By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS - South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg appeared on MSNBC’s Meet The Press Daily Wednesday. 

Host Chuck Todd asked him about President Trump’s vow against “socialism” during his State of the Union address, Buttigieg responded, “Socialists in this context has become more of a name for name calling than an actual concept. Generations view this differently and for my generation, that remark is incredibly out of touch. I understand for an older generation living through the Cold War, when socialism was associated with communism and communism was associated with totalitarianism, calling something socialism could be a killswitch and shut down any debate with any idea that would have merit. I think my generation just wants to know if an idea is good and asserting that something is socialist, which is something they did even for basic conservative market-oriented ideas like Obamacare. That spell cannot be cast on our generation because we don’t live in a time when you have capitalism and democracy on one side and socialism and communism on the other. My generation is just grappling with the ways where capitalism and democracy are coming into tension with each other.”

Todd asked, “Is capitalism broken?”

Buttigieg answered, “I come from the industrial Midwest. I’m from a city that has experienced horrible blows from what happened from the economic change over recent decades but also is finding its way to a different future. What we’ve learned is the system is not working. To put it another way, if the system were working for everybody, we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be in a situation economically where we have the income inquality that we have today and frankly we wouldn’t be in a situation politically where the current president could get elected. Clearly something is broke. Something is broke in our economy, and something is broken in our democracy and we have to shore both of those up. Not by nibbling around the edges, not by looking in the past, but finding arrangements that will serve people well in our every day lives.”

Todd asked how a mayor of a city of 100,000 people with a budget of $380 million and 1,000 employees can make the jump to running a country with a $4.4 trillion budget and several million employees? 

“There is no way to have less experience than this president,” Buttigieg resoponded. “I would also say that the experience of a mayor of frankly any sized city in America is highly relevant to executive leadership. You know those numbers you just cited, hundreds of millions of dollars every year I have to oversee, over a thousand employees, obviously it’s a leap to the federal government. It’s also considerably larger than the number of employees or the budget of a Senate office. You could be a very senior senator and never managed as many people as a mayor or a relatively small community. When it comes to executive leadership, I have not only more government service than the president, but I have more years of executive experience than the vice president, and more war time military experience than anybody to walk into the Oval Office on the first day of the job since George H.W. Bush. Everybody is coming into this office with a different level of experience. Look, there’s something a little audacious, a little obscene of any mortal thinking they belong in that office. People have risen to the office time and time again.”

Buttigieg heads to Iowa; book coming

Buttigieg is heading to Iowa this week to continue his exploration of a Democratic presidential candidacy. On Friday, he will conduct a meet and greet at the Cafe Diem in Ames, another at Iowa State University, a third at the Drake Community Library in Grinnell and, at 6:15 p.m., another at Ankeny. On Saturday, he will head to Johnston for a 10:30 a.m. house party hosted by the Syroka family. Buttigieg’s book, “Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future” will go on sale nationwide Feb. 12.

A week of ‘extremes’ for Buttigieg

Mayor Buttigieg described his week of “extremes” in an email to supporters, detailing his presidential exploratory kickoff, the death of his father, and the brutal weather that descended on his city. He said he was “amazed by the immediate, positive response” to his decision to seek the presidency. “These are not ordinary times, and the truth is that there’s audacity in anyone who believes they could belong in the Oval Office, yet everyone to hold the office has been a human being,” Buttigieg said. “No one has superpowers in the real world. What matters is your ideas, your experience and what you bring to the table. And what I have to offer is not like the others.” After addressing the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, he rushed back to South Bend. “I cut my trip short and headed home that night because my father was in the hospital and losing his battle with cancer,” the Democratic mayor said. A “few days earlier we had been celebrating my birthday with him and Mom at their house. Now he was in intensive care. It was time to get back to Dad. When I got to Dad’s bedside, all he wanted to hear about was the trip to Washington and the launch. He was proud and excited. But we were also facing the crushing reality that he was not going to make it. In the end he couldn’t speak, but when we were getting ready for the end on Sunday morning he wrote us one last note: ‘It’s been a good trip.’ Later that day he passed away, surrounded by family, with Mom and me holding his hand.” Finally, there was the polar vortex. “In 2016, South Bend experienced ‘a 1,000-year rainfall event.’ Then, the next year, a ‘500-year river flood.’ Now, a polar vortex is engulfing the region with dangerous record-breaking cold temperatures,” he said. “Supposedly once-in-a-lifetime climate events are beginning to feel routine. For a mayor, this means emergency preparation and response, more often than ever. More and more conference calls, incident plans, more time urging residents to take steps to keep safe.” 

Mayor Pete backs single-payer

Buttigieg was on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, and the mayor said Democrats need to get more comfortable talking about freedom. He said the discussion has to be about more than freedom from issues, like regulation and government (WIBC). “When we talk about freedom, I think Democrats need to get more comfortable getting into that kind of vocabulary,” he said. “Conservatives care a lot about one kind of freedom, and it’s ‘freedom from.’ Freedom from government, freedom from regulation. Certainly in my lifetime there are many things, besides government, that can make you unfree.” He was asked about his stance on healthcare in the wake of controversial comments made by Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris of California last week. Harris said she believes in doing away with private health insurance companies in an effort to expand access to health insurance. Buttigieg, who said he is for a “single-payer” health insurance system, said private insurance companies should still be allowed to play a role in the country’s healthcare system, whatever system that ends up being. “I studied in the UK, where there’s not only single-payer, but nationalized medicine, which we are not calling for,” Buttigieg said. “Even there, there is a role for the private sector. I just don’t believe leaving Americans to the tender mercies of corporations is the best way to organize the health sector in this country.”

Nation

Schultz to speak at Purdue

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is making a stop at Purdue University to deliver a speech as he weighs a presidential bid in 2020. The 65-year-old Seattle billionaire is scheduled to speak at 1 p.m. today at Fowler Hall in Purdue’s Stewart Center. There’s limited space in the 388-seat Fowler Hall for Thursday’s speech, but a livestream will be shown at Purdue’s Loeb Playhouse, which is open to students, faculty, staff and the general public.

Kasich speaks at DePauw

“It’s up to us, not somebody else,” John Kasich said of moving beyond the divisive politics in modern America. “And I can tell you this,” the former governor of Ohio and two-time candidate for president of the United States declared last week in an Ubben Lecture at DePauw University. “If you work with others (and) become part of a large mosaic that can unify us rather than divide us, we’ll restore the soul of our country.”

In a speech that was heavy on life advice and light on politics, Kasich noted, “The fact is that people are fed up with all of this division and anger and hatred. We are fed up with, and we’ve gotta stand up against it √ each and every one of us, whenever we can.”

As he took the stage at DePauw’s Kresge Auditorium 17 days after finishing his second term as Ohio governor, Kasich said, “Tonight probably a lot of people came here to talk about politics,” Kasich said as he walked the stage. “Politics bores me. Let me just say that there are so many people who are worked up – some are worked up about Donald Trump, some are now worked up about Nancy Pelosi – we wring our hands and we even had times when Trump was first elected that families couldn’t even have Thanksgiving dinner together because they were yelling at one another. And I want to just bring something to your attention: Do those people really matter that much to you? I mean, in your daily life living here in this sweet, sweet town and this wonderful school – and I’m not just saying it, I really mean it, these are some of the nicest people I’ve met here today – does it really matter how the president of the United States or some other big time leader is affecting you?”

He continued, “Most of the time they don’t.  You know what does affect you?  ... You’re motivated by the people you are around.  For students, it’s like can I get my courses, do I like my teacher, is my professor treating me fairly, how are my roommates, and what’s going on at home?  Those are the things that really affect us on a day-to-day basis.  And you know what’s so great about that?  It means we have the power ... and somehow in our country we have been losing sight of the fact that we call the tune, not somebody else that lives in a far away place that we will never even see, let alone meet.”

Kasich did state, “What disappoints me about politicians today is that they’re worried about their reelection rather than their job.”