The 2020 Democratic presidential field is beginning to feel like a grade school birthday party where your parents made you invite absolutely everyone in your class, despite you only wanting to spend time with a handful of friends. Now everyone’s overcrowding your living room, guzzling soda and giving you presents you don’t even want—do these people even know you? You sure as hell don’t know them.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D—Mass.) has managed to make herself an MVP of this birthday, though, showing up just in time bearing the gifts you really wanted but were too nervous to ask your mom for. The “queen of policy,” as per former Democratic congressional candidate J.D. Scholten, is essentially bringing a gigantic pack of rainbow gel pens when you’d only had the guts to ask for a multi-color highlighter (Is this analogy dead? Can it die after I get cake?).
Her proposals go beyond the vacuous grandstanding of Beto and the historical lameness of Biden, providing a staunch challenge to Bernie’s fiery rhetoric and legislative record. Warren is putting all of her eggs in the policy basket as the campaign continues, which is not necessarily the sexiest basket, but it sure is an important one. As Paste Politics editor Shane Ryan notes, though, her impressive policy proposals aren’t necessarily getting Warren numbers, as she only has the support of 14 percent of likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters. And that’s in her home state.
The senator deserves a more prominent place in the race with her concrete ideas meant to restore the middle class, so with this in mind, we’re highlighting 10 of her biggest proposals so far.
1. Eliminating the filibuster.
Let me be as clear as I can: When Democrats next have power, we should be bold. It’s time to get rid of the filibuster if Senate Republicans abuse it to block the progress and change we need. https://t.co/US96qvBoYs— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 8, 2019
As Warren pointed out in another tweet, the Senate filibuster was used at the beginning of the 20th century to keep an anti-lynching bill from being passed and because of this, the anti-lynching legislation wasn’t passed until last year. While filibusters can sometimes be inspiring when their cause is just, most of the time it allows a vocal and stubborn minority to stymie change.
2. Introducing universal child care.
Ms. Warren’s plan, the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, would create a network of government-funded care centers based partly on the existing Head Start network, with employees paid comparably to public-school teachers. Families earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level would be able to send their children to these centers for free. Families earning more than that would be charged on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 7 percent of their income.
The plan would be funded by Ms. Warren’s proposed wealth tax on households with more than $50 million in assets, her campaign said.
Access to childcare, which under Warren’s policy would be free for those earning less than $50,000 annually, is a major burden to American families. In fact, in 2018 young people listed it as one of the main reasons they cited for either not wanting or not being sure they wanted children. Considering that 41% of American counties are experiencing Japan-level population decline, making childcare more affordable would keep us from having an increasingly aging population.
3. Breaking up big tech monopolies, primarily Facebook, Google and Amazon.
As per Warren in Medium:
First, by passing legislation that requires large tech platforms to be designated as “Platform Utilities” and broken apart from any participant on that platform.
Companies with an annual global revenue of $25 billion or more and that offer to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties would be designated as “platform utilities.”
Second, my administration would appoint regulators committed to reversing illegal and anti-competitive tech mergers.
One of the most impressive parts of Warren’s platform is her anti-trust proposals in tech. These Silicon Valley giants not only wreak economic havoc, but also have contributed to the proliferation of dangerous misinformation (what’s up, Facebook), especially during elections around the world. And, as Paste’s Jacob Weindling noted, breaking up these monopolies is a victory for capitalists and socialists alike.
4. Bringing in Medicare for All
Our obligation is to make sure that everybody gets coverage at the lowest possible cost to all of us. So what does that mean? Right now, it means fighting the Republicans who are trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. We’ve got this lawsuit going on down in Texas where the Republicans are trying to do what they couldn’t do with the vote, and that is trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to make it OK to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, to cut off access to health care for millions of Americans. So job number one is to defend the Affordable Care Act.
Job number two is to make changes where we need to make them right now. Changes to hold insurance companies accountable when they’re trying to cheat people, when they’re trying to scam people. Changes right now, and what’s happening with drugs, prescription drugs. We need to lower the cost of prescription drugs. One in four Americans say they can’t take drugs that are prescribed to them because they can’t afford to pay for them. I have, for example here, a proposal for generic drugs, which are about 90 percent of prescriptions that people fill, to bring those costs down to just a nominal cost.
And the third, how do we get universal coverage. Medicare for all. Lots of paths for how to do that. But we know where we are aiming. And that is, every American has health care at a price they can afford. And that the overall costs in the system are held as low as possible.
Admittedly, this is the weakest of her policy proposals. Warren still shies away from the question of whether she will get rid of private health insurance to make way for singer-payer health insurance. So yeah, not quite as radical as we’d like.
5. Putting corporate executives put behind bars for their part in “massive scams.”
As per Warren’s WaPo op-ed (say that ten times fast):
Too often, prosecutors don’t even try to hold top executives criminally accountable. They claim it’s too hard to prove that the people at the top knew about the corporate misconduct. This culture of complicity warps the incentives for corporate leaders. The message to executives? So long as you bury your head in the sand, you can keep collecting fat bonuses without risk of facing criminal liability.
It doesn’t have to be this way. With sustained resources and a commitment to enforcing the law, we can bring more cases under existing rules. Beyond that, we should enact the Ending Too Big To Jail Act, which I introduced last year. That bill would make it easier to hold executives at big banks accountable for scams by requiring them to certify that they conducted a “due diligence” inquiry and found that no illegal conduct was occurring on their watch. This would force executives to look for wrongdoing or face prosecution for filing false certifications with the government. The proposal would also create a permanent and well-funded unit dedicated to investigating financial crimes.
Now this is what we’re talking about. If the last two years have shown us anything, it’s that men of wealth and influence rarely have to face the consequences of their exploitative actions. Their predatory behavior is excused because the justice system capitulates to their desires. Warren’s legislation would be a step in the right direction.
6. Increasing the housing supply.
Warren has spoken about bringing down rental costs, but the cornerstone of her housing plan is the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. As she wrote in Medium:
My bill makes historic federal investments to increase housing supply. It invests $500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab units that will be affordable to lower-income families. A big chunk of that investment leverages private dollars so that taxpayers get the most bang for their buck.
By building millions of new units, my plan will reduce the cost of rent for everyone. An independent analysis from Mark Zandi, the Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, found that my plan would reduce rental costs by 10% over the next ten years. And because my plan invests in housing construction and rehabilitation, the Moody’s analysis also finds that it would create 1.5 million new jobs.
Warren has especially expressed her desire to help black families, who have long been discriminated against when it comes to home ownership.
7. Committing to anti-corruption legislation.
As seen in WaPo:
On the stump, Warren frequently mentions her ethics legislation, calling it “the biggest anti-corruption bill since Watergate.” The 289-page initiative includes at least 47 new requirements for federal officeholders and regulators, including a lifetime lobbying ban for Cabinet secretaries, tougher ethics rules for Supreme Court justices and a mandate that the Internal Revenue Service release tax returns for all federal candidates.
We are knee-deep in evil man soup right now. Warren’s policy is set to pull us out and keep us from becoming mired in it once more.
8. Enacting the Green New Deal.
A Senate aide for Warren tells Axios …
“Senator Warren has been a longtime advocate of aggressively addressing climate change and shifting toward renewables, and supports the idea of a Green New Deal to ambitiously tackle our climate crisis, economic inequality, and racial injustice.”
Okay, just about every Democratic candidate worth their salt is endorsing the Green New Deal, but its significance to our planet’s future cannot be overestimated.
9. Taxing the ultra-rich.
As reported by WaPo:
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.
The wealth tax would raise $2.75 trillion over a ten-year period from about 75,000 families, or less than 0.1 percent of U.S. households, Saez said.
In case this whole time you’ve been asking “How will we pay for this?” a) we cannot be friends and b) please see above.
10. Abolishing the Electoral College
Every vote should count—and the way we can make that happen is getting rid of the Electoral College. pic.twitter.com/pyGOkvhLzC— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) March 19, 2019
Saving arguably the best one for last. The Electoral College was designed to protect the institution of slavery and is part of the reason we are dealing with Donald Trump day in and day out. Good riddance.