Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and a billionaire, is likely to enter the Democratic presidential primary. Here’s a look at where he stands on some of the major issues in the race.
There is no issue with which Mr. Bloomberg is more popularly identified than gun control. He is one of the country’s most prominent supporters of stricter gun laws and is the primary funder of Everytown for Gun Safety, which has become a political juggernaut rivaling the National Rifle Association on the other side.
Mr. Bloomberg has placed particular emphasis on universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and a crackdown on gun trafficking.
However, he does not support a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons, as a few candidates have proposed. After former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas (who ended his campaign last week) said at a debate that “hell yes,” his administration would take away AR-15s and AK-47s, Mr. Bloomberg called the idea practically impossible and politically counterproductive.
“That’s why I won’t be a candidate of the Democratic Party,” he told Margaret Hoover of PBS in September. “Because it’s so impractical. I don’t know how you’d even do it. It would be such a rallying cry for people that say, ‘They’re overstepping their bounds.’”
Mr. Bloomberg has also been outspoken, with his voice and money alike, on climate change.
In January, he promised to introduce what he considered to be an “achievable” version of the Green New Deal, praising the concept of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s version but calling it “pie in the sky.” His version ended up being a project called Beyond Carbon, which aims to eliminate coal-fired power plants by 2030, stop the growth of natural gas and transition the United States to renewable energy sources.
The project — to which Mr. Bloomberg has pledged $500 million — follows the same model as the Beyond Coal campaign that he and the Sierra Club started in 2011, which he says contributed to the closing of more than half of the country’s coal-fired power plants.
In an op-ed announcing Beyond Carbon, Mr. Bloomberg essentially argued that the solution to climate change might not come through government action. The Green New Deal “stands no chance of passage in the Senate over the next two years,” he wrote, “but Mother Nature does not wait on our political calendar, and neither can we.”
On taxes, health care and other economic issues, Mr. Bloomberg would be very much on the conservative end of the Democratic field.
He argued in January that a tax on the wealth of rich Americans would be unconstitutional because “the Constitution lets you impose income taxes only.” That alone doesn’t distinguish him too much — only a handful of candidates have endorsed a wealth tax — but he has also criticized other types of tax increases on the wealthy. In 2012, when Bill de Blasio, then a mayoral candidate, proposed raising income taxes on residents earning more than $500,000 a year, Mr. Bloomberg called it “about as dumb a policy as I can think of.”
On health care, he has rejected “Medicare for all,” arguing that providing everyone with government-run health insurance would “bankrupt us for a very long time.” He did express openness to a so-called public option — or, as he put it, “‘Medicare for all’ for people that are uncovered.”
More broadly, Mr. Bloomberg said in January of Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’s economic philosophies: “If you want to look at a system that’s noncapitalistic, just take a look at what was perhaps the wealthiest country in the world, and today, people are starving to death. It’s called Venezuela.”
The role of government
An interesting element of Mr. Bloomberg’s politics is the gulf between his views on government intervention in economic policy and government intervention in other areas.
As mayor, he promoted a series of policies to regulate consumer behavior for public health purposes. Most famously, for two years he tried to ban the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks larger than 16 fluid ounces. A court ultimately blocked that rule in 2014.
Much earlier in his tenure, in 2003, he succeeded in banning smoking in restaurants, bars and most workplaces.
One of the most contentious elements of Mr. Bloomberg’s mayoralty was his support for the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy, which allowed officers to routinely stop, question and search people on the street. The overwhelming majority of subjects were black or Hispanic, and few of them turned out to be doing anything wrong.
A federal judge ruled in 2013 that, as applied in New York, the policy was based on racial profiling and was unconstitutional. In the year after that ruling, the practice — already on the decline — plummeted.
But Mr. Bloomberg continued to defend the practice, arguing that it was responsible for part of the decrease in violent crime during his tenure and that if he ended it, he might “be responsible for a lot of people dying.”
As recently as this year, he stood by the policy.