MUSCATINE, Iowa—A month and a half after his first visit to Muscatine, presidential candidate Tom Steyer returned Jan. 30. Steyer met with potential caucus goers at Contrary Brewing Company, spending much of his time answering questions from the audience.
Before taking questions, Steyer gave a short autobiography of himself and reaffirmed that addressing climate change constituted his highest priority. Putting forth a platform of what he termed, “environmental justice,” Steyer promised to declare climate change a state of emergency his first day in office. He also pledged to create over 4.5 million well-paid jobs through requiring higher energy efficiency standards in new construction and in mandating a move away from fossil fuels.
Steyer tied his climate plans to his other policies. In answering a question about the war on drugs, Steyer stated he would allocate $75 billion to treating opioid addiction. He then went on to explain that he felt rises in addiction related deaths pointed to a collective feeling of hopelessness and loss of direction across the country. By giving the country large challenges to solve, like climate change, Steyer felt people could find greater purpose in their lives and help establish shared values. He stated he finds addressing climate change, “a great gift to us. It gives us a reason to be on this planet, and we cannot do this as Democrats, and we cannot do this as Republicans. We can only do it as Americans.”
In other policy areas, Steyer kept returning to the idea of developing shared values. Regarding a question he received about international policy, Steyer emphasized using common values, strong alliances, and strategy as the best way to handle difficult situations across the world.
In his final questions, Steyer wove in the importance of promoting diversity to make his policies succeed. To reduce the influence corporations have in politics, Steyer advocated giving each adult citizen $200 to spend on the political campaigns of their choice each year. He also supported providing startup capital to people in rural areas as well as women and minority business owners, a strategy he considered successful after running community banks for 15 years. He believed such businesses have the potential to create solutions to climate change and other pressing issues.