Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, was the first major candidate to enter the running to become the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, announcing that she was forming an exploratory committee on the last day of 2018.
Warren, 69, was born in Oklahoma City and went on to become a law professor before entering the world of public policy. Before running for U.S. Senate in 2012—and becoming the first female senator from her state—Warren chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, helping oversee the bank bailouts after the 2008 financial crisis and simultaneously raising her profile in the world of politics. She then went on to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but more on that below.
She also famously started the rallying cry, “Nevertheless, she persisted,” after Senator Mitch McConnell uttered these words about her testimony against former Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination to Attorney General.
Here, ELLE.com breaks down where Warren stands on the eight issues voters cared about most going into the midterm elections.
In March 2018, Warren introduced the Consumer Health Insurance Protection Act, which aims to make the health insurance plans available through the Affordable Care Act marketplace more affordable. Under her plan, no one would pay more than 8.5 percent of their income on premiums, according to the Huffington Post, and financial assistance would be given to some who buy health insurance on their own. She does support a Medicare for All plan but offers this as a way to protect those who buy through private insurance. (Read more about the bill, here.)
In Warren’s announcement video for her presidential bid, she plainly addressed the economy, saying she believes the middle class is under attack. “Working families today face a much tougher path than my family did,” she said. “And families of color face a path that is steeper and rockier, a path made even harder by the impact of generations of discrimination.”
Warren has a reputation as an expert in bankruptcy law, and after the financial crisis in 2008, she proposed and helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect consumers from finance abuse. In 2010, TIME magazine named her one of the “new sheriffs of Wall Street.”
Warren was against the Trump administration’s 2018 zero-tolerance policy, which separated parents from their children, telling CNN, “I think we need immigration laws that focus on people who pose a real threat. And I don’t think mommas and babies are the place that we should be spending our resources. Separating a momma from a baby does not make this country safer.”
She’s also called for the abolition of ICE, saying we need to replace ICE with “something that reflects our morality and that works,” and she has called President Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall “dumb,” according to the Boston Globe. “But it serves the president’s purposes, turning people against people, particularly against people of color, and stirring up the fear and hatred he so actively promotes,” she said.
How Women Are Treated in the U.S.
Warren has been a consistent champion for women’s rights, trying to help pass the Equal Rights Amendment, defending Planned Parenthood, and speaking out against laws that would restrict a woman’s access to abortion, like a proposed 20-week abortion ban in 2015.
She’s also supported the #MeToo movement and victims of sexual assault, telling The Cut, “The #MeToo movement is grassroots at its most powerful. It’s the reminder that we are stronger when we stand up for each other… Now the job of Congress is to change the rules around here so that we live our values every day, and we hold each other accountable. To pass rules to support people who’ve been sexually harassed all across this country.”
Warren has been vocally against the NRA’s influence in Congress and has spoken about the need for stronger background checks, common-sense gun laws, and her belief that suspected terrorists should be blocked from purchasing firearms.
In 2013, she also co-sponsored legislation that would ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
On Thursday, Warren proposed a new “wealth tax” which would affect those with assets of $50 million or more. According to CNN, Warren’s plan would impose a two percent tax on those whose net worth is more than $50 million, with an additional one percent tax on billionaires.
Gene Sperling, who served as the director of the National Economic Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter, “Wealth inequality in our nation is a national scandal. This type of wealth tax that @SenWarren is proposing is essential. It frees up dramatic amounts of resources that make it more likely the vast number Americans can have economic security & a shot at their own small nest egg.”
In November 2018, Warren gave a speech at American University, addressing some of her foreign policy positions, including her desire to reduce the defense budget and pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as her support for a “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons. Politico reports Warren spoke at length about “unfettered trade policies that she argues have left ordinary workers behind while fostering corruption among the wealthy elite around the world.”
Warren also recently published a lengthy essay about foreign policy in Foreign Affairs, which you can read in full, here. In it, she addresses protecting data rights from global tech companies, making progress on climate change by incentivizing foreign countries, and more.
Income and Wealth Distribution
The Senator believes a minimum wage should be a living wage, one that is able to support a family and allow people the chance to enter the middle class. Warren also wants to end the gender pay gap and supports legislation that would allow women to ask about a colleagues’ salary without the risk of being fired, according to Mother Jones.
She also proposed legislation in September to combat the housing crisis, called the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. It would aim to put half a trillion dollars, over 10 years, into affordable-housing programs, according to The Atlantic, and raise the estate tax. It would also lower the cost of developing houses and create grants to encourage communities to get rid of zoning laws that often limit where low-income residents can move. (Learn more about the bill, here.)
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation
Warren voted against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment. On the day of the vote, she spoke to protestors outside the Supreme Court, saying, “What the United States Senate is about to do hurts. It hurts every survivor of sexual assault who has been ignored…every woman who has been told to sit down and shut up…” She continued, “We have called out men of privilege and power who protect other men of privilege and power. We have lifted the voices of millions of survivors of sexual assault…and we have forged the bond that will make us stronger in the next fight.”
And one more thing…
Warren has drawn criticism recently for her decision to make public the results of a DNA test that suggested she has Native American ancestry. She did so partly as a response to a challenge from President Trump, who said he would give $1 million to a charity of Warren’s choosing if she could do so; he’s also taken to calling her “Pocohantas.”
Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. has said Warren’s use of the DNA test was “inappropriate and wrong.” Warren has responded about her decision to undergo the test, saying, “I am not a person of color; I am not a citizen of a tribe. Tribal citizenship is very different from ancestry. Tribes, and only tribes, determine tribal citizenship, and I respect that difference. I grew up in Oklahoma, and like a lot of folks in Oklahoma, we heard stories about our ancestry. When I first ran for public office, Republicans homed in on this part of my history, and thought they could make a lot of hay out of it. A lot of racial slurs, and a lot of ugly stuff. And so my decision was, I’m just gonna put it all out there.”