Packed house

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate from Massachusetts, drew hundreds of people to a campaign event at the Peterborough Town House in June. 

Three 2020 Democratic presidential candidates unveiled plans last week to help rural communities nationwide.

Some of the initiatives, such as expanding broadband Internet access, would directly affect the Monadnock Region.

The plans also come after President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, where he was able to secure a margin of victory just shy of 80,000 votes in rural precincts — many of which previously went for former president Barack Obama — throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin to defeat former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College.

Here’s a look at what plans from those three campaigns, plus that of Joe Biden, who announced his last month, would do:

Elizabeth Warren

The U.S. senator from Massachusetts earned plaudits from a local lawmaker for her provision to redraw the Federal Communications Commission maps on broadband coverage, which the campaign says “greatly exaggerate” the number of households Internet providers serve, citing a report from The Verge, a tech publication.

“The FCC’s broadband maps determine which communities are eligible for federal funding to expand broadband access,” state Rep. Craig Thompson, D-Harrisville, said in a statement released by the Warren campaign. “Improving the accuracy of these maps is critical to helping rural and underserved communities access broadband Internet and the opportunities it allows for.”

At the crux of the Warren plan is a reorientation of the broadband business.

The proposal offers a public option for broadband — akin to a utility — which the Warren campaign says would increase competition with private providers and lower prices.

An “Office of Broadband Access” would also be created in a potential Warren administration under the Department of Economic Development, according to the proposal, which was published Wednesday on the website Medium.

Aiming to help small businesses beyond expanding broadband access, the Warren plan would also allow the U.S. Postal Service to offer banking services, citing a rise of “rural banking deserts” since 2008 amid the decline of credit unions. The goal, according to the plan, is to provide more affordable loans to rural businesses and lower interest rates to make rural businesses more competitive.

New spending would be paid for by Warren’s proposed wealth tax on assets once an individual’s grand total exceeds $50 million, along with rolling back tax incentives for business mergers.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Headlining the U.S. senator from New York’s plan is a $50 billion “Rural Future Partnership Fund” housed under the USDA.

The money would go toward multi-year block grants, which states could spend as they choose on economic development and infrastructure.

Gillibrand’s plan would also expand upon the Obama administration’s StrikeForce initiative, which would offer representatives from federal agencies to help coordinate with local leaders on infrastructure projects. She also promises a “Rural Future Corps,” which, similar to AmeriCorps, would offer jobs for young professionals to work in local government, health care and education in rural communities.

On broadband, the Gillibrand plan would dedicate $60 billion to expand high-speed Internet. The broadband portion of Gillibrand’s plan also includes a provision to redraw the FCC maps.

A $750 million job retraining program would also be offered for people who want to take rural jobs they need training for, with the campaign citing Obama’s TechHire initiative as a model.

In health care, the Gillibrand plan includes increasing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates, and increasing telemedicine and transportation to medical facilities, though no spending figure is included.

Gillibrand’s plan is also available on Medium.

Joe Biden

The former vice president’s plan focuses heavily on farming.

Without mentioning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade plan that he supported while serving in the Obama administration, Biden’s plan promises “pursuing a trade policy that works for rural farmers” by strengthening exports through rolling back the Trump administration’s tariffs on China.

Biden’s plan would also raise the maximum federal loan amount for farmers by doubling it to $100,000.

On broadband, Biden proposes a $20 billion investment, tripling the Community Connect program and promising 250,000 new jobs.

The Biden plan also includes expanding StrikeForce initiative to offer federal workers to help rural communities with securing federal grants.

The plan also cites building on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, as the best way to strengthen rural health care.

Biden’s plan is available on his campaign website: https://joebiden.com/rural/

Amy Klobuchar

The U.S. senator from Minnesota’s “Plan from the Heartland” also focuses on farming and disaster relief programs, with many midwestern communities seeing record flooding this year.

Klobuchar’s plan also calls for a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which would invest in rural bridges that are not included in the federal aid program. It would also boost funding for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to repair waterways and ports in addition to restoring locks and dams.

On broadband — which has been a central focus of the Klobuchar campaign’s messaging — the plan includes a promise to bring high-speed Internet to every American household by 2022.

Klobuchar’s plan also includes redrawing the FCC maps and expanding the Rural Utility Service grants, which try to make up for the cost companies find outweighs profit in extending Internet to remote areas.

While the rail industry is no longer a main staple in the Monadnock Region, Klobuchar’s plan promises a revitalization of freight and passenger rail in rural America, pushing back against Amtrak efforts to reduce service to focus on more profitable routes in densely populated areas.

Rural manufacturing has its own section in Klobuchar’s plan, which ties into her lengthy first 100 days plan that would change tax incentives to benefit manufacturing growth and invest in communities that have lost manufacturing jobs.

Klobuchar’s campaign is available on Medium.

Jake Lahut can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or jlahut@keenesentinel.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JakeLahut.