Neustadter: Pete Buttigieg is a bad choice for students

Corinne Neustadter

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. 

In the weeks leading up to Colorado’s primary, the opinion desk will be going head to head on individual candidate’s policy choices. We’ll be focusing on some of the issues we think will affect student lives and whether or not we think that individual candidate’s plan has what it takes. This week, two columnists are discussing Pete Buttigieg’s policies on the environment, education and immigration. 

Ad

Environment

Pete Buttigieg’s environmental plans have three main pillars: build a clean economy, invest in resilience and demonstrate leadership. It includes introducing carbon pricing, increasing clean energy development in research and design and developing “climate-smart agriculture.”

While Buttigieg’s plan is comprehensive, working toward a “bold and achievable Green New Deal,” it doesn’t adequately address reducing carbon emissions to limit the worst effects of climate change.

Although his plan addresses becoming net-zero by 2050, it doesn’t reflect the need to cut carbon emissions nearly in half by 2030, which the United Nations has repeatedly called for. Given the current administration’s rollback of environmental protections, any plan aiming to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 could be thrown out by subsequent administrations.

While this is true of any president, it’s more pronounced in Buttigieg’s plan. The plan’s milestones for reducing climate change range between 2025 and 2050, by which point he will be out of office.

Something Buttigieg does bring to the table is utilizing the financial sector to support climate change initiatives. These financial supports include creating a national “clean energy bank” to back climate change investments, as well as creating climate change bonds to help citizens feel invested in supporting climate change.

The plan, though innovative, lacks the means to guarantee long-lasting solutions to climate change. In pushing its solutions, it doesn’t incorporate initiatives to avoid the most adverse impacts to the climate, so it’s not really beneficial for students who believe climate change is a big problem.

Overall, I believe Buttigieg’s environmental policy isn’t in the interest of students. 

Education

Buttigieg has noted his reluctance to make public college free for all. However, his plan to revamp higher education is still substantive. Buttigieg’s educational plan also comprises of three pillars: improving college affordability and completion, investing in the American workforce and strengthening college transparency. Rather than forgive the majority of student loan debt, his plan is to make public colleges more affordable for students in the first place.

Through increasing federal spending on public colleges, the plan is to make universities free for low-income students and add $120 billion to the Pell Grant program. Buttigieg’s plan would also add $50 billion to historically Black colleges and universities, minority-serving institutions and tribal colleges and universities over the next decade, helping to increase educational equity.

However, the plan doesn’t make any noted improvements in student debt. Although it would restore Obama-era predatory loan protections rolled back by Betsy DeVos, it doesn’t help college students who have already taken out thousands in loans.

Ad

Mayor Pete at a glance 

  • Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. 
  • He’s the youngest candidate for president at 38 years old
  • He’s the only candidate who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

One of the few plans Buttigieg has for canceling student loan debt is forgiving “borrowers who attended unaffordable for-profit programs.” The plan also institutes a public service repayment that forgives student debt after a public servant has worked for 10 years.

While the plan takes a proactive approach to preventing the further accumulation of student debt, it doesn’t adequately address the debt students already hold.

Overall, I believe Buttigieg’s plan is not ideal for students, present and future. 

Immigration

Mayor Pete’s immigration plan is comprised of four components: promoting belonging and democracy; modernizing our immigration system; protecting the border and those who arrive there; and engaging with the global community.

Buttigieg’s plan includes restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and creating a path to citizenship. Depending on the Supreme Court’s decision, however, restoring DACA may not be feasible in 2021.

The plan includes establishing a national office for immigrants and modernizing the visa system to reflect the increasing demand for jobs in America. Buttigieg also plans to reduce barriers to working legally in America, a benefit for those wanting to remain in the U.S.

Buttigieg also plans to reform the immigration law enforcement system and improve immigrant protections. Noted points in his plan are ending the billion-dollar private prison industry and ending family separation.

The plan includes a fundamental change in how the immigration system is set up and establishes funds for immigrant law caseworkers to offset the burden of hiring legal defense for immigrants upon arrival. It includes provisions for the establishment of an independent judicial system — adding a court of appeals — to grant immigrants due process.

Buttigieg’s plan seeks to reestablish a system that recognizes the humanity of immigrants — changing its fundamental nature. It includes necessary provisions to support immigrants throughout their experience in America.

Overall, Buttigieg’s immigration plan would prove to be very beneficial for the student community as a whole.

Corinne Neustadter can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @corinnen14.