Pete Buttigieg drew some laughter Wednesday afternoon from the crowd of about 200 people waiting for him along Keokuk’s riverfront when he blamed his late arrival on his vehicle sitting on a swing-span bridge -- waiting for a barge to pass. The laughter quickly morphed into applause and cheers as the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana focused on his plans if elected President in 2020.
“The values that bring us together and motivate us to be involved in politics are American values,” said Buttigieg. “Ideas like freedom are not conservative, but American values that also have progressive implications when we take them seriously.”
Buttigieg said when he thinks about freedom, he thinks about –
- Everyone having access to quality, affordable health care
- No one working full-time yet living in poverty
- Women making their own decisions about their own health
- People being able to marry who they want to marry
- The country preventing climate change from causing any more disasters
- The U.S. welcoming immigrants instead of building a border wall
Buttigieg also said he supports organized labor, higher teacher pay, increased investments in rural broadband and infrastructure, and common sense gun control.
After spending about five minutes running through his laundry list of key Democratic Party talking points, “Mayor Pete,” as he was referred to several times, took about a dozen questions from the audience. The first was on health care and the idea of “Medicare for All” proposed by several Democratic candidates.
“In this country, if you do not have health insurance, you are going to pay way too much for health care,” said Buttigieg in response. “And if you do have health insurance, you are going to pay way too much for health care. We need a new system.”
He said it’s not as simple, though, as flipping a switch and declaring everyone is covered. He said instead, he would support a plan similar to “Medicare for All”—who want it.
“You can decide that,” said Buttigieg. “Buy into this plan if you think it is the right one. If the old one is fine, that is not a problem for us. However, I do believe that if people like me are right, when we say these plans will be more effective and more cost-efficient then it becomes the pathway that gets you to Medicare for All because more and more people will vote with their feet.”
Buttigieg also said the U.S. must move in a direction in which mental health treatment is on par with physical health treatment, when asked about how he would handle PTSD among first responders.
“We will know we are getting somewhere when it’s just a routine to get an emotional health check-up as it is to get a physical and in our schools, you are just as liable to be able to see someone for mental health support as you do a school nurse for your physical. That’s how we know we will be getting where we need to be,” said Buttigieg.
Buttigieg told the crowd that his campaign would be providing more details on his plan for PTSD among first responders in the coming weeks. One area in which he did not provide details during his stop in Keokuk was how he would pay for all of his ideas.