Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg attempted to put some daylight between himself and his more left-wing opponents Friday by releasing a detailed economic plan aimed at shoring up the prospects of middle- and lower-income Americans.
The plan from the South Bend, Ind. mayor hits on hot-button issues like education and housing with promises of free or reduced tuition at public universities for people earning less than $150,000 annually, an expansion of affordable housing and child-care programs, and shoring up the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers.
We need an economy that delivers more. As president, I won't just measure success by looking at the size of the stock market or GDP—I'll look to you. Today, I'm announcing a plan to raise incomes, lower costs, and build a brighter future for all Americans. https://t.co/yEHC43el71— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) November 8, 2019
“In my mom and dad’s generation, nine out of every 10 kids did better than their parents,” Buttigieg writes in the introduction. “But for Americans of my generation, the odds are no better than a coin flip. Working family incomes have stagnated almost my entire life. Meanwhile, most of our economic growth goes to a smaller and smaller slice of the wealthiest Americans—a dangerous level of inequality that not only threatens our economic security, but also tears at the very fabric of our democracy and our society.”
Buttigieg charts a middle course with a plan to spend $500 billion to make colleges more affordable only for people in the middle- and low-income tiers, which he pegs at people who make less than $150,000 a year. Both of his more progressive opponents, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have proposed making college free for everyone.
The plan also calls for spending $700 billion on childcare programs, $430 billion on affordable housing, $170 billion for housing choice vouchers, $60 billion to encourage women- and minority-owned small businesses, and $50 billion in workforce training programs. He calls for $400 billion in tax cuts via an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit.
The programs add up to more than $2 trillion in new spending. Buttigieg says he will pay for his programs with additional taxes on the wealthy.
According to the Washington Post, Buttigieg has drafted Austan Goolsbee, a former chief economist for President Barack Obama, to advise his campaign on economic issues. “Pete is proposing plans targeted to making programs affordable for the middle class and below, not giving it free to everyone,” Goolsbee told the Post.