Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has made detailed, progressive policy proposals central to her Democratic presidential bid. So much so that you can buy "Warren has a plan for that" swag from her campaign store.
Her proposals cover everything from imposing a wealth tax on the nation's richest, to breaking up certain big tech companies, to transitioning the country to 100% clean energy in an effort stave off the worst effects of climate change.
Below are some of Warren's more notable plans. But first, we recommend these helpful resources as well:
OK, back to Warren:
Warren says several of her ambitious plans would be paid for by her wealth tax, which would impose a 2% levy annually on households with net worth greater than $50 million. Initially, Warren said the tax would rise to 3% for net worth above $1 billion, but she doubled that percentage, to 6%, to help finance her Medicare for All plan.
Two economists advising her campaign have estimated the tax would affect the wealthiest 75,000 households in the United States, and would raise trillions of dollars in revenue over a decade.
Following Warren, her progressive rival, Bernie Sanders, introduced his own wealth tax.
Medicare For All
Health care is very often a top concern for people — and a WBUR poll found it is the No. 1 issue for voters in this region.
But for months on the campaign trail, Warren didn't have her own overhaul of the nation's health system, instead signing on to Sanders' Medicare for All plan that would essentially do away with private insurance.
Warren has said that Medicare for All "is the best way to give every single person in this country a guarantee of high-quality health care. Everybody is covered. Nobody goes broke because of a medical bill. No more fighting with insurance companies."
After facing persistent questions about how she'd pay for a single-payer system, Warren on Nov. 1 unveiled a detailed financing plan.
Her proposal would require $20.5 trillion in new federal spending over a decade. Nearly half of that money would come from employers paying the federal government, rather than contributing to their employees' health insurance. Trillions more, Warren says, would come from the aforementioned wealth tax, and from raising corporate taxes, instituting a tax on financial transactions, and boosting IRS enforcement aimed at reducing tax avoidance.
And as NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben reports, though "middle-class Americans would no longer pay health premiums or copays ... they would, however, pay taxes on whatever additional take-home pay they would receive from this plan. That would add $1.4 trillion in revenue, [Warren's] team estimates."
(For more on the proposed financing plan, check out this Vox explainer.)
Here's how the Massachusetts senator would transition to single-payer: She says within her first 100 days as president, she'd use the budget reconciliation process to give every American the choice of getting coverage through a Medicare for All option. She says this coverage would be free for anyone under age 18 and for families earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level. Then, she says, "no later than my third year in office, I will fight to pass legislation that would complete the transition to full Medicare for All."
Among Warren's other health care proposals are a plan to permit the federal government to manufacture generic drugs in cases "where the market has failed," such as when a drug's price spikes, and legislation that would disburse $100 billion in federal funding over a decade to fight the opioid crisis.
A week into the new year, Warren released her plan on bankruptcy, promising to overhaul the consumer system to make it easier and cheaper for Americans to file.
She says the plan will also end the rules that make it difficult to discharge student loan debt through filing for bankruptcy, and address racial and gender disparities.
The move sets her up for a fight with former Vice President Joe Biden. The pair have clashed over the issue during a 2005 Senate hearing, when Biden was on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Warren was still a Harvard Law School professor.
Biden backed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Act, a reform bill that made it more difficult to file for bankruptcy. Warren — then testifying as an expert on bankruptcy, having studied it extensively throughout her career — vehemently opposed the legislation, saying it was a loss of protection for working families.
By mid-October, Warren had unveiled several components of a climate agenda.
As her campaign wrote on her website: "To really bend the curve on climate, we’ll need sustained big, structural change across a range of industries and sectors. That’s why Elizabeth has woven climate policy throughout her plans."
The centerpiece of her climate agenda is a commitment to rapidly transition the country to 100% clean energy. Her $1 trillion proposal builds on the plans put forth by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a former Democratic presidential candidate who made climate change the focus of his campaign.
Warren aims to invest an additional $2 trillion on green research and development, and green manufacturing and exporting. An independent analysis from Moody's projects the $2 trillion plan would create more than a million jobs over 10 years.
Other aspects of her climate agenda include:
(InsideClimate News, a nonprofit newsroom focused on environmental journalism, has more on Warren's stances on the issue.)
The Massachusetts senator says she'd use executive action to "bring the vast majority of private [gun] sales under the existing background check umbrella."
With Congress, she'd work to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. She'd also seek legislation to create a federal firearm licensing system, to increase taxes on gun manufacturers, and to raise the minimum age for gun purchases to 21.
With her sweeping plan, Warren has a goal of reducing the nation's gun deaths by 80%.
Blasting President Trump's "policy of cruelty and division that demonizes immigrants," Warren's proposed overhaul would aim to provide a pathway to citizenship for the country's millions of undocumented immigrants.
It would also seek to decriminalize migration to the U.S., making it solely a violation of civil immigration law.
In addition, Warren says she'd remake U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, end "unnecessary detention" of migrants, and raise the nation's refugee cap. She'd also work to establish independent immigration courts and expand legal immigration.
Her plan would expand the definition of lobbyists and impose "strict rules" on them, and ban lobbying for foreign entities — all components of her effort to, as she says, "end lobbying as we know it."
Among its other provisions, the proposal would require senior government officials to divest from privately owned assets that could present conflicts of interest, bar members of Congress from trading stocks or serving on corporate boards, and ban trading based on insider political information.
In mid-October, she unveiled another plan, "to get big money out of politics." In it, she called for disallowing corporate political action committees from contributing to federal candidates, enacting contribution limits and disclosure requirements for inaugural committees, and requiring "dark money" groups to disclose donors.
Breaking Up Big Tech
Targeting Amazon and Google, Warren says tech behemoths shouldn't be able to own a marketplace and participate in the marketplace. So she's proposed legislation to prohibit companies with annual revenue of at least $25 billion from owning what she's calling a "platform utility" and being a participant on that platform. (Think Amazon selling its own products on the Amazon Marketplace.)
She also aims to appoint regulators committed to reversing "anti-competitive tech mergers" like Facebook's purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram.
Warren's plan would seek to "guarantee high-quality child care and early education for every child in America from birth to school age."
To do that, the federal government would partner with local providers to create a nationwide network of options for families. Access would be free for families earning less than 200% of the federal poverty line, and capped at 7% of income for all other families. (For a family of four, 200% of the poverty line is currently $51,500.)
Warren says her wealth tax would easily pay for this childcare plan.
(Check out this March 2019 report by WBUR's Max Larkin on what it would take to get universal childcare in the U.S.)
Warren would also use revenue from her wealth tax to quadruple Title I funding for public education — a boost of $450 billion over 10 years.
In addition, her proposal would push to cancel all existing student meal debt, de-emphasize high-stakes testing, and end zero-tolerance discipline policies.
Her plan would also halt federal funding for the expansion of charter schools and ban for-profit charter schools.
The Massachusetts senator wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, ban noncompete clauses, strengthen workplace protections for employees, crack down on violators of labor law, boost the power of unions, and clarify that graduate students are official employees who can unionize, among the provisions outlined in her proposal.
She's also re-upped her legislation that would mandate that at very large U.S. corporations, at least 40% of their board of directors would have to be picked by the firm's workers.
Warren says she'd invest $500 billion over 10 years to build, preserve and rehab more than 3 million affordable housing units. Her campaign estimates that the increased housing supply would reduce rental costs by 10% over 10 years. Her plan would also incentivize state and local governments to eliminate zoning rules that "needlessly drive up the cost of construction."
To protect vulnerable renters, Warren says she'd fight for a nationwide right-to-counsel for low-income tenants and create a federal "just cause" eviction standard.
So, if Warren is elected president, how might any of these proposals that require congressional approval actually, you know, pass?
One step that would make passage easier: Warren is among the Democrats who've called for eliminating the Senate's legislative filibuster. Especially in recent years, the filibuster has often meant that 60 votes — not a simple majority — are needed to pass bills in that chamber.
This article was originally published on October 15, 2019.