Business Forward conducted a Solutions 2020 briefing with Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana on Monday, May 20, 2019. This is our sixth briefing in the Solutions 2020 series.

Mayor Buttigieg focused on security, the future of trade and climate change, the importance of income tax, and technology. Business leaders shared their comments, suggestions, and questions on issues ranging from trade, income tax, and technology regulation in health care.

Freedom and Security

Mayor Buttigieg explained two major values that motivate his campaign: freedom and security. He emphasized that security is more than the physical threats taught during his time in the military, and broadens the definition to include cyber, election, and climate security.

In addition, Buttigieg empathized how his experiences empowering people to their highest values, bringing communities together during challenge, and establishing a better culture would serve as an asset when leading the country and American people.

“There’s a lot more to securing freedom than just getting rid of an overbearing government on the economic side. But also, on the social side, there’s a lot to be said for a progressive vision of protection freedom at large.”

The Future of Trade

In regards to trade, Mayor Buttigieg explained the historical importance of maintaining positive international relationships. He also discussed the necessity of accepting our current trade situation, focusing on strengthening our weaknesses as a country, and prioritizing the American people, rather trying to change other countries economic models.

“I feel like the media has stepped aside from the opportunity to point out that a tariff is a tax and it’s being paid by Americans. And the lack of the strategy right now in dealing with China in particular is coming down on the backs of American workers, American farmers, and increasingly it’s going to be American consumers.” 

Climate Change

Buttigieg expressed his concern that climate change is portrayed as a futuristic or theoretical event instead of the imminent urgent concern that it should be. He recognizes the double burden of climate change and how it unequally affects those who are already marginalized. As President, Buttigieg would call for a carbon tax and dividend strategy that would improve people’s lives in the short run while doing long-term work of realigning market forces for the benefit of the environment.

“I think we need to look at how we can make sure that it makes people better off in the short-run while it is doing its long-term work of realigning market forces for the benefit of the environment.”

Investing in Income Tax

Adam Foster, from New York, asked Mayor Buttigieg about his stance on implementing income tax and the disincentivizing effects it may have on economic growth.

Mayor Buttigieg cited research that demonstrates the minimal distortionary effects relative to income taxes. He explained that by reversing the disinvestment in infrastructure, education, and health, strong economic growth may be maintained, and even propelled.

Buttigieg believes that by balancing public sector spending and investing in the needs and services that benefit the American people, income inequality can be reduced.

“You don’t raise taxes to raise them, and you don’t cut taxes to cut them. The question is the same as when you go to buy a car. . . you ask about value for money. What kind of value are we getting for our money as a country in health care, in education, in infrastructure?”

Opportunity for Technology in Health Care

Leigh Burchell, Vice President of Government Affairs of Allscripts, briefed Mayor Buttigieg on innovation in health information technology and the challenges they have been facing following Donald Trump’s regulatory policies. She asked for Buttigieg’s stance on the matter.

Mayor Buttigieg acknowledged the potential to reduce health care inefficiencies through the use of automation and emphasized the importance of patient care and privacy. He believes it is the responsibility of the government to uphold these values and explained that prescribing an end result may be more effective than regulating what cannot be done.

“We talk a lot about the dangers of automation, but one of the places where automation can make us all a lot better off is automating away the most inefficient dimensions of the way health care is provided.”