Articles, latest first
email 2-8-19: I announce
I just got off the stage in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where I made a big announcement:
I’m running for President.
Let me tell you why. It starts with a story about Lawrence.
A little over 100 years ago, the textile mills in Lawrence employed tens of thousands of people, including immigrants from more than 50 countries.
Business was booming. The guys at the top were doing great. But workers made so little money that families were forced to crowd together in dangerous tenements and live on beans and scraps of bread. Inside the mills, working conditions were horrible. Children were forced to operate dangerous equipment. Workers lost hands, arms, and legs in the gears of machines.
One out of every three adult mill workers died by the time they were 25.
But one day, textile workers in Lawrence – led by women – went on strike to demand fair wages, overtime pay, and the right to join a union.
It was a hard fight. They didn’t have much. Not even a common language. But they stuck together.
And they won. Those workers did more than improve their own lives. They changed America. Within weeks, more than a quarter of a million textile workers throughout New England got raises. Within months, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to pass a minimum wage law.
And today, there are no children working in factories. We have a national minimum wage. And worker safety laws. Workers get paid overtime, and we have a forty-hour work week.
The story of Lawrence is a story about how real change happens in America. It’s a story about power – our power – when we fight together.
Today, millions and millions of American families are also struggling to survive in a system that has been rigged by the wealthy and the well-connected.
And just like the women of Lawrence, we are ready to say enough is enough.
We are ready to take on a fight that will shape our lives, our children’s lives, and our grandchildren’s lives: The fight to build an America that works for everyone.
I am in that fight all the way. And that’s why, today, I declared that I am a candidate for President of the United States of America. I can only build this campaign if you’re with me – chip in and be a part of our movement from Day One.
The truth is, I’ve been in this fight for a long time. I grew up in Oklahoma, on the ragged edge of the middle class.
When my daddy had a heart attack, my family nearly tumbled over the financial cliff. But we didn’t. My mother, who was 50 years old and had never worked outside the home, walked to Sears and got a minimum-wage job answering phones.
That job saved our house, and saved our family.
I ended up at a commuter college that cost $50 a semester. And that is how the daughter of a janitor managed to become a public school teacher, a law professor, a United States Senator, and now a candidate for President.
I’ve spent most of my life studying what happens to families like mine. Families caught in the squeeze. Families that go broke.
And what I found was that year after year, the path to economic security had gotten tougher and rockier for working families, and even tougher and even rockier for people of color.
I also found that this wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t inevitable. No. Over the years, America’s middle class had been deliberately hollowed out. And families of color had been systematically discriminated against and denied their chance to build some security.
The richest and most powerful people in America were rich, really rich – but they wanted to be even richer – regardless of who got hurt.
So, every year, bit by bit, they lobbied Washington and paid off politicians to tilt the system just a little more in their direction. And year by year, bit by bit, more of the wealth and opportunity went to the people at the very top.
That’s how, today, in the richest country in the history of the world, tens of millions of people are struggling just to get by.
This disaster has touched every community in America. And for communities of color that have stared down structural racism for generations, the disaster has hit even harder.
We can’t be blind to the fact that the rules in our country have been rigged against people for a long time – women, LGBTQ Americans, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, immigrants, people with disabilities – and we need to call it out.
When government works only for the wealthy and well-connected, that is corruption – plain and simple. It’s time to fight back and change the rules.
First: We need to end corruption in Washington. That’s why I’ve proposed the strongest and most comprehensive anti-corruption law since Watergate.
Second: We need to put more economic power in the hands of the American people. Make it quick and easy to join a union. Make American companies accountable for their actions and raise wages by putting workers in those corporate boardrooms where the real decisions are made. Break up monopolies when they choke off competition. Take on Wall Street so that the big banks can never again threaten the security of our economy.
And when giant corporations – and their leaders – cheat their customers, stomp out their competitors, or rob their workers, let’s prosecute them.
Let’s make real investments in child care, college, Medicare for All, creating economic opportunity for families, housing, opioid treatment, and addressing rural neglect and the legacy of racial discrimination.
Stop refusing to invest in our children. Stop stalling on spending money – real money – on infrastructure and clean energy and a Green New Deal. Start asking the people who have gained the most from our country to pay their fair share.
That includes real tax reform in this country – reforms that close loopholes and giveaways to the people at the top, and an Ultra-Millionaire Tax to make sure rich people start doing their part for the country that helped make them rich.
Third: We need to strengthen our democracy. That starts with a constitutional amendment to protect the right of every American citizen to vote and to have that vote counted.
Let’s overturn every single voter suppression rule that racist politicians use to steal votes from people of color. Outlaw partisan gerrymandering – by Democrats and Republicans. And overturn Citizens United. Our democracy is not for sale.
Real democracy also requires equal justice under law. It’s not equal justice when a kid with an ounce of pot can get thrown in jail while a bank executive who launders money for a drug cartel can get a bonus. It’s not equal justice when, for the exact same crimes, African Americans are more likely than whites to be arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced. We need criminal justice reform and we need it now.
To get all this done, we’ve got to fight side by side. We must not allow those with power to weaponize hatred and bigotry to divide us.
More than 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. went to Montgomery and warned us about the danger of division. He talked about how bigotry and race-baiting are used to keep black Americans divided from white Americans so that rich Americans can keep picking all their pockets.
That playbook has been around forever. Whether it’s white people against black people, straight people against gay people, middle-class families against new immigrant families – the story is the same. The rich and powerful use fear to divide us.
We’re done with that. Bigotry has no place in the Oval Office.
We come from different backgrounds, but our movement won’t be divided by our differences. It will be united by the values we share.
We all want a country where everyone – not just the wealthy – can take care of their families. Where everyone – not just the ones who hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers – can participate in democracy. Where every child can dream big and reach for opportunity. And we’re all in the fight to build an America that works for everyone.
This won’t be easy. A lot of people will tell us it isn’t even worth trying. But we will not give up.
I’ve never let anyone tell me that anything is “too hard.”
People said it would be “too hard” to build an agency that would stop big banks from cheating Americans on mortgages and credit cards. But we got organized, we fought back, we persisted, and now that consumer agency has forced these banks to refund nearly $12 billion directly to people they cheated.
When Republicans tried to sabotage the agency, I came back to Massachusetts and then ran against one of them. No woman had ever won a Senate seat in Massachusetts, and people said it would be “too hard” for me to get elected. But we got organized, we fought back, we persisted, and now I am the senior Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
So, no, I am not afraid of a fight. Not even a hard fight.
Sure, there will be plenty of doubters and cowards and armchair critics this time around. But we learned a long time ago that you don’t get what you don’t fight for. We are in this fight for our lives, for our children, for our planet, for our futures – and we will not turn back.
So here is the promise I make to you today: I will fight my heart out so that every kid in America can have the same opportunity I had – a fighting chance to build something real.
This is our moment in history to dream big, fight hard, and win.
And here’s a big piece of how we’ll get it done: We’ll end the unwritten rule of politics that says anyone who wants to run for office has to start by sucking up to rich donors on Wall Street and powerful insiders in Washington.
I’m not taking a dime of PAC money in this campaign or a single check from a federal lobbyist. I’m not taking applications from billionaires who want to run a Super PAC on my behalf. And I challenge every other candidate who asks for your vote in this primary to say exactly the same thing.
We’re going to keep building this campaign at the grassroots. Right now, I’m on my way to an organizing event in New Hampshire, and in the next week, I’ll hit the road to Iowa, South Carolina, Georgia, Nevada, and California.
Person to person, face to face – that’s how we’ll win. And that’s how we’ll put power back in the hands of the people. It’s a long way to Election Day. But our fight starts here. It starts with you, and its success is up to you. Donate $5 or more right now to make it happen.
Thanks for being a part of this,
ElizabethWarren.com Email, 2-8: Green New Deal: Sign the petition
We need a Green New Deal to fight climate change and make sure our kids will get to live in a world with clean water and clean air.
So yesterday, Elizabeth joined Senator Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to support the Congressional resolution for a Green New Deal.
The fossil fuel companies and powerful special interests will fight this tooth and nail. That’s why it’s going to take a grassroots movement to fight back.
We’ve already felt the effects of climate change. Extreme temperatures. Monster storms. The warnings from scientists are only getting more dire, and we don’t have much time to act before it’s too late.
But the Trump administration has ignored science, denied climate change, and bowed down to Big Oil and Big Coal. They’ve pulled out of the Paris Agreement, shredded rules against poisoning our air and water, and even put a former coal lobbyist in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.
That’s why Elizabeth is fighting for the Green New Deal, including proposing an Ultra-Millionaire Tax that could generate nearly $3 trillion to help fund necessary investments.
And because we need to break the grip that the fossil fuel industry – and every powerful special interest – has on Washington, she’s proposed the most ambitious anti-corruption legislation since Watergate.
We can – and must – make fundamental change to stop climate change and save our planet. But it’s only going to be possible if all of us join the fight.
Let’s make it clear from Day One that the Green New Deal has support from all across the country. It’s the only way we’ll win.
After new document is revealed, Warren struggles with questions of identity, 2-6-19
Elizabeth Warren was a law professor at the University of Texas when she filled out a form from the state bar that asked her to list her race. Her answer, printed in careful block letters: "American Indian."
Thirty-three years later — and days before the official launch of her presidential run — that newly disclosed document has emerged as a political flash point, forcing Warren to reckon with a question that has been dogging her for years and that she has never put to rest: why, through much of her life and legal career, she claimed to be Native American despite being white.
By Wednesday, after the bar registration card was published by The Washington Post, Warren faced new doubts about her viability in the presidential race, as activists and strategists evaluated how much damage the issue might do — especially given Democrats’ focus on finding a candidate who can defeat President Trump — and what she might do to move past it.
Liberal activists have long described cultural appropriation as hurtful, since someone is assuming the identity of a group without having faced the suffering or discrimination that group endured. The question is whether Democratic primary voters will punish Warren for actions for which she has apologized.
“This was about 30 years ago,” said Warren, when asked Wednesday why she filled out the bar form. She explained that as a girl in Oklahoma she’d learned stories about her family history from her parents and siblings, leading her to believe the family was Native American. “But that said, there really is an important distinction of tribal citizenship,”
For Democrats, the issue was long eclipsed by anger at Trump’s ridicule of Warren, especially his use of the nickname “Pocahontas.” But Warren’s presidential run, coming as she has struggled to explain her past claims of Native American identity, has prompted some Democrats to take a harder look at her own actions.
The matter now threatens to overshadow the image Warren has sought to foster of a truth-telling consumer advocate who would campaign for the White House as a champion for the working class. Instead, she is now seeking to combat the portrait of someone who for years was insufficiently sensitive to a long-oppressed minority. The matter also is arising at a time when issues of racial and cultural identity are increasingly sensitive in the Democratic Party.
Adding to Warren’s troubles are her fumbling efforts in recent months to get ahead of the issue. Many activists complained when she released the results of a DNA test showing she had a distant ancestor who was Native American. Warren apologized by phone last week to Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee tribe, though members of the tribe had mixed reactions.
"I’m not a member of a tribe," she told reporters Wednesday. "I have apologized for not being more sensitive to that distinction."
Republicans have sought to take advantage. Trump last week told the New York Times, “I do think Elizabeth Warren’s been hurt very badly with the Pocahontas trap,” noting that the controversy had undermined her credibility.
The Republican National Committee on Wednesday filed a grievance with the State Bar of Texas asking for "disciplinary action" against Warren for "lying and failing to correct a misrepresentation."
The more immediate problem Warren faces is within her own party.
"To claim native identity — clearly it wasn’t the appropriate thing to do," said Aimee Allison, founder of She the People, a group focused on electing women of color. "Was she trying to indicate her solidarity with the group? Why was it like that for her in the 1980s? I think she has more to say on that."
There's a long history in America of people making unsubstantiated claims to Native American heritage, a practice objected to strongly by tribal members as diluting their culture and shared experience.
"Everyone who cares about us as natives are welcome, but at critical moments those who have legal and cultural standing have a unique place with specific rights and responsibilities," Chuck Hoskin Jr., secretary of state for the Cherokee Nation, wrote last week in the Tulsa World. "That is why it offends us when some of our national leaders seek to ascribe inappropriately membership or citizenship to themselves."
The first known instance of Warren being identified as having Native American ancestry was in 1984, when her name appeared in a cookbook called “Pow Wow Chow,” compiled by a cousin to be sold at a fundraiser.
Warren listed herself as a "minority" in the Association of American Law Schools directory starting in 1986, and presented herself that way in the directory for nine years. That same year, she filled out the bar card, which The Post obtained via an open-records request to the State Bar of Texas.
There's no indication that Warren gained professionally by reporting herself as Native American on the card. Above the lines for race, national origin and handicap status, the card says, "The following information is for statistical purposes only and will not be disclosed to any person or organization without the express written consent of the attorney."
The AALS directories were used by law schools when searching for new professors, prompting some Republicans to charge that she was claiming Native identity to get ahead.
Warren moved from the University of Texas to the University of Pennsylvania in 1987. After she worked at Penn for about two years, the university changed her recorded race from white to Native American, school records show. Warren has told the Boston Globe that she requested the change, saying it was important for her to reflect what she believed to be her family heritage.
Several months after Warren started working at Harvard Law School in late 1995, Harvard recorded her ethnicity as Native American, according to university records reported by the Globe. The records include a memo showing that Warren signed off on the change.
Harvard continued reporting Warren as a Native American until 2004, the records show. Warren has never explained what happened that year to prompt the change.
Warren declined to say Wednesday whether there might be other documents that could surface in which she identified herself as Native American.
"All I know is during this time period, this is consistent with what I did because it was based on my understanding from my family stories," Warren said. "But family stories are not the same as tribal citizens, and that is why I have apologized."
Warren has previously acknowledged that she claimed Cherokee and Delaware heritage despite having only a distant ancestor who was Native American. But the Texas bar registration card provides the first visual evidence that she, rather than a staffer or other associate, claimed that ethnicity in a formal, professional context.
As she prepared for a seven-state presidential announcement blitz, it was not clear that Warren had a significant plan to confront the issue beyond continuing to apologize.
"There is no visible strategy for this," said Joel Benenson, a leading Democratic pollster who advised the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. "When you're in the eye of the storm, you don't want things to drip, drip, drip."
He added, "There is probably time for them to develop a better, more coherent and powerful story to deal with this. But they have to do it in short order."
Warren, referring to her recent apology to the Cherokee chief, said it was deeply felt.
"This is from the heart," she said. "This is about my family, my brothers, and it is about an apology from the heart, and apology for not being more sensitive to tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty and for harm caused."
Warren's apology has been met with mixed reactions. "This closes the matter," tweeted Keith Harper, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council. "Onward."
But not all were pleased.
"I want to see it in writing," said David Cornsilk, a historian and genealogist who is also a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. "I want her to go on national TV. I want her to do a video like she did to announce her DNA results. It just seemed very lacking."
Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), one of two Native American women serving in Congress, said she did not fault Warren.
"I've lived my whole life with people self-identifying as Native American. I never questioned their identity," said Haaland in an interview. "It's not up to me." She called Warren "a tremendous ally for Native Americans."
For Warren, putting this chapter behind her is key to calming the nerves of Democrats who want a nominee who can present a strong challenge to Trump.
"I think she's going to continue to be asked questions about that," said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).
Elizabeth Warren apologizes for calling herself Native American, 2-5-19
Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Tuesday that she was sorry that she identified herself as a Native American for almost two decades, reflecting her ongoing struggle to quiet a controversy that continues to haunt her as she prepares to formally announce a presidential bid.
Her comments more fully explain the regret she expressed last week to the chief of the Cherokee Nation, the first time she’s said she was sorry for claiming American Indian heritage.
The private apology was earlier reported as focusing more narrowly on a DNA test she took to demonstrate her purported heritage, a move that prompted a ferocious backlash even from many allies. Warren will be vying to lead a party that has become far more mindful of nonwhite voters and their objections to misuse of their culture.
“I can’t go back,” Warren said in an interview with The Washington Post. “But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted.”
email Elizabeth Warren: Rigged Tax System, 2-2-19
That's Not Right
Elizbeth's tax bill will fix that
Warren's ultramillionaire wealth tax and Ocasio-Cortez's tax hike on high incomes change everything
First, it was AOC. Earlier this month, newly-elected New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for raising the marginal income tax rate to 70 percent—a rate that would apply only to each taxable dollar earned above $10 million in a given year, mind you (Got that, Scott Walker? Do you need us to explain it more slowly?).
Now, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is proposing a companion piece, namely a 2 percent annual tax on wealth over $50 million, with the rate rising to 3 percent for those households who have $1 billion or more. This is not based on income, but accumulated assets.
Additionally, her plan would enact an “exit tax” on those who would renounce U.S. citizenship to get out of paying the wealth tax. Warren’s plan has been called an “ultramillionaire tax”—although the moniker certainly applies to AOC’s plan as well. These proposals represent the new vanguard for progressive economic policy, and they could not have come at a better time.
There are other proposals out there aimed at addressing economic inequality, including one that projects to bring in more than the $700 billion over 10 years that AOC’s does:
Betsey Stevenson, a former economic adviser to President Barack Obama, favors other targets: eliminating the "step-up" valuation that lets some inherited assets avoid capital gains taxes, and capping tax deductions for the wealthy.
While AOC’s proposal deals with annual income, Warren addresses the other key source of economic inequality: accumulated wealth. As Lily Batchelder, a top Obama administration economic adviser, noted: “We tax the very wealthiest less than everyone else because we tax income from capital and inheritances at much lower rates than income from good, old-fashioned hard work.”
The data on this is staggering, as Daily Kos’ Meteor Blades presented in a recent post. The gap between the very rich and the rest of us has sharply widened since Ronald Reagan entered the White House and Republican trickle-down tax and economic policies were implemented—policies that shoveled wealth up the economic chain, from the 99 percent to the 1 percent.
Despite progress on tax rates and other economic and tax policies made by Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama, their moves were largely undone by their Republican successors, G.W. Bush and Individual 1, both of whom had Republican-controlled congresses that passed new legislation with bare majorities (avoiding the filibuster by utilizing reconciliation).
The need for Ocasio-Cortez’s and Warren’s proposals is made crystal clear by the graphs to the right. America cannot continue on as a country where a tiny percentage capture the lion’s share of our wealth. And it doesn’t have to be this way. Only four decades ago, our country did significantly better when it comes to economic inequality.
Furthermore, there is no way to address the racial wealth and income gap without addressing the wide disparities between the overwhelmingly white top 1 percent and the far more diverse rest of the American population. Both Warren and AOC have spoken clearly about the connections between economic and racial inequality. Additionally, as recent research data from Demos has shown, explaining these connections to voters will help elect Democrats, and thus help enact the policies required to make real progress on both fronts:
An honest conversation with voters about how the right has weaponized racial fear to build support for plutocracy can create a new progressive majority, a coalition of economic populists and racial-justice advocates who recognize that economic and racial justice will be won together.
Finally, this is about power. The concentration of wealth at the very top has given the ultra-millionaires and billionaires—and the corporations they control—far too much power over our government. When a society is ruled by the very wealthiest, it is called an oligarchy, and our society is moving dangerously close to falling into that category. We progressives must fight to ensure that power remains in the hands of all the people, including those of every economic level, every race and ethnicity, every gender, and every religion.
While Democrats are out there defining themselves as the party that will restore opportunity for the 99 percent by making sure everyone benefits from economic growth, Republicans are, literally, out there sounding like Marie Antoinette. Speaking about federal employees who are currently going without pay, a number of Republicans revealed an incredible lack of either sympathy for, or understanding of, what life is like for those who do not have enough money to pay the bills because they are missing paychecks thanks to the Trump Shutdown. For example, when discussing unpaid federal employees having to visit homeless shelters and food banks in order to eat, Commerce Secretary (and billionaire) Wilbur Ross—he of the $600 embroidered slippers—replied:
Well, I know they are, but I don't really quite understand why. Because, as I mentioned before, the obligations that they would undertake, say borrowing from the bank or credit union, are in effect federally guaranteed. So the 30 days of pay, which some people will be out – there's no real reason why they shouldn't be able to get a loan against it.
Nancy Pelosi’s response was perfect: “Is this the ‘let them eat cake’ kind of attitude? Or call your father for money?” A New York Times news article referred to the “Let Them Eat Cake Shutdown.”
Going beyond the shutdown, Republican policy under Trump, and G.W. Bush, and Reagan, has long favored the economic elites over the rest of us. The one thing of significance that Trump and a Republican Congress managed to pass was cutting taxes on millionaires.
At least the American people are seeing through that sham of a plan, which has done essentially nothing so far to improve the lives of average Americans, while sending money up the economic ladder and massively inflating our national debt. That’s what Republicans do. As Ocasio-Cortez and Warren have made clear with their recent proposals, we do the opposite.
The marker has been laid down. Whose side are politicians on? Democrats and progressives are fighting for the 99 percent, and Republicans are fighting for those at the tippy-top. When the American people understand that, our side wins. And when our side wins, so do the American people.
Ian Reifowitz is the author of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (forthcoming in May 2019).
Democrats have found their Thatcher — if they dare, 1-25-19, George F. Will
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in Dorchester, Mass., in October 2018. (Hadley Green/For The Washington Post)
Margaret Thatcher’s description of herself as a “conviction politician” alarmed some Britons but delighted others because her convictions were incompatible with the flaccid centrist consensus that had produced their nation’s 1970s stagnation. In 1979, voters rolled the dice , sending her to Downing Street. In Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Democrats have their Thatcher, if they dare.
When elected leader of Britain’s Conservatives, Thatcher, disgusted by a colleague’s rhetorical mush about a glorious “middle way,” slammed onto a table Friedrich Hayek’s tome “The Constitution of Liberty” and exclaimed, “This is what we believe!” Today, with a forthrightness perhaps more bracing than prudent, Warren advocates a radical agenda that is approximately Thatcherism — capitalism invigorated — inverted. Furthermore, Warren bristles with a progressive’s version of Thatcher’s pugnacity that caused one of her Conservative colleagues to say that “she can’t look at a British institution without hitting it with her handbag.”
Warren is too busy inveighing against “corruption” to define it precisely, but she probably means what economists call rent-seeking, which in the context of politics means bending government power for private advantage, either by conferring advantages on oneself or imposing disadvantages on competitors. Although Warren’s inveighing is virtuous, her program would substantially exacerbate the problem by deepening government’s involvement in the allocation of wealth and opportunity.
She was a registered Republican from 1991 to 1996 because “I thought that those were the people who best supported markets.” Today, she favors “big structural change.” Her Accountable Capitalism Act would produce the semi-nationalization of large corporations, with federal charters requiring (among other things) 40 percent of their directors to be elected by employees. Such accountable-to-government (not to markets) corporations must have “a material positive impact on society .?.?. when taken as a whole.” This gaseous metric will be defined and applied by government. Such federalization of corporate law would inevitably be the thin end of an enormous wedge of government control, crowding out market signals. As would her Climate Risk Disclosure Act. And her American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. And her Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act (government-run production of generic drugs).
What law professor Richard Epstein calls Warren’s “surreptitious socialism” would, he says, “likely lead to the largest flight of capital from the United States in history.” Foreign investors — domestic ones, too — would not want to put wealth in corporations subservient to the political agendas of government. And to the agendas of various “stakeholders” deemed to have rights comparable to those of shareholders who actually own corporations, and to whom corporate directors have the fiduciary duty to maximize their shares’ value.
Warren exemplifies progressivism’s sentimental belief in disinterested government that, unlike human beings (except government employees), has motives as pure as the driven snow. She should read the 2003 essay “What Is Public Choice Theory?,” wherein economist James M. Buchanan, a Nobel laureate, used economic reasoning — determining how incentives influence behavior — to demystify politics. He argued that politicians and bureaucrats seek to maximize power the way many people in the private sector maximize monetary profits.
She leavens her sentimentality with nostalgia: “When I was a kid, a minimum-wage job in America would support a family of three. It would pay a mortgage, keep the utilities on and put food on the table.” Well. The Adam Smith Institute’s Tim Worstall suggests some pertinent arithmetic: When Warren was 10 in 1959, the federal hourly minimum wage ($1, which would be $8.55 in 2018 dollars) for 2,000 hours (40 hours a week for 50 weeks) would provide $2,000 a year, below the poverty threshold ($2,324) for a family of three.
Wielding one of the president’s favorite adjectives (“rigged”), Warren says that today’s government “works for those at the top.” Indeed. Sprawling, complex, opaque, redistributionist government usually does: It redistributes wealth upward to those — the confident, affluent, articulate, well-lawyered — who can manipulate its pulleys and levers. By multiplying those devices, Warren would, inadvertently but inevitably, make government even more regressive.
Though Warren is criticized as “ divisive ,” serious politics should divide the polity by tugging its public arguments up from the superstitions and fetishes of identity politics, to the realm of ideas. Columnist Murray Kempton said that the similarity between American politics and professional wrestling is the absence of honest emotion. Not the way Warren goes about it. She is a clenched-fist candidate, boiling with indignation and bristling with proposals, including some that are punitive toward disfavored Americans. Most progressives feel this way, but most voters might prefer someone who will lower the political temperature by lowering the stakes of politics.
Sen. Warren’s plan to tax the ultrawealthy is a smart idea whose time has come, 1-24
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has just introduced a tax idea this country desperately needs: a tax on high-end wealth. It’s an idea that’s well-crafted for our time, one that promises to add fairness to an unfair tax code, raise significant, much-needed revenue and push back on the historically high level of wealth concentration in the United States.
Video: Chris Hughes interviews Elizabth Warren about her wealth tax
Video: Elizabeth Warren to pitch 'wealth tax' on richest Americans
Elizabeth Warren to propose new 'wealth tax' on very rich Americans, economist says, 1-24
Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is considering a new
tax on the wealthiest American households. (Carlos Giusti/AP)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will propose a new annual “wealth tax” on Americans with more than $50 million in assets, according to an economist advising her on the plan, as Democratic leaders vie for increasingly aggressive solutions to the nation’s soaring wealth inequality.
Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, two left-leaning economists at the University of California, Berkeley, have been advising Warren on a proposal to levy a 2 percent wealth tax on Americans with assets above $50 million, as well as a 3 percent wealth tax on those who have more than $1 billion, according to Saez.
Christopher Ingraham for the Washington Post
The wealth tax would raise $2.75 trillion over a 10-year period from about 75,000 families, or less than 0.1 percent of U.S. households, Saez said.
Warren’s campaign declined to comment on details of the plan.
“The Warren wealth tax is pretty big. We think it could have a significant affect on wealth concentration in the long run,” Saez said in an interview. “This is a very interesting development with deep root causes: the fact inequality has been increasing so much, particularly in wealth, and the feeling our current tax system doesn’t do a very good job taxing the very richest people.”
Warren’s proposal includes at least three new mechanisms to combat tax evasion, according to a person familiar with the plan. Those are a significant increase in funding for the Internal Revenue Service; a mandatory audit rate requiring a certain number of people who pay the wealth tax to be subject to an audit every year; and a one-time tax penalty for those who have more than $50 million and try to renounce their U.S. citizenship.
[Warren’s 2020 agenda: Break up monopolies, give workers control over corporations, fight drug companies]
Warren’s wealth tax proposal reflects the Democratic Party’s leftward drift on economic policy and tax issues. Democratic politicians have traditionally shied away from proposing how they would raise revenue, for fear of being branded “tax and spend” liberals, said Jim Manley, who served as an aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).
Saez and Zucman earlier this week published an op-ed in the New York Times about a proposal by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to raise marginal tax rates to 70 percent on income above $10 million, a plan the economists said would help combat an “inequality crisis” akin to climate change.
“It’s a pretty dramatic change that shows how much the party has evolved,” Manley said. “It’s not where everyone in the party is now, but it’s an awful lot of people.”
Republicans are likely to seize on the plan as another example of Democrats looking to tax Americans' hard-earned gains, even though it would apply to only a tiny percentage of the population. In their major tax overhaul passed December 2017, Republicans significantly hiked the threshold for the federal estate tax — exempting estates with assets of $11.4 million (in 2019) or less from paying it. They have often referred to this provision as the “death tax.”
Saez said the proposal came together quickly over the course of the last two weeks, while adding the economists have spent years considering how to enact a wealth tax.
Saez and Zucman initially evaluated a proposal at Warren’s request to levy a 1 percent wealth tax on income above $10 million, rather than a 2 percent wealth tax above $50 million, according to a Jan. 14 letter the economists sent to Warren. That letter was obtained by The Washington Post.
According to people familiar with the matter, Warren’s team has considered multiple different proposals with various rates.
In recent decades the taxation of wealth has fallen out of favor in the world’s richest countries. In 1990, 12 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development imposed some form of wealth tax.
By 2017, that number had fallen to just four: France, Norway, Spain and Switzerland. That decline has been mirrored by a decline in the taxation of high incomes, as well as a rise in inequality, according to the OECD.
The OECD report concludes that the merits of a wealth tax depend in part on how a country taxes capital gains — the income accrued from capital — and estates. Overall, it recommends that “tax exemption thresholds should be high to ensure that the net wealth tax is only levied on the very wealthy,” and that “tax rates should be low and take into account tax rates on capital income to avoid imposing excessively high tax burdens on capital so as to prevent capital flight."
Estimates of how much money can be raised by taxing the very rich vary dramatically. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a left-leaning think tank, published a report on Wednesday finding that a 1 percent wealth tax on the wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans would raise $1.3 trillion over a decade. That would affect U.S. households with wealth above $32.2 million.
But conservatives have warned that high taxes on the very rich will stifle growth, lead to capital flight and produce relatively minor revenue gains. Earlier this month, the right-leaning Tax Foundation found that Ocasio-Cortez’s plan for a 70 percent tax rate would either only raise $189 billion in revenue over 10 years, or lose the federal government $63.5 billion.
The Tax Foundation has also warned against wealth taxes, arguing that “capital accumulation is an essential ingredient for economic growth,” that wealth inequality does not harm the economy, and that wealth rewards entrepreneurs who take risks.
Since announcing her presidential bid, Warren has pitched herself a champion of the working class against elites, arguing “billionaires and big corporations” have rigged the political and economic system to their advantage. The possibility of a wealth tax proposal comes on top of her plan to force corporations to have 40 percent of their board of directors selected by company employees, as well as her support for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) plan to provide “Medicare-for-all” by nationalizing the health insurance industry.
The wealthiest 1 percent of families currently face a total tax burden, including state and local taxes, of about 3.2 percent relative to wealth, Saez and Zucman write in their letter.
The bottom 99 percent of families currently has a tax burden of 7.2 percent relative to their wealth, the economists say.
“One of the key motivations for introducing a progressive wealth tax is to curb the growing concentration of wealth,” Saez and Zucman wrote to Warren in their Jan. 14 letter. “The top 1 percent wealth share has increased dramatically from about 22 percent in the late 1970s to around 40 percent in recent years. Conversely, the wealth share of the bottom 95 percent of families has declined from about 50 percent in the late 1970s to about 40 percent today.”
Warren’s jump into the presidential campaign kicks the 2020 [presidential] race into high gear, 1-3
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The 2020 Democratic campaign to defeat President Trump launched in earnest on New Year’s Eve when Sen. Elizabeth Warren finally made her ambitions clear: She is running for president.
The Massachusetts Democrat’s long-expected announcement that she had filed legal paperwork to open a campaign did not reshape the race so much as mark an official start to a presidential nominating contest expected to feature one of the largest and most diverse fields of candidates in the history of either major party.
Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 chances, broken down
WP By Aaron Blake December 31, 2018
The 2020 presidential race just lurched to a start — on the last day of 2018.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday announced an exploratory committee — a step that almost always leads to an actual campaign (and for which there is no real legal distinction). The announcement features a biographical video and a honed message that makes clear plenty of preparation has already been put into getting a campaign off the ground.
A couple of other Democrats have launched campaigns (Rep. John Delaney of Maryland) and exploratory committees (former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro). but Warren is the first entrant who can credibly be described as a front-runner. In fact, I recently pegged her as the No. 1 most likely 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.
Just how much of a front-runner, though? Let’s break it down.
Warren is perhaps one of two senators most associated with a form of liberal populism that is clearly ascendant in the Democratic Party. While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) rose to prominence in the 2016 presidential race with a message decrying a “rigged” system, Warren has been using such language for years. In the first TV ad of her 2012 Senate campaign, in November 2011, she said, “Washington is still rigged for the big guys, and that’s got to change.”
And her efforts to crack down on corporate malfeasance date to before that campaign. As a Harvard University professor, she laid the groundwork for what became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Put plainly: If Democratic voters are looking for the kind of candidacy Sanders was selling in 2016, Warren has about as good a claim on it as Sanders does — if not better. And as Sanders and President Trump showed in the 2016 primaries, populism has broad appeal, when packaged correctly. That’s why I had her at No. 1; there is so much upside.
But it’s not clear there is the same populist desire on the Democratic side as the GOP side. Sanders performed well even in defeat, yes, but part of that undoubtedly owed to Hillary Clinton’s weakness as the Democratic front-runner. And an October 2016 University of Maryland poll actually showed significantly fewer Democratic voters strongly agreed that the system was “rigged” against them (16 percent) than Republicans (35 percent) and independents (43 percent). That may have been due to Trump’s focus on that message, but it’s worth entertaining the idea that Sanders’s success wasn’t all about a liberal yearning for a populist uprising.
There is also the possibility that Warren will be fighting for the same voters as Sanders, who is considered a likely 2020 candidate and would undoubtedly be one of a handful of front-runners — if not the front-runner. The race will undoubtedly be very crowded, scrambling the idea of any one candidate monopolizing a “lane.” But the likely battle between Warren and Sanders for the 2016 Sanders voters is a major subplot involving a tranche of voters who could prove decisive.
While the size of the populist tranche is up for debate, there is no disputing the huge influence of black voters on the Democratic nominating contest. And that’s an area where Warren, like Sanders, could suffer.
As the Republican Party has become whiter and more male in recent years, the Democratic Party has trended in the opposite direction. In 2016, about one-quarter of all Democratic primary voters were black, and their strong preference for Clinton was a big reason she secured the nomination. Fully 78 percent of black voters supported her in states where we had exit polls available, and she won virtually every state with a large black population. That’s an especially big deal given that Southern states feature heavily on Super Tuesday.
But as The Washington Post’s Annie Linskey reported this weekend, while Warren has tried to make inroads with black voters — including being one of the first white politicians to endorse the Black Lives Matter movement — there’s little evidence of progress.
Few black leaders came to her defense when she recently released a DNA test showing a distant Native American relative. She also faces the prospect of two black Democratic senators — California’s Kamala D. Harris and New Jersey’s Cory Booker — running against her.
From Linskey, a former Boston Globe reporter who has covered Warren for years:
Warren has been traveling around the country to speak in front of black audiences, added black staffers in key roles, and cultivating key black leaders. But there remains an awkwardness she hasn’t quite addressed, according to strategists who focus on the demographic.
The reasons include her message of economic populism that can clang in the community, her ties to Boston and her DNA test, which dredged up ugly reminders about defining ethnicity.
“She would have done much better not to address Trump’s racism,” said Aimee Allison, the executive director of She the People, a group that supports nonwhite female candidates.
Allison’s group released a straw poll of black female activists and strategists earlier in December that illustrated how much work Warren has ahead of her among those influential leaders. Just 22 percent picked Warren as one of their top three candidates.
One of the biggest questions for Democrats in 2020 — as it has been since the 2018 election — is whether there will be a call for generational change. Like their congressional leadership, the Democrats’ crop of 2020 front-runners skews older. And while Warren isn’t a septuagenarian like Sanders, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg or Hillary Clinton, she will be come June 2019. If the party demands youth as a counterbalance to the oldest newly elected president in history, Warren isn’t it.
But there are a couple mitigating factors. One is that Warren has been on the political scene for less than a decade — which will help her fight back against the idea that she’s part of an entrenched political class that requires uprooting. Second is that she doesn’t really project “senior citizen.” Most voters will likely be surprised to learn she’s only eight years younger than Sanders.
The DNA test — and divisiveness
To the extent primary voters are strategic and just want someone who can beat Trump, Warren might not be it. While she quickly became a liberal star when she joined the Senate, there is a real argument to be made that a Harvard professor from Massachusetts is not what the party needs in the 2020 general election.
(It’s worth noting here that Warren is originally from Oklahoma and was a registered Republican until her 40s.)
That’s in large part because she’s such a divisive figure — the kind of bogeywoman Trump thrives on attacking. Trump seems to relish feuding with Warren just like he relished feuding with Clinton. And a divided electorate is how Trump won in the first place, despite only 4 in 10 Americans liking him.
Warren also clearly has some liabilities, starting first and foremost with that DNA test. It was clearly an attempt to put to rest an old controversy that had dogged her dating back to her 2012 campaign, when her past claim to Native American heritage was cast by Republicans as an attempt to obtain unwarranted Affirmative Action.
That Warren finally decided to get a DNA test and release it was an unmistakable sign of her 2020 intentions, but it also went poorly. The Cherokee Nation’s secretary of state called it “inappropriate and wrong” and said it made “a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”
A Quinnipiac University poll earlier this month showed independents had a negative impression of Warren, with 41 percent viewing her unfavorably and 24 percent viewing her favorably.
None of this is to say she couldn’t win — and there is an argument that you fight a fire-breather with a fire-breather. But Democrats saw in 2016 what can happen when 6 in 10 Americans dislike their nominee, and that’s a distinct possibility with Warren in 2020.
In Iowa, Elizabeth Warren accents a fight against Trumpism, without focusing on Trump, 1-6
ANKENY, Iowa — Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s first presidential campaign foray to this early voting state merged the economic views she has honed for years and the lesson learned by successful Democratic candidates in the midterm elections two months ago.
She aimed directly at voters tempted by President Trump’s angry populism in 2016 but avoided mentions of Trump himself almost entirely.
“Our 2020 issue will be how we talk about what we stand for,” Warren said, when asked why she was not taking on Trump, something she has not been shy about doing in the past.
“Our affirmative vision of how we build a country that reflects our best values. That’s what I try to talk about every chance I get.”
For Warren, virtually every position she advocated was, in policy terms, a repudiation of the president and the course he has set for the nation in his first two years.
That was true from specifics — her demand that presidential candidates release their taxes, which the president has refused to do — to the generic — her repeated lament that the middle class has been hollowed out as economic and political fairness has been lost.
She connected issues that galvanize the left under the idea that America’s political and economic system is “corrupt” — the precise word used in 2016 by both Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — and that is preventing working-class families from getting ahead.
Implicit in that was criticism of both Trump and, more broadly, of politics as practiced in Washington.
“The heart of it is this question of corruption,” Warren told a crowd in Sioux City on Saturday morning. “Every issue that affects us in this country right now .?.?. they intersect with this fundamental question of who government works for.”
The senator from Massachusetts made nearly identical pitches on her five-town, three-day tour of the western side of the state, projecting energy and eagerness to engage with voters even as she was hobbled by a cold that made her voice raspy. She spoke to crowds that totaled about 2,700 people during the trip — addressing each for about an hour.
What we learned about Warren 2020 this weekend, 1-6
In this edition: What Elizabeth Warren says on the trail, what everyone gets wrong about Rashida Tlaib, and what Democrats are starting to think about tax hikes.
DES MOINES — By the end of her first full day of campaigning in Iowa, Sen. Elizabeth Warren had spoken to around 2,700 people.
The first visit to a primary state by a top-tier Democratic presidential candidate found a candidate still honing her stump speech, with a well-oiled campaign infrastructure and audiences that were still in the tire-kicking phase. It revealed plenty about how Warren, who has been urged to run for president since at least 2013, would approach a real campaign. The caricature of Warren — by mid-December, she was being covered as a flawed and stumbling liberal who had missed her best shot to run for president — did not survive intact. Here's what replaced it.
SHE'S NOT FOCUSED ON DONALD TRUMP. Since her DNA test, Warren has simply stopped responding to Trump's insults; over four Iowa events, she mentioned the president's name only once, when asked about the aforementioned test, saying that she simply could not stop him from "hurling racial slurs."
Trump has become the silence between the notes of Warren's speeches, which portray an economic system that has been rigged, for decades, to favor the wealthy. When Warren talks about the fights she's been through, she focuses on the "million dollars a day" that bank lobbyists spent, unsuccessfully, to stop the creation of the financial-industry regulatory agency she proposed and initially ran, and on her evisceration of former Wells Fargo chief executive John Stumpf, which was a factor in his resignation. It's a return to the rhetoric that worked so well for her in 2012, affirming her status as an icon of the left.
SHE IS NOT BERNIE SANDERS. Plenty of the Democrats who wanted to draft Warren into the 2016 race went on to support the Vermont senator; a good number of those strategists, activists and voters now support him even with Warren in the race.
But Warren's approach to campaigning could not be more different. The Sanders approach, which has not changed in decades, is to sketch out a social democratic vision of America — universal health care, free public college tuition, a $15 minimum wage — in sentences punctuated by applause. He mentions his biography only to talk about how he proved skeptics wrong as mayor of Burlington. Voters who show up to hear Sanders hear "the message," and then they decide whether they're in.
Warren's stump speech begins with "a little bit about who I am," with a story that quiets down the crowd: about the night she heard her mother muttering, "We will NOT lose this house" as she contemplated how to deal with her father's medical bills. She moves on to a vision of "changing the rules" of three sectors of society: the economy, government and politics.
In that litany, anti-corruption legislation is filed under government; voting rights, including a constitutional amendment to enshrine the right to vote, is filed under politics. It's more incremental than the Sanders approach, but it grows out of a rationale for running, the sort of thing Democrats believe Hillary Clinton never was able to do. Warren, who has been accused of elitism (by Republicans) since entering politics, connects every policy position to her identity and the years she spent (to use a phrase she's dropped) on "the ragged edge of the middle class."
Warren is one of five senators with presidential ambitions who has co-sponsored the Medicare for All Act; she is also the first of them to announce a campaign or exploratory committee. Yet at her first four events, the Massachusetts senator did not mention the legislation at all. Only in Des Moines did she say something that emphasized her support for universal care: "Health care is a human right."
SHE HAS A FAN BASE, AND SHE TAKES CARE OF IT. At every Warren stop, but especially in Des Moines, it was easy to spot merchandise and tokens of support that predated her trip to Iowa. Shirts reading "Nevertheless, she persisted," references to the 2017 moment when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prevented Warren from negatively referring to Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions, were everywhere.
A 2014 "Run, Warren, Run," sign, printed by MoveOn, was unfolded in Storm Lake. A shirt from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's 2012 ad campaign, "I'm from the Elizabeth Warren Wing of the Democratic Party," was visible at three of the stops. In Council Bluffs, a Teamster named Bob Payne briefly pulled Warren aside to ask if she'd gotten a shirt he'd sent her office, to advertise a pension reform bill the union supported.
"I got it and I wore it!" Warren said, hugging Payne — who called her "my hero" for working on pensions.
"From the moment of ‘nevertheless, she persisted,’ I got the mug on my desk," said Julie Brown, a 55-year-old businesswoman who brought her daughter to see Warren in Des Moines. "I’ve got a pen that says it. It was a rallying call for women, in particular. When you live that, when this happens to you on a daily basis, and you have a strong wonderful woman who shuts it down — it’s very inspiring."
Warren's visit, coming after a long stretch of skeptical coverage, set a higher bar than many expected.
Elizabeth Warren: It’s time to let the government manufacture generic drugs
Forty-seven states and the Justice Department are investigating a price-fixing conspiracy that’s driving up the cost of generic drugs in the United States. One investigator called it “most likely the largest cartel in the history of the United States.” This crisis calls for action. That is why I’m introducing legislation to authorize the public manufacture of generic drugs wherever drug companies have warped markets to drive up prices.
Drug companies use the “free market” as a shield against any effort to reduce prices for families. But they’re not operating in a free market; they’re operating in a market that’s rigged to line their pockets and limit competition. The entire pharmaceutical industry in reality runs on government-granted monopolies, mostly in the form of long-term patent protections.
This system, intended to compensate drug companies for innovation costs, should be closely scrutinized. One of its few remaining virtues is supposed to be that when these exclusive monopolies run out, market competition kicks in to produce cheap, generic versions for consumers. Sounds great — but it isn't working.
Antibiotics, steroids, heart medications, thyroid pills — nearly 90 percent of American prescriptions are written for generics. But the generic drug market is fundamentally broken.
Today, 40 percent of generic drugs are made by a single company, and the majority are manufactured by only one or two companies. With so little competition for generics, drug makers can push up prices and squeeze consumers without consequence. As a result, prescription drug prices are crushing families. Millions of Americans are skipping required doses and putting their health at risk because they can’t afford to renew their prescriptions.
Promoting competition used to be a central goal of economic policymaking. Today, in market after market, competition is dying as a handful of giant companies gain more and more market share. And as these companies get bigger, they create a vicious cycle, spending millions more on politics and lobbying to rig the rules, crushing potential competitors and further insulating themselves from legal or market accountability.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Aggressive enforcement of laws protecting competition is just the beginning. In the prescription drug market, the next step should be public manufacturing.
The Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to step in where the market has failed. HHS would manufacture or contract for the manufacture of generic drugs in cases in which no company is manufacturing a drug, when only one or two companies manufacture a drug and its price has spiked, when the drug is in shortage, or when a medicine listed as essential by the World Health Organization faces limited competition and high prices.
Public manufacturing will be used to fix markets, not replace them. The Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act would allow the government to manufacture generic drugs at lower costs or contract with manufacturers to produce the drugs at competitive prices. And if a potential manufacturer thinks it can do better, the bill provides that the license to manufacture the drug is continually offered for sale, with the only condition being that the buyer would agree to keep selling the product to consumers at competitive prices.
Sound radical? It isn’t. The federal government already contracts with private manufacturers to produce stockpiles of drugs critical to protecting and treating Americans in the event of a biological, chemical or nuclear attack. My proposal would use similar tools to address the public health crisis resulting from unaffordable medicines.
There’s more to do to bring down high drug prices. Medicare should aggressively negotiate with drug companies. We should crack down on rampant abuse of the patent and regulatory system. We should import drugs from countries that sell the same medicines, with the same safety standards, but that charge their citizens a fraction of our costs. And I’ve already introduced legislation to make sure that no family will ever pay out of pocket more than a modest amount per month to fill its prescriptions. But in the battle for sustainable, affordable medicines, public manufacturing of generic drugs can be a critical tool.
The giant drug companies fighting to protect and expand their monopoly handouts will hate this idea. But Congress doesn’t work for them. And so long as these companies continue to game the system, we should insist on competitive markets that actually work for consumers.
Sanders and Warren are challenging the post-Cold War foreign policy establishment
After mobilizing massive protests against the Iraq War before it began, and more recently spearheading campaigns to pressure Congress to end the war in Yemen and reassert its war-powers control, progressives have been relatively quiet in the foreign-policy debate.
Now that is beginning to change, with progressives stepping up to issue an increasingly bold and broad call for fundamental reform in our global stance.
Major speeches by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), both potential presidential contenders in 2020, issued a challenge not only to President Trump’s erratic and authoritarian course, but also to the foreign policy establishment in both parties and the ruinous bipartisan consensus of the past decades.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the foreign policy establishment envisioned the United States as the “indispensable nation,” policing an international order that would spread democracy, human rights and prosperity around the world. Instead, we suffered the Iraq War debacle, the global financial collapse, the wars without victory or end, the rise of an assertive mercantilist China and the reaction of an encircled Russia. Add to those the growing inequality and insecurity at home and the accelerating existential threat posed by catastrophic climate change.
After Trump’s improbable victory in 2016, that same establishment mobilized to defend the “liberal international order” and its institutions against his heresies, seeking less a reform than a restoration. Sanders and Warren, instead, have both issued direct indictments of Trump and that consensus: Sanders at Westminster College and at the School of Advanced International Studies , and Warren at American University and in the pages of the establishment journal Foreign Affairs.
“While it is easy to blame President Trump for our problems,” Warren stated during her speech at American University, “the truth is that our challenges began long before him. And without serious reforms, they are just as likely to outlast him.”
Both Sanders and Warren embrace the growing Democratic opposition to wars without end and without purpose. Sanders has joined with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) in leading the effort to end our complicity with Saudi Arabia’s extirpation of Yemen. Both Warren and Sanders would end the 17-year war in Afghanistan; both would cut the military budget. And both oppose the trillion-dollar commitment to a new nuclear arms race.
Both senators further warn that authoritarianism is on the march — from Hungary’s Viktor Orban in the North to Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro in the South to Trump in the West. Sanders evokes a “global struggle” between the “movement for democracy, equalitarianism, economic, social, racial and environmental justice” and a “growing worldwide movement towards authoritarianism, oligarchy and kleptocracy.” Warren echoes that “democracy is running headlong into the ideologies of nationalism, authoritarianism and corruption.”
Though the rhetoric sounds perilously like an invitation to neoconservative foreign-policy hawks to ramp up new cold or hot wars against what Sanders calls the “axis of authoritarianism,” Sanders and Warren argue, instead, that the new authoritarians are rising because of the failure of the global economic order. Trump and the gaggle of demagogues around the world are expressions of that failure, not the cause of it.
“We can start our defense of democracy by fixing what has gone wrong with our international economic policies,” Warren argues. “Defending the failed status quo of the last several decades is not good enough,” Sanders concurs . “In fact, we need to recognize that the challenges we face today are a product of that status quo.”
At home and globally, the pair argue that we need new policies geared to work for all, not simply the wealthy elite. Each has called for a fundamental change in corporate trade policies that, in Warren’s words, “delivered one punch in the gut after another to workers and the unions that fight for them.”
They have also argued for a crackdown on corruption, monopolies, and on tax havens and global tax avoidance, ending, in Sanders’s words, “the absurdity of the rich and multinational corporations stashing over $21 trillion in offshore bank accounts.”
Sanders has joined with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to issue a more sweeping call for a new progressive international movement. It would work to unite progressives around the globe and to redefine global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the International Labor Organization and the United Nations to further shared prosperity rather than enforce austerity, and to address the “massive global inequality that exists, not only in wealth but in political power.”
Both Sanders and Warren elevate catastrophic climate change as a national security priority. “The threat is real and it is existential,” Warren concludes. Oddly, neither treats the matter with the priority that reality would require. Warren calls for leveraging access to U.S. markets to insist on “meaningful environmental protections.” Sanders calls for “American leadership” to foster “strong international cooperation.”
There are differences between the two. Warren stakes out a more traditional view of Russia and China as power rivals posing a “threat” to Europe and to Asia. Sanders lumps Russia and China into the “authoritarian axis,” but says little about how to address them.
Neither questions directly the wrongheaded National Defense Strategy that elevates Beijing and Moscow to the status of primary threats facing the United States. Neither details how to forge the essential balance between necessary cooperation — on global warming and nuclear disarmament — and potential confrontation — against the push for spheres of influence, or China’s economic mercantilism. Both admit that far more creative thinking is needed to define the world that we need to build.
As with domestic policy, when it comes to the United States’ foreign policy, defeating Trump in 2020 is not enough. The United States needs dramatic changes in its policies and the institutions that enforce them. It is time to think anew. Foreign policy is likely to be at the center of the political debate heading into 2020. Warren and Sanders have opened that debate.
As her DNA test still reverberates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s political operation shows fissures
Already battling controversy over her claimed Native American heritage, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is nearing a decision whether to seek the presidency with a second problem: fissures in the tightknit political operation that has guided her throughout her career.
Mindy Myers, who was one of the primary architects of Warren’s political rise and has remained one of her close advisers, had been expected to play a senior role in the senator’s campaign. But she has been in talks with several rival campaigns and is planning to meet soon with Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.), who is considering a presidential run.
Myers ran Warren’s 2012 U.S. Senate campaign and then served as her senate chief of staff, giving her a deep understanding of Warren’s strengths and weaknesses.
Since Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016, Warren has been among the top-ranked potential candidates for the 2020 election. She built a massive strategic and get-out-the-vote team to help candidates in the 2018 elections, a move widely seen as a way to both ensure Democratic wins and build alliances in key early presidential states.
But she also stumbled notably in October, when she attempted to put to rest a controversy over her claim to Native American ancestors by releasing DNA results — a move that enraged tribal groups and other minorities concerned about her reliance on a test to measure ethnicity.
That episode injected uncertainty over the decision-making by Warren and her campaign staff and subjected her to both anger and mockery just as she was gearing up for a potential presidential effort.
Those close to Warren have warned recently that while she is still widely expected to enter the race, there remains a chance that she decides against it.
“I don’t have any sense she’s made a final decision that she’s running,” said one Massachusetts Democrat close to her.
Adding to the pressures on her was a cutting editorial Thursday by Warren’s hometown newspaper, the Boston Globe, suggesting she rethink whether to enter the race. The Globe editorial page had called on Warren to run in 2016.
“Warren missed her moment in 2016, and there’s reason to be skeptical of her prospective candidacy in 2020,” the editorial board wrote, pointing out that Republican Gov. Charlie Baker won more votes than she did in their November reelection campaigns.
A recent survey asking Massachusetts voters which candidate they would support in 2020 had Warren in third at just 11 percent even in her home state, which rival campaigns read as a sign of weakness. She trailed former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). O’Rourke was behind her by only one percentage point.
“Those are warning signs from the voters who know her best,” the Globe wrote in its editorial. “While Warren is an effective and impactful senator with an important voice nationally, she has become a divisive figure. A unifying voice is what the country needs now after the polarizing politics of Donald Trump.”
Myers, as well as other top Warren’s top aides, declined to comment for this article. Some close to the senator said it is possible that she could still have a role in a Warren campaign, but likely not the top job of campaign manager.
That role would likely be filled by another longtime Warren aide, Dan Geldon. Geldon, who was a student in Warren’s class at Harvard Law School, has worked for her in a variety of capacities and has built deep ties among liberal groups that have formed Warren’s base of support. He was director of youth outreach for the Democratic National Committee in 2004, and ran a 2008 House campaign for Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.).
When Warren first ran for Senate and burst onto the national scene by defeating Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), she hired Myers as campaign manager and Geldon as senior adviser.
After she won, Myers became her chief of staff and Geldon was her deputy chief of staff. Myers left in December 2015 to work on electing Senate Democrats, becoming the first woman to lead the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. But she remained in the core nucleus of advisers that Warren relied upon, and was widely expected to return to her operation for the presidential campaign.
“Mindy has been wonderful, and I can’t overstate the positive influence she’s had over the last four years,” Warren said when Myers left her office. “I’m incredibly grateful to Mindy — for helping me win the Senate seat and for working every day to help me use this seat to level the playing field for hard-working families.”
In a large crop of potential candidates, Warren is one of the few whose presidential decision could significantly affect the rest of the field.
New York magazine in July put her on the cover — jogging to a campaign rally, with the headline “Front Runner?” — and she would enter the race with one of the most daunting fundraising operations. At the end of her Senate reelection, she still had $12.5 million left in her campaign account, giving her an advantage in raising the kind of money needed.
But one of the biggest hurdles she has had to clear is explaining her claim of Native American heritage, which Republican critics, including President Trump, have used to argue she was seeking unfair advantage. A Globe review earlier this year found that ethnicity was not a factor in her career advancements.
In October, she took the extraordinary step of releasing the result of a DNA test that showed that Warren had a Native American ancestor between six and 10 generations ago. She sought to cast it as an ultimate act of transparency, and used it to call on Trump to release his tax returns.
That triggered both blowback from minorities and Native Americans and also criticism that she had submitted to a bully — precisely the opposite of her statements that she would be best positioned to aggressively take Trump on. So far, though, she has not expressed any regrets.
“I put it out there. It’s on the Internet for anybody to see,” she told the New York Times in a recent interview. “People can make of it what they will. I’m going to continue fighting on the issues that brought me to Washington.”
Trump ‘embraces dictators of all stripes,’ Elizabeth Warren says
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks Thursday [11-29-18]
at American University in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
In a step toward a potential 2020 White House bid, Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Thursday delivered a blistering critique of President Trump’s foreign policy, accusing him of emulating dictators and emboldening white supremacists.
“We must face reality head-on: President Trump’s actions and instincts align with those of authoritarian regimes around the globe,” Warren said in the speech at American University in Washington. “He embraces dictators of all stripes. He cozies up to white nationalists. He undermines the free press and incites violence against journalists. He attacks the independence of our judiciary. He wraps himself in the flag and co-opts the military for partisan purposes — but he can’t be bothered to visit our troops in harm’s way.”
She accused Republicans in Washington of backing Trump at the expense of “fundamental American values.” And she prompted applause from the crowd when she declared, “The time for holding back is over.”
The top 15 Democratic presidential candidates for 2020, ranked--#1 is Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks at Brown University in Providence,
R.I., on Wednesday. (Bob Breidenbach/The Providence Journal via AP, Pool)
WP 11-9-18 Aaron Blake
15. Rep. John Delaney (Md.):
14. Michael Avenatti: Democrats are starting to warm to his brash, in-your-face style, and some, like Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder, are even newly embracing a version of it themselves.
13. Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick: Patrick admitted a couple months ago that he’s not sure he sees a place for himself in the 2020 race. I still think he would be formidable if he did run — especially given the enthusiasm among some Obama types. [young, black male]
12. Hillary Clinton
11. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.): If Democrats want a pragmatic, smart pick, she’s making a case for it. She’s not the liberal fire-breather some want, though.
10. Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe
9. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg
8. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Tex.)
7. Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
6. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) [young, blonde femaile]
5. Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) very outspoken against Kavanaugh hearting
4. Former vice president Joe Biden [bland]
3. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.): Perhaps nobody on this list has Harris’s upside -- if she puts it all together
Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.)
2. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.): Sanders ran a somewhat sleepy reelection race (which was all that was required), and I keep half-expecting him to assert himself as a national leader of the Democrats — kind of how he attempted to during that tour with DNC Chairman Tom Perez. Maybe he recognizes that he doesn’t need all that, and he can just turn his base on the moment he starts running again. We’ll see.
1. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)
At a town hall in Holyoke, Mass., on Sept. 29, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said
she would "take a hard look at running for president," after the midterms. (Elizabeth Warren)
Elizabeth Warren: Democrats Will Keep Losing Until the Entire Party Is 'Willing to Take on the Billionaire Class'
"Money is going to drown our democracy, and if we don't start fighting back, and fighting back more aggressively, then we are part of the problem as well."
byJake Johnson, Sunday, June 10, 2018 byCommon Dreams
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks on healthcare as Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-Vt.) listens during an event September 13, 2017. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Several Senate Democrats were deeply offended when their colleague Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) publicly called them out by name for backing a bank deregulation bill that will heighten the chances of yet another devastating financial crisis, but that hasn't deterred the Massachusetts senator from continuing to denounce members of her own party for cozying up to corporate power.
In a new interview on Mehdi Hasan's "Deconstructed" podcast, Warren said she agrees with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that too many Democrats lack the "guts" to take on Wall Street and argued that her party's struggles will continue until all of its members are "willing to take on the billionaire class."
"Until we have all of the Democrats who are willing to fight for the American people and not for a handful of billionaires and giant corporations, then it's going to stay an uphill fight," Warren argued.
The Massachusetts senator went on to note that Democrats' refusal to take on Wall Street greed and criminality is part of a broader, systemic crisis that has infected the entire American political system.
"Citizens United is taking the legs out from underneath democracy. And we have to be willing to overturn Citizens United," Warren said. "I get it that it's hard. But we can't give up on it, because money is going to drown our democracy. And if we don't start fighting back and fighting back more aggressively, then we are part of the problem as well."
Elizabeth Warren builds expansive Democratic campaign effort ahead of likely 2020 bid WP<10-14-18P>
BOSTON — During the past six months, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has built a shadow war room designed to elect Democrats across the country in the midterm elections, overtaking some of the traditional duties of Democratic Party campaign committees and further positioning herself for an all-but-certain 2020 presidential bid.
Her effort, which goes far beyond the fundraising and endorsement speeches in which prospective presidential candidates typically engage, has encompassed work in all 50 states and close coordination with more than 150 campaigns. The result is a wide-ranging network that includes those running for state treasurer in Nevada, state legislature in Iowa and congressional offices across the country.
It is unmistakably aimed at some of the early-primary states that Warren would need to contest in a presidential campaign. She has deployed staffers to all four early primary states — two to New Hampshire and one each to Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada — as well as to traditional powerhouses such as Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin.
“I feel the urgency of the moment nationally,” Warren said in an interview. “It’s two parts: It’s holding Donald Trump accountable for what he does. It’s also trying to push this country toward working better for hard-working families.”
The Warren effort, while beneficial to a presidential campaign she said she will “take a hard look” at after the midterms, also signals how decentralized the national Democratic Party has become as most of the energy is being generated by individuals who are building their own operations.
On the fundraising front alone, scores of Democrats have raised more than $1 million each in pursuit of House seats this year; in Texas, Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke pulled in more than $38 million in the most recent fundraising quarter.
Warren is still helping the official campaign committees — donating and raising money for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, for example — but much of her work is independent of them and appears aimed at restocking a Democratic bench that has become woefully thin in recent years.
Warren, who has built a prodigious fundraising network for her Senate campaign, also has raised or donated $7.6 million for other candidates and committees this cycle. On Monday, one of her aides said, she plans to donate an additional $460,000, which appears to place her ahead of most of her potential 2020 rivals except for Michael Bloomberg, who is spending $100 million of his own money on the midterms.
“I speak a lot to candidates who are running this year,” said David Axelrod, a top political adviser to former president Barack Obama. “She’s the first call they get after a primary. It’s not just the winners she’s calling, she’s calling the losers, too. .?.?. The scale is pretty impressive.”
“This is how you go about building relationships and acquiring chits for a future project. It’s very smart,” he added. “If you were advising someone who had the resources of someone who was going to run for president, this is what you would do.”
Warren’s midterm operation is housed in a back office of her Senate reelection headquarters here. Every day, about a half-dozen staffers report to work, picking at salads and pecking away on laptops, sending messages to the campaigns across the country to which they are assigned. Whiteboards on the wall list the various races they are tracking, a map shows the places Warren has visited or where staffers are based, and there’s a list of candidates Warren needs to follow up with personally.
The operation — which internally is called the Democratic Outreach Team, or DOT — began in early 2018 when Warren’s staff started researching individual races in all 50 states, examining candidates and evaluating polling, fundraising and on-the-ground dynamics.
“We know every single district,” a Warren aide involved in the effort said. “We’ve researched every district. We’re granularly paying attention to every place on the map.”
Warren deliberately stayed out of almost every Democratic primary. But shortly after a winner was declared, Warren placed a congratulatory call — something she did for 172 candidates, by her staff’s tally — and offered campaign assistance. Someone from her staff was then assigned to the candidate to provide help or solicit requests.
After Nevada’s primary in June, Warren was on the phone with Zach Conine, who is running for state treasurer. “She was the only elected official outside of the state of Nevada who called,” he said.
When Deidre DeJear, who is running for secretary of state in Iowa, came to Washington a few weeks ago, Warren’s staff made sure they had time to meet. “She was super encouraging, and said, ‘Don’t let up,’?” DeJear said. “I said, ‘Yes ma’am.’?”
In June, when Liuba Grechen Shirley won her House primary in New York, Warren was among the first to call.
About once a week since then, Warren’s team has been in touch with Shirley’s campaign manager, Anna Brichacek. They share policy memos, craft fundraising emails and discuss ways to amplify their social media messages. When one of Shirley’s field directors was hospitalized, Warren called to wish her well.
“A lot of people are being helpful,” said Shirley, who is running against Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) in a district that most have expected to remain in Republicans’ hands. “But no one has been more helpful than Elizabeth Warren.”
She said Warren is helping fill a void and able to energize the wave of first-time candidates running this year.
“The Republicans are really good at building a bench,” Shirley said. “This is something the Democratic Party hasn’t done a great job of. I really appreciate that she is taking the time to build a bench.”
Warren insists she is not ignoring her race in Massachusetts, in which she is the runaway favorite. She did her 37th town hall on Saturday and is slated for three debates with her Republican opponent, Geoff Diehl.
It is largely because she is on such firm political territory that she can look elsewhere. Warren insists that her efforts now are not about laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign and that she’d be doing the same thing regardless of any national plans.
“This is about the urgency of now — of the importance of the midterms. And the long arc here is about investing in democracy, which stretches way beyond 2020,” she said.
“I said I’d take a hard look after the election,” she said of a presidential race. “But not now. That’s not what this is about.”
The 2020 contest, though, is expected to begin in earnest almost immediately after the midterms. With a fluid Democratic race that has potential candidates numbering in the dozens, candidates are doing anything they can to gain an advantage.
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey has raised more than $7 million for other candidates and traveled to 21 states. Former vice president Joe Biden has traveled or raised money for 24 candidates and offered endorsements to an additional 74 candidates. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, is launching a nine-state tour later this week.
Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California has raised or contributed more than $6.5 million and has traveled to 10 states this year to campaign with Democratic candidates and has plans for more. Like Warren, she has been calling candidates and offering assistance. One of her staffers left to work for Abby Finkenauer, a congressional candidate in Iowa.
What seems to set Warren apart is the breadth of the operation.
Warren’s team has offered to send out emails to her list (180 times), given contributions (167 times) or provided policy documents (63 times). She also has met with candidates one-on-one (61 times) and done videos (36 times) and fundraisers (41 times).
Most of those she has helped are running for Congress, but she’s also met with candidates in key 2020 states — such as Mark Smith, running for reelection to the Iowa House, and Catherine Byrne, who is running for controller in Nevada.
“The energizing part of the new 2018 candidates is they’re running hard and they’re running for something,” Warren said. “And they’re not apologizing to anybody for it.”
Elizabeth Warren's Homepage as Senator
The Woman Who Knew Too Much "Millions of Americans hoped President Obama would nominate Elizabeth Warren to head the consumer financial watchdog agency she had created. Instead, she was pushed aside...A Harvard law professor, one of the nation’s leading bankruptcy experts and consumer advocates, the 62-year-old Warren had come up with the idea for the agency in 2007... she had become like a modern-day Mr. Smith, giving voice to regular citizens astonished at the failure of Washington to protect Main Street"
America Without a Middle Class by Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the banking bailouts.
Elizabeth Warren On What A Presidential Bid Would Mean "This is about concentrated money and power on one side, but it's about our values, our voices and our votes on our side."
Elizabeth Warren isn’t running for president. Just ask (and ask and ask ) her
Why Elizabeth Warren is perfectly positioned for 2016 (if she wanted to run [for president]). "But there is one thing that will keep the pilot light of the Warren for President speculation aflame: the almost-gaping hole in the Democratic primary that seems tailor-made for her... Look no further than the new Washington Post-ABC News poll for a little glimpse into that void. The poll shows that a huge portion of the Democratic base not only dislikes Wall Street and big business; its voters actually think these institutions are inflicting harm on them personally.
Did Elizabeth Warren Just Open the Door to a White House Run? After months of insisting that a 2016 bid is off the table, the Massachusetts senator sounds a different note.
Elizabeth Warren for President
Signed up I'm all in
Joined the team
Make phone calls
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