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Elizabeth Warren on Government Reform

Massachusetts Senator; former head of CFPB; Dem. Presidential Challenger

 


FactCheck: prolific past presence with high-dollar donors

Warren has rejected holding high-dollar private fundraisers during her presidential campaign, after raising money through such events throughout her Senate career. Warren has faced criticism for her prolific past presence on the high-dollar donor circuit and for the money she transferred from her Senate campaign to her presidential campaign account.

Warren also attacked her opponents for being supported by independent groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money: "[Most] on this stage are either a billionaire or receiving help from PACs that can do unlimited spending. So if you really want to live where you say, then put your money where your mouth is and say no to the PACs."

She is not backed by a super PAC, but Warren is supported by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a political action committee that is limited in the amount of money it can raise. An affiliated nonprofit, P Street Project, can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money.

Source: Washington Post excerpts of 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate , Feb 8, 2020

Now, our government is corrupt, works for rich only

People, whether they're Democrats, independents, or Republicans, understand that we've got a government works great for those at the top. Works great for drug companies, not for people trying to get a prescription filled. Works great for oil companies, not for the rest of us who see climate change bearing down on us. When you see a government that works great for those who can hire lobbyists and make big campaign donations and it's not working so great for everyone else,
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

Current election financing system favors rich

If we want to have a government that just works for millionaires and billionaires, we should continue a financing system that is largely driven by millionaires and billionaires and PAC money. We can't have a government that continues to work better and better for a smaller and smaller group at the top and doesn't work for the rest of us.
Source: CNN N. H. Town Hall on eve of 2020 N. H. primary , Feb 5, 2020

I've done 100,000 selfies, at no cost for each handshake

I'm crowding in on 100,000 selfies. That's 100,000 hugs and handshakes and stories. Stories from people who are struggling with student loan debt, stories from people who can't pay their medical bills, stories from people who can't find childcare.

Those selfies cost nobody anything. And I get it. In a democracy, we all have a lot of different points of view and everybody gets one vote. But here's the thing, people who can put down $5,000 to have a picture taken, don't have the same priorities as people who are struggling with student loan debt or struggling to pay off medical debt. I'm running a campaign where people whose voices get heard. We can't have people who can put down $5,000 for a check, drown out the voices of everyone else. They don't in my campaign and they won't in my white house.

I meet families every day in the selfie lines who talk about what it means to be crushed by student loan debt. That's why I have a proposal to ask those at the top to pay a little more.

Source: Newshour/Politico/PBS December Democratic primary debate , Dec 19, 2019

Million-dollar donors shouldn't get ambassadorships

How did Ambassador Sondland get there [as Ambassador to the European Union]? This is not a man who had any qualifications, except one: He wrote a check for a million dollars. And that tells us about what's happening in Washington, the corruption, how money buys its way into Washington. You know, I raised this months ago about the whole notion that donors think they're going to get ambassadorships on the other side. And I've taken a pledge. Anyone who wants to give me a big donation, don't ask to be an ambassador, because I'm not going to have that happen.

I asked everyone who's running for president to join me in that and not a single person has so far. I hope what we saw today during the testimony means lots of people will sign on and say we are not going to give away these ambassador posts to the highest bidder.

Source: November Democratic primary debate, on impeaching Trump , Nov 20, 2019

End lobbying as we know it

We know what we need to do. We have a lot of good ideas it, and the majority of Americans are with us on it, and yet we don't change. Why not? Because of corruption. I have the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate. It involves ending lobbying as we know it, blocking the revolving door between industry and Washington, making everyone who runs for federal office put their tax returns online.
Source: November Democratic primary debate in Atlanta , Nov 20, 2019

The elephant in the room is how campaigns are financed

Sen. Kamala HARRIS: When I called on Twitter to suspend Donald Trump's account you did not agree.

WARREN: I don't just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter. I want to push him out of The White House. That's our job. We really need to address the elephant in the room and that is how campaigns are financed. We need campaign finance rules and practices that support us all.

Source: October Democratic CNN/NYTimes Primary debate , Oct 15, 2019

Pass Equality Act in Senate with more Dems or end filibuster

Q: What will you do to ensure that the Senate passes the Equality Act?

WARREN: We can get it through the House because we got a majority in the House. What it's going to take in the Senate, we got to have more Democrats in the Senate. If you want to get something done in the United States Senate that is important and that you've got a vocal minority that's opposed to it, it's time to roll back the filibuster.

Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020 , Oct 10, 2019

End corruption of government by corporations & billionaires

The main planks of Warren's updated anti-corruption plan includ[es] banning forced arbitration clauses and class action waivers for all employment, consumer protection, antitrust, and civil rights cases. "Widely popular policies are stymied because giant corporations and billionaires who don't want to pay taxes or follow any rules use their money and influence to stand in the way of big, structural change," Warren writes. "We've got to call that out for what it is: corruption, plain and simple."
Source: Ella Nilsenella on Vox.com on 2019 Democratic primary , Sep 16, 2019

Why run for president to say what we can't do?

Rep. John DELANEY: I think Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible promises, when we run on things that are workable, not fairy tale economics. We need to encourage collaboration between the government, the private sector, and the nonprofit sector, and focus on those kitchen table, pocketbook issues that matter to hard-working Americans: building infrastructure, creating jobs, improving their pay, creating universal health care, and lowering drug prices.

WARREN: I don't understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for. Our biggest problem in Washington is corruption. It is giant corporations that have taken our government and that are holding it by the throat. We need to have the courage to fight back against that. Until we're ready to do that, it's just more of the same.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (first night in Detroit) , Jul 30, 2019

Constitutional Amendment to protect the right to vote

Warren says that "we need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and to make sure that vote gets counted," is not the only presidential contender going big on democracy issues. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is backing an amendment to "abolish the Electoral College" introduced by Senator Brian Schatz, while Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Bernie Sanders have signaled their willingness to address the Electoral College's anti-democratic impact, as have former representative Beto O'Rourke and former housing secretary Juli n Castro. Possible presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, says: "The Electoral College needs to go, because it's made our society less and less democratic." Buttigieg sees that move as part of a democracy agenda that includes action on Citizens United. Sanders has already proposed amendments to overturn Citizens United, which he decries as "one of the most disastrous decisions in history."
Source: The Nation, "Electoral College," on 2020 Democratic primary , Apr 22, 2019

Reduce influence of lobbyists, end "revolving door"

Warren has proposed a series of measures for reducing the influence of lobbyists, providing greater transparency on who is lobbying for what, and starting to get rid of the "revolving door" between the public and private sector.
Source: Current Affairs magazine, 2019 article series , Apr 16, 2019

Every vote matters: so abolish the Electoral College

The 2016 presidential election offered a reminder of just how much work remains to be done to ensure that the will of the people is reflected in our election results. At a March town-hall meeting in Mississippi, Senator Elizabeth Warren declared, "Every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is [to] have national voting, and that means [getting] rid of the Electoral College." The crowd responded with what The New York Times described as "one of her longest ovations of the night."

Warren, who also says that "we need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and to make sure that vote gets counted," is not the only presidential contender going big on democracy issues. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is backing an amendment to "abolish the Electoral College" introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz, while Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, & Bernie Sanders have signaled their willingness to address the Electoral College's anti-democratic impact.

Source: The Nation magazine on 2020 Democratic primary , Apr 8, 2019

Fight voter suppression; abolish Electoral College

We need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and to make sure that vote gets counted. We need to put some federal muscle behind that. We need to repeal every one of the voter suppression laws that is out there right now. My view is that every vote matters. And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting. And that means get rid of the Electoral College and everybody counts. Everybody ought to have to come and ask for your vote.
Source: CNN Town Hall on 2020 Democratic presidential primary , Mar 18, 2019

Supports a lifetime ban on officials becoming lobbyists

Warren calls the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act: a frontal assault on lobbying, including a lifetime prohibition that would prevent federal officeholders (including the president, members of Congress, and Cabinet secretaries) from ever becoming paid influence peddlers. Her argument is that lobbying undermines the functioning of markets, by permitting corporations to exert outsize control over the regulatory state and use government to squash competitors.
Source: The Atlantic, "Capitalism," on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Aug 28, 2018

Electing judges is a slippery slope to judges for sale

Judges don't run for office--or at least federal judges don't run for office. But some state judges have to run for reelection every few years, and as soon as they start soliciting and accepting campaign contributions, many of them cozy up to big-time corporate contributors. Welcome to the slippery slope. But even when judges don't run for office, the rich and powerful are still sniffling around, looking for a way to influence the outcome of legal disputes.

The reason is pretty simple: even if an industry loses a battle to get a law written exactly the way it wanted--the industry can try to have the new law or regulation overturned in court. For those with plenty of money to spend, the courts can provide a second bite of the apple. Don't like a new rule issued by a regulator who oversees your industry? Bring a lawsuit, and maybe a judge will knock it out. Don't like the outcome of a court case? Fight to overturn it and maybe a higher court will overrule the first court.

Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p. 202-5 , Apr 18, 2017

OpEd: Bullies regulated companies into donation disclosure

A group called "Third Way" criticized Warren. Warren apparently suspected that Third Way's criticism of her was funded by banks. So she wrote a letter to bank CEOs demanding they disclose which political groups they're funding. Warren sits on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. She's basically telling the entities whose livelihood her committee controls to stop criticizing her. This is bullying--and it's the best argument for allowing companies and individuals to anonymously criticize politicians.
Source: Quotable Elizabeth Warren, by Frank Marshall, p.195 , Nov 18, 2014

It's THEIR money & power against OUR voices & votes

Q: You say the system is rigged to help the rich people and the big banks.

SEN. WARREN. Yeah.

Q: So what is your solution?

WARREN: Washington works for anyone who can hire an army of lobbyists and lawyers. It just doesn't work for regular families. They've got the concentration of money and power that makes sure that every rule works for those who are rich. What we have on the other side, is we've only got two things. We've got our voices and we've got our votes. And we've got to make sure we get heard. That's the only way we ever get a level playing field.

Q: Is your fight with President Obama or is it with the Republicans?

WARREN: I have had very strong and frankly, pretty public, disagreements with both the Bush administration and with the current administration particularly during the financial bailout over the treatment of the biggest banks. My view was there was too much--and still is--too much of tilting the playing field in their favor.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interview: 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 11, 2014

Instead of voter suppression, do everything to help register

MA (along with many other states) had taken some heat for not following a federal law designed to make it easier for people to register to vote. The National Voter Registration Act requires states to offer people the chance to register to vote when they get a driver's license, which is why the law is usually called "Motor Voter." Seems sensible, and that part of the law was working pretty well. But since not everyone gets a driver's license--especially the disabled, elderly, and urban poor--the same law required states to invite people to register to vote when they applied for social services, such as veteran's benefits or food stamps. That's where MA had dropped the ball.

[During the 2012 election], MA was finally mailing out half a million voter registration cards. This issue is a direct shot at democracy. In many states, the Republicans have made voter suppression a regular part of their arsenal, chipping away at early voting. African American voting, student voting, you-name-it voting.

Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.251-2 , Apr 22, 2014

Overcome Wall Street's lobbyists & Congress' dirty tricks

To overcome Wall Street's armies of lobbyists and make sure everyone follows the law, we must take some key steps: Congress must stop the late-night budget tricks designed to weaken agencies responsible for enforcing the laws.
Source: 2012 Senate campaign website, elizabethwarren.com , Dec 10, 2011

Congress must represent the people and be held accountable

Congress is about to write the rules of our economic system that will guide us for the next 50 years. If they get it right we're good. If they get it wrong, the country we knew will be gone. The people need to be on their representatives in Congress & Senate. This is democracy and if we the people don't insist that those in Washington represent us then they'll go back to the same rules that benefit the large financial institutions. And frankly at that point, we're all just working for the big banks.
Source: YouTube: NWO Economics Series, video BZWY4LJ789Y , Apr 1, 2010

Matching fund for small donors, with debate requirements.

Warren signed Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act

Congressional Summary:Fair Elections Now Act--Amends 1971 FECA with respect to:

Statement of support for corresponding Senate bill: (Sunlight Foundation) Now we bring you the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, a bill that should probably be the least controversial of all. S. 375 would simply require senators and Senate candidates to file their public campaign finance disclosure reports electronically with the Federal Election Commission, the way House candidates and presidential candidates have been filing for over a decade. A version of the bill has been introduced during every congress starting in 2003 (!) yet it has been blocked repeatedly, a victim of political football.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has introduced the most recent version, which would ensure that paper Senate campaign finance reports are a thing of the past. But even with 50 bipartisan cosponsors, the bill faces an uphill battle. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, has repeatedly prevented the bill from coming to the Senate floor. We won't be deterred--as long as McConnell continues to block the bill, we'll continue to highlight that his intransigence results in delayed disclosure of vital, public campaign finance information, not to mention wasting $500,000 in taxpayer money annually. Eventually, we'll win.

Source: S375/H.R.269 14_S375 on Feb 25, 2013

Statehood for the District of Columbia.

Warren co-sponsored H.R.317

Congressional Summary: Sets forth procedures for admission into the United States of the state of New Columbia.

Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (DCist.com, Sept. 2014): The Argument Against: Congress does not have the authority to grant statehood to D.C.; the 23rd amendment, which gave D.C. three electoral votes, would have to be repealed before statehood was granted. Washington is a wholly urban, one-industry town, dependent on the federal government far in excess of any other state. Moreover, with Congress no longer having authority over New Columbia but dependent on it, New Columbia could exert influence on the federal government far in excess of any other state.

Supporters reasons for voting YEA: [Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC; the District of Columbia has one representative to Congress and no Senators; Rep. Holmes can introduce bills but her vote does not count]: This 51st state would have no jurisdiction over the federal territory or enclave that now consists of the Washington that Members of Congress and visitors associate with the capital of our country. Those would remain under federal jurisdiction. The New Columbia Admission Act was the first bill I introduced in 1991. Statehood is the only alternative for the citizens of the District of Columbia. To be content with less than statehood is to concede the equality of citizenship that is the birthright of our residents as citizens of the United States.

Source: New Columbia Admission Act 15_H317 on Jan 13, 2015

Public financing of federal campaigns by voter vouchers.

Warren co-sponsored H.R.20 & S.366

Congressional Summary:<

Supporters reasons for voting YEA:Rep. Sarbanes: Big money warps Congress' priorities and erodes the public's trust in government. This bold new legislation returns voice and power back to the American people:

  1. Empower everyday citizens to fuel Congressional campaigns by providing a My Voice Tax Credit.
  2. Amplify the voices of everyday Americans through a 6-to-1 match.
  3. Prevent Super PACs from drowning out small donor-backed candidates.

Opponents reasons for voting NAY:(Bill Moyers, Feb. 19, 2015): This citizen engagement strategy, particularly when used to court small donors, is not without its critics. Small donors, at least in the current system, often tend to be political ideologues. That trend leaves many asking: won't moving to small donors just empower extremists? Sarbanes counters, if Congress changes the political fundraising rules, they will also change the calculus for "the rational small donor who right now isn't going to give $25 because they've figured out that it's not going to matter." The prospect of a 6-to-1 match might very well impact how those less ideologically extreme potential donors think about political giving.

Source: Government By the People Act 15_S366 on Feb 4, 2015

Automatic voter registration for all citizens.

Warren co-sponsored H.R.12 & S.1088

Congressional Summary:

Supporters reasons for voting YEA: (BrennanCenter.org): Too many Americans go to vote on Election Day only to find their names are not on the voter rolls--often, wrongly deleted. The US is on the verge of a new paradigm for registering voters: automatic, permanent registration of eligible voters, which would add up to 50 million eligible voters to the rolls.

Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (Gov. Christie's veto message on the "Democracy Act", Nov. 2015): Christie called a provision establishing automatic voter registration that requires New Jerseyan to opt out a "government-knows-best, backwards approach that would inconvenience citizens and waste government resources for no justifiable reason." Automatic voter registration would have added 1.6 million people to the state's voter rolls.

Source: Voter Empowerment Act 15-S1088 on Mar 19, 2015

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