On Saturday, August 6, 66-year-old medical doctor Jill Stein officially became the United States Green Party nominee for president. The Green Party also nominated Stein in 2012, and she ended up collecting 469,015 votes, or 0.36 percent of the vote, in the November election.
But early polling shows Stein off to a somewhat better start than four years ago. The current Real Clear Politics polling average places her at four percent, in last place in a four-way race against Democrat Hillary Clinton — the leader at 43.8 percent — Republican Donald Trump at 36.3 percent, and Libertarian Gary Johnson with 8.6 percent.
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) August 7, 2016
With a slate of positions that place Stein and the Green Party to the left of former Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and his “Future to Believe In” campaign on the political spectrum, Stein has been actively aiming to win Sanders supporters to her side.
She may have shot herself in the foot in that regard, by selecting as her vice-presidential running mate activist and blogger Ajamu Baraka, who has slammed Sanders and his campaign as “an ideological prop — albeit from a center/left position — of the logic and interests of the capitalist-imperialist settler state.”
Nonetheless, several recent polls show that Sanders supporters are more reluctant to back Clinton with Stein as an option. Only about one-third of avowed Bernie Sanders supporters say they would vote for Hillary Clinton in an election with Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, the Libertarian, on the ballot.
But what does Jill Stein, who has no experience in government outside of an elected seat in the Lexington, Massachusetts, Town Meeting, actually believe — and could Bernie Sanders supporters get behind her?
Here are five important policy positions advocated by U.S. Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein.
Jill Stein Says She Will Cancel All Student Debt
Perhaps the centerpiece of the Jill Stein campaign, and her effort to lure young voters, is her promise to eliminate all student debt — which would mean that a Stein administration would somehow need to come up with an estimated $1.3 trillion dollars. She has pledged to carry out this policy inside of her first 100 days as president.
But Stein proposes to use what economists describe as an unconventional monetary maneuver known as “quantitative easing” to somehow “bail out” the students and graduates collectively carrying that $1.3 trillion.
“Quantitative easing” allows a central bank, such as the U.S. Federal Reserve, to buy government bonds and other financial securities as a way of pumping cash into banks, and therefore into the economy, without actually printing new money.
Stein has not detailed exactly how quantitative easing could be used to target student debt specifically, only that because the technique was used by the Fed to help alleviate the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 — a usage which Stein calls a “bailout” for Wall Street banks — quantitative easing should now be employed again to cancel student debt.
Watch Jill Stein explain her plan to cancel student debt with “quantitative easing” in the following video.
But critics such as Slate Online financial writer Jordan Weissmann, say that Stein totally misunderstands how quantitative easing worked in the financial crisis.
Stein has said that after the 2008 crash, the government “bought up” debt owed by the banks to “cancel” $4 trillion in Wall Street obligations. But that’s not what happened, Weissmann says. Rather than canceling debts owed by banks, the government bought up debts that were owed to the banks — and did not cancel that debt, but rather held it, meaning that in the future, whoever owes that $4 trillion may still have to pay up.
“Stein’s description is so far off, it’s as if someone asked Stein how to play basketball, and she answered that teams scored points by kicking the ball off the backboard.”
Stein’s Tax Plan Is Vague, But She Calls For A “Green New Deal”
For many voters, a candidate’s tax plan is a crucial issue, but Jill Stein has not outlined a detailed plan for how a Stein presidency would affect the bottom line on April 15 for American taxpayers. Instead, she has proposed a “Green New Deal” in which every American willing to work would be guaranteed a job by the government, with at least a $15 per hour minimum wage.
Stein’s platform on her website calls for a “humane budget with fair taxes,” and says that a Stein administration would, “rewrite the entire tax code to be truly progressive with tax cuts for working families, the poor and middle class, and higher taxes for the richest Americans.”
To make up for revenue lost to the tax cuts, Stein adds that she would, “increase government revenues for social needs by restoring full employment, cutting the bloated, dangerous military budget, and cutting private health insurance waste.”
— Sowmiya Ashok (@sowmiyashok) July 26, 2016
But how deep will Stein’s tax cuts for the working and middle class go? And how high will she raise taxes on the “richest Americans,” or for that matter, what income level qualifies as “the richest,” in Stein’s view?
The Green Party nominee has not yet offered those specifics.
Huge Military Budget Cuts Under A Jill Stein Administration
According to The Washington Post, Stein has called for slashing the United States military budget by 50 percent. Those drastic cuts she says — as in the video below from her 2012 campaign — would reduce the military to its size prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Stein also wants to bring U.S. troops “home” from 800 military bases abroad — bases which she says are “bankrupting us.”
She also calls for worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons, with the United States leading the way by destroying “MANY nukes as a first step because we’re so far ahead” in the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal, Stein says.
She also has called President Barack Obama a war criminal, telling The New York Daily News, “Do I think he has violated international law? Good lord, yes! We have conducted illegal wars.”
On Immigration, Stein Wants ‘Path To Citizenship,’ End To Deportations
While Stein has not made a major issue of immigration in her campaign, her platform calls for an end to deportations of undocumented immigrants and a “path to citizenship” for “for hard-working, law-abiding undocumented immigrants.”
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She has condemned the Obama administration deportation policy as, “a morally abhorrent response to a refugee problem deeply rooted in predatory U.S trade, drug and military policies.” But she also supports Obama’s series of executive orders for “Dreamers,” that would have made about 5 million undocumented immigrants eligible for work permits.
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked Obama’s orders in a decision this June.
Is Jill Stein An “Anti-Vaxxer,” Or Not?
Stein’s critics have seized on several statements she has given in the media in which she appears to question the practice of vaccinating children against a variety of potentially crippling or fatal — and contagious — diseases. Those statements, they say, brand Stein as an “anti-vaxxer,” that is, a member of an alarmingly popular fringe group that refuses to vaccinate children, believing that vaccines cause autism and other disorders.
Stein, who practiced internal medicine for 25 years and is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, denies that she falls into the “anti-vaxxer” camp — but with a caveat — as she explains in the video below.
While stating that “vaccines are an invaluable medication,” and acknowledging that the medicines have “made a huge contribution to the public health,” Stein has not backed away from her view that Americans should remain “skeptical” of vaccinations — because the Food and Drug Administration, which approves all new medications for the U.S., “routinely packed with corporate lobbyists and CEOs. So the foxes are guarding the chicken coop as usual in the U.S.”
As a result, Jill Stein has been accused by her critics of at the very least “pandering” to voters who hold anti-vaccination views.
[Photo by John Minchillo/AP Images]