Bernie Sanders is working on a plan that would allow the federal government to guarantee a $15-per-hour job, plus healthcare benefits, to every worker in the US "who wants or needs one," per an early draft of the proposal obtained by the Washington Post. The jobs guarantee would encompass projects involving infrastructure, education, the environment, and care giving. It's not clear when Sanders will formally present the plan; a representative says Sanders' office has not done a cost estimate for the plan or determined where its funding would come from. Sanders' announcement comes after two other Democrats, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sen. Cory Booker, recently backed the idea of a jobs guarantee plan. Booker is aiming to create a three-year pilot program to test such a guarantee in 15 areas, Vox reports.
Supporters of such a plan say it would increase competition for workers, thus forcing corporations to increase their wages and benefits in order to compete with government jobs. But Republicans, who currently control Congress, say the idea is impractical, and even some Democrats agree with that. "It would be extremely expensive, and I wonder if this is the best, most targeted use of the amount of money it would cost," says one economist who served in Obama's Treasury Department, noting that it would be tricky to make sure millions of new jobs—the authors of the Sanders plan do envision it would hire millions of Americans—are all actually productive. The Huffington Post spoke to Democratic Senate leaders and reports that they don't seem quite ready to "embrace" the idea; all Chuck Schumer would say is that he wants to look at Sanders' proposal.