Topline: As the Democratic primary race heats up, 2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg released a sweeping new economic plan to invest more than $1 trillion in affordable housing, education and child care over the next decade, as part of a package of new policies that positions the South Bend, Indiana, mayor as a clear alternative to more progressive candidates.
- Geared toward middle- and working-class Americans, the proposals put Buttigieg in a policy lane to the left of former vice president Joe Biden but more central than candidates like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders.
- The plan calls for spending of $70 billion per year on child care and education as well as $45 billion per year on affordable housing. That costs roughly the same as those of Warren, who called for $70 billion per year on child careand $50 billion per year on housing.
- Biden and Sanders, in comparison, have yet to release comprehensive child-care plans, though both have expressed support for the idea in the past. Biden has also not released a housing plan, while Sanders proposed spending $250 billion per year for his “Housing for All” plan.
- Buttigieg also unveiled a proposal to invest $500 billion in higher education over the next decade, making tuition at four-year colleges free for Americans earning less than $100,000—expanding on Biden’s proposal to make community college free for all Americans. The South Bend, Indiana, mayor additionally called for $50 billion of investment in historically black colleges and universities.
- Unlike his fellow Democratic presidential contenders, Buttigieg said he will pay for the sweeping initiatives by reforming capital gains taxes among the top 1% of Americans, as opposed to raising a wealth tax on billionaires (as Sanders and Warren have proposed).
Crucial quote: “As president, I will measure success not just by the size of the stock market or gross domestic product, but by whether working and middle class families are succeeding,” Buttigieg wrote in his plan. “I will use public enforcement, public investments, and public options to make the economy deliver for all Americans, not just those at the top.”
Key background: The new eight-page economic plan comes as Buttigieg, with just a few months to go before the first primary, attempts to break out of single digits in Democratic polls. While Buttigieg has flatlined in national polls recently, support for the Midwesterner has surged in Iowa, where the focus is increasingly on a Warren-Buttigieg showdown to win that state.
Tangent: While Warren and Sanders support Medicare-for-all plans in health care, Buttigieg and Biden favor a public option that wouldn’t require every American to be enrolled in a government plan. Buttigieg likes to call his version “Medicare for All Who Want It.”