Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a vivid childhood memory of her mother standing in her parents’ Oklahoma bedroom. On the bed was a dress—“the one that only comes out for weddings, funerals and graduations.” Her mother paces, cries and stares at the floor. “And she’s saying, ‘We will not lose this house, we will not lose this house, we will not lose this house.’”
Warren’s father had suffered a heart attack. He couldn’t go back to work. Warren’s mother, who at age 50 had never worked outside the family home, was terrified. So she bravely put on that special dress, walked to Sears and got a job answering telephones. “That minimum-wage job saved our house, and it saved our family. And for many, many years, growing up, I always thought, ‘That’s just the story of my mother and what she taught me.’ That no matter how scared you are, no matter how hard it looks, you reach down deep, you find what you need to find, and pull it up, and you take care of the people you love,” Warren told a hushed crowd at The Depot in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday night.
Years later, she found out that wasn’t just the story of her mother—it was the story of millions across the country. But, years later still, she realized it was also a story about government. “Because when I was a girl, a minimum-wage, full-time job in America would support a family of three. It would pay a mortgage, it would pay utilities and it would put food on the table,” Warren said. “Understand this: today in America, a full-time, minimum-wage job will not keep a mama and a baby out of poverty. That is wrong, and that is why I am in this fight.”
Warren, a Harvard professor turned Massachusetts senator, was in town to drum up support for her presidential campaign. A candidate in a crowded field for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Warren stands out for her fierce protection of the middle class and championing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog agency whose goal is to protect Americans from abuses by banks, lenders and other financial entities.
Warren called for “big, systemic change” in the political process and offered a three-point plan. The first, broadly, advocates rooting out corruption by ending lobbying “as we know it,” making the Supreme Court follow “basic rules of ethics” and forcing candidates for federal office to release their tax returns. The second point involved rewriting the country’s economic rules to better protect workers’, not big business’, interests. “And let’s be clear, whether we’re talking public unions or private unions, unions built America’s middle class, and unions will rebuild America’s middle class,” Warren said. “That’s structural change.”
Another major aspect of Warren’s plan is a two-cent tax on those whose wealth exceeds $50 million. For every dollar after $50,000,001, that person would be taxed an additional two cents. “You make it really big, put a little back in, so everybody else has a chance to make it,” she explained.
That wealth tax, Warren said, would pay for universal child care, universal pre-, and pre-pre, kindergarten and the wages of child care workers. “We could do all of that, and still have $2 trillion left over,” she said. “That tells you how badly broken this economy is. But it also tells you, just two cents, and the kind of change we can make in this economy.”
The last part of Warren’s plan championed re-writing of the country’s political rules
“to protect our democracy.” That entails passing a constitutional amendment to safeguard voters’ rights, repealing voter-suppression laws and overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
“For me, this is all about opportunity,” she said. “My daddy, he ended up as a janitor. His baby daughter got that opportunity to be a public school teacher, to be a college professor, to be a United States senator and to be a candidate for president of the United States.”
Warren concluded by fielding questions. At one point, a man started screaming, throwing around words like “treason,” “Constitution” and “health-care takeover by the federal government.” As security escorted him out, a crowd member gushed over Warren’s credentials and asked how she would take on President Donald Trump in public appearances next year.
“I think what a presidential election is all about is about fighting for the heart,” Warren said, underscoring that she has not always dreamed of being president. She’s running to make the country work better for everyone, not just the wealthy. “My answer on this, is when I get up there and fight, I’m not just fighting for myself. I’m fighting for millions of people across this country. Millions of people who just want a chance to build a future,” she declared. The crowd cheered loudly as Warren shouted, “And I’ll take it to him every time I can.”