ELKHART — Elizabeth Warren has plans for America, and she was in Elkhart Wednesday to share them with the people.
Warren, one of a large field of candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination to run against incumbent President Donald Trump, made a brief stop at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum late Wednesday morning for a free “community conversation.” Her campaign had initially planned for the event to be held at Harvest Hall-Southgate Crossing, but ended up changing the location due to the need for more space.
Speaking to a crowd of about 600 people, Warren began her talk by expressing her belief that America needs a new economic policy that doesn’t benefit big corporations over the American people.
“America’s economic policy for decades now has been letting corporations do pretty much whatever they want. In fact, helping them do whatever they want. And here’s the problem. These giant corporations, they’re not loyal to America. They’re not loyal to American workers. They’re loyal to exactly one thing: their own profits. And if they can save a nickel by moving American jobs overseas, they’ll do it in a heartbeat,” Warren said. “And keep in mind, for these big publicly traded companies, about a third of all shareholders aren’t even American. They’re foreigners. That’s not right, and that’s why I’m in this fight. Those giant corporations may not care about American workers, but I care about American workers.”
In breaking down the particulars of that new policy, Warren started with what she called “Part 1,” which calls for increasing the funding in scientific research, research and development, by 10-fold in pursuit of getting ahead of the climate catastrophe she says is already upon us.
“We face a climate crisis in this country. This is serious. This is a climate catastrophe barreling down upon us, and we need to respond,” Warren said. “We need to clean up here in the United States, but we also need to clean up all around the world. So, what will it take to attack that crisis? It’s going to take science. It’s going to take a lot of innovation. And, it’s going to take a lot of new products, a lot of new technological manufacturing. So, here’s how I see this. Cleaning up this climate crisis is going to depend on our science, on our ingenuity and on American workers.”
As part of that goal, Warren said if elected, she would make it so that any company that wants to use that research has to make the product that comes from it in the United States.
“If American taxpayers are going to foot the bill for the research, then we’re going to see American workers benefit from that research,” Warren said.
Part 2 of Warren’s plan for creating a new economic policy for America is her pledge to commit $1.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years to the purchasing of green technology with the ultimate goal of making the entire U.S. Government green.
“That has two benefits,” Warren said. “One, it allows the cleanup of a big part of what’s happening. But two, it gives guaranteed demand for the products that are being developed. Because my plan is, the government will only buy American.”
As for Part 3 of her plan, Warren said the United States needs to take its push for a greener future to the world.
“As I mentioned earlier, we’ve got to clean up here at home. But the whole world needs to clean up, and we need to be the world’s leader. We need to lead the world in innovation, in the research and in manufacturing those products,” Warren said. “So, my proposal is that, as we’re developing these products, we’re actually going to get out there and sell them around the world. Other countries do this all the time. The Chinese spend 100 times more than we do marketing their products around the world. Well, no more. We’re going to spend money so that we can sell American products all around the world. We now face a climate crisis, and our science, our innovation and our American workers are going to let us attack that head-on and save our planet.”
In addressing how she anticipates paying for this new economic policy, Warren said she has a plan that will fully fund such an initiative.
“I have it all paid for. It’s actually got two parts to the pay,” Warren said. “First is, let’s take away the subsidies from the oil and gas industry. And the second is, these giant corporations that report millions of dollars, billions of dollars in profits ... and pay zero in taxes. ... No more. You want to be an American company, pay your fair share.”
Warren mentioned how, growing up, her mother was able to support the family with a minimum-wage job — something she said is no longer possible in today’s economic climate. And part of the reason for that, she said, is that the wrong question is being asked in Washington.
Where before the question was “What does it take to raise a family?,” the question now is “Where should we set the minimum wage to maximize the profits of giant multi-national corporations?” she explained, noting that money is behind most of the decisions made in Washington today.
That, she added, is something she plans to change if elected president in 2020.
“Whatever issue brought you here today, whatever it is that gets you up early in the morning and keeps you up late at night, if there’s a decision to be made in Washington, I guarantee it’s been touched by money. It’s been influenced by money. It’s been pushed by money, by lobbyists, by campaign contributions, by bought-and-paid-for experts, by so-called think tanks, by dark money,” Warren said. “When you’ve got a government that works great for those who’ve got money, and not so much for anyone else, that is corruption pure and simple. So, what are we going to do about it? And the answer is, we can’t live in a world anymore of little changes, of small ideas. We need big, structural change in this country.”
PLAN FOR CHANGE
In explaining what this big structural change might look like, Warren said the first part involves the American people attacking corruption head-on.
“I have the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate,” Warren said. “The bad news is, we need the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate. And this plan has lots of moving parts to it. I’ll give you kind of a tasting of what’s there.”
Examples of those moving parts include: ending lobbying as we know it; blocking the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington; making the U.S. Supreme Court follow basic rules of ethics; and making every person who runs for federal office put their tax returns online.
Next, there has to be a few major structural changes in this economy, Warren explained.
As for what that might look like, Warren said one major option would be passing what she called a “wealth tax,” where the top 1/10th of 1%, or those who have assets greater than $50 million, would be charged 2 cents for every dollar they have over their first $50 million.
That, she said, would fund numerous much-needed initiatives, such as: universal child care; universal Pre-K for every 3- and 4-year-old; raise the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher; provide tuition-free public college or technical school for everyone; and cancel a major portion of the nation’s student debt.
Rounding out her plan for structural change, she said, is implementing new rules aimed at protecting our democracy.
A sampling of those new rules includes: getting rid of voter suppression laws and gerrymandering so that everyone’s vote is counted; and overturning Citizen’s United, the 2010 Supreme Court case which effectively granted corporations, nonprofits and unions unlimited political spending power.
“This is our chance,” Warren said in concluding her talk Wednesday. “Dream big. Fight hard. Let’s win!”
EXPLORING THE FIELD
Goshen resident Melissa Auvil, one of the many attendees who turned out to hear Warren’s talk Wednesday afternoon, noted that she showed up Wednesday as part of her goal to become as educated as possible when it comes to all of the available Democratic presidential candidates on the field right now.
“I know that I am going to be voting for a Democratic candidate in the 2020 general election, but I’m still undecided as to which candidate that will be,” Auvil said. “So, I’m taking any opportunity I can to hear the candidates speak when I get the chance to so that I’m getting my information right from them, and so that I can make the most educated choice I can on Election Day.”
So what’s top on her list of issues she’d like to see a candidate tackle leading up to the election?
“As a parent, I’m always paying attention to issues that have to do with education, for sure. I’ve got two elementary-aged children right now, so I’m definitely very concerned with that,” Auvil said. “And then I’m also looking ahead to student loans. Both my husband and I have master’s degrees. His is paid off, but I’m still working on mine. So, I’m definitely looking at how we can make sure we can provide the best opportunities for our kids, but not saddle them with decades of student loans.”
Also attending the talk Wednesday was Mary Waltz, of Kentland, Indiana, who said Warren is a definite front-runner when it comes to who she’ll be supporting come Election Day 2020.
“I think Warren is smart,” Waltz said. “She’s got plans for things, and she’s not promising things she can’t keep.”
John Kline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN