Pete Buttigieg on Government Reform

Democratic Presidential Challenger; IN Mayor


As mayor: ask how USDOT worked rather than make demands

Beth Osborne, a top USDOT official during the Obama administration, remembered Buttigieg "set the agency on fire" when he visited the office as mayor. What set Buttigieg apart, she said, is that he spent his time asking agency employees questions about how the department worked, rather than making demands about what he wanted them to do for him.
Source: Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Biden Cabinet , Dec 26, 2020

21st century voting rights: core of Frederick Douglass plan

When I was born, there was no difference in your life expectancy, if you were born in a rural area or a city. Now the gap is the biggest it has been in a generation, and that is particularly affecting black rural families.

We're seeing hospital closures right and left. And we're seeing them, in particular, in states where Medicaid was not expanded, something that is hurting black and poor white families and is largely the result of racial voters suppression.

See, all of these things are connected, housing, wages, the ability to get anything done on criminal justice reform. All of these things are going to be harder to deal with as long as black voices are systematically excluded from political participation, which is happening on everything from the purging of voter rolls to the closing of voting locations. And that harms everyone.

It's why in my Frederick Douglass plan for comprehensively dealing with these issues, part of the core of it is a 21st Century Voting Rights Act.

Source: 10th Democratic Primary debate on eve of S.C. primary , Feb 25, 2020

End political battlefield of Supreme Court nominations

What I've called for is not only reforming the number of justices on the bench, but structural reform so that some of the justices are not appointed through a partisan process. We cannot allow the Supreme Court to continue to become one more political battlefield as we are seeing today. Also remember that the founders gave us the power to amend the Constitution for a reason and we shouldn't be afraid to use it.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

Same-day voter registration, and fight voter suppression

Mayor Pete Buttigieg: With the White House in the right hands, we can make Election Day a federal holiday. We can use carrots and sticks to induce states to do the right thing with automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, making it easier for people to vote and, in particular, recognizing that we cannot allow the kind of racially motivated or partisan voter suppression or gerrymandering that often dictates the outcome of elections before the voting even begins.

Senator Amy Klobuchar: I agree with what the mayor has said, but this is a good example where he has said the right words, but I have the experience. I think this kind of experience matters. I think having that experience, knowing how you can get things done, leading the bills to take the social media companies to task, to say where these ads come from and how they're paid for, and stop the unbelievable practice where we still have 11 states that don't have backup paper ballots.

Source: November Democratic primary debate in Atlanta , Nov 20, 2019

Expand but depoliticize Supreme Court

Q: What about adding new Supreme Court seats to create a liberal majority and protect things like abortion rights?

V.P. Joe BIDEN: I would not pack the Court. What I would do is make sure that the people that I recommended for the Court, from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Elena Kagan support the right of privacy on which the entire notion of a woman's right to choose is based.

BUTTIGIEG: I'm not talking about packing the Court just with people who agree with me. What I'm talking about is will depoliticize the Court. I'm not wedded to a particular solution but I am committed to establishing a commission on day one that will propose reforms to depoliticize the Supreme Court because we can't go on like this.

Mayor Julian CASTRO: I wouldn't pack the Court. The smarter move might be to look at term limits or having people cycle off from the appellate courts. So that you would have a replenishment of perspective.

Source: October Democratic CNN/NYTimes Primary debate , Oct 15, 2019

Constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United

It's going to require Democratic reform so that dollars can't outvote people. If the only way that we can establish as a matter of American Constitutional law that a corporation is different than a person and that spending money to influence an election is different than speech, the only way we can clear that up is with a Constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United, than that's what we're going to have to do.
Source: Climate Crisis Town Hall (CNN 2019 Democratic primary) , Sep 4, 2019

We need structural reform; we can reform our democracy

When I propose actual structural democratic reforms that might make a difference--end the Electoral College, clear up Citizens United, have D.C. actually be a state, depoliticize the Supreme Court--people look at me funny. Does anybody really think we're going to overtake Citizens United without constitutional action? This is a country that once changed its Constitution so you couldn't drink and then changed it back because we changed our minds about that.
Source: July Democratic Primary debate (first night in Detroit) , Jul 30, 2019

Amendments among "most elegant features" of Constitution

The mayor supports a constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty and intends to expand the Supreme Court and eradicate the Electoral College. "I don't know where we got the idea that it's impossible to do these things," he said. "This is a country that changed the Constitution so you couldn't buy a drink and then changed its mind and changed it back. Are you really telling me that we are incapable of using one of the most elegant features of our constitutional system?"
Source: NPR Morning Edition: Election 2020 Special Series , Jul 11, 2019

Provide new opportunities for voluntary public service

Buttigieg is proposing a massive expansion of national service programs, to build a network of 1 million members by 2026. He would quadruple the number of service opportunities to a million high school graduates, establishing new service corps, including a Climate Corps, Community Health Corps and Intergenerational Service Corps, all of which would be overseen by a new chief service officer who would be part of the White House National Security Council and Domestic Policy Council.
Source: Reuters coverage of 2020 Democratic primary , Jul 3, 2019

Prosecution for obstruction shouldn't be president's call

Q: You said that if you are elected, that you would consider pursuing obstruction of justice charges.

Buttigieg: It's not up to the President to pursue charges. I think that there may have been illegal behavior [by Trump] and prosecutors should look at that. The last place you look for guidance on how to conduct a prosecution is the Oval Office. The less law enforcement has to do with politics the better. There should be a Department of Justice that can think for itself. There is tons of evidence that would point to an obstruction investigation. I'm just saying it shouldn't be ordered up by the President.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2019 interview , Jun 16, 2019

Offer of foreign electoral help should lead to call to FBI

Q: Trump's remarkable comment saying that he would theoretically be willing to accept help from foreign governments in the 2020 election, wouldn't necessarily go to the FBI. Your response?

Buttigieg: It is both unbelievable and all too believable. It is morally wrong, legally wrong, politically wrong. You don't accept help from foreign governments, especially at a moment when America is reeling from the fact that our democracy was successfully attacked and interfered with in the last election by a hostile foreign power. If you get an offer of material help from a foreign government, you call the FBI. This shouldn't be difficult. This shouldn't be complicated.

Source: CNN State of the Union 2019 interview , Jun 16, 2019

Change the way Supreme Court nominees are picked

"The reform of not just expanding the number of members but doing it in a way where some of them are selected on a consensus, nonpartisan basis, it's a very promising way to do it," Buttigieg said. "There may be others. But the point is, we've got to get out of where we are now, where any time there is an opening, there is an apocalyptic, ideological firefight. It harms the court, it harms the country and it leads to outcomes like we have right now."
Source: NBC Meet the Press 2019 interviews of presidential hopefuls , Jun 3, 2019

Citizens United was a disaster for our democracy

Buttigieg says the Citizens United Supreme Court case that opened the doors for corporations, nonprofits and unions to contribute to campaigns should be overturned.

He says dollars have begun to out weigh people. He personally has returned money from Washington lobbyists and has sworn off taking money from the fossil fuel industry or certain political action committees. "Citizens United was a disaster for our democracy," he told CSPAN2.

Source: Indianapolis Star on 2020 presidential hopefuls , May 6, 2019

Abolish Electoral College; it makes society less democratic

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is backing an amendment to "abolish the Electoral College" introduced by Senator Brian Schatz, while Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Bernie Sanders have signaled their willingness to address the Electoral College's anti-democratic impact, as have former representative Beto O'Rourke and former housing secretary Juli n Castro. Possible presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, says: "The Electoral College needs to go, because it's made our society less and less democratic." Buttigieg sees that move as part of a democracy agenda that includes ending gerrymandering, extending voting rights, and, probably, amending the Constitution to reverse the damage done by the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision. (Sanders has already proposed amendments to overturn Citizens United, which he decries as "one of the most disastrous decisions in [the Court's] history.")
Source: The Nation, "Electoral College," on 2020 Democratic primary , Apr 22, 2019

Need to depoliticize Supreme Court

We need some kind of structural reform that makes the court less political. We can't go on where every time there's a vacancy, there's this apocalyptic ideological battle. One idea that I think is interesting is, you have 15 members, but only ten of them are appointed in the political fashion. Five of them can only be seated by unanimous agreement of the other ten. There are other ideas that have been floated too about term limits or about rotating justices up from the appellate bench.
Source: Fox News Sunday 2019 interviews for 2020 Democratic primary , Mar 19, 2019

Make Supreme Court appointments less partisan

What we need to do is stop every vacancy from becoming this apocalyptic ideological battle. The proposal I've mentioned does expand the court to 15 but changes the structure. Only 10 of them are politically appointed by Democratic or Republican presidents. The other five can only be seated by unanimous consent of the remaining 10. Whichever particular mechanism is best, the point is we need to begin the debate on what it will take to make sure our Supreme Court is less political.
Source: CNN Town Hall: back-to-back 2020 presidential hopefuls , Mar 10, 2019

Open to expanding judiciary in reaction to GOP actions

Buttigieg was asked whether he would be open to adding four seats to the nation's highest court and expanding the size of lower courts to combat the Republican Party's recent success in assembling a right-wing judiciary branch. Buttigieg said it was unwise to dismiss the proposal, which he called "no more a shattering of norms than what's already been done to get the judiciary to where it is today."

"Very bold, very ambitious ideas need a hearing right now," the mayor added.

Source: Common Dreams e-zine on 2020 Democratic primary , Feb 20, 2019

Get rid of the Electoral College

Buttigieg said, "We can't nibble around the edges of a system that no longer works." [One reporter] asked, "What is your idea that is so big that nobody would mistake it for nibbling around the edges?" Buttigieg answered, " Well, first of all, we've got to repair our democracy. The Electoral College needs to go, because it's made our society less and less democratic." He went on in this vein, suggesting that electoral reform was essential.
Source: The New Yorker on 2020 Democratic primary , Feb 9, 2019

Created plan to ensure diversity in city government jobs

The city released a "Diversity and Inclusion Plan" that says too few women and minorities are employed as administrators and technicians and too few are police officers and firefighters. The plan seeks to promote diversity in three areas of city government: workplace, workforce and community. "The focus areas include making sure we are driving quantity and quality of applicants for positions in the city; making sure that career development and promotion is based on performance," Buttigieg said.
Source: South Bend Tribune on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Jul 9, 2016

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Page last updated: Sep 01, 2021