On Saturday morning, as the nation’s attention turned to the white supremacist march in Charlottesville and its violent aftermath, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) used a speech at the progressive Netroots Nation convention to lay down a marker for the Democratic Party’s future.
There was little buzz in the room about the 2020 presidential primaries — shouts of “Run Warren Run” and “Warren 2020″ were short and muted. But Warren, one of the party’s most popular figures, told activists that they could safely ignore any advice about how Democrats could win only through moderation.
Here are four points that we’re probably going to hear more about as the left wages and mostly wins battles inside the party.
No fear of “identity politics.” Near the top of her remarks, Warren ridiculed — by name — a New York Times op-ed in which pollster Mark Penn and disgraced politician Andrew Stein beseeched Democrats to “move to the center and reject the siren calls of the left.” This, according to Warren, not-so-subtly suggested that the party needed to pander to white voters at the expense of non-whites.
“Apparently, the path forward is to go back to locking up non-violent drug offenders and ripping more holes in our economic safety net,” Warren said. Later, she counted off a series of issues where Democrats decisively took the side of black activists. The “system is rigged,” she said…
… when the black-white wealth gap triples over the past three decades. When racist voter ID laws and voter suppression tactics sprout like weeds all across the country. When a man too racist to become a judge in the 1980s now runs the Department of Justice. When communities like Flint are living with poisoned water and polluted air. When there’s still no justice for, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile and so many more.
Warren’s opposition to Attorney General Jeff Sessions was already famous, especially on the left, but it was striking that she called him a racist — and she did so to applause.
Defining the “bad” donors. Warren, who has repeatedly criticized her party’s 2016 presidential campaign messaging, included one pointed line: “We’re not going back to the days when a Democrat who wanted to run for a seat in Washington first had to grovel on Wall Street.” It was impossible to hear that line and not think of how Hillary Clinton’s campaign, especially after the primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), never shook off the stigma of “Wall Street money.”
But Warren, who represents Martha’s Vineyard and other bastions of big Democratic money, defined the bad sort of donations narrowly. That reframed the kind of argument that broke out after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) met with “Clinton donors.” It would be impossible to fund Democratic campaigns without most of the people who backed Clinton; it is possible, and likely a good frame for 2018 and 2020, to noisily reject financial industry money.
Labor rights as civil rights. Warren suggested that Democrats needed to get behind basically every priority of the labor movement, and make it easier to join a union, a cause that was stymied in 2010 when Democrats lost the supermajority that could have passed the Employee Free Choice (or card check) bill.
“We’re going to fight for fully portable benefits for everyone,” said Warren, “and we’re going to fight to make sure that all work — full-time, part-time, gig — carries basic, pro-rata benefits. We’re going to fight to make it easier for workers to come together to form a union so they can take power into their own hands. And we’re going to turn the minimum wage into a living wage. Fight for $15!”
Single-payer health care as a 2020 standard. The arguments between Democrats about whether every 2018 candidate should back single-payer health care are happening, in part, because single-payer is becoming a de facto Democratic position in 2020. Every Senate Democrat seen as a potential candidate, from Warren to Harris to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), now backs “Medicare for All.” Even Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), who launched the first 2020 bid this month to — let’s be honest — an avalanche of skepticism, has said he’s “for single-payer evolving from the context of the market we have now.”
Warren used her speech to reiterate her support for expanding Social Security payments, and to make single-payer the party’s default health-care pitch. “It’s not enough just to defend the Affordable Care Act, we’re going to improve it, starting with bringing down the costs of prescription drugs — and leading the fight for Medicare for all,” she said.
While the Democratic Party is still reeling from the shock of Donald Trump’s upset victory in November, progressives are already planning for how to effectively react to the upcoming Trump administration — and reclaim the party for one of their own in 2020.
The job of opposing Donald Trump will seemingly fall to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who became Hillary Clinton’s chief rival in the 2016 Democratic primaries by running on an unapologetic left-wing economic, social and foreign policy agenda.
“Progressives are used to punching up, but here we find ourselves in a real position of credibility and power,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive caucus, in an interview with The Guardian on Wednesday. Sanders has already been chosen as minority leader for the Democrats on the Senate’s powerful budget committee, and as The Guardian notes, his next move will be to make sure that fellow progressive Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota becomes the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
“Right now we are fighting for the chair of the DNC and it is truly emblematic of the division within the Democrats,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the National Nurses United and a Sanders supporter. “If the Democratic party rejects the Sanders base, it will be at their extreme peril.”
Dan Cantor, the founder and executive director of the Working Families party, was more blunt when expressing the same sentiment to The Guardian. “We have to do in 2018 what the Tea Party did in 2010,” Cantor said, referring to the right-wing grassroots movement that dealt severe losses to the Democratic Party in that year’s midterm elections.
Progressives are also heartened by the news earlier this month that Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is going to join the Armed Services Committee. Because Warren is best known for her criticisms of Wall Street and defenses of workers’ rights, her impending tenure on the Armed Services Committee is being widely perceived as an effort to beef up her resume for a potential presidential run in 2020.
Warren says she wants to join the Armed Services Committee because three of her brothers served in the military, and because Massachusetts ranks in the top 10 states for military spending. When asked by a local TV station in Massachusetts whether she was running for president, she dismissed it by saying that election isn’t on her “radar screen.”
This hasn’t stopped Democrats like Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, from saying that “Elizabeth Warren would make a wonderful president,” which he told Time Magazine shortly after Warren’s assignment to the Armed Services Committee was announced.
Both him and Hillary got shafted by the media obsession with Trump.
A group of more than 90 artists, musicians and actors are pleading with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016, including actors Ed Norton, Mark Ruffalo, Susan Sarandon and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore.
The "Artists for Warren" signed an open letter to Massachusetts Democrat saying that they are "joining hundreds of thousands of Americans who want to passionately urge you to run for president."
The group, which also includes actresses Olivia Wilde, Julia Stiles and director Joss Whedon, says that "we need someone who stands up for the people — America's students, mothers, retirees, teachers, minimum-wage workers — instead of for the big banks and corporations."
While the letter doesn't mention the name of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her pending nomination is implied throughout.
Some Democrats in the more progressive wing of the party have said they are concerned that Clinton is too close to Wall Street, and they see Warren as the Clinton alternative.
"There's too much at stake to have anything other than our best candidates taking part in the debate," the Artists for Warren write. "Everyone is better off with a contested primary."
Warren emphatically said in December that she is "not running for president," but that hasn't stopped the "draft" Warren movement from spreading.
There is a nationwide movement of liberal activists determined to convince the Massachusetts senator to run for president. Democracy for America and MoveOn.org, as well as Ready for Warren, which was organized by MoveOn.org, and others are all behind the movement.
"Senator Warren, we're ready to show you that you have the support to enter this presidential race," the artists group wrote.
"We're ready to fight with you, Senator Warren. Please, run for president," they added.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is backing Bernie Sanders' plan for single-payer health care, which also goes by the name "Medicare for All."
"There is something fundamentally wrong when one of the richest and most powerful countries on the planet can't make sure that a person can afford to see a doctor when they're sick," Warren wrote in an email to supporters on Thursday. "This isn't any way to live."
Warren said she is co-sponsoring Sanders' Medicare for All bill, slated to be introduced later this month, and she asked supporters to sign a petition in support of the measure.
"Medicare for All" and single payer health care have been topics of debate within the Democratic Party, as progressives have repeatedly mounted pushes for the measure.
Opponents have criticized government-run health care as a potentially expensive proposal and questioned how effective it would be.
Details of the Sanders proposal were not immediately available.
Warren is up for re-election in 2018. She is considered in some political circles a potential candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
Sanders, a socialist from Vermont, ran as a Democrat in the 2016 presidential election, losing the nomination to Hillary Clinton.
In her email to supporters, Warren praised the federal Affordable Care Act, noting that now insurance companies can't deny people with pre-existing conditions and people can stay on their parents' insurance until they're 26 years old.
"But there's so much more we could do right now to bring down the costs of quality health care for every American. We could start by ending health insurance company price gouging - ending high deductibles, surprise bills, and endless fights with insurance companies over coverage for critical medical procedures or out-of-pocket costs," Warren wrote. "We could also cut the cost of prescription drugs by importing drugs from Canada, where the same prescription can sometimes cost far less than in the US."
According to Warren, Medicare for All is "one way that we can give every single person in the country access to high quality health care."
Warren predicted insurance and drug companies will oppose the measure. "The American people have made it clear that they believe health care is a basic human right - but it will be a tough fight," she added.
Elizabeth Warren Stunned By Greed Of Giant
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is trying get rid of the CEO of Wells Fargo — for the second time in 12 months.
The Wall Street megabank has been in the Massachusetts senator’s crosshairs since it came to light in 2013 that it created as many as 3.5 million fake accounts for customers, resulting in millions of dollars in fraudulent fees and weakened credit scores.
Warren has been on a crusade to oust Wells Fargo’s senior management ever since. In 2016, after a high-profile exchange with Warren during his testimony went south, former Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf resigned amid public outcry. And on Tuesday, Warren returned to the spotlight when she told Stumpf’s replacement, CEO Tim Sloan, “You should be fired,” during a banking committee hearing.
“Replacing an insider CEO who personally profited from the bank opening millions of fake accounts with another highly placed insider who personally profited from the same activity does not lead to change at the bank,” Warren told Vox in an interview after the hearing.
To her, replacing the bank’s leadership isn’t merely a symbolic gesture. Instead, she sees forcing a change in personnel — which, she notes, the Federal Reserve has the power to do to Wells Fargo should it so choose — as itself a meaningful policy action, one that would help reform the bank’s culture and could deter bad actors throughout the industry.
“Start with a little criminal responsibility,” she adds, “and see if that doesn’t clear things up at Wells.”
I spoke to Warren about the Wells Fargo scandal, Tuesday’s hearing, and whether longtime critics of Wall Street are beginning to win.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, called on White House officials Wednesday to clarify President Donald Trump's stance on raising the minimum wage, contending that he offered shifting support for the policy throughout his 2016 campaign.
The Massachusetts Democrat penned a letter to top White House economic advisers seeking clarification on whether the administration supports increasing the federal minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25 per hour.
Warren further pressed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett to provide information on policies the administration will pursue to ensure all American workers "can earn a living wage."
Pointing to Trump's previous comments on the issue, the Democrat argued that his "campaign-trail expressions of support for raising the minimum wage seemed to be consistent with his promises to be a president 'who will protect [workers] and fight for them,' get wages up, be 'the greatest jobs president that God ever created' and make every policy decision based on whether or not 'it create[s] more jobs and better wages for Americans.'"
Those statements, however, were muddied by Trump's other remarks on the issue, including his claim that U.S. "wages are too high" and his suggestion that he wanted to repeal the federal minimum wage altogether, Warren offered.
Further, the senator contended, his actions in office "have broken his promise to look out for the interests of workers."
"Given the contradiction between President Trump's support during his campaign for significantly raising the federal minimum wage and his actions since taking office, I respectfully ask that you -- the administration's top economic policy staff -- clarify the president's position on the federal minimum wage and the prospect of raising it, so that Congress and the American people can better understand the administration's views on this critical issue for working families," she wrote.
Warren specifically called on White House officials to answer: whether the president supports raising the federal minimum wage and, if so, to what level; if Trump has asked to be advised on a proposal to raise the minimum wage; and whether staff have provided him with recommendations and analysis on the feasibility and effectiveness of raising the minimum wage.
She also urged the administration to "consider the wealth of evidence showing that increases of the minimum wage reduce poverty, reverse increases in income inequality, increase consumer spending, reduce reliance on safety net programs, increase worker productivity and stimulate the economy."
Warren's letter came several months after Democrats' renewed their push to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024.
Trump repeatedly changed his stance on issue throughout the 2016 White House race, saying in August 2015 that he opposed raising the federal minimum wage before stating in December 2015 that U.S. wages "are too low," according to a Washington Post analysis.
He again said he opposed raising the federal minimum wage in April 2016, the newspaper found. One month later, Trump said he was open to raising it, adding days later, however, that he'd like to leave such decisions up to states.
The then-GOP candidate again appeared to change his stance on the issue in May 2016, tweeting that "Goofy Elizabeth Warren lied when she says I want to abolish the federal minimum wage. See media -- asking for increase!"
By late July 2016, meanwhile, Trump expressed support for raising the federal minimum wage to $10 and letting states set their wages higher, the Post analysis found.