News·4 min read

Pete Buttigieg's pitch for 2020

May 16, 2019

Editor's note: This article was updated on Feb 12, 2020.

The Who

Pete Buttigieg (it’s boot-edge-edge) knows his name is hard to pronounce. He’s running for president in 2020 anyway.

The Resume

He’s the millennial, Harvard grad, Rhodes Scholar, veteran of Afghanistan, and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana who’s got a ‘DC or bust’ sticker on the back of his car. He’d also be the first openly gay president. Last year, he started out as a little-known candidate with a packed resume. Now he's one of the leading names in the Democratic race.

The Elephant in the Room

He’s never held a federal-level government position...and if president, he would head up the biggest employer in the country (hint: the federal government). He’s also not doing so great with black voters, who are a powerful part of the Democratic Party. And then there’s the heat he’s gotten for his work at consulting firm McKinsey. Progressives criticize McKinsey’s ties to large corporations, which some of Buttigieg’s rivals have distanced themselves from.

The Priorities

Democratic reforms. As in, he wants to get rid of the Electoral College. And to “depoliticize” the Supreme Court by adding more justices. He has a few other ideas to strengthen Democratic institutions and increase political engagement: like ending gerrymandering, making DC a state, and giving Puerto Rico the option to become a state if it wants. He also wants to focus on other priorities like tackling climate change.

The 2020 Policies

On abortion...he says the government shouldn’t interfere in a woman’s right to choose. And that as president, he would make sure any Supreme Court appointments respect that. He also wouldn’t pursue policies against Planned Parenthood.

On climate change...he'd go all in on a carbon tax, “quadrupling” (yes, really) the budget for renewable energy R&D, and re-committing the US to the Paris climate deal.

On the economy…he’s planning to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and wants to expand job training programs and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – which gives a tax break to lower-income workers and families.

On education…he feels you. Buttigieg and his husband Chasten have six-figure debt from Chasten going to grad school. He wants to expand access to Pell Grants, a federal program that helps low-income students pay for college. He also wants to make it easier to refinance high-interest loans and create more debt forgiveness programs.

On guns…yes to universal background checks. And making it harder for domestic abusers to get a firearm.

On health care…he would enact Medicare for All Who Want It...exactly what it sounds like.

On immigration…he supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and decriminalizing some illegal border crossings. He’d focus deportations on criminals and national security threats. He also plans to invest in security tech at the US-Mexico border and to restructure ICE, the government agency that oversees deportations. And he’d peg employment-based visas to things like "labor market needs" instead of individual company needs.

On national security…he served in Afghanistan and is in favor of pulling all US troops from there. He says he won't exchange "love letters" with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, but that his administration would try to help North Korea become part of the international community. And he would rejoin the Iran nuclear deal.

On social justice…he supports the Equality Act. He’d also legalize marijuana and says the US needs to erase previous marijuana convictions. 


Buttigieg is the youngest candidate in the race – and is positioning himself as a president who would have a stake in the long-term effects of US policy because he’ll still be alive and kickin’ in a few decades.

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