Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is one of the dozens of people running for the Democratic nomination for president. He’s in California this week, holding events and fundraisers to win potential votes in the state’s primary.
But California already has a home state senator running for president: Kamala Harris. So why does Buttigieg think Californians should vote for him?
Buttigieg tells Press Play that almost everywhere he goes, it feels like there’s a home state competitor, and this competition is wide open. He says anybody can beat Donald Trump with the right message and he had supported Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“Right now, each of us competing in this field brings different qualities, personal qualities, substantive qualities, and even historic qualities. I'm very proud to be part of what is the most diverse field in the history of presidential politics. And I think each of us can explain in different ways how our own stories and our substance are right for America at this time,” he says.
He says what the U.S. needs right now is a candidate who's prepared to take the long view, has executive experience (not necessarily in Washington), and has wrestled with issues affecting most Americans. He contends that as a mayor, he’s uniquely able to talk about these issues.
"Medicare for All"
Buttigieg says he does favor “Medicare for All. “I also think that every candidate who uses that phrase ought to have a really convincing and specific explanation of how we're supposed to get there. Even a relatively conservative reform like the Affordable Care Act, we really struggled to implement that. And it's one of the reasons why I think the right step for us to take would be to begin with what I would call ‘Medicare for All who want it.’”
Buttigieg says he would start by placing a version of Medicare on the exchange as a public option. “I think it will outcompete the corporate alternatives. But look, even when we get to Medicare for all environment, there will probably still be some kind of private role. I lived at one time in the United Kingdom, which has socialized medicine outright, which is considerably to the left even of Medicare for All. And even there… there was a system of private clinics and insurance to go with them. But the point is when it comes to the basic health care needs that we all have, it is not good enough to leave people to the tender mercies of the corporate system.”
Free college tuition
Buttigieg says he wants dramatically lower tuition and increased Pell grants, but is not comfortable saying everyone should pay nothing to go to college. He wants to make sure first-generation Americans and low- to middle-income Americans get tuition support, and those who can afford to pay at a reasonable level should be able to enroll in a “public service loan forgiveness program.”
“There's a lot of steps we can take to make college much more affordable than it is today without committing the U.S. government and the U.S. taxpayer to subsidizing even the children of billionaires,” he says.
Green New Deal
Buttigieg says the Green New Deal is the right framework to think about tackling climate change. “The way it's been laid out now is more a set of goals than a full-blown plan. But I do think that candidates ought to be specific about the steps we’ll take, including being honest about the fact that we need a carbon fee or carbon tax and dividend system, so that the true price of carbon pollution is actually reflected in the marketplace.”
He also wants America to recommit to the Paris climate agreement, and include rural America in being part of the solution, and quadrupling federal research and development in renewables and carbon storage.
Buttigieg went to Harvard the same time as Mark Zuckerberg, and he knew Zuckerberg’s roommate Chris Hughes, who co-founded Facebook. Hughes wrote a New York Times op-ed arguing that Facebook should be broken up.
Buttigieg says Hughes made a very convincing argument that the U.S. is seeing anti-competitive behavior. He believes the real problem is domination, and the FTC should be empowered to intervene. However, he notes that our current structure isn’t up to the task.
“I also want to mention that sometimes the debate over tech is lumping different things together. Certainly that the behavior of many of these tech companies as monopoly giants is a concern. There needs to be tools to deal with that, up to and including preventing or reversing mergers,” he says.
When it comes to data privacy and security, Buttigieg calls for a national data law that establishes how data is used, how companies make money off data, and what rights people have over data they share.
--Written by Amy Ta, produced by Michell Eloy