Pete Buttigieg proposes vast expansion of national service programs

Pete Buttigieg proposes vast expansion of national service programs
Pete Buttigieg image via Screenshot

Democratic presidential candidate, and current South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has unveiled his plan for a vastly expanded national service program. His plan, called "A New Call to Service" would expand existing programs like the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps organizations to a network of 1 million members by 2026.

"National service can help us to form connections between very different kinds of Americans, as was my experience in the military," he said in a news release announcing the plan. "I served alongside and trusted my life to people who held totally different political views. You shouldn’t have to go to war in order to have that kind of experience, which is why I am proposing a plan to create more opportunities for national service." It would create a new service corps, including Climate Corps, Community Health Corps and Intergenerational Service Corps overseen by a new position in the White House National Security Council and Domestic Policy Council.

In an interview with The New York Times Buttigieg "noted that only a fraction of applicants to AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps are accepted every year for available positions," and thus wants to increase service opportunities in "predominantly minority communities and rural areas." He wants the new service corps to focus on "combating climate change, treating mental health and addiction, and providing caregiving for older people." College students going into these service positions allow them to defer student loan payments.

There's an argument that some of the other candidates' plans, including massive new investment on combatting climate change and in the nation's health systems might be more directly effective in solving all these problems, as would raising the minimum wage to attract more people into some of these caregiving jobs.

Vastly increasing service opportunities is not a bad idea by any means, but it doesn't really measure up in terms of ambition, scope, or likely effectiveness to the plans we're seeing from Democratic front-runners for solving the problems Buttigieg wants to address with it.

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