steps to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation, including signing legislation that limited New York City’s cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
As mayor, Bloomberg expanded the use of foreign language translation in city services to help
non-native English speakers, and frequently delivered public remarks in Spanish in a symbolic gesture to the city’s large Hispanic population. He drew national attention in 2010 for a speech defending a controversial mosque project in Manhattan, known as the “Ground Zero Mosque,” in which he spoke out against religious intolerance and attacks on immigrants.
Bloomberg called for national immigration reform as mayor and has backed the cause since leaving office. He criticized President Donald Trump’s immigration policies at a campaign stop shortly after launching his 2020 bid, saying the country needed “more immigrants rather than less” and calling the Trump administration’s family separation policy a “disgrace.”
Gun control: Supports tighter restrictions on gun ownership
As mayor Bloomberg helped form the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group to push for gun safety measures. In 2014, Bloomberg launched Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonpartisan organization that’s now one of the country’s leading gun control groups. Bloomberg pledged to spend $50 million to fund the group.
Bloomberg has made gun control a key issue in his 2020 presidential election. His campaign released a sweeping gun control plan earlier this month that would strengthen the federal background check system, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and provide more funding for law enforcement related to gun violence. The proposal also calls for a federal “red flag law” that would allow judges to remove guns from people deemed a danger to themselves or others.
Critics contend that Bloomberg’s push for safer gun control measures in cities is part of a mixed record on law enforcement and policing. As mayor Bloomberg supported a stop-and-frisk policing policy that advocates say unfairly targeted minorities. Bloomberg said last month that he was “wrong” on the issue and apologized.
Foreign policy: Restore “global respect” to the U.S.
Bloomberg does not have a lengthy foreign policy record. He has supported international free trade, and the United States’ relationship with Israel. In 2004, he appeared to signal support for the Iraq War in an appearance in New York alongside then-First Lady Laura Bush.
Since leaving office Bloomberg has elevated his role on the global stage through high-profile assignments for the U.N. and World Health Organization. Most of his international work has focused on combating climate change.