by John Bowden
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is set to announce a federal jobs proposal that would guarantee a job with at least a $15-per-hour wage and health benefits to every adult American “who wants or needs one,” The Washington Post reports.
The senator is still in the early stages of crafting the plan, according to the Post, which would provide a job or required training for any American.
Sanders’s office has yet to release the details of the plan’s funding, but previous large-scale projects proposed by the Vermont progressive have involved ending tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations.
“The goal is to eliminate working poverty and involuntary unemployment altogether,” Darrick Hamilton, an economist at The New School, told the Post.
“This is an opportunity for something transformative, beyond the tinkering we’ve been doing for the last 40 years, where all the productivity gains have gone to the elite of society.”
Critics of federal jobs proposals say that government intervention to raise wages could lead to private businesses cutting costs in other areas, including hiring fewer employees. Sanders is a longtime advocate of “Fight for 15,” the national movement aimed at raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
The proposal would have trouble gaining enough Democratic support to get real traction and conservatives have long said a jobs promise is unsustainable and unaffordable, citing costs, the effects on the private sector and the possibility of inflation.
“It completely undercuts a lot of industries and companies,” Brian Riedl of the conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute told the Post. “There will be pressure to introduce a higher wage or certain benefits that the private sector doesn’t offer.”
Sanders has not announced a 2020 presidential run but has left his options open. He was notably the country’s most popular active politician in a Harvard-Harris poll last year.
The Vermont senator will be 79 years old on Election Day in 2020, four years after losing to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary.