Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is set to unveil a plan that would give American workers who want or need jobs guaranteed government jobs that pay at least $15 per hour and have health benefits.
The progressive Vermont senator’s guaranteed jobs plan would entitle any American a job or job training in U.S.-funded projects in infrastructure, the environment, caregiving, and education, but he did not provide a cost-estimate or plan to fund the proposal, the Washington Post reported.
A representative from Sanders’ office said no funding estimate was available for the project because staffers were still crafting the proposal.
Two other potential 2020 presidential candidates—Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY)—have expressed interest in crafting similar proposals.
“The goal is to eliminate working poverty and involuntary unemployment altogether,” said Darrick Hamilton, an economist at The New School who expressed support for a guaranteed jobs program. “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 the plan have said guaranteed jobs proposals would not be sustainable or affordable, and would cause massive job losses in the private sector.
Studies have shown that states and cities which choose to enact a $15 per hour minimum wage trigger job losses. A December 2017 study found that once California’s minimum wage hike takes effect in 2022, the state would lose 400,000 jobs.
“It completely undercuts a lot of industries and companies,” Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who opposes the program, told the Post. “There will be pressure to introduce a higher wage or certain benefits that the private sector doesn’t offer.”
The proposal is unlikely to gain favor with Republicans in control of Congress, and even most Democrats have slammed similar plans as unrealistic.
“It would be extremely expensive, and I wonder if this is the best, most targeted use of the amount of money it would cost,” said Ernie Tedeschi, an economist who worked for the Treasury during the Obama administration.
The Vermont senator’s proposal comes days after he declared President Trump’s agenda “dead” if the Democratic Party wins the majority in the House or Senate.