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Democratic Candidates Talk Jobs In Westerville Debate

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio.

Midwest jobs took center stage early in Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate at Otterbein University in Westerville. 

The 12 candidates' most reliable avenue for making an Ohio-specific pitch was jobs.  They approached the issue in a number of ways, including highlighting a hollowed out manufacturing sector, weakened unions and the threat of automation.

Their ideas for tackling the jobs issue were just as varied.

Senator Elizabeth Warren argues the problem is an international trade policy which has allowed U.S. companies to send jobs overseas.  She offers an idea she frames as "accountable capitalism" for large corporations.

"Forty percent of your board of directors should be elected by your employees," Warren says. "That'll make a difference when a corporation decides we could save a nickel by moving a job to Mexico when there are people on the board in the boardroom saying 'No'."

Meanwhile, Senator Bernie Sanders proposes a federal jobs guarantee pointing to the need for infrastructure improvements around the country.

“We have an infrastructure which is collapsing. We could put 15 million people to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our water systems, our waste water plants, airports etc.," Sanders says. "Furthermore, and I hope we talk discuss it at length tonight, this planet faces the greatest threat in its history from climate change and the Green New Deal that I have advocate will create up to 20 million jobs."

The Green New Deal is a set of policy initiatives seeking to address climate change and economic inequality.

Businessman Andrew Yang backs a universal basic income program he calls the Freedom Dividend. Everyone 18 and older would receive $1,000 a month under the plan. Yang argues automation will soon make many jobs obsolete, and he believes the dividend will help those who lose their jobs transition into something new.

Yang contends job loss was the driving force behind Trump winning Ohio in 2016.

"We’re standing in the great state of Ohio. The ultimate purple state. The ultimate bellwether state,” Yang says. "Why did Donald Trump win your state by eight points? Because we got rid of 300,000 manufacturing jobs in your towns."

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