SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg will unveil his proposal to dramatically expand national service programs during a town hall here on Wednesday.
The plan, which Buttigieg’s campaign is calling “A New Call to Service,” proposes creating a network of 1 million national service members by 2026.
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National service has been a recurring theme in campaign appearances by Buttigieg, who served in the Navy and was deployed in Afghanistan. In televised town halls and campaign speeches around the country, the South Bend, Ind., mayor has spoken of the connections he formed in the military with people from different backgrounds.
“National service can help us to form connections between very different kinds of Americans, as was my experience in the military,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “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.”
How would it work?
Buttigieg’s plan would immediately increase the number of available national service positions to 250,000 opportunities, up from the current 75,000. It would emphasize targeting students at high schools, community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities and vocational schools, as well as young Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 who aren’t currently working or in school.
The proposal also calls for establishing grant funding programs to designed to create “service ecosystems” focusing on local and regional issues.
Service fellows would be considered for student debt forgiveness as well as hiring preference and vocational training. The plan also calls for developing new types of service corps like a Climate Corps, a Community Health Corps, or a Intergenerational Service Corps. All of them would operate under the leadership of a newly created Chief Service Officer, who would serve on the Domestic Policy Council and the National Security Council.
The ultimate goal of the plan is to set up a pipeline for as many as 4 million high school graduates every year to do a national service program.
Who would it help?
Buttigieg argues that it would benefit all who participate by creating a sense of connections between Americans from different backgrounds. But it would also help students seeking relief from student loans or vocational training.
How much would it cost?
It’s not immediately clear from the details Buttigieg’s team is releasing.
Have other candidates proposed national service programs?
Multiple candidates including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Rep. John Delaney, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have proposed subsidizing colleges or student loan forgiveness for students who participate in national service programs.