Steyer eyes largest peacetime expansion of public service

Steyer eyes largest peacetime expansion of public service
© Greg Nash

Democratic presidential candidate Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges 2020 Democrats recognize Pronouns Day Third-quarter fundraising sets Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg apart MORE has proposed what his campaign is calling the largest peacetime expansion of public service in U.S. history.

The billionaire philanthropist unveiled his plan Tuesday, calling for an expansion of existing AmeriCorps and Peace Corps programs and the creation of a new climate-focused service sector.

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Steyer, who was a late addition to the 2020 Democratic primary, pledged to invest $50 billion to grow the number of supported service opportunities to 1 million positions by 2025. 

Steyer's campaign said that his work mobilizing young voters, which he had done through his advocacy organization NextGen America, inspired him to develop his New National Public Service Plan.

Included in the plan is a proposal to enhance the living stipend and educational benefits for participants, in an effort to help tackle the student debt crisis, the campaign said. 

It would also allow corps members to serve longer terms, up to five years, and they could be eligible to have all student loan debt forgiven.

“I understand the value of strengthening civic bonds through public service and will work hard to repair all the damage Trump has wrought on our communities when I win in 2020,” Steyer said in the announcement. “Both of my parents, particularly my mother, who taught incarcerated prisoners, instilled in me a deep sense of civic duty.” 

Steyer is a long-shot candidate in the 2020 primary, polling at less than 1 percent in a RealClearPolitics average of polls.

He failed to make last week’s debate stage in Houston, but announced Sunday he had qualified for next month’s debate after registering 2 percent support in a CBS News/YouGov poll.