Over the past two days during campaign stops in western Iowa, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has been focused on health care and retirement security issues.
“Now, I might seem like an unlikely character to be the retirement and Social Security guy, but I want to make sure that Social Security’s in good shape at least long enough ’til when I’m collecting it,” Buttigieg said in Denison.
Buttigieg said boosting the pay of caregivers is important, by increasing the minimum wage and ensuring home care workers can form a union. For family members who are not paid for the care they provide a loved one, Buttigieg said their Social Security benefits should be expanded. He made that point in Atlantic.
“A lot of care workers in this country aren’t considered care workers because you do it for free. You do it for free. You do it because nobody else will,” Buttigieg said. “As far as I’m concerned that’s still work…and it’s why I will see to it that carework, caregiving for a loved one counts toward Social Security when it’s your turn to retire.”
Buttigieg made the point in Denison on Tuesday as well.
“I’m talking about people in the line of caregiving who are not paid nearly enough and this is a matter of fairness, too, because of them are women and people of color, disproportionately,” Buttigieg said. “We’re also talking about caregivers right in this room who haven’t been paid a dime for it. That’s still work.”
The retirement security plan Buttigieg rolled out Monday morning includes a proposal to create a new, $90-a-day benefit for seniors to cover long-term care.
“For folks in Iowa, that would cut the average cost of care 39 percent for nursing facility services and 57 percent for assisted living services,” Buttigieg told the crowd in Atlantic.
In Denison, Buttigieg was asked by someone in the audience how he would improve access to affordable housing in rural areas. Buttigieg replied that federal policy needs to be flexible.
“Making sure that anyone looking to build a house or renovate a house knows that it’s going to pay off, knows that it’s a good bet,” Buttigieg said, “and get that right so when we finally have those jobs materializing, we know we’re going to be able to house the people.”
Buttigieg held an event at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake on Tuesday afternoon and a rally in Sioux City last night.
(By Amy Nelson, KDSN, Denison & Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic)