Before He Dropped Out, Pete Buttigieg Reacted to the Issues Facing L.A. Here’s What He Said

How the South Bend mayor would have taken on ICE, homelessness, and more

California’s presidential primary is coming up on March 3, 2020. In advance of Super Tuesday, we asked each of the Democratic candidates currently in the race a series of questions based on issues that impact L.A. residents–and all Americans. In this edition, we got answers from South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg just days before he decided to exit the race.

Housing & Homelessness

As rents continue to rise faster than incomes, what policies will you institute on a national level that will help people from being priced out of renting in expensive markets like Southern California?

Shelter is one of the most basic human needs. Yet every day, over a half million Americans experience homelessness–a rate that has risen in recent years–and tens of millions of families worry about losing their homes. This is a crisis not just for the poor, but even for those that most Americans would consider middle income. In Los Angeles, California, a bookkeeper or school bus driver can’t afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment. The housing affordability crisis is linked to both low supply and chronically low incomes. My labor and economic policies will raise incomes for workers –but we will also take strong action to address the lack of decent, affordable housing that has created crisis conditions in cities and towns across America.

As President, I will:
● Unlock access to affordable housing for over 7 million American households, including by increasing the supply of affordable housing units by over 2 million and increasing homeownership for over 1 million low-income households.
● Press cities to reform zoning laws that limit housing development, including by restricting federal funding from cities with high rent burdens and restrictive zoning.
● Promote inclusive development and combat gentrification and displacement. People with low incomes should be able to continue living in or moving into the neighborhoods their communities have called home. I will support public-private partnerships that keep long-term residents in place, support right to first refusal legislation, study the development of a new “stabilization” housing voucher to protect at-risk families, and invest in low- and middle-income housing development. And I will pass the Community Homestead Act to support homeownership for residents of formerly redlined communities.
● Combat discrimination and predatory practices in real estate and housing finance.
● Expand housing assistance to nearly 5 million more families with children and ensure that housing assistance promotes opportunity.
● Prevent evictions and increase stability for families.

How can the federal government make homeownership possible for more people, particularly members of younger generations that are being all but shut out of the real estate market?

Homeownership is one of the primary ways that Americans have built wealth over the past 50 years, and investing in affordable homeownership can help ensure that neighborhood development lifts up residents rather than displaces them. But access to homeownership has not been equal: from the New Deal to the G.I. Bill, federal policy has directly invested in white Americans’ homeownership while intentionally excluding Black Americans and other Americans of color. As a result, the racial homeownership gap is worse today than when racial discrimination was legal.

My administration will build pathways to affordable homeownership while also ensuring that homeownership is not the only means to housing stability and building wealth. We will enable 1 million households to become first-time homebuyers by investing $4 billion in matching funds to scale successful low-income homeownership programs. Local affordable homeownership programs in cities like Los Angeles, Boston, Santa Fe, and New York have enabled thousands of low-income Americans to achieve their homeownership goals with homebuyer education, down payment assistance, and post-purchase assistance. We will provide $4 billion in matching funds to cities, states, and local organizations for the operation of affordable homeownership programs, with a priority for recipients from underserved populations, including young Americans and Americans of color, and support continued access to federal down payment assistance for both low- and moderate-income Americans. I will also support public housing residents and voucher recipients who wish to prepare for the transition to homeownership with housing counseling and financial assistance. And I will work with Congress to ensure equal access to an affordable 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for working families.

In recent months, Donald Trump has suggested that local, state, and federal governments address the homelessness crisis by “cracking down,” razing encampments, and moving homeless people into “government-backed facilities.” How would your homelessness policy differ?

Homelessness isn’t just a public policy or public health problem; it’s a moral one. Over 560,000 people experience homelessness on a given night. Many are families with children–and while most are living in shelters, some children are sleeping in tents, on sidewalks, and in vehicles tonight in America. Homelessness takes a disproportionate toll on children and people of color; Black Americans account for 40 percent of people experiencing homelessness and half of homeless families with children.

While homelessness overall has declined over the past decade, unsheltered homelessness has reached crisis conditions in America’s cities, large and small. American cities are suffering from decades of federal disinvestment in affordable housing production and preservation, as the Trump administration threatens to cut housing and homelessness assistance further.

As President, I will invest in solutions that we know work to fight to solve homelessness, and quickly end homelessness for families with children, youth, and veterans. I will fully fund housing choice vouchers for all families and direct emergency funding and assistance to bring immediate relief to heavily impacted cities and communities struggling with rising unsheltered homelessness. My administration will strengthen investments in effective federal, state, and local strategies to house every American.

My administration will invest in funding for cities to improve conditions on our streets, targeted towards those jurisdictions that recognize the moral urgency of the homelessness crisis, and are not criminalizing homelessness. We will deliver a $3 billion homelessness emergency funding package to highly impacted cities to rapidly improve conditions on our streets. When American communities are faced with crises following a natural disaster, the federal government steps up to provide emergency assistance. We will treat unsheltered homelessness like the humanitarian disaster it is, and my administration will authorize $3 billion in emergency funding for heavily-impacted cities and municipalities to launch critical programs and bring vulnerable Americans indoors. Homelessness emergency funds will provide flexible dollars and technical assistance for cities and municipalities to exercise local control over priorities, while ensuring that more shelter beds are rapidly opened, supportive services are surged, and public health programs improve the conditions on our streets. Alongside longer-term investments in housing first programs and affordable housing development, these resources will support rapid improvements in the areas where the crisis is most acute.

Health Care

Thousands of Californians who work in the insurance industry stand to lose jobs under a single-payer health care system. How would you make health care a reality for all Americans while preserving jobs?

My health care plan, Medicare for All Who Want It, gets us to universal coverage and affordable care without forcing the American people off of their health care plans. It creates an affordable public plan available to everyone, and forces private insurers to compete with the public plan on cost and quality. Unlike Medicare for All, Medicare for All Who Want It does not abolish the private health insurance industry with the flip of a switch, and therefore preserves the jobs of the thousands of Californians who work in the health insurance and health insurance-affiliated industries.

Regulating Corporations & Tech

Facebook, Twitter, and other tech companies have been accused of being complicit in the spread of misinformation. How would your administration regulate these platforms?

The spread of misinformation online is a grave concern, raising questions about the ability to distinguish between fact and fiction and threatening to undermine our democracy. My administration will vigorously tackle this challenge.

False political advertising has no place in our democracy, whether on the airwaves or online, and should be removed. As President, I will work to close the digital ad loophole, including by requiring clear disclosure of the purchaser of online political ads and any entities they are acting on behalf of. I will also work with Congress to require large digital platforms to keep a public repository of ads, which must include granular and comprehensive targeting information that go beyond what most platforms currently provide. It’s time that platforms make public information about the online advertisements that candidates and their supporters are sending, who is paying for them, and to whom they’re being sent.

In addition, my administration will engage with social media and other online platforms to advance new tools and best practices, including appropriate terms of service, for limiting the spread of hateful ideology and of targeted harassment of individuals. My administration will also push for new public-private partnerships and provide greater federal funding to develop tools that identify malicious actors and behavior online—including things like the use of falsified identities, problematic use of bots, and extremist behavior.

I will engage with international partners that are grappling with the rise of misinformation. This is a global problem, and the United States should be leading a global solution. For the past several years, the United States has sat on the sidelines, while countries like the UK, France, and others have taken the lead in proposing initiatives to address fake news and misinformation. We must increase information sharing between countries, given that patterns of interference in one election are often replicated in another. As we adopt global initiatives to tackle this problem, we will also not fail to sufficiently address the free speech considerations that are implicated.

At companies like Disney, executives take home enormous salaries while park workers report being forced to live in their cars and in motels throughout the Southland. Do you have a plan to control the CEO-to-worker pay ratio?

Yes, and it’s the same plan that worked throughout most of the 20th century: strong worker bargaining power and high effective tax rates on the rich. America’s CEO-to-worker pay ratio used to be a lot more reasonable. But then the Reagan Revolution hammered unions and cut taxes for the rich. So CEOs said “thank you very much” and suddenly did everything they could to grab higher pay which would no longer get taxed away—and that pay came directly out of the pockets of powerless workers. I will fix that. I have a concrete plan to restore worker power in America. And my tax plan doesn’t just roll back Trump’s tax cuts for the rich–it rolls back Reagan’s too.

Would you support making something similar to the 2019 California Consumer Privacy Act, which allows individuals to opt out of having their data sold, national law?

As President, I will make protecting our privacy a top priority, and hold companies accountable when they fail. I will work with Congress to pass a comprehensive federal privacy law that puts affirmative obligations on companies to limit what they do with our data, protect our information, and ensure that anyone who collects or holds our data third parties treats our data with care. My plan will go further than the CCPA and place affirmative fiduciary obligations on data collectors — similar to the obligations that doctors and lawyers have to their clients. In practice, this means that there would be reasonable limits on what companies can collect and do with our data. Companies must also take reasonable steps to keep our information secure and cannot benefit financially from our data while harming us at the same time. Pursuant to this law, companies will not be able to argue that they have no privacy responsibilities because we clicked on an “I Agree” button or because their sharing data with third parties didn’t result in specific, monetary loss. Rather, the companies’ failure to meet their affirmative obligations would violate the law. I support strong penalties for those who fail to properly protect and steward Americans’ online data.


L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti recently reiterated a policy that Los Angeles law enforcement will not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents’ attempts to apprehend undocumented individuals. What is your position on sanctuary cities and ICE’s authority?

I support Mayor Garcetti and other mayors who have taken a firm stand not to cooperate with policies that sow chaos and fear into our communities and make us all less safe by posing law enforcement as threats rather than stewards of public safety. The federal government should be assisting communities, not burdening them with their own agendas. That is why I would reinstate immigration enforcement priorities so that ICE’s authority is reigned in and focused toward actual public safety threats—human smugglers and narcotics traffickers, for example—rather than on destruction.

In your presidency, what would become of Donald Trumps border wall project?

I’m with the many security and border experts who say a multibillion-dollar wall from sea to shining sea is no answer to strengthening our national security either externally or internally. Border security that truly addresses our national needs must be a combination of technological, physical and human resources, and we must base spending on border structures based on where and how that best fits in to a holistic approach–not on presidential bombast. Further, we need to protect funds that are designated for important national security projects, including disaster relief and military training and housing, from being diverted. This subverts congressional will and will immediately end under my presidency.

Environment & Climate Change

How would you address the fires that now annually plague California?

As climate change accelerates, we are seeing wildfires in California increase by 800 percent, devastating communities. My trillion-dollar infrastructure plan includes significant investments in wildfire prevention and protection. My administration will recruit 5,000 firefighters and related experts across federal, state, tribal, and local agencies to keep communities safe, create a national expert working group to improve wildfire prevention strategies, and restore funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Wildland Fire Training program. We will also expand the U.S. Forest Service fleet of airplanes and helicopters – which has shrunk from 44 to 13 between 2002 and 2018.

I will ensure that all federal land management agencies have sufficient funds to manage and fight wildfires. This includes significantly increasing wildfire prevention funding to the Bureau of Land Management, which manages roughly 20% more land than the U.S. Forest Service yet receives nearly 80% less wildfire-related support. I am also committed to improving systems for disaster preparedness and relief, as shared in my plan for community resilience and disaster preparedness.

Hollywood & Entertainment

What is your favorite movie? 

Knives Out and Arrival are favorite movies of 2019.

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