Here are 6 of Elizabeth Warren's bold ideas that prove she's as progressive as Bernie Sanders
Next to Sen. Bernie Sanders, the most progressive Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential race is arguably Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Warren is a details-obsessed policy wonk, outlining solution after solution for the United States. Yet her presidential campaign has been underperforming, especially in light of her strong track record. Warren, working with the Obama Administration, was instrumental in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011— and after taking on incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown in 2012 and defeating him by 7%, she was reelected by 24% when she went up against Republican nominee Geoff Diehl in the 2018 midterms.
But while Warren raised $6 million during 2019’s first quarter, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign had raised $18 million as of early April— and a Monmouth poll of Iowa voters, released April 11, found Warren enjoying 7% support compared to 16% for Sanders, 9% for South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and 27% for former Vice President Joe Biden (who hasn’t officially entered the race but will reportedly do so soon).
A variety of reasons have been offered for why Warren’s campaign hasn’t caught fire so far, ranging from sexism to President Donald Trump’s childish “Pocahontas” taunts to claims that while she is great at policy recommendations, Warren isn’t great at soundbites or reaching Americans with short attention spans. Regardless, Warren is a wealth of powerful and important ideas.
Here are six of the many areas in which the Massachusetts senator has excelled from a policy standpoint.
1. Warren realizes that gaping wealth inequality is terrible for free-market capitalism
Sanders and Warren part company when it comes to describing themselves. Sanders considers himself a “democratic socialist,” while Warren has said that she is a “capitalist to my bones.” But the New England senators agree that gaping wealth inequality is terrible for the U.S., and Warren—much like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s/early 1940s and President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s—realizes that capitalism is best served by a strong middle class. Warren recently told Bloomberg TV, “Washington is broken, and right now, it works great if you’re a billionaire. It works great if you are a giant multinational corporation. It works great for the wealthy and the well-connected, and it is not working for the rest of America.”
2. Warren understands that the U.S. tax system is rigged in favor of the 1%
The ultra-wealthy, Warren stressed to Bloomberg TV, have successfully rigged the U.S. tax system to their advantage—and the wealthiest Americans need to pay their fair share of taxes “so that we can make investments so that Washington works, government works to create opportunities for everybody else.” The U.S., Warren stressed, needs to “make democracy work better so that we make this economy work better. You were successful—God bless. But part of the deal is that you pay back so that the next kid gets a chance to be successful.”
3. Warren favors a wealth tax on the richest Americans
Like Sanders, Warren realizes that taxing the wealthiest Americans isn’t about punishing affluence (as the right often claims) but leveling the financial playing field. The Washington Post, on January 24, reported that Warren had been seeking advice on a wealth tax from liberal University of Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez—who proposed a 2% wealth tax on Americans with asserts above $50 million and a $3 wealth tax on Americans with assets above $1 billion.
4. Warren proposes breaking up the United States’ largest banks
The Great Recession was the worst financial crisis in the U.S. since the Great Depression, and Warren—not unlike Sanders—has stressed that in order to avoid another financial calamity, it is essential to break up the country’s largest banks into a bunch of smaller banks. Warren understands that competition is necessary to promote free-market capitalism rather than crony capitalism, and breaking up banks is one way to force competition. The Massachusetts senator has also proposed a 21st Century version of the Glass-Steagall Act, which mandated a separation of commercial and investment banking as part of FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s but was repealed in the 1990s.
5. Warren stresses that increasing the minimum wage is vital to having a strong middle class
When a federal minimum wage was first enacted as part of FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s, the idea wasn’t that a corporate CEO and an entry-level worker were supposed to earn the same amount of money, but that minimum wage workers should at least be able to stay afloat financially. But the United States’ stagnant minimum wage, last raised in 2009, hasn’t begun to keep up with inflation. In January, the 69-year-old Warren told reporters, “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. Today, a minimum wage job in America will not keep a mama and a baby out of poverty.”
6. Warren views universal health care as essential to a healthy economy
Calling for universal health care is something that the centrist and liberal/progressive 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have in common, but how they hope to achieve it varies. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, one of the most centrist of the Democratic hopefuls, has said she favors expanding the Affordable Care Act of 2010, also known as Obamacare, and is open to creating a public insurance option for health care. But Klobuchar opposes a Medicare-for-all plan, unlike Sanders. Warren, meanwhile, recently told Bloomberg TV that she has “signed onto Medicare for All” as well as another plan “that gives an option for buying in to Medicaid.” The “key,” Warren has stressed, is to “always keep the center of the bullseye in mind, and that is affordable health care for every American.”