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

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've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Biden Continues Drilling Boom on Public Lands Despite Campaign Pledge, Analysis Shows

"The reality is that in the battle between the oil industry and Biden, the industry is winning."

Julia Conley ·


Big Oil Profits Surge to $174 Billion in 2021 Amid Rising Gas Prices: Report

"Americans looking for someone to blame for the pain they experience at the pump need look no further than the wealthy oil and gas company executives who choose to line their own pockets."

Kenny Stancil ·


Rights Groups Decry 'Farcical and Corrupt' Verdict as Myanmar's Suu Kyi Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

"There are many detainees without the profile of Aung San Suu Kyi who currently face the terrifying prospect of years behind bars simply for peacefully exercising their human rights."

Jake Johnson ·


Campaigners Warn of 'Wave After Wave of Variants' as Long as Vaccine Apartheid Remains

"Omicron is with us because we have failed to vaccinate the world. This should be a wake-up call."

Jake Johnson ·


'Utterly Obscene': Just 8 Pfizer and Moderna Investors Became $10 Billion Richer After Omicron Emerged

"Pharma execs and shareholders are making a killing from a crisis they helped to create," said one justice campaigner.

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo