Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks to voters on November 26, 2019 in Denison, Iowa. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Buttigieg Confirms Status as 'Austerity Candidate' With Call for Democrats to Prioritize Reducing Deficit

"This is substantively disqualifying and politically insulting to Democrats—and any left of center person."

Julia Conley, staff writer

At a town hall in Nashua, New Hampshire Sunday, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg drew criticism from progressives and economists when he told the audience he would prioritize reducing the deficit if he wins the presidency in November.

"It's not fashionable in progressive circles to talk too much about the debt," Buttigieg said. "I think the time has come for my party to get a lot more comfortable owning this issue."

In embracing the frequent Republican talking point, Buttigieg was "not-so-subtly letting his billionaire donors know he'll cut Social Security and Medicaid," tweeted actor Rob Delaney, a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Medicare for All proponent.

Republicans frequently portray large deficits as a Democratic phenomenon and blame the party for spending too much taxpayer money on social welfare programs, but as Sahil Kapur of NBC News pointed out, the national debt has risen under Republican presidents who cut taxes for corporations and raised military spending, while it fell under the two most recent Democratic presidents. 

"It's 'not fashionable in progressive circles' because progressives are rejecting the bogus arguments about debt and deficits that have been used to undermine the progressive agenda for decades," Stephanie Kelton, an economics professor at Stony Brook University and adviser to Sanders, told NBC.

On social media, other critics accused Buttigieg of "economic illiteracy" and of attempting to "curry favor with wealthy Wall Street types."

"Concern for 'deficits' is a rightwing watchword," tweeted Adam Johnson of The Appeal. "It signals a candidate is willing to open up space for privatizing and gutting Medicare and Social Security."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Analysis Highlights Biden Proposal to End $84 Billion Gift to Big Oil Buried in Trump Tax Scam

"We can stop this insane corporate welfare and use it to pay for a renewable energy future."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·


Intent on Appeasing Manchin, US Blocks G7 Progress on Phasing Out Coal

"Once again Joe Manchin is casting a heavy shadow."

Julia Conley, staff writer ·


Calls to 'Expand the Supreme Court' Grow as McConnell Warns He's Prepared to Steal Another Seat

"Mitch McConnell is already foreshadowing that he'll steal a 3rd Supreme Court seat if he gets the chance. He's done it before, and he'll do it again."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Climate Campaigners Welcome SCOTUS Refusal to Hear Big Oil's Appeal of California Lawsuits

The justices' punting of Chevron v. Oakland means cities' historic litigation will proceed in lower courts.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


'A Race Against the Clock': Battle to Extend CDC Eviction Ban Heats Up as Crisis Looms

If the Biden administration allows the moratorium to expire "before emergency rental assistance money reaches renters, there'll be a historic wave of evictions in summer and fall," warned one advocate.

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·