Former Gov. John Hickenlooper released his economic plan today as he struggles to get traction in the Democratic presidential primary.
At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Hickenlooper said the U.S. economy isn't working for students, the middle class and people of color, but he also distanced himself from the more liberal candidates in the Democratic field.
“Let me be blunt about one thing. Some of the policies being proposed this year I think would be hazardous to our economy and our people,” he said. “Total government takeover of all health insurance, a federal job guarantee for every person in America. These are certainly big ideas. But they’re also quite possibly very bad ideas. I think they would bloat federal government and massively raise taxes, they would depress economic growth, and let me assure you that in the end they would hurt working people.”
In contrast, Hickenlooper said he wants to “rescue American capitalism.”
Those comments follow an incident earlier in the campaign when Hickenlooper dodged a question from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough about capitalism. On Scarborough’s program “Morning Joe” in March, the candidate declined to identify himself as a “capitalist.”
“I don’t look at myself with a label,” Hickenlooper said instead.
In the plan released today, Hickenlooper proposes a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, which would increase with cost of living. He also wants to expand nationally programs he started in Colorado to encourage entrepreneurship, and offer high school apprenticeships. Hickenlooper also wants to address student loan debt by cutting the federal interest rate on student loans, and making community college free for people who can’t afford it.
Other parts of the candidate’s plan focus on health care reform, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit and promoting free trade.
In trying to distinguish himself from the field of 21 Democratic candidates for president, Hickenlooper is largely running on his economic record in eight years as governor and eight years as mayor of Denver.
Fellow Coloradan Michael Bennet, a Democratic U.S. senator, joined the field this week.