2020 Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg affirmed his belief in capitalism on Tuesday but suggested that the US economic system has let a lot of Americans down and called for greater “fairness.”
The comments come amid a heated debate among Democrats and progressives over whether the party should more openly embrace socialist policies in the age of Donald Trump.
“I think the reason we’re having this argument over socialism and capitalism is that capitalism has let a lot of people down,” the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said in an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow and John Avlon on “New Day.”
Buttigieg reiterated that he believes in “democratic capitalism.” He expressed alarm over previous comments Stephen Moore, the President’s nominee for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, made that recently surfaced in which Moore said he believed capitalism was more important than democracy.
“I would say the reverse ought to be true – that at the end of the day, we prioritize democracy,” Buttigieg told CNN on Tuesday. “And having that framework of a rule of law, of fairness, is actually what it takes for markets to work.”
Ahead of the 2020 election, Trump and Republicans have attempted to paint Democrats as socialists. Although a number of Democratic candidates have rejected the label, several – most notably self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders – have championed policies once seen as far-left. On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that socialism “is not the view” of the Democratic Party.
On “New Day,” Buttigieg was also asked if he supported rival 2020 Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for a new tax on big corporations.
“I’m open to that,” Buttigieg said. “I think the more interesting issue is, should our policies be any different toward the biggest companies than they are toward the smallest ones?”
Asked if he would break up big corporations, Buttigieg said, “Sometimes, if there’s anti-competitive behavior.”
“It’s not just about saying, ‘If you’re this big, we’re going to break you.’ It’s also perhaps the bigger you are, the more responsibility you have,” Buttigieg said.
CNN’s Devan Cole contributed to this report.