Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg Has a $1 Trillion Plan to Drive Up Housing, College, and Labor Costs

Dramatic increases in federal spending will not “unlock access” for the poor. It will only help those with the right connections.


South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been unrolling more and more policy proposals as his polling numbers rise in Iowa, putting him in the same tier as Democratic presidential front-runners Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.).

On Friday, Buttigieg revealed "An Economic Agenda for American Families: Empowering Working and Middle Class Americans to Thrive," his expensive proposal to push for even greater amounts of federal spending and regulation in housing, child care, college, and the workplace.

This is hardly a surprise from a Democratic candidate, even a self-styled moderate like Buttigieg. He says in the proposal's introduction that he "doesn't mean government taking over the economy." But he nevertheless argues that government is supposed to have a "vigorous presence" in our economy to make sure it "actually works for all."

And by "vigorous," we're talking about $1 trillion in new federal spending in housing and child care over a decade, not unlike Warren's own proposals. Buttigieg wants to spend $430 billion dollars in federal funds to "unlock access to affordable housing" for more than seven million families. He wants to do so by using various federal grant funds to send more money to local governments to fund housing programs.

While that's better than having the federal government directly decide what gets built, what he's really doing is increasing spending on existing programs and propagating the perpetual political obsession with homeownership as the ultimate goal of housing policy. And he's talking about sending more money to programs like the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), a program that has been plagued by local officials directing money away from projects and programs to help the poor to those that help their friends, or even themselves. More CDBG grant funding gets spent on local government projects than on housing.

As always, government involvement in housing development turns it into a big gravy train that rewards those who are connected and have the ears of local officials. Often times, government-mandated affordable housing is anything but, thanks to the competing demands and interests of both government officials and those who lobby them for a piece of that funding. Consider, for example, prevailing wage regulations that affect both federal and sometimes local construction costs, setting an artificial floor on construction costs typically based on what local unionized workers make. Prevailing wage laws are an example of the government putting the thumb on the scales in favor of connected union officials. Since California mandates that low-income housing developers pay laborers the "prevailing wage," this inevitably jacks up the cost of such housing. The result: housing shortages.

Buttigieg's housing plan is not all horrible, at least on paper. He appears to be keenly aware that zoning laws contribute to housing shortages, particularly in big cities, and says that he wants to "work with states and cities to reform zoning laws to make it easier to build housing for working and middle-class families." That's a nice sentiment that unfortunately has little to do with the role of the president.

Buttigieg wants to spend a cool $700 billion in federal funds on pre-kindergarten and after-school programs, justifying it as a tool to allow parents to "participate as fully in the labor market as they choose." His campaign says he'll be going after the typical Democratic whipping boy—the capital gains tax rate—to try to raise the money for this spending.

For college costs, Buttigieg wants to spend another $500 billion to make public college tuition free for families who earn less than $100,000 a year. Buttigieg notes that college price tags have tripled in the past three decades but completely fails to note how much of it is a result of dramatic increases in administrative costs and non-faculty staffing. And the subsidies that the feds have been providing to colleges have a very clear connection to colleges raising tuition rates. Buttigieg's proposal flippantly deals with this clear economics 101 problem with a simple, "To keep tuition costs in check, in exchange for receiving federal dollars states will guarantee to invest in their public higher education systems and constrain tuition increases." That doesn't actually mean anything other than a vague suggestion that colleges will have to justify tuition increases through whatever boilerplate language they've been using all along.

And to be clear, there will be increases, and not just because of the federal subsidies here. A good chunk of Buttigieg's proposal also talks about raising incomes, expanding tax credits, passing a $15 minimum wage, giving every American 12 weeks of comprehensive paid family and medical leave, and increasing wages for teachers. He says he wants to double union membership across the United States and end "right-to-work" laws.

All of these labor promises, if they ever went into effect nationwide, would drive up the costs of everything that Buttigieg says he wants to make "more accessible" to more Americans. In California, for instance, government labor demands (and lawsuits against developers that resist) have driven up housing costs. When President Barack Obama proposed free community college to students back in 2015, the price tag of the cost jumped from $60 to $90 billion just during the process of drafting a bill. It also included a whole host of institutional reforms to "improve student outcomes," by which the Obama administration meant more spending on student support services outside the lecture hall. This fundamentally meant creating even more non-faculty college positions, thereby driving up, not down, the price of college.

This isn't a policy paper. It's a fantasy wish list with no relationship to reality.

NEXT: Mark Sanford Extinguishes Lifeless Presidential Campaign

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  1. “This is hardly a surprise from a Democratic candidate, even a self-styled moderate like Buttigieg.”

    ‘self styled’ indeed.
    There is no such thing as a moderate democrat.
    They all want to eliminate individual freedoms, and control every action a person can take. They want to define the language. They want to tell corporations what to produce, where to produce it, where to sell it, and what price to set on it.
    For a quick summary, look up fascism.

    1. “Moderate” is relative, so there can be moderate anything. Unless your claim is that all democrats hold the same positions on everything with no variations.

    2. So who writes “the libertarian case for Joe Biden” ? My money’s on McSuderman

      1. I’m waiting for the eventual ‘the libertarian case for communism’.

      2. Help us Obi-Wan Ka-Joe-B., you’re our only hope.

  2. Funny how the supposed Party of diversity only has a few White people that are in the finals to be the Presidential candidate for the Democrat Party.


    1. Warren is only 1023/1024th white, thank you.

    2. It’s the white man’s burden.

    3. Ya it is entertaining that the party of identity politics to the extreme has 3 super rich old white people, and another guy (who gets his cred for being gay, but otherwise, straight up white dude)

      The black girl got a hand-out bump in polls when she cited black girl stuff in debates with her woke neck snapping, and then dropped back down to the bottom. Other than that, the diversity at the top looks pretty much like last time around (Sanders, Clinton, Omalley?)

      1. who gets his cred for being gay, but otherwise, straight up white dude

        Cory Booker?

        1. Cory Booker is extremely heterosexual, in a very heterosexual way. He has a famous actress girlfriend and everything. His interest in men’s anatomy is also very heterosexual according to his beard famous actress girlfriend, Rosario Dawson.
          Did we mention he has a famous actress girlfriend who he likes in a heterosexual manner?

    4. Like Red Velvet cake, white on the outside, thoroughly red underneath.

  3. not gonna be president anyway …

    1. He probably wouldn’t win the Presidency, but among Warren, Biden and Sanders… Buttigieg might be the nominee.

      1. can’t imagine the (D) machine will let a novice drive the car.

        1. Depends how well Bernie is doing. I think they will do just about anything to prevent Bernie actually getting a hold of the reigns.

          1. What is with the overlap of libertarians and socialists? Are you in Russia right now? Just tell me if you’re in Russia. I need things to make sense.

            1. Are you in Russia right now? Just tell me if you’re in Russia.

              You seem to have no idea how pathetic this sounds.

            2. Can’t speak for DOL but left libertarianism is actually a thing. A very lonely thing because of opposition to major portions of all three (R) (D) and (L) platforms (because the Libertarian Party, and Reason for the matter, are right-libertarian). I oppose substantial aspects of what modern progressives support, but less than I oppose of any other party, so Sanders would be my top choice as well. Would choose the (L) candidate over a ‘moderate’ (D) like Biden, but would never vote (R) due to my top issue being civil rights and the Republicans’ absolutely appalling positions there.

              Reason commenters have shifted to the extreme most end of right libertarian, and lots are flat out right authoritarian and don’t even qualify for the libertarian side of the spectrum. The writers have not. Hence the whining.

              1. I think you are largely right, but quite honestly I think what you describe as “left-libertarianism” is what I understood mainstream libertarianism to be, not that long ago. I really do blame Ron Paul for this, he seemed to create the impression that a libertarian was really nothing more than a standard-issue Republican, plus a few nutty ideas.

                1. Ron Paul was pretty much a straight line libertarian (as in taxes are theft, bring home the troops, smoke what you want), except for being pro-life.

                  1. re pro-life: he was libertarian there as well. Along the lines of “this is what I believe, and I’ll do my best to convince you, but ultimately it’s your decision”

              2. “left libertarianism is actually a thing”
                Your confusing libertines with libertarians. Outside of sexuality the left hate libertarianism. Your doctrine is solely about control and death.

              3. not many right wing libertarians at Reason.

              4. You’re terribly misinformed if you think the R position on civil rights is “appalling”.
                It was the D’s who fought, tooth and nail, against real civil rights legislation and the R’s who carried it through.
                What is called “civil rights” has become preferences being granted, based on race, and, yes, the Rs are against that, but that position is very consistent with equal treatment, which is what civil rights legislation was supposed to be all about.

          2. thems would be reins

        2. Unlike a community organizer from Chicago….

          1. O was the machine. Mayor Pete is a piker

            1. Yeah, if they wanted Pete to be driving, they would have set him up with a senate seat like Obama.

              1. Pete will NOT be the nominee because only white progs will vote for a gay candidate

            2. Is Pete a piker pertaining to pickled peckers?

          2. Obama sure did a lot for Chicago. After eight years of his policies, Chicago is clean, safe, and has a terrific economy.

        3. They let Obama, and he was a froshie.
          Their only concern with Buttgig is he will get zero votes from Blacks and Hispanics who will just stay at home.

        4. the real story is that the mayor of a small Indiana town is the Dems’ most impressive candidate.

  4. And the subsidies that the feds have been providing to colleges have a very clear connection to colleges raising tuition rates.

    We’ll just have to provide federal grants to make up the difference.

    1. Eventually the two lines will meet.

      1. Hey BUCS! How ya doin

        1. Pedo Jeffy! How the heck are you?

  5. That’s a nice sentiment that unfortunately has little to do with the role of the president.

    Just like a spending proposal “to push for even greater amounts of federal spending and regulation in housing, child care, college, and the workplace”?

  6. Water wet, sky blue, Democrat stupid.

  7. It’s kind of boring to talk about these proposals. They are all the same. A more fascinating question to the candidates would be, “what area(s) of society, if any, do you believe to be off-limits for the state? What should never be regulated by the state?”

    1. Another question: “When it occurs during your administration, how will you handle the Yellowstone Supervolcano Eruption?”

      1. Corks
        Lots and lots of corks
        Of various sizes

      2. I would think Mayor Buttgag has some experience handling hot eruptions.

        1. …and soaking corks.

          1. Colonel Angus

    2. Will you pledge to declassify all UFO files?

      1. During campaign: Sure.

        After inauguration: There are no UFO files.

      2. “declassify all UFO files”

        Imagine the disappointment when they find out it was all black project aircraft.

  8. Don’t forget the green cookie on St. Patrick’s Day!

  9. Pete Buttigieg Has a $1 Trillion Plan to Drive Up Housing, College, and Labor Costs

    Only $1T? Hey Bernie, check out the amateur!

    /Elizabeth Warren

    1. Liz doesn’t have the courage either. As long as one believes these massive redistribution schemes are moral, one might as well just advocate for all medical care, educational cost, housing, transportation, food, entertainment, and sex be free for everyone, damn the deficit.

      1. Liz doesn’t want these things to happen. She just wants power.

        Hillary 2.0.

        1. I think you have her confused with Harris.

    2. Only $1T?

      That is what makes him a “moderate”.

  10. They just can’t resist the urge to crush a booming economy like a fat lady sitting on a hat.

    1. How else can you highlight the failure that is capitalism?

    2. Didn’t they just pass a law to prohibit that sort of thing?

  11. “unlock access to affordable housing” … “participate as fully in the labor market as they choose” … “constrain tuition increases.”

    Wouldn’t it be more appealing to his potential voters to say “more free stuff”?

    1. Let me tell you the name of the game boy. We call it riding the gravy train.

  12. Sigh….some quick math. 430B/30MM = 14,333 for housing p/p and 56K for a family of 4. Shit, can’t we just cut a check for 12K and call it even? Where is Andy Yang when you need him….

    Now this was the funny part. When I read the title, my first thought was: Is that ALL? Just 1T? Really? He sounds downright reasonable compared to Crazy Bernie, Heels Up Harris, America’s Mother-In-Law, and Sleepy Joe.

  13. He’s a gay 5.

    1. Does the gay inflate or deflate that number?

      1. Depends if they blow or suck.

  14. There are only three fundamental human needs. Loose shoes, tight pussy, and a warm place to shit. When the Democrats begin to address these issues I’ll start taking them seriously.

    1. And if you ask for / let the government provide it, you end up with warm shoes, loose pussy and a tight place to shit.

    2. “tight pussy”

      “Never touch the stuff – regards, P. Buttgieg”

  15. It seems to me, at least, that the way to move up in the rankings in the race for the democrat nominee for president of the US is to propose ever higher priced social benefit packages, Now of coarse it will be the only rich that pay for the packages. So now it depends on just where rich starts. To pay for the proposals that these democrat nominee candidate have put forth will cost a very high tax increase on the rich which will be those who are not on some government unearned entitlement. So anybody that is working and earning a salary will have a tax increase. But there will be fewer people working because these increases will drive capital away form those who provide employments. It will also drive those who create wealth out of the country.

  16. If the choice is 4 more years of Trump or a Dem, Mayor Pete would be my preference.

    Otherwise, GOP, let a REAL Republican challenge the Apricot Moron.

    1. “…Apricot Moron.”

      Why do lefty ‘tards spend time inventing names with which to embarrass themselves?
      Or are they such ‘tards, they are incapable of embarrassment?

    2. If the choice is 4 more years of Trump or a Dem

      Fortunately no one is constrained to endorse either one of those two options.

    3. Read that as “Apricot Mormon”, agreed it was about time someone challenged Romney’s clout chasing and fame whoring.
      Disappointed when I realized it’s just more TDS.

  17. “…giving every American 12 weeks of comprehensive paid family and medical leave…”

    I’ve been retired for 13 years. Do I still get paid for 12 weeks, or is this plan prejudiced against those of us who no longer work? Does Buttigieg clandestinely support ageism? Is he all “Hey, Boomer”?

  18. $1 trillion? Cheapskate! AOC has a $93 trillion dollar program to stop global warming. Now that is real tax money! (sarc)

  19. “Economy that works for all” = “when you and I engage in a private transaction, Buttigieg has people with guns show up to take a cut for his voters”.

    I wonder why these people don’t apply this to other domains of life. Straight men might start claiming “Between you and me, we have one vagina; I demand equal access. It’s only fair!”

    1. That’s a serious point. If the ‘sandbox argument’ is correct and you can’t own anything unless you built it in isolation, then none of us could own our own bodies.

      And if someone countered that ‘men don’t need sex,’ wouldn’t it be equally fair to make a list of things that women don’t literally need and adjust state spending accordingly?

  20. Sounds pretty status quo to me. In other words-throw a shit pile of $ out to the rent seekers who will “solve” the problems while enriching themselves.

  21. I doubt the perfect candidate will come along before November and for right now Pete Buttigieg is looking pretty good. He is left of center but closer to the center than most any other candidate Democrat or Republican. Yes he has proposed spending but I rather spend it on people than building a wall or financing a new Trump golf course. I am willing to give the kid a chance and if he fails we can boot him in 4 years.

    1. Who, other than you and your prog friends, will vote for him? His gayness is not going to turn out black and Hispanic voters who are still freaked out about it. And although South Bend is in a red state, it’s a college town, and very much left of center in its views, so he is not going to win Indiana or other midwestern states that went for Trump.

      1. Well Indiana is not really considered a swing state so its unlikely any Democrat will win the state. Hopefully you are wrong about Black and Hispanic voters. It is worth remembering that there are many young Black and young Hispanic voters who are more open minded about sexual orientation.

      2. …who are still freaked out about it?
        More like…who haven’t been fooled by the propaganda that it is NOT a mental illness.
        And that includes a lot of white people, too.

  22. What is a never Trump, never Warren, never Sanders voter to do? Support Buttigieg, hope he wins the nomination, then enjoy the spectacle of his vastly superior intelligence alongside President Trump’s. Then hope that intelligence truly recognizes the purpose of government is freedom.

  23. “The purpose of government is freedom…”

    HahahahahAha! Not in a million years pal! For a democrat, not in a billion years

  24. Like Warren’s spending plans, heck all their spending plans, if this is what they are willing to admit to the real number is two to four times the amount and it won’t accomplish a fraction what it claims.

    Good thing the country isn’t $21 trillion in debt.

    1. Or if they claim another country like Mexico will pay for the project.

  25. I’m worried that the Dems’ latest idea, to tax unrealized capital gains every year, is catching on as way to sock it to the “one percent” and fund some of the free stuff for future Democrat professors, lawyers and urban planners. So you have a 20% gain on Dec 31st, then you pay up on April 15th, then stocks fall 30% the next year and you can only write off 3,000 dollars a year still? This sounds like AMT all over again.

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