LOS ANGELES - This week on The Issue Is, Elex Michaelson welcomes two former small-town Mayors, both elected in their 20's, who now, in their 30's, have recently accepted new roles on the state and national stages.
Pete Buttigieg served as Mayor South Bend, Indiana from 2012 through 2020. After unsuccessfully seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020, Buttigieg would ultimately be appointed President Joe Biden’s Secretary of Transportation.
Michael Tubbs was elected Mayor of Stockton, California at age 26. An early proponent of a Guaranteed Income, or Universal Basic Income, Tubbs was recently appointed Special Advisor for Economic Mobility and Opportunity for California Governor Gavin Newsom.
THE ISSUE IS: PRESIDENT BIDEN’S $2.3T INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN
BACKGROUND: On March 31, President Biden unveiled his $2.3T infrastructure plan, focused on job creation and innovation, manufacturing, transportation, electric vehicles, and more. Friday, as negotiations between the White House and Congressional Republicans continue, the GOP leadership rejected the administration’s scaled-back $1.7T plan, claiming the reduced price tag is still "above the range of what can pass Congress with bipartisan support." Should the package eventually pass, what would Californians stand to gain?
BUTTIGIEG’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Californians can expect better roads and bridges, better airports, no longer having to feel like our country's airports are second rate compared to what other countries have, our rail and transit options, where we've been expected to settle for less getting people to where they need to be. You can expect a lot more jobs across the state of California and across the country… These are the kinds of benefits that we stand to gain. And maybe the biggest one of all, is we'll be able to look back on the early-2020’s and say, this is when America finally got ahead of the climate crisis and won the future in an equitable way. That's the opportunity in front of us. I truly believe it's a once in a lifetime moment on par with when they built the transcontinental railroad that opened California in so many ways to the rest of the country, or the interstate highway system at a time when it would have taken two weeks to get from California to Washington D.C. by car…. Now is another moment where we've got to envision what the future of infrastructure looks like and recognize it won't be the same as the past…"
THE ISSUE IS: RISING GAS PRICES
BACKGROUND: As of Friday, the average price of gasoline in California had risen to nearly $4.16 per gallon. That, as the national average sits just above $3.00. With more Americans hitting the roads post-pandemic, the Memorial Day weekend and summer travel season approaching, and the recent Colonial pipeline hack, what is the White House doing to bring prices back down, and could the increase lead to a further evolution in how people travel?
BUTTIGIEG’S CENTRAL TAKE: "One of the things that we need to do is make sure that Americans have options. Look, most people don't drive electric cars, so gas prices have a huge impact on most Americans. Now, that's driven by all kinds of factors, from global demand for oil to weather events, but what we know is when gas prices increase, everybody feels that economic pain… But we also have to have broader strategies as a country to have diverse sources of ways to to get around and complete this transition that we're in the middle of right now toward renewable energy…"
THE ISSUE IS: STOCKTON’S EXPERIMENT WITH GUARANTEED INCOME
BACKGROUND: In 2020, then Presidential candidate Andrew Yang popularized the idea of a Universal Basic Income. But a year earlier, in Stockton, California, then-Mayor Michael Tubbs had already begun to experiment with the concept. Funded by some $3M in private donations, Tubbs distributed $500 monthly checks to 125 qualifying Stockton residents, no questions asked.
TUBBS' CENTRAL TAKE: "Well, I think it works the way most people who understand working people and how the economy works would expect, that people didn't take the money and stop working. In fact, those we see, the guaranteed income, according to our outside independent evaluator, were two times more likely to find full time employment and two times less likely to be unemployed. We saw that people spent the money the way you and I spend money, not on drugs and alcohol and vices, but on a car, on child care, on food, on literal necessities. And we also saw sort of the positive health impacts, that people were less stressed, less anxious and more able to do the things we want people to do, to be good parents, to be good partners and to be good neighbors… No one should live in poverty and the United States of America, I think it's a national shame and a disgrace, and we're doing all we can to correct that…"
THE ISSUE IS: RESISTANCE TO RETURNING TO THE WORKPLACE
BACKGROUND: In April, the national unemployment rate rose 0.1% to 6.1%. This, despite state economies reopening around the country, some to pre-pandemic levels. Given the discrepancy, some have suggested that the continued distribution of unemployment benefits that, in some cases, exceed regular incomes, may be keeping many Americans from returning to the workforce, an idea the White House dismissed. If those criticisms hold any water though, what impact could a potential guaranteed monthly income have on the employment market?
TUBBS’ CENTRAL TAKE: "I would argue based off the data from what we saw in Stockton, that a guaranteed income does not make people not want to work, because no one can live off $500 a month? Right. And I also think that in terms of what we're seeing in particular with this crisis, that there's a bunch of factors that go into why people may not be going to work. For some, it may be the unreliability of the hours, for some it may still be concerns with health… And I would also say, and no disrespect to my friends in the small business community, but if $300 a week in unemployment insurance is enough for your employees to not go back to work, you need to raise the floor, you need to raise your wages…"
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.