Bill Weld

Former governor of Massachusetts
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Bill Weld dropped out of the presidential race on March 18, 2020. This page is no longer being updated.
Weld was the first candidate to announce he was challenging Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, saying he would “fear for the Republic” if the President were reelected. Weld was the vice presidential nominee on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2016.
Harvard College, B.A., 1966; Harvard Law, JD, 1970
July 31, 1945
Leslie Marshall; divorced from Susan Roosevelt Weld
David, Ethel, Mary, Quentin and Frances
Governor of Massachusetts, 1991-1997;
Assistant attorney general, 1986-1988;
US attorney for District of Massachusetts, 1981-1986;
Staffer, House Judiciary Committee, 1973-1974


Bill Weld ends Republican presidential campaign
Updated 4:05 PM ET, Wed Mar 18, 2020
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld ended his Republican presidential campaign on Wednesday after President Donald Trump won enough delegates to win the 2020 Republican nomination. "I have decided to suspend my candidacy for President of the United States, effective immediately," Weld said in an email to supporters. Visit CNN's Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race The former Massachusetts governor was the first candidate to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination. Weld told CNN's Jake Tapper in April he would "fear for the Republic" if the President were reelected.  "Leading this movement is one of the greatest honors of my life, and I will always be indebted to all who have played a part," he said Wednesday. "But while I am suspending my candidacy," Weld continued, "I want to be clear that I am not suspending my commitment to the nation and to the democratic institutions that set us apart." Weld's long-shot bid was at one point focused on winning over moderate Republicans in New Hampshire. Trump won the New Hampshire primary in February with 85.7% of the vote, compared to Weld's 9.2%. Weld had some national name recognition from when he was the vice presidential nominee on the Libertarian ticket in 2016 with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. He was governor of New Hampshire's neighbor, Massachusetts, from 1991 to 1997, and won reelection there with more than 70% of the vote. Weld is a fierce critic of Trump, and, last April, he called for the President to resign. Weld wrote in an op-ed that Trump's "rampant dishonesty and paranoia render him incapable of serving as president." "It's time to plant a flag," Weld told CNN in a phone interview in the fall about why he launched a presidential bid. "Otherwise I'm right there with everyone else saying, 'Gee, I love the emperor's new clothes.' This emperor doesn't have any new clothes." Weld ran for Senate in Massachusetts in 1996, losing to John Kerry. He later moved to New York and in 2005 unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination there for governor. This story has been updated with more information about Weld's run and background.


climate crisis
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Weld told Hill.TV in November 2019: “What we have to do is keep Earth temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees between now and 2050, and the way you do that is by putting a price on carbon, an upstream price at the well head at the mine shaft and then people can make their own decisions about how much carbon they want to emit into the atmosphere.” He said: “It’s not a command and control situation. We’re not telling people what to do, they make their own decisions, and that’s letting the market decide about carbon, it’s a much more powerful engine than just saying I’m going to spend $10 trillion to promote clean energy. You don’t know if you’re going to get there.” He said in an interview with Journal Review that the US should rejoin the Paris climate accord, a landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has abandoned.
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Weld says his top priority on day one if he is elected is to file legislation to cut spending. According to his campaign website, he also wants to increase technical education and help workers who lose their jobs to automation by making community college and online tuition available to them. Weld said he would work with Congress to end “corporate welfare.” He would also audit the Federal Reserve and work to pass a balanced budget amendment. Weld tweeted in February 2019: “In the federal budget, the two most important tasks are to cut spending and to cut taxes – and spending comes first. We need to ‘zero base’ the federal budget, basing each appropriation on outcomes actually achieved, not on last year’s appropriation plus 5%.”
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Weld proposes that two years of community college and the last two years of tuition at state colleges or universities should be free. He said his administration would review the federal loan process to make sure students aren’t loaned amounts they won’t be able to pay off. He says Congress should get rid of the provision that does not allow student debt to be renegotiated. He said he would prioritize reducing the interest rate on federal student loans and would extend scholarships for vocational training. Weld delivered a speech in February 2019 in which he said, according to “Parents need more options regarding the education of their children. We need to support school choice. We need to support home schooling. We need to support charter schools. And we need to consider abolishing the US Department of Education, transferring decision-making authority to the states and the parents of school-age and college-age children.”
gun violence
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Weld said in an interview with Independent Journal Review that in order to combat gun violence, “I don’t think we want to focus on gun ownership. I do think that the 300 million rifles in private hands, lawfully acquired, constitutes a bulwark against a government overreaching. The real reason for the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, in my judgment, is not so people can go hunting. It’s really so people will have the guns in self-defense. … All guns are dangerous, and to address the school shootings and terrible mass murders, one obvious thing is to do everything possible to keep firearms — of any sort — out of the hands of people who are unstable and have any history of mental illness.”
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Weld proposes amending and building upon certain features of the Affordable Care Act. He also wants to bring back low-cost health insurance plans. He plans to provide hospital vouchers for veterans who want to pick different facilities. Weld said he would encourage companies to provide family and medical leave by providing tax incentives and credits. He would also push for Medicare to be permitted to negotiate prescription drug prices. Weld said in an interview with Independent Journal Review: “I think we need less government in the health care system. I think individuals should have their own tax-advantaged health savings accounts so that they can save up for the amount of protection that they wanted.”
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Weld pledges to make it easier for people to enter our country and contribute to the economy.Weld said his administration would expand the work visa program, put an end to mass deportations and simplify the adjudication process for immigration. Weld said in an interview with Independent Journal Review: “I think we should have more work visas, not less. Enforce them but have them available. We should have a guest worker program similar to Canada’s where people come and work for four months of the agricultural season or the construction season. … And I think the whole notion that the 11 million people who have overstayed their visas — so-called undocumented immigrants — a lot of those people just overstayed their visa. And to say all of them automatically have to get citizenship, that’s just crazy.”


Opinion: The rare bipartisan opportunity House Republicans should take advantage of
Updated 9:40 AM ET, Sat Jan 28, 2023
With only a thin and fractious majority in the House, the GOP is facing two years of struggling to set any kind of positive agenda. But one thing every elected Republican would agree on is the need to scrutinize the Biden administration. Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has already been hard at work, firing off letters demanding answers to pointed questions on border photo ops, President Joe Biden's handling of classified documents, presidential visitor logs, remote work among top federal employees and Hunter Biden. This is, of course, business as usual. The party that doesn't control the White House will always seek to score political points on possible bureaucratic scandals. In return, Democrats' instinctive reaction might be to circle up the wagons and seek to stonewall or downplay as many of these efforts as possible. But one area of focus for the Oversight Committee deserves to be taken seriously, not just as a political point-scoring operation, but as an earnest attempt to improve how government works. A genuine bipartisan commitment can and should be made to evaluate the extent of fraud in the pandemic-era safety net measures. A better understanding of where the system failed would not only shine a light on how some funds were misspent but also lay the groundwork for better administration of safety-net benefits, in ways applicable and valuable even outside of the unique circumstances of a global pandemic. Recall that as the initial wave of coronavirus cases hit US shores, economists feared we could be headed for an economic meltdown. People stopped going about their daily lives, stay-at-home orders went into effect and businesses responded by laying off workers left and right. The unemployment rate spiked to 14.7% in April 2020, the highest level in the post-World War II era. Congress wanted to provide aid as quickly as possible; there simply wasn't time to sit around and construct the ideal policies. As part of the frenetic response, the federal government used the often-clunky unemployment insurance systems run by states to try to backstop households' finances. Fraud became an issue due to a number of factors, according to a June 2022 report from the Government Accountability Office, including unclear federal guidance, ill-equipped state offices and a relaxation of normal eligibility rules. It didn't help that 32 states run their unemployment insurance systems on outdated infrastructure, often developed in the 1970s and 1980s, according to that same report. These systems make it difficult for states to have the flexibility and responsiveness necessary to run benefit programs efficiently -- even when there isn't a global pandemic. The underlying structure of unemployment insurance may have been an issue as well -- the federal government provides support and technical assistance, while states determine eligibility and ensure accurate payments. The jerry-rigged systems in many states couldn't handle the surge of applicants and a newly created unemployment insurance program relied on self-certification. Without any requirements to prove lost income, the program opened the door to bad actors. But some of the headlines about the amount of fraud in pandemic assistance are likely overblown. One widely-repeated claim about the ubiquity of fraud was advanced not by a disinterested party but by a company that sells ID verification systems. The GAO report estimates the amount of unemployment insurance fraud is likely over $60 billion (or about 7% of total $878 billion spent), although the true amount may not be knowable. $60 billion sounds like a lot of money, but some could argue the result justified the leaky process. Research by the Brookings Institution found that the expanded unemployment benefits delivered the most aid to lower-income workers, stabilizing the broader economy by keeping consumption stable. At the peak of Covid's impact, millions of workers every week were applying for unemployment insurance; if excessive concern about fraud had prevented rolling out the federal expansion of benefits, it could have taken a lot longer for the economy to recover. But with the worst of the pandemic in the rear-view mirror, cracking down on people who abused the system and making it harder for future scammers to do the same is an appropriate area for the Oversight Committee to focus on. A full, bipartisan Congressional inquiry could spotlight the weaknesses of the current system and where it was taken advantage of in order to lay the groundwork for future efforts to improve the way benefits are disbursed. Not doing so would allow distrust around government programs to fester. Some voters who hear stories about fraudsters taking advantage of pandemic-era assistance -- especially blatant examples of people who listed their name as "N/A" or claimed that they owned nonexistent farms -- may lose faith in government's ability to function properly. Knowing that the expanded assistance helped the economy does nothing to change or address the fact that some people took advantage of loopholes in the system. Some initial steps have been taken to address this lingering concern. The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which was created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in 2020, has provided publicly available data on how emergency pandemic funds were spent. Last summer, Congress passed bipartisan bills extending the statute of limitations to prosecute individuals who committed fraud through the Paycheck Protection Program or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. And Democrats, such as Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, who previously served as the chair of a subcommittee on the coronavirus response, have rightly pointed out that small business aid during the pandemic was also plagued by fraud and improper payments. Yet more could be done. A GAO report in October 2021 made six recommendations about how the Department of Labor could stem fraud in unemployment insurance programs, but a recent follow-up found the department had not implemented any of them. The deluge of cases has left investigators overwhelmed, and Congress could beef up funding for the agents that investigate pandemic fraud. Last year, the Biden administration announced initial steps to combat fraud and identity theft in pandemic relief, but it hasn't made a priority of supporting bills like the one introduced in 2021 by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, which would have modernized the unemployment insurance program. Helping states develop better systems of determining eligibility and automating basic safeguards could make it easier to keep scammers out and make sure the truly deserving get the benefits they need. Republicans are right to put the spotlight on those who took advantage of pandemic-era programs. Democrats should join them. Getting benefits into the hands of people who merit them and keeping them out of the hands of people who don't should be something both parties agree on. Amid all the other controversies that take up political oxygen, a concerted effort to crack down on wrongdoing and improve how our social safety net functions could be a welcome breath of bipartisan air.