The vigorous contest of
Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent
policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren details her
plan to tax excessive lobbying as part of her anti-corruption proposal. This is
from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren recently unveiled her plan for a new tax on excessive lobbying. It applies to every corporation and trade organization that spends over $500,000 per year lobbying our government. The revenue from this tax will be used to help our government fight back against the influence of lobbyists.
Based on our analysis of lobbying data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics, if this tax had been in effect over the last 10 years, over 1,600 corporations and trade groups would have had to pay up – leading to an estimated $10 billion in total revenue.
Here is more about her plan to tax
When Americans think about corporate lobbyists, they usually think about the
people in fancy suits who line the halls of Congress armed with donations,
talking points, and whatever else they need to win favorable treatment for their
big corporate clients.
They’re right. In fact, corporate interests spend more on lobbying than
we spend to fund both houses of Congress — spending more than $2.8 billion on
lobbying last year alone. That’s why I have a plan to strengthen congressional
independence from lobbyists and give Congress the resources it
needs to defend against these influence campaigns.
But corporate lobbyists don’t just swarm Congress. They also target our federal
departments like the Environmental Protection Agency and
the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau. These agencies exist to oversee giant corporations and
implement the laws coming out of Congress – but lobbyists often do their best
to grind public interest work at these agencies to a halt.
When the Department of Labor tried to protect workers from
predatory financial advisors who got rich by siphoning off large and
unnecessary fees from workers’ life savings, Wall Street lobbyists descended on
Washington to try to kill the effort – twice. When they failed
the second time, they sued to stop it in
When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau tried to crack down on
payday lenders exploiting vulnerable communities, lobbyists convinced the Trump
administration to cripple the rule –
while the payday lenders who hired them spent about $1 million at
a Trump resort.
Regulatory agencies are only empowered to implement public interest rules under
authority granted by legislation already passed by Congress. So how is it that
lobbyists are able to kill, weaken, or delay so many important efforts to
implement the law?
Often they accomplish this goal by launching an all out assault on the process
of writing new rules – informally meeting with
federal agencies to push for favorable treatment, burying those agencies
in detailed industry comments during
the notice-and-comment rulemaking process, and pressuring members of Congress to
join their efforts to lobby against the rule. If the rule moves forward anyway,
they’ll argue to an obscure
federal agency tasked with weighing the costs and benefits of agency rules that
the rules are too costly, and if the regulation somehow survives this
onslaught, they’ll hire fancy lawyers to
challenge it in court.
I have released the most sweeping set of anti-corruption reforms since
Watergate. Under my plan, we will end lobbying as we know it.
We will make sure everyone who is paid to influence government is required to
register as a lobbyist, and we’ll impose strict disclosure requirements so that
lobbyists have to publicly report which agency rules they are seeking to
influence and what information they provide to those agencies. We’ll also shut
the revolving door between government and K Street to prevent another Trump
administration where ex-lobbyists lead the Department
of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor, the
Department of Interior, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
My plan also calls for something unique – a new tax on excessive lobbying
that applies to every corporation and trade organization that spends over
$500,000 per year lobbying our government. This tax will reduce the incentive
for excessive lobbying, and raise money that we can use to fight back against
this kind of onslaught when it occurs.
Under my lobbying tax proposal, companies that spend between $500,000 and $1
million per year on lobbying, calculated on a quarterly basis, will pay a 35%
tax on those expenditures. For every dollar above $1 million spent on lobbying,
the rate will increase to 60% – and for every dollar above $5 million, it will
increase to 75%.
Based on our analysis of lobbying data provided
by the Center for Responsive Politics, if this tax had been in effect over the
last 10 years, over 1,600 corporations and trade groups would have had to pay
up – leading to an estimated $10 billion in total revenue. And 51 of them –
including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Koch Industries, Pfizer, Boeing,
Microsoft, Walmart, and Exxon – would have been subject to the 75% rate for
lobbying spending above $5 million in every one of those years.
Nobody will be surprised that the top five industries that would have paid the
highest lobbying taxes are the same industries that have spent the last decade
fighting tooth and nail against popular policies: Big Pharma, health insurance
companies, oil and gas companies, Wall Street firms, and electric
Among individual companies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would have owed the
most of any company or trade group in lobbying taxes: an estimated $770 million
on $1 billion in lobbying spending – over $400 million more than the
next-highest-paying organization, the National Association of Realtors, which
would have paid $307 million on $425 million in lobbying spending. Blue Cross
Blue Shield, PhRMA, and the American Hospital Association would have all paid
between $149 and $163 million in taxes on between $213 and $233 million in
lobbying spending. And General Electric, Boeing, AT&T, Business Roundtable,
and Comcast round out the top ten, paying between $105 million and $129 million
Every dollar raised by the lobbying tax will be placed into a new Lobbying
Defense Trust Fund dedicated to directing a surge of resources to Congress and
federal agencies to fight back against the effort to bury public interest
actions by the government.
Corporate lobbyists are experts at killing widely popular policies behind
Take just one example from the Obama administration. In October 2010, the
Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a
“fiduciary rule” to protect employee retirement accounts from brokers who charge exorbitant fees and
put their own commissions above earning returns for their clients. The idea was
simple: if you’re looking after someone’s money, you should look out for their
It’s an obvious rule – but it would cut into financial industry profits. So the
industry dispatched an army of lobbyists to fight against the
rule, including by burying the agency in public comments. In the first four
months, the DOL received hundreds of comments on
the proposed rule, including comments from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Morgan
Stanley, Bank of America, BlackRock, and other powerful financial interests.
After a public hearing with testimony from groups like Fidelity and J.P Morgan,
the agency received over 100 more comments —
including dozens from members of Congress,
many of which were
heavily slanted toward industry talking points.
Because the law requires agencies to respond to each concern laid out in the
public comments, when corporate interests flood agencies with comments, the
process often becomes so time-consuming and resource-intensive that it can kill or delay final rules altogether
– and that’s exactly what happened. On September 19, 2011, the DOL withdrew the proposed rule,
but said that it planned to try again in the future.
Undeterred, Wall Street pushed forward their lobbying campaign to ensure that
the Department of Labor wouldn’t try again to re-issue the fiduciary rule. In
June 2013, Robert Lewis, a lobbyist for an investment industry trade
group, personally drafted a letter opposing
this common-sense reform – and got 32 members of Congress to sign it. The
letter ominously urged the Department to “learn from its earlier experience”
when the financial industry had killed the first proposal. Soon, members of
Congress from both parties were joining in, telling the Obama
administration to delay re-issuing the rule.
To its great credit, the Obama Department of Labor didn’t give up. On February
23, 2015, the agency finally re-proposed the rule. Wall Street ramped up their
lobbying once more to try to kill it a second time. This time, with firm resolve
and committed allies, DOL and those of us fighting alongside
them beat back thousands of comments,
and retirees won – but it took so long that Donald Trump became President
before the rule fully went into effect.
Lobbyists have followed this same playbook to
block, narrow, or delay countless other common- sense industry regulations.
Swarm regulators and Congress, bury everyone in an avalanche of money, and
strangle government action in the public interest before it even gets off the
That’s why I’m using the revenue from my tax on excessive lobbying to
establish a new Lobbying Defense Trust Fund, which will help our government
fight back against the influence of lobbyists.
we’ll use the Lobbying Defense Trust Fund to strengthen congressional support
my plan to strengthen congressional
independence from lobbyists, I explained how lobbying tax revenue
would help to reinstate the Office of Technology Assessment and increase the
budget for other congressional support agencies, like the Congressional Budget
we’ll give more money to federal agencies that are facing significant lobbying
time a company above the $500,000 threshold spends money lobbying against a
rule from a federal agency, the taxes on that spending will go directly to the
agency to help it fight back. In 2010, DOL could have used that money to hire
more staffers to complete the rule more quickly and intake the flood of
industry comments opposing it.
revenue from the lobbying tax will help to establish a new Office of the Public
office will help the American people engage with federal agencies and fight for
the public interest in the rule-making process. If this office had existed in
2010, the Public Advocate would have made sure that DOL heard from workers and
retirees – even while both parties in Congress were spouting industry talking
My new lobbying tax will make hiring armies of lobbyists significantly more
expensive for the largest corporate influencers like Blue Cross Blue Shield,
Boeing, and Comcast. Sure, this may mean that some corporations and industry
groups will choose to reduce their lobbying expenditures, raising less tax
revenue down the road – but in that case, all the better.
And if instead corporations continue to engage in excessive lobbying, my
lobbying tax will raise even more revenue for Congress, agencies, and federal
watchdogs to fight back.
It’s just one more example of the kind of big, structural change we need to put
power back in the hands of the people – and break the grip that lobbyists have
on our government for good.
The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues.Ahead of her speech in Washington Square Park near the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, in which she delineated how corruption in Washington has allowed the rich and powerful to tilt the rules and grow richer and more powerful, Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to end Washington corruption.
Warren has already
advanced comprehensive anti-corruption legislation in Congress, but she is
going further with a set of far-reaching and aggressive proposals. “Her plan
will end lobbying as we know it, end self-dealing in the White House, end
corporate capture of the federal government’s rule-making process, hold our
federal judiciary and the Supreme Court to the highest ethical standards, and
Warren declared, “No
matter what brings you into this fight — whether it’s child care, student
loans, health care, immigration, or criminal justice, one thing is crystal
clear: corruption is making it worse — and it’s at the root of the major
problems we face as a democracy.
“Reforming the money
game in Washington isn’t enough. We also need to comprehensively clean up our
campaign finance system. That’s why I’ve also called for a constitutional
amendment to overturn Citizens
United. It’s why we need to get rid of the Super PACs and secret
spending by billionaires and giant corporations that try to buy our democracy.
It’s why we need to break the grip that big donors have by creating a system of
exclusive public funding of our elections. But even if we solve our campaign
finance problems, comprehensive anti-corruption reforms targeted at Washington
itself are necessary to finally end the stranglehold that the wealthy and the
well-connected have over our government’s decision-making processes.
“I believe that we can
root out corruption in Washington. I believe we must make big, structural
changes that will once again restore our trust in government by showing that it
can work for all of us. And when I’m President, that’s exactly what I’ll do.”
This is from the Elizabeth Warren campaign:
In 1958, the National Election Survey first asked Americans a simple question: Do you trust the government to do the right thing most of the time? That year, 73% of Americans said yes.
2019, that number is just 17%. Five out of every six Americans do not trust
their government to do the right thing.
have so many people lost faith in government?
true that right-wing politicians have spent a generation attacking the very
idea of government. But it’s also true that these days, our government doesn’t
work for most people. Sure, it works great for the wealthy and the
well-connected — but for everybody else, it doesn’t.
doesn’t work because big insurance companies and hospital conglomerates put
profits ahead of the health and well-being of the American people, and dump
piles of money into political campaigns and lobbying efforts to block any move
toward Medicare for All.
doesn’t work because big oil companies that have concealed climate studies —
and funded bought-and-paid-for climate denial research — bury regulators in an
avalanche of shady, bad-faith pseudoscience and then spend freely on influence
peddling in Congress to make sure nothing like a Green New Deal ever sees the
light of day.
doesn’t work because giant pharmaceutical companies want to squeeze every last
penny out of the people who depend on their prescriptions, while their army of
lobbyists suffocates reform any time there’s a discussion in Congress on drug
child care. Criminal justice reform. Affordable housing. Gun reform. Look
closely, and you’ll see — on issue after issue, 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,
We’ve got to call that out for what it is: corruption, plain and
no mistake about it: The Trump Administration is the most corrupt
administration of our lifetimes.
tax bill is a $1.5 trillion giveaway that primarily helps large corporations and wealthy
Americans. Half of the total registered lobbyists in Washington
worked on issues involving the word “tax” the year the bill was written —
that’s eleven lobbyists for every member of Congress. And when the members of
Congress who championed it lost their elections, they got juicy gigs in the lobbying industry themselves.
Supreme Court Justices were hand-picked by right-wing extremist groups that
spent millions on television ads — first to hold open a Supreme Court seat in
the Obama Administration, and then to pressure the Senate to rubber stamp their
candidates of choice, even when it meant ignoring serious sexual assault charges to ram through
these problems did not start with Donald Trump. They are much bigger than him —
and solving them will require big, structural change to fundamentally transform
why I’ve released plans to fight Washington corruption. A plan to make sure
that no president is above the law. A plan to tackle defense contractor coziness at the Pentagon.
A plan to ban private prisons and expand oversight, transparency, and
enforcement for all contractors hired by the federal government. In Congress,
I’ve previously advanced wide-ranging anti-corruption legislation.
we must go further.
Today, I’m announcing a comprehensive set of far-reaching and
aggressive proposals to root out corruption in Washington. It’s the most
sweeping set of anti-corruption reforms since Watergate. The goal of these
measures is straightforward: to take power away from the wealthy and the
well-connected in Washington and put it back where it belongs — in the hands of
plan lays out nearly a hundred ways that we can change our government to fix
this problem — from improving public integrity rules for federal officials in
every branch of government to ending lobbying as we know it, fixing the
criminal laws to hold corrupt politicians to account, and ensuring our federal
agencies and courts are free from corrupting influences.
I’m just getting started.
Restoring Public Integrity
you choose to be a public servant, you should serve the public — not your own
financial interests or the financial interests of the rich and powerful. But we
face a crisis of confidence in the ethics and public integrity of federal
officials in America. The revolving door in and out of the Trump Administration
is spinning out of control, and wave after wave of people in Trump’s orbit are
trying to profit personally from his presidency — including him.
even before Trump entered the White House, our nation’s public integrity rules
were far too lax. Too many public officials can easily leverage public service
for personal gain. And the ability to walk around government with obvious and
direct personal financial conflicts reduces public faith in honest officials.
To fix this, we need a total rewrite of our ethics laws.
We must begin by rooting out financial conflicts of interest in
Trump is a walking conflict of interest. Actually, more like 2,310 conflicts of interest — and counting.
His refusal to divest from his businesses has opened the door for giant
corporations, foreign lobbyists, and our own government officials to curry
favor with his administration and pad his own bottom line.
to a study by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in
Washington, Donald Trump has visited one of his own properties for nearly a
third of the total days that he has been president. Trump’s Washington hotel
even sent the federal government a bill for $200,000 because Secret Service agents
were forced to stay there as well.
countries have also taken the hint. Representatives from 65 foreign governments
have visited Trump properties since he took office, and embassies have begun
booking Trump’s hotels for their events. Trump has egged them on, shamelessly
floating another one of his properties as the venue for a future international summit.
corporations and billionaires have also tried to curry favor with Donald Trump
by patronizing his properties. T-Mobile sent its top executives to the Trump
Hotel in DC right after the company announced a merger requiring the Trump
administration’s approval. Payday lenders held their annual meetings at Trump’s golf club in Miami, while the
Trump administration has consistently gutted restrictions and regulations on
exploitative payday lenders. And several wealthy donors who pay the $200,000
Mar-a-Lago membership fee — which doubled when Trump became President — have
exerted “sweeping influence” at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
Trump’s own appointees and political allies have tried to suck up to Trump by
exploiting his conflicts of interest. More than 100 Republican Members of Congress have become patrons of
Trump’s businesses since he became President. Most recently, Trump’s Attorney
General William Barr spent $30,000 at Trump’s Washington Hotel, implausibly
claiming that it was the only place he could find for his holiday party in
Washington — and on an official trip to Ireland, Vice President Mike Pence
stayed at a Trump property reportedly at Trump’s instruction, even though it was three hours away from his
scheduled meetings in Dublin.
is by far the most egregious example — and we need new rules to hold leaders
accountable for this kind of conduct. But we cannot condemn this conduct
without also acknowledging that opportunities for the appearance of
self-dealing are far too easy across the federal government. Restoring public
confidence isn’t just about replacing Trump and his cronies. We need new bright
lines and clear rules to eliminate the possibility of public officials serving
where I would start:
End self-dealing in the White House by applying conflict of
interest laws to the President and Vice President. Under my plan,Presidents
and Vice Presidents would be required to place their businesses into a blind
trust to be sold off. No more payoffs. No more bribes from foreign governments.
No more self-dealing.
Disclose tax returns of federal candidates and officeholders to
the public automatically. Tax return disclosure for federally elected officials
shouldn’t be optional — it should be the law. And it shouldn’t just apply to Presidents
— it should apply to everyone running for or serving in federal elected office.
Presidential candidates, in particular, should follow the standard set by
Barack Obama for releasing at least eight years of returns. (I’ve released
eleven.) And the IRS should simply put out the required tax returns for
qualified candidates themselves — so nothing like Donald Trump’s refusal to
disclose his taxes can ever happen again.
Force senior government officials to divest from privately-owned
assets that could present conflicts of interest. White House
advisers like Jared Kushner have been allowed to use their
government positions to further enrich themselves and their families, while
Cabinet Officials like Betsy DeVos have hundreds of millions held in
privately-owned accounts that make it nearly impossible to determine who could
exercise influence over DeVos and her family. The fact that such conduct could
pass any kind of ethics screen makes it clear that we need new rules. My plan
puts an end to this practice by requiring senior officials, including those who
are unpaid like Kushner, to divest from their businesses and other conflicted
Completely ban the practice of government officials trading
individual stocks while in office. Under current law, members of Congress can
trade stocks and then use their powerful positions to increase the value of
those stocks and pad their own pockets. Tom Price, Trump’s former Secretary of
Health and Human Services, purchased pharmaceutical stocks while in the
House of Representatives — then fought hard to get a return on his investment
by pushing policies that would benefit giant pharmaceutical companies. And
another member of Congress, Chris Collins, was charged for trading the same stocks based on insider information. But
prosecutions like this are rare. And even where investments don’t influence
decisions, the existence of these direct conflicts undermine public confidence
solution is simple — ban members of Congress and senior government officials
from owning or trading individual stocks. Instead, they can invest in conflict-free
mutual funds or funds managed by the federal Thrift Savings Program. Law firms
follow these kinds of rules to prevent the appearance of financial conflicts
with the interests of their clients — there’s no reason important public
servants and elected officials shouldn’t, too.
Shut down a raft of additional shady practices that provide
opportunities for government officials to serve their own financial
interests. My plan bans members of Congress and senior congressional staff
from serving on corporate boards — whether or not they’re paid to do so. It
also strengthens ethics requirements for presidential transition teams to
ensure that those who are shaping our government disclose any conflicts of
interest and comply with the highest ethical standards. And to ensure that
there are no questions about whether members of Congress are acting based on
financial conflicts, like lobbyist-turned-Senator-turned-lobbyist Jon Kyl, my plan requires
every member of Congress, including appointed ones, to disclose their financial
conflicts before they take office.
Finally, we must immediately end the possibility of trading on
access to insider political information. Every year, hundreds of millions of
dollars flow into so-called “political intelligence” firms that hire operatives to prowl the
halls of Congress for insider information and sell that information to Wall Street traders trying to make a buck. My plan
combats this practice by implementing strict disclosure requirements and
regulations on so-called “political intelligence consulting,” including
criminal penalties for former public officials who use insider political
information to make investments or advise others who are doing so.
Next, it’s time to close and padlock the revolving door between
government and industry.
Trump has not just enriched himself and his advisers; he has turned his White
House into a case study in the dangers of the revolving door between industry
of these people was Gary Cohn, the former President of Goldman Sachs, who
became Trump’s top economic adviser. On his way out of Goldman, the firm gave
him a whopping $285 million — $123 million in the form of cash and
stocks that he could only collect if he left the firm to work in government.
call that a “pre-bribe.” And it paid off, too. While cashing that $285 million
check, Gary Cohn helped rewrite our nation’s tax laws, rammed the changes
through Congress, and gave Goldman Sachs their money back — and a few billion dollars in change.
are countless examples like this in the Trump Administration, but it’s a
widespread problem in official Washington — and it goes far beyond obvious and
egregious quid-pro-quo bribery. When someone serves in government with plans to
immediately turn around and work in the industry they’ve been overseeing, that
individual faces obvious incentives to advance the interests of their future
employer. And when someone moves immediately from a regulated company to a job
regulating that company, the public is right to worry about the risk that such
individuals will prioritize the interests of their old bosses.
must be able to benefit from tapping private sector expertise, and public
servants who leave government should be able to find post-government
employment. Similarly, volunteer and part-time government positions, which make
sense in certain situations, necessarily assume some level of outside work. But
there is a difference between expertise and graft.
isn’t simply a matter of replacing Trump with an honest President. We’ve seen
the issue of industry lobbyists and top execs spinning freely through the
revolving door to and from important government positions in both Democratic
and Republican administrations. Fixing the underlying problem requires us to
tighten up the rules to ensure that when government officials are making
decisions, they are considering only the public interest — and not their own
personal interests or the interests of their friends and future employers.
are some obvious steps to help address this problem:
Ban “golden parachutes” that provide corporate bonuses to
executives for serving in the federal government. We can’t let big
companies get away with installing their top executives in senior government
positions and paying them pre-bribes on their way out the door. Under my plan,
this would be illegal.
Restrict the ability of lobbyists to enter government
jobs. Under my proposal, current lobbyists won’t be able to take
government jobs for 2 years after lobbying, with limited exceptions for when
the hiring is in the national interest. Corporate lobbyists will have to wait
at least 6 years — no exceptions, and no waivers. These extensive cooling off
periods will help ensure that if anyone with this background is hired into a
government role, they are being selected because of their expertise, and not
Make it illegal for elected officials and top government
appointees to become lobbyists — ever. My plan bans Presidents, Vice Presidents,
Members of Congress, federal judges, and Cabinet Secretaries from ever becoming
lobbyists — not for one or two years, but for life. All other federal employees
will also be barred from lobbying their former office, agency, or House of
Congress after they leave government service for at least 2 years — or 6 years
for corporate lobbyists.
Restrict the ability of companies to buy up former federal
officials to rig the game for themselves. Under my plan,
companies would be banned from immediately hiring former senior government
officials whose agency or office the company has lobbied in the past two years.
And because the biggest and most market-dominant corporations in America also
exercise outsized political power, my plan blocks them from using personnel
hires to rig the game by banning giant companies, banks, and monopolies from
hiring former senior government officials for at least four years.
Next, we’ll hold our federal judiciary to the highest ethical
corporations and powerful interests haven’t limited their influence-peddling to
Congress and the White House. They’ve also turned their attention to the
is “no formal mechanism for review of conflicts” for Supreme Court
justices. But covering your eyes doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see. The
Federalist Society — an extremist, corporate-funded right-wing group that
hand-picked Trump’s list of Supreme Court nominees — picked up Justice Clarence Thomas’s bills to attend a
fancy retreat hosted by the Koch brothers. And for years, Justice Thomas failed
to file public disclosures indicating that his wife worked as the White House
liaison for the Heritage Foundation, a group whose
co-founder personally began the conservative push to
overturn Roe v. Wade.
not just Supreme Court Justices, either. Federal judges can do just about
anything without disclosing it, and in the rare instance where their ethical
violations are discovered and they face investigation, they can escape further
scrutiny altogether by resigning without penalty.
federal court system only works if the American people have faith that it is
neutrally dispensing fair-minded justice without bias or personal interests
interfering in judicial decisions. If we want the American people to believe
this, we need some serious judicial ethics reforms.
where I’d start:
Ensure Supreme Court Justices are held to the same standard as
the rest of the federal judiciary. Today, every federal judge is bound by a Code
of Conduct — except Supreme Court justices. It’s a recipe for corruption. We
can fix it by applying the Code of Conduct for United States Judges to Supreme
Strengthen ethics requirements for federal judges. Corporations and
advocacy organizations routinely provide federal judges with all-expenses-paid
trips to extravagant seminars. My plan tightens existing rules that prohibit
judges from accepting gifts and establishes a new fund to cover reasonable
expenses for participating in judicial seminars. No more big speaking fees and
no more fancy trips to hunting lodges and golf courses. My plan also bans
federal judges from owning individual stocks.
Require judges to disclose key information so the American
people can verify that their conduct is above ethical reproach. My plan requires the
Judicial Conference of the United States — the institution in charge of
administering our federal courts — to publicly post judges’ financial reports,
recusal decisions, and speeches to bring these activities out of the shadows.
This will build public confidence that cases are being heard by fair and
Close the loophole that allows federal judges to escape
investigations for misconduct by stepping down from their post. When Ninth Circuit
Judge Alex Kozinski was confronted with a judicial ethics investigation for
sexual misconduct towards young female law clerks, he resigned — and the investigation immediately
ended. Similarly, sexual assault and perjury complaints against Brett Kavanaugh
were dismissed when he was confirmed to the Supreme
Court, and Donald Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump-Barry resigned from the bench,
ending an investigation into the Trump family’s decades-long tax schemes, including potential fraud. Under my plan,
investigations will remain open until their findings are made public and any
penalties for misconduct are issued.
Ending Lobbying As We Know It
fundamental promise of our democracy is that every voice matters. But when
lobbyists and big corporations can buy influence from politicians, that promise
is broken. The first thing to do to fix it is to end lobbying as we know it.
Constitution guarantees the American people the right to petition their
government with grievances. Lobbying isn’t new — it’s been around for
centuries. What’s new is the weaponization of lobbying to coerce our government
into doing whatever corporate interests want. While companies have an important
role to play in our democratic conversation, the voices of corporations and
powerful interests shouldn’t be the only voices in the room. But that’s exactly
to the 1970s, there was little corporate spending on lobbying. Last year,
over eleven thousand registered lobbyists roamed the halls of
government, mostly representing their powerful clients — to the tune of over $3
billion. It’s no wonder everyone else has such a hard time breaking through the
boom in the influence-peddling game has happened around the same time that
right-wing ideologues have slashed independent government resources and
in-house expertise, which are essential for officials to maintain their
independence from the “expertise” of self-interested corporate lobbyists.
Meanwhile, most corporate lobbying work remains hopelessly opaque — nominally
governed by a patchwork of weak definitions, few meaningful restrictions, and
inadequate reporting and disclosure requirements. And the free rein granted to
corporate lobbyists to also fundraise for political campaigns crosses the line
from influence peddling to legalized bribery.
can break the grip that lobbyists for giant corporations have on our
government. Together, we can end lobbying as we know it. Here’s where to start:
Expand the definition of lobbyists to include everyone who is
paid to influence lawmakers. Because of our weak laws, only individuals who meet directly
with politicians or spend more than 20% of their time lobbying are required to register as lobbyists. That means law
firms, consultancies, and even self-described lobbying firms that hire
individuals for the express purpose of influencing government may be able to
avoid these registration requirements — allowing powerful interests to
influence policy without any public accountability. This practice, endemic on
both sides of the aisle, must end.
plan brings this activity out of the shadows by strengthening the definition of
a lobbyist to include all individualspaid to influence government.
It also creates a new designation for corporate lobbyists to identify
individuals paid to influence government on behalf of for-profit entities and
their front-groups — and subjects these corporate hired guns to additional
Ban lobbying for foreign entities — period. President Trump’s
campaign chair currently sits in prison, convicted in part of
failing to properly register his shady foreign lobbying activity on behalf of
Ukraine. But what is the justification for allowing foreign governments to use
Americans as hired guns who sit in the shadows, quietly attempting to influence
our domestic political system? That’s not how diplomacy should work. Other
nations have ambassadors and diplomatic staff in the United States. If those
governments want to interact with our political process they can do so through
normal, above-board diplomatic channels. My plan categorically bans the
practice of private lobbying for foreign governments, foreign individuals, and
foreign companies. No more K Street influence-peddlers looking out for the
interests of China, Russia, or Saudi Arabia.
Impose strict rules on all lobbyists, including preventing them
from donating to or fundraising for political candidates. Paid lobbyists are
hired for one objective: to advance the interests of their clients. Allowing
individuals who are paid to influence government officials on policy to also
give gifts or funnel money to the political campaigns of those same officials
sounds like legalized bribery. My plan not only bans lobbyists from making
political contributions, it also bans them from bundling donations or hosting
fundraisers for political candidates. And it outlaws lobbying contingency fees,
where lobbyists are only paid if they successfully influence politicians to
achieve a policy outcome that serves their client’s narrow interests.
Dramatically expand the kinds of information lobbyists are
required to disclose. Our current laws require only minimal disclosure from
lobbyists of their activities. This prevents the American people from fully
understanding who is trying to influence government — and why. My plan requires
all lobbyists to report publicly all meetings with Congressional offices or
public officials, the documents they provide to those individuals, and all
government actions they attempt to influence. It also demands that all
charitable non-profit organizations, social welfare organizations, and trade
associations disclose any donors whose money was used to develop products to
influence Congressional testimony, agency rulemaking, or for lobbying purposes.
Impose a tax on excessive lobbying — and use this revenue to
give Congress and agencies the tools to fight back against the corporate
influence machine. In 2018, lobbyists spent a whopping $3.4 billion trying to influence public policy on
behalf of their clients, including $95 million from the pro-corporate Chamber of
Commerce, $73 million from the National Association of
Realtors, and $28 million from the Big Pharma lobbying group. The
right to petition our government does not allow industries to exercise
unlimited financial influence over policymakers. That’s why I will impose a tax
on any entity that spends over $500,000 per year on lobbying. The tax will
reduce the financial incentive for excessive lobbying, and its revenue will be
used to counter the effects of excessive lobbying by providing additional
financial resources for agencies to research and review regulatory actions that
are the targets of excessive lobbying activity, as well as additional funding
for the National Public Advocate, an office established to help the public
engage with the rulemaking process, and for Congressional support agencies.
Strengthen Congressional independence from lobbyists. Congressional offices
and agencies are severely underfunded, creating unnecessary pressure to rely on
lobbyists for expertise. My plan transitions Congressional staff to competitive
salaries and reinstates the nonpartisan Congressional Office of Technology
Assessment to help members of Congress understand new areas of science and
technology — because members of Congress should be able to access expertise and
information without being dependent on lobbyists.
End Corporate Capture of our Federal Agencies
federal agencies — agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the
Department of Labor, and the Department of Energy — were created by Congress to
enforce and implement laws that protect the broad interests of the public
against the unrestrained exercise of corporate power. But because of the
revolving door, the avalanche of lobbyists, and the weakness of our agency
tools to fight back, agencies often find their agendas hijacked by the very
industries they are supposed to regulate. We can and should make additional
changes to strengthen agencies’ independence and their ability to act
decisively in the public interest.
are some of the steps my plan takes to address this:
Stop powerful actors from peddling fake research — often funded
by undisclosed donors — and hold corporations accountable for lying to
regulators. I’ll crack down on corporations who manipulate agencies by
submitting sham research — like the climate denial studies bought and paid for by oil and gas magnates like the Koch
Brothers — by requiring individuals who submit a public comment on a proposed
rule to disclose editorial conflicts-of-interest related to any
non-peer-reviewed research they cite. Studies that are determined to have
conflicts of interest will be withheld from the rulemaking process unless the
individual offering that research certifies that they have undergone rigorous,
independent peer review. Otherwise, we’ll treat them like the bad faith junk
science that they are, excluding them from the rulemaking process and
preventing any court from considering them too. And if a company misleads an
agency with “analysis” it knows to be false, they’ll be prosecuted just like
anyone else who lies under oath to Congress or in a court of law.
End the practice of inviting corporate bigwigs to negotiate
rules their companies would have to follow and put a stop to the stall tactics
they use to kill public interest rules. My plan restricts the parties eligible to
participate in the negotiated rulemaking process so that industry no longer has
an open door to dominate the process. It also closes the loopholes that have
allowed industry and agencies to delay the implementation of rules it
disfavors, including by ending so-called informal review, reducing the review
period to 45 days, and clarifying that only Appeals Courts — not individual
Federal District judges — can temporarily block the implementation of rules.
And my plan requires agencies to publicly justify the withdrawal of any public
Give the public the tools to fight back against corporations who
seek to co-opt this process for their benefit. My plan establishes an
Office of the Public Advocate to help the public engage with important legal
changes made by federal agencies during the rulemaking process. I’ll also allow
private individuals to bring lawsuits against federal agencies for
unnecessarily delaying or failing to enforce agency rules — and against corporations
who have violated them.
Ensuring Access to Justice for All
justice is supposed to be the promise of the American legal system. But it’s
not delivering on that promise. Instead, we have one system for the wealthy and
the well-connected, and a different one for everyone else. It’s hard enough to
hold a powerful company accountable through our legal system, but recent developments in the law have made it even harder for
individuals to even bring those cases in the first place. We need to reform our
legal rules to make sure every person who has been harmed can have their day in
how I’ll start:
Ban forced arbitration clauses. Many companies force
their employees and consumers to sign “forced arbitration” clauses as part of
their contracts for employment or for services. These clauses mean that if
something goes wrong, individuals agree to never file a lawsuit in federal
court against the company — and instead are diverted into a private dispute
system. These provisions are often tucked in the fine print of contracts
that workers or consumers sign, and many people don’t even know that they have
signed one until they have been harmed and need our courts to help them get
justice. These provisions shouldn’t be enforceable, but the conservative
majority in the Supreme Court decided that because there was no law explicitly
against them, they could be freely enforced. So let’s pass that law. My plan
categorically bans forced arbitration clauses from blocking lawsuits related to
employment, consumer protection, antitrust, and civil rights.
Ban mandatory class action waivers. When workers or consumers
are wronged by a company, they should be able to band together and seek
justice. Taking on a big corporation’s army of lawyers takes enormous sums of
money and legal expertise. But class action waivers tucked into consumer and
employment contracts prevent individuals from suing together.
That makes it virtually impossible to pursue a lawsuit, and gives companies unlimited
license to rip you off without any consequences. These anti-worker and
anti-consumer provisions shouldn’t be enforceable, but because of a Supreme Court decision written by Justice Gorsuch, they’re
alive and well. That’s why my plan would restore the fundamental right of
workers and consumers to join together when they are wronged by banning these
provisions in employment, consumer protection, antitrust, and civil rights
Restore fair pleading standards. When you file a
lawsuit, one of the first steps of the legal process is called “discovery.”
That’s when you’re supposed to ask questions and gather facts about your case,
but a pair of recent Supreme Court decisions upended decades of pleading standards, making it difficult
to file a case without already having many of these facts. These widely
criticized cases deprive plaintiffs of their day in court, and allow
powerful defendants to successfully dismiss cases before they even begin. My
plan would undo this damage by restoring fair pleading standards so that every
person who has been harmed gets their day in court.
Holding Bad Actors Accountable
reforms I’ve outlined will go a long way toward cleaning up Washington. But we
also need strong enforcement mechanisms and broad transparency requirements to
make sure we can hold bad actors accountable.
Let’s start with real penalties for violating the rules.
Washington, corrupt actors should face penalties when they break the law — not
return to business as usual.
how my plan would fix this:
Establish a new U.S. Office of Public Integrity and strengthen
ethics enforcement. The new office will investigate ethics complaints from the
public, impose civil and administrative penalties on violators, and refer
egregious violations to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.
Expand and strengthen the independent Office of Congressional
plan ensures this office has the proper authorities and resources to conduct
investigations, refer civil and criminal violations to the appropriate
authorities, and recommend disciplinary action to the House and Senate Ethics
Expand the definition of “official act” in bribery statutes to
criminalize the sale of government access. When a politician
accepts gifts in exchange for government favors, that’s bribery — but thanks to
a wrong-headed Supreme Court decision in United States v. McDonnell,
our laws don’t fully recognize it. My plan plugs that tractor-sized loophole
and ensures that corrupt politicians who accept bribes can be prosecuted. It
also clarifies that a stream of benefits — rather than a single act — qualifies
as an unlawful benefit paid in exchange for a bribe.
Clarify the definition of “in-kind contributions” to ensure that
no future candidate can receive political assistance from foreign countries or
solicit large hush money payments without facing legal consequences. Politicians and
advisors like Donald Trump Jr. have reportedly tried to receive help from
foreign countries, even though it is illegal for foreign individuals to provide
in-kind contributions to campaigns. And Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to spend $130,000 to cover
up an affair so it would not come to light before the 2016 election, despite
laws preventing him from soliciting large in-kind contributions. Although a
federal judge accepted Cohen’s guilty plea, Trump’s lawyers and defenders continued to insist that what Cohen did — and what
Trump solicited — was not a crime. My plan settles this debate and clarifies
that the rules governing in-kind contributions also apply to intangible
benefits, such as dirt on political opponents, and in-kind financial contributions,
like the payment of hush money, when those contributions are made at least in
part — even if not exclusively — for campaign purposes.
Deter Corruption Through Broad New Government Transparency
government is supposed to work for the people, then the people should be given
enough information to judge how well their government is working for them. Too
many government records are kept behind lock and key, making it impossible for
the public to hold their government accountable. Significant legal actions that
have implications for public health and safety can be kept secret. And the
actions of federal contractors — the companies often tasked with the
implementation of government policies and programs, like Trump’s family
separation policy — are almost completely concealed from public view, thanks to
an assortment of exemptions and loopholes.
how my plan would shine a light on government activity:
Prohibit courts from sealing records involving major public
health and safety issues. When people were killed by ignition defects in
Chevrolet vehicles, General Motors settled the cases on the condition that all
documents related to the defects would be sealed from public view. It wasn’t an isolated
incident. Big corporations routinely use secret settlements to keep defective
products on the market so they can continue to rake in profits. That must stop.
My plan bans courts from sealing records in cases involving public health and
safety, with rare exceptions, so that corporations cannot conceal these
dangerous conditions from the American people.
Impose strict transparency standards for federal courts and
remove barriers to accessing electronic judicial records. My plan requires
federal appellate courts to livestream audio of their proceedings, share case assignment
data in bulk, and make all electronic case records — which currently must be
purchased from the government — more easily accessible and free of charge.
Strengthen federal open records laws to close loopholes and
exemptions that hide corporate influence, and increase transparency in
Congress, federal agencies, and nonprofits that aim to influence policy. The American people
have a right to know whether their elected leaders are acting in the public’s
best interest — and who is trying to influence them. Under my plan,
Congressional committees, government agencies, and federal contractors would be
required to publicly release key information so that the American people — and
the American press — can hold the federal government accountable.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, running to be the Democratic
candidate for president, began and ended her speech before some 20,000 gathered
at Washington Square Park in New York City relating the history of the Triangle
Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 which took place mere blocks from the Arch that
took the lives of 146 Jewish and Italian immigrant women and girls – still one
of the largest industrial accidents in US history. She spoke of Francis Perkins,
who ran from a townhouse just behind where Warren stood. Perkins was already an
activist for workers’ rights and won fire safety regulations, “but didn’t stop
there,” and other worker protections.
Even before women got the right to vote, Perkins became a
political adviser on workers rights and became the first woman Cabinet
secretary, Secretary of Labor, under FDR.
Perkins, Warren said, worked from within, while thousands of
women in the trade union movement, worked from outside – 500,000 marched in a
funeral procession up Fifth Avenue for the 146.
Speaking from a podium built of wood from the Frances
Perkins homestead in Newcastle, Maine, obtained from her grandson, Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall, Warren used the story to
prove her point of what can happen through grassroots action, that big bold
things – such as what she is proposing to make fundamental, systemic change. “Don’t
be afraid…” she declared – a not-so-subtle shout out to the Democrats who,
desperate to see Trump voted out of office, are looking for a candidate they
believe has the best chance of winning the general election, which for many
means someone who won’t rock the boat too much, rather than someone whose ideas
and proposals excite, engage and promote real structural change.
There were cheers throughout her speech delivered by a crowd
that the campaign estimated at 20,000 (Warren’s biggest to date) but especially
as she said, “Medicare for All,” and then, at the phrase, “wealth tax,” chants
of 2c, 2c, 2c rose up.
Warren, who had just been endorsed by the National Working
Families Party, said that the 2c on
every dollar after the first $50 million in wealth, would correct historic,
systemic, and “government sanctioned” racism and sexism that produced gaps in
income and also political power – redlining in housing, the pay gap between women
and men, particularly women of color, criminal justice reform, eliminating
private prisons that incentive locking people up, eliminating student debt,
providing universal pre-K. Without using the word “reparations” – she offered a
more constructive, implementable series of programs that would accomplish the
same goal of equalizing the opportunity to succeed.
“The time to hold back is over. We need structural change.”
Warren added, “I know what you are thinking – it is too
much, too big, too hard.” Then, scanning the crowd, she joked, “OK, nobody here.
I know this change is possible because others have made big structural change
And she went back to Perkins and the Triangle Shirtwaist
Factory – how factory owners, made filthy rich because of the horrendous
working conditions and wages were able to amass the wealth to buy politicians,
how greed by owners and corruption by politicians effectively negated
“30 years old, Francis Perkins already was a human rights activist…how,
seeing the fire at the factory, she ran and watched as young women leaped to
their death rather than be consumed by the flames. 500,000 at that march. It wasn’t the first
march, but it was different.”
“While they picketed from the outside, Francis pushed from
the inside. Those women died because of the greed of business owners and the
corruption of politicians. Perkins was the lead investigator, years before
women could vote, let alone have a role in government. But Frances had a” plan –
she fought for fire safety, but she didn’t stop there.
“With Francis working from the inside and the women workers
applying pressure from the outside, they rewrote state labor laws top to bottom
to protect workers. She became the leading expert on working conditions.” President
Franklin D. Roosevelt named her his Labor Secretary through the New Deal.
“That what one woman can do.” She added, “It’s what’s
possible when we fight together.”
Warren declared, “No
matter what brings you into this fight — whether it’s child care, student
loans, health care, immigration, or criminal justice, one thing is crystal
clear: corruption is making it worse — and it’s at the root of the major
problems we face as a democracy.
“Reforming the money game
in Washington isn’t enough. We also need to comprehensively clean up our
campaign finance system. That’s why I’ve also called for a constitutional
amendment to overturn Citizens United. It’s
why we need to get rid of the Super PACs and secret spending by billionaires and
giant corporations that try to buy our democracy. It’s why we need to br”eak
the grip that big donors have by creating a system of exclusive public funding
of our elections. But even if we solve our campaign finance problems,
comprehensive anti-corruption reforms targeted at Washington itself are
necessary to finally end the stranglehold that the wealthy and the
well-connected have over our government’s decision-making processes.
“I believe that we can root out corruption in Washington. I believe we must make big, structural changes that will once again restore our trust in government by showing that it can work for all of us. And when I’m President, that’s exactly what I’ll do.”
Warren, famous now for posing for selfies with people who come out to see her, wound up staying until midnight before the line, thousands long, was through. “I stayed four hours, but so did the last guy on line,” she later said. It is an indication of the enthusiasm for her and her endurance as a candidate at a time when a big issue among Democrats is who can get out the vote.
House Intelligence committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), in his opening and closing statements for the historic hearings on July 24, 2019, set out the significance of the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Election, and the ramifications of the government’s failure to prevent such interference in future elections.
“When asked, ‘If the Russians intervene again, will you take
their help, Mr. President?” ‘Why not?’ was the essence of his answer. ‘Everyone
“No, Mr. President, they don’t. Not in the America
envisioned by Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton. Not for those who believe in the
idea that Lincoln labored until his dying day to preserve, the idea animating
our great national experiment, so unique then, so precious still, that our
government is chosen by our people, through our franchise, and not by some
hostile foreign power.
“This is what is at stake, our next election, and the one
after that for generations to come. Our democracy.”
Your report, for
those who have taken the time to study it, is methodical and it is devastating,
for it tells the story of a foreign adversary’s sweeping and systemic
intervention in a close U.S. presidential election.
That should be enough
to deserve the attention of every American, as you well point out. But your
report tells another story as well. The story of the 2016 election is also a
story about disloyalty to country, about greed, and about lies.
determined that the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump himself, knew that a
foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it, built Russian
meddling into their strategy and used it.
country. Those are strong words, but how else are we to describe a presidential
campaign which did not inform the authorities of a foreign offer of dirt on
their opponent, which did not publicly shun it or turn it away, but which
instead invited it, encouraged it and made full use of it?
That disloyalty may
not have been criminal. Constrained by uncooperative witnesses, the destruction
of documents and the use of encrypted communications, your team was not able to
establish each of the elements of the crime of conspiracy beyond a reasonable
doubt, so not a provable crime in any event.
But I think maybe
something worse: The crime is the violation of law written by Congress. But
disloyalty to country violates the very oath of citizenship, our devotion to a
core principle on which our nation was founded that we, the people and not some
foreign power that wishes us ill, we decide who governs us.
This is also a story
about money, and about greed and corruption. About the leadership of a campaign
willing to compromise the nation’s interest not only to win, but to make money
at the same time.
About a campaign
chairman indebted to pro-Russian interests who tried to use his position to
clear his debts and make millions. About a national security advisor using his
position to make money from still other foreign interests.
And about a candidate
trying to make more money than all of them put together through real estate
project that to him was worth a fortune, hundreds of millions of dollars and
the realization of a life-long ambition, a Trump Tower in the heart of Moscow.
A candidate who, in fact, viewed his whole campaign as the greatest infomercial
Donald Trump and his
senior staff were not alone in their desire to use the election to make money.
For Russia, too, there was a powerful financial motive. Putin wanted relief
from U.S. economic sanctions imposed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of
Ukraine and over human rights violations.
The secret Trump
Tower meeting between the Russians and senior campaign officials was about
sanctions. The secret conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador
were about sanctions. Trump and his team wanted more money for themselves, and
the Russians wanted more money for themselves and for their oligarchs.
But the story doesn’t
end here either, for your report also tells a story about lies. Lots of lies.
Lies about a gleaming tower in Moscow and lies about talks with the Kremlin.
Lies about the firing of FBI Director James Comey and lies about efforts to
fire you, Director Mueller, and lies to cover it up. Lies about secret
negotiations with the Russians over sanctions and lies about WikiLeaks. Lies
about polling data and lies about hush money payments. Lies about meetings in
the Seychelles to set up secret back channels and lies about a secret meeting
in New York Trump Tower. Lies to the FBI, lies to your staff, and lies to this
committee. Lies to obstruct an investigation into the most serious attack on
our democracy by a foreign power in our history.
That is where your
report ends, Director Mueller, with a scheme to cover up, obstruct and deceive
every bit as systematic and pervasive as the Russian disinformation campaign
itself, but far more pernicious since this rot came from within.
Even now after 448
pages and two volumes, the deception continues. The president and his accolades
say your report found no collusion, though your report explicitly declined to
address that question, since collusion can involve both criminal and
Your report laid out
multiple offers of Russian help to the Trump campaign, the campaign’s
acceptance of that help, and overt acts in furtherance of Russian help. To most
Americans that is the very definition of collusion, whether it is a crime or
They say your report
found no evidence of obstruction, though you outlined numerous actions by the
president intended to obstruct the investigation.
They say the
president has been fully exonerated, though you specifically declare you could
not exonerate him.
In fact, they say
your whole investigation was nothing more than a witch hunt, that the Russians
didn’t interfere in our election, that it’s all a terrible hoax. The real
crime, they say, is not that the Russians intervened to help Donald Trump, but
that the FBI investigated it when they did.
But worst of all,
worse than all the lies and the greed, is the disloyalty to country, for that,
When asked, “If the
Russians intervene again, will you take their help, Mr. President?” “Why not?”
was the essence of his answer. “Everyone does it.”
No, Mr. President,
they don’t. Not in the America envisioned by Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton.
Not for those who believe in the idea that Lincoln labored until his dying day
to preserve, the idea animating our great national experiment, so unique then,
so precious still, that our government is chosen by our people, through our
franchise, and not by some hostile foreign power.
This is what is at
stake, our next election, and the one after that for generations to come. Our
This is why your work
matters, Director Mueller. This is why our investigation matters, to bring
these dangers to light.
Director Mueller, let
me close by returning to where I began. Thank you for your service and thank
you for leading this investigation. The facts you set out in your report and
have elucidated here today tell a disturbing tale of a massive Russian
intervention in our election, of a campaign so eager to win, so driven by
greed, that it was willing to accept the help of a hostile foreign power, and a
presidential election decided by a handful of votes in a few key states.
Your work tells of a
campaign so determined to conceal their corrupt use of foreign help that they
risked going to jail by lying to you, to the FBI and to Congress about it and,
indeed, some have gone to jail over such lies. And your work speaks of a
president who committed countless acts of obstruction of justice that in my
opinion and that of many other prosecutors, had it been anyone else in the
country, they would have been indicted.
many things you have addressed today and in your report, there were some
questions you could not answer given the constraints you’re operating under.
You would not tell us whether you would have indicted the president but for the
OLC only that you could not, and so the Justice Department will have to make
that decision when the president leaves office, both as to the crime of
obstruction of justice and as to the campaign finance fraud scheme that
individual one directed and coordinated and for which Michael Cohen went to
You would not tell us
whether the president should be impeached, nor did we ask you since it is our
responsibility to determine the proper remedy for the conduct outlined in your
report. Whether we decide to impeach the president in the House or we do not,
we must take any action necessary to protect the country while he is in office.
You would not tell us
the results or whether other bodies looked into Russian compromise in the form
of money laundering, so we must do so. You would not tell us whether the
counterintelligence investigation revealed whether people still serving within
the administration pose a risk of compromise and should never have been given a
security clearance, so we must find out.
We did not bother to
ask whether financial inducements from any gulf nations were influencing this
U.S. policy, since it is outside the four corners of your report, and so we
must find out.
One thing is clear
from your report, your testimony from Director Wray’s statements yesterday, the
Russians massively intervened in 2016, and they are prepared to do so again in
voting that is set to begin a mere eight months from now.
The president seems
to welcome the help again. And so, we must make all efforts to harden our
election’s infrastructure to ensure there is a paper trail for all voting, to
deter the Russians from meddling, to discover it when they do, to disrupt it,
and to make them pay.
Protecting the sanctity of our elections begins, however,
with the recognition that accepting foreign help is disloyal to our country,
unethical, and wrong. We cannot control what the Russians do, not completely,
but we can decide what we do and that the centuries old experiment we call
American democracy is worth cherishing.
Biden laid out his foreign
policy vision for America to restore dignified leadership at
home and respected leadership on the world stage. Arguing that our policies at
home and abroad are deeply connected, Joe Biden announced that, as president, he
will advance the security, prosperity, and values of the United States by
taking immediate steps to renew our own democracy and alliances, protect our
economic future, and once more place America at the head of the table, leading
the world to address the most urgent global challenges.
In a Biden administration, America will lead by example and rally the world to
meet our common challenges that no one nation can face on its own, from climate
change to nuclear proliferation, from great power aggression to transnational
terrorism, from cyberwarfare to mass migration. Donald Trump’s erratic policies
and failure to uphold basic democratic principles have surrendered our position
in the world, undermined our democratic alliances, weakened our ability to mobilize
others to meet these challenges, and threatened our security and our future.
In a speech at The Graduate Center at CUNY in New York, Joe Biden laid out his
blueprint to repair the damage wrought by President Trump and chart a
fundamentally different course for American foreign policy for the world as we
find it today—and as we anticipate it will be tomorrow. Biden will continue to
build on this vision over the course of the campaign.
I. Reinvigorate our Own Democracy &
Strengthen the Coalition of Democracies that Stand With Us
Democracy is the root of our society, the wellspring of our power, and the
source of our renewal. It strengthens and amplifies our leadership to keep us
safe in the world. It is the engine of our ingenuity that drives our economic
prosperity. It is the heart of who we are and how we see the world—and how the
world sees us. That is why America’s ability to be a force for progress in the
world and to mobilize collective action starts at home. The United States must lead not just with the example of power,
but the power of our example.
Among his early actions as
president, Joe Biden will:
Reform our criminal justice system to eliminate inequitable disparities;
Restore the Voting Rights Act;
Seek greater transparency in our campaign finance system so money, foreign and domestic, won’t pollute our politics;
Dedicate greater resources, including cyber resources, to defending our election systems.
End the practice of anonymous shell companies;
Institute strict conflict-of-interest and anti-corruption policies for every member of the Biden administration so there will be no more self-dealing;
Immediately return to daily press briefings at the White House, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Department of Defense. Our foreign policy relies on the informed consent of the American people. That is not possible when our government refuses to communicate with the public.
Restore our Moral Leadership
Immediately end the horrific practice of separating families at our border and holding immigrant children in for-profit prisons. Abandoning our deepest-held values does nothing to increase security at our border—and everything to diminish our standing in the world. At the same time, as president, Biden will establish sensible policies that improve screening procedures at our legal ports of entry and make smart investments in border technology, in cooperation with Canada and Mexico.
Protect undocumented members of our armed services, veterans, and their spouses from deportation because if you are willing to risk your life for this country, you and your family have earned the chance to live safe, healthy, and productive lives in America;
Order a review of Temporary Protected Status to vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in countries ripped apart by violence or disaster, including for Venezuelans and Haitians.
Terminate the travel ban against people from Muslim-majority countries;
Reverse Trump’s detrimental asylum policies and raise our target for refugee admissions to a level commensurate with our responsibility and unprecedented global need;
End the Global Gag Rule, which prevents money from going to international NGOs that even talk about abortion;
Return to a government-wide focus of uplifting the rights of women and girls at home and around the world, including by focusing on measures to address gender-based violence internationally.
Reaffirm the ban on torture and restore greater transparency in our military operations, including policies instituted during the Obama-Biden administration to reduce civilian casualties;
Restore a commitment to science and truth in government, including bringing back the words “climate change”;
Return the phrase “nation of immigrants” to the mission statement of our Citizenship and Immigration Services, because that is who we are.
Revitalize our national commitment to advancing human rights and democracy around the world.
Having taken these essential steps to reinforce the democratic
foundation of our country and inspire action in others, President Biden will
organize and host a global Summit for Democracy to renew the spirit and shared
purpose of the nations of the Free World. During his
first year in office, President Biden will bring together the world’s
democracies to strengthen our democratic institutions, honestly confront the
challenge of nations that are backsliding, and forge a common agenda to address
threats to our common values.
The Summit will prioritize results by galvanizing significant new country commitments in three areas: (1) fighting corruption; (2) defending against authoritarianism, including election security; (3) advancing human rights in their own nations and abroad.
The Summit will include civil society organizations from around the world that stand on the frontlines in defense of our democracies.
The Summit will also issue a Call to Action for the private sector, including technology corporations and social media giants, to make their own commitments, recognizing their responsibilities and their overwhelming interest in preserving open, democratic societies and protecting free speech. For example, technology companies—which benefit from the fruits of democracy—should make concrete pledges for how they can ensure their algorithms and platforms are not empowering the surveillance state, facilitating repression in China and elsewhere, spreading hate, spurring people to violence, and remaining susceptible to misuse.
As an example
of the concrete action our world needs, Joe Biden served as a founding member
of a Trans-Atlantic Commission on Election Integrity—to fight back against
Russia’s attacks on Western democracies. The Commission asked politicians
across Europe to sign a pledge committing to transparency in campaign finance
and to reject the use of fabricated or hacked material. Now that he is a
candidate for office, Biden has signed that pledge and is calling on every
person running for president to do the same.
II. Equip our People to Succeed in a Global Economy
with a Foreign Policy for the Middle Class
Joe Biden believes that economic security is national security. That is why, as
president, Biden will pursue a foreign policy for the middle class. To win the
competition for the future against China or anyone else, we must sharpen our
innovative edge and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to
counter abusive economic practices.
Rebuild the Middle Class, the Backbone of the
Country: Give every student the skills they need to obtain a good 21st
century job; make sure every single American has access to quality, affordable
healthcare; invest in infrastructure; raise the minimum wage to $15; and lead
revolution to create 10 million new jobs in the United
Invest in Our Innovative Edge: Unleash
our nation’s full potential—which includes unrivaled research universities,
unparalleled venture capital, and our citizens’ unmatched spirit of
entrepreneurship and commitment to hard work—with investments in research and
development to spur advances in clean energy, quantum computing, artificial
intelligence, 5G, and high-speed rail. We must ensure the technologies of the
future like AI are bound by laws and ethics and promote greater shared
prosperity and democracy. A Biden administration will join together with our
democratic allies to develop secure, private sector-led 5G networks, leaving no
community—rural or low-income—behind.
Ensure the Rules of Road Benefit our Workers and our
Communities: There is no going back to business as usual on trade. And he
will ensure we negotiate from the strongest possible position. Joining with our
fellow democracies, we represent about one-half of global GDP. As president,
Biden will use this substantial leverage to shape the future rules of the road
on everything from the environment to labor to trade to transparency, non-proliferation
to cyber theft, and data privacy to artificial intelligence, so they continue
to reflect democratic interests and values—America’s interests and
III. Renew American Leadership to Mobilize Global
Action on Global Threats
The world does not organize itself. American leadership, backed by clear goals
and sound strategies, is necessary to effectively address the defining global
challenges of our time. In order to lead again, we must restore our credibility
and influence. From day one of a Biden administration, other countries will
once again have reason to trust and respect the word of an American president.
Working together, democracies can and must confront the rise of populists,
nationalists, and demagogues; the growing strength of autocratic powers and
their efforts to divide and manipulate democracies; and the threats unique to
our time, including the renewed threat of nuclear war, mass migration, the
disruptive impact of new technologies, and climate change.
Defend our Vital Interests: As president,
Biden will never hesitate to protect the American people, including when
necessary, by using force. We have the strongest military in the world—and as
president, Biden will ensure it stays that way. The Biden administration will
make the investments necessary to equip our troops for the challenges of the
next century, not the last one. But the use of force should be our last resort,
not our first—used only to defend our vital interests, when the objective is
clear and achievable, and with the informed consent of the American
End Forever Wars: Biden will end
the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which have cost us untold
blood and treasure. As he has long argued, Biden will bring the vast majority
of our troops home from Afghanistan and narrowly focus our mission on Al-Qaeda
and ISIS. And he will end our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Staying
entrenched in unwinnable conflicts only drains our capacity to lead on other
issues that require our attention, and it prevents us from rebuilding the other
instruments of American power.
Elevate Diplomacy: As president,
Biden will elevate diplomacy as the premier tool of our global engagement. He
will rebuild a modern, agile U.S. Department of State—investing in and re-empowering
the finest diplomatic corps in the world and leveraging the full talent and
richness of America’s diversity. Working cooperatively with other nations makes
us more secure and more successful. For example, as president, Biden will
launch a top-to-bottom review of our funding to Central America to determine
how we can build on a successful initiative from the Obama-Biden administration
that secured concrete commitments from the leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala,
and Honduras to take on the corruption, violence, and endemic poverty that
Restore and Reimagine Partnerships: A Biden
administration will do more than restore our historic partnerships; it will
lead the effort to reimagine them for the future. This means keeping NATO’s military
capabilities sharp, while also expanding our capacity to take on new,
non-traditional threats like weaponized corruption, cyber theft, and new
challenges in space and on the high seas; calling on all NATO nations to
recommit to their responsibilities as members of a democratic alliance; and
strengthening cooperation with democratic partners beyond North America and
Europe by reaching out to our partners in Asia to fortify our collective
capabilities and integrating our friends in Latin America and Africa. When the
United States hosts the next Summit of the Americas in 2021, President Biden
will harness this opportunity to rebuild strong hemispheric ties based on
respect for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. We will also
strengthen our alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia and other Asian
democracies, while sustaining an ironclad commitment to Israel’s security.
Renew our Commitment to Arms Control for a New
The historic Iran nuclear deal, negotiated by the Obama-Biden administration alongside our allies and other world powers, blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Yet Trump decided to cast it aside, prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program and become more provocative, bringing the region to the cusp of another disastrous war. If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal, President Biden would re-enter the agreement, using hard-nosed diplomacy and support from our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.
In North Korea, President Biden will empower our negotiators and jump start a sustained, coordinated campaign with our allies and others, including China, to advance our shared objective of a denuclearized North Korea.
As president, Biden will pursue an extension of the New START Treaty, an anchor of strategic stability between the United States and Russia, and use that as a foundation for new arms control arrangements.
President Biden would take other steps to demonstrate our commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons. As he said in 2017, Biden believes the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring—and if necessary, retaliating against—a nuclear attack. As president, he will work to put that belief into practice, in consultation with our allies and military.
Rally the World to Address Existential Climate Crisis: The Biden
administration will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord on day one and lead a major
diplomatic push to raise the ambitions of countries’ climate targets. To
catalyze this effort and demonstrate concrete actions at home to achieve a
clean-energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050, President Biden –
in his comprehensive plan – will in his first 100 days in
Convene a climate world summit to directly engage the leaders of the major carbon-emitting nations of the world to persuade them to join the United States in making more ambitious national pledges, above and beyond the commitments they have already made.
Lock in enforceable commitments that will reduce emissions in global shipping and aviation—and pursue strong measures to make sure other nations can’t undercut us economically as we meet our own commitments. This includes pressuring China—the world’s largest emitter of carbon—to stop subsidizing coal exports and outsourcing their pollution to other countries by financing billions of dollars of dirty fossil-fuel energy projects through their Belt and Road Initiative.
Foreign policy is Joe Biden’s forte. It
is a lane he can travel relatively apart from the two dozen others vying for
the Democratic nomination for President, and also is the starkest contrast to
Trump. It is also gets to the heart of everyday Americans’ most horrific
anxieties – living with the fear of nuclear war, climate catastrophe, trade
wars that upend businesses and household budgets – and where a president has
the most unconstrained power. The proverbial finger on the nuclear button.
Biden alluded to the fact US administrations have not been infallible regarding foreign policy. And though Bernie Sanders (and others) will use his vote as a Senator for the Iraq War as a cudgel as he and Obama did against Hillary Clinton, that vote only confirms one of Biden’s most crucial arguments to replace Trump: a President must be credible. Iraq was a product of Bush/Cheney administration lies – about Weapons of Mass Destruction, about Saddam Hussein’s culpability for 9/11, about what the Senate “authorization” actually authorized.
speech Biden delivered at the NYU Graduate Center on Fifth Avenue in New York
City on July 11 summed up in the clearest terms the former Vice President’s
rationale to be President – as he summed it up, “In
2019, foreign policy is domestic policy, and domestic policy is foreign policy.”
He delivered the speech in moderated, controlled tones. It was workmanlike, but, as he would say, “deadly serious.” Here is a highlighted transcript – Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features
Ladies and Gentlemen, political wisdom holds that the American public doesn’t vote on foreign policy – but that’s an old way of thinking.
In 2019, foreign policy is domestic policy, and domestic policy is foreign policy.
They are a deeply connected set of choices we make about how to advance the American way of life and our vision for the future.
And, like everything about this election, the threat Donald Trump poses to our national security, and to who we are as a country, is so extreme, we cannot afford to ignore it. His erratic policies and failures to uphold basic democratic principles have muddied our reputation, our place in the world, and our ability to lead it.
So let me start today, by reminding everyone about what’s been lost amid the chest-thumping, the self-inflicted setbacks, and the manufactured crises of this administration.
American foreign policy must be purposeful and inspiring, based on clear goals and driven by sound strategies – not Twitter-tantrums.
And the overarching purpose of our foreign policy must be to defend and advance the security, prosperity, and democratic values of the United States.
Every President in modern history prior to Donald Trump, Democrat and Republican alike, has understood and carried out this basic directive – often imperfectly – but never before has it been so thoroughly abandoned.
I knew when I saw how Donald Trump responded to the events in Charlottesville – assigning a moral equivalence between those who promote hate, and those who oppose it – that the threat to our democracy was unlike any in my lifetime.
Less than a year later, Trump again stood before the press – this time on foreign soil, in Helsinki – and repeatedly deferred to Vladimir Putin – over American interests, the American intelligence community, and, I would argue, the American people. It was one of the weakest, most shameful performances by a U.S. president in modern history – perhaps ever.
And one we saw repeated just last month at the G-20 summit, where Trump smirked along with Putin – making a joke out of Russia’s very real, very dangerous assault on our institutions.
Trump debases our cherished democratic values every time he plays sycophant to strongmen. When he refuses to condemn Saudi Arabia for the gruesome murder of a journalist and American resident. Or when he “falls in love” with a murderous dictator in North Korea.
He undermines our democratic alliances, while embracing dictators who appeal to his vanity. And make no mistake, the world sees Trump clearly for what he is – Corrupt, insecure, ill-informed, impulsive. Dangerously incompetent and incapable of leadership.
It’s why we’ve seen such a precarious drop in how the rest of the world views the United States. One recent poll found America’s leadership is now less respected than China’s and on par with Russia.
If we give Donald Trump four more years – we may never recover America’s standing in the world or our capacity to bring nations together. And that would be catastrophic for our security and our future.
We can’t let that happen. As President, I will remind the world who we are. The United States of America does not coddle dictators. The United States of America gives hate no safe harbor.
There will be no more Charlottesvilles. No more Helsinkis.
The challenge of following this disastrous presidency, however, will not be to just restore our reputation and credibility.
We must enact a forward-looking foreign policy for the world as we find it today – and as we anticipate it will be tomorrow.
Much has shifted in the past few years. The international landscape is more crowded, competitive and complicated.
And when we look at what’s different today, two key points stand out, one is that the speed and intensity of our gravest challenges means that the fates of nations are more intertwined than ever before.
Climate change, nuclear proliferation, great power aggression, transnational terrorism, cyberwarfare, disruptive new technologies, mass migration – none of them can be resolved by the United States, or any nation, acting alone. America’s security, prosperity and way of life require the strongest possible network of partners and allies working alongside us.
Yet Donald Trump’s brand of America First has too often left America alone, making it that much harder to mobilize others to address threats to our common well-being.
The second is the rapid advance of authoritarianism, nationalism, and illiberal tendencies around the world – not just in Russia and China, but also among our allies, places like Turkey, the Philippines, Hungary.
In every part of the world, technology and instant information are driving change at an unprecedented pace and scope, causing many to feel confused and vulnerable.
Democratic governments – paralyzed by hyper-partisanship, hobbled by corruption – are having a harder time delivering for their people. Trust in our institutions is down. Fear of the “other” is up.
Together, these forces have driven a dangerous resurgence of extreme nationalism and illiberalism, of protectionism and xenophobia.
And Donald Trump and demagogues around the world are leaning into these forces for their own personal and political gain.
But this is not a moment for fear.
This is the time for us to tap the strength and the audacity that took us to victory in two world wars and brought down the Iron Curtain. That triumph of democracy and liberalism over fascism and autocracy is what created the Free World. And this contest won’t just define our past – It will define our future as well.
Today, democracy is under more pressure than at any time since the 1930s.
Freedom House has reported that, of the 41 countries consistently ranked “free” from 1985 to 2005, 22 have registered net declines in freedom in the last five years.
Yet, when the world’s democracies look to America to stand for the values that unite us – to truly lead the Free World – Donald Trump seems to be on the other team. When those living under oppression, yearning for freedom, look to the United States for hope – Trump has nothing to offer.
We cannot forget that democracy is the root of our society, the wellspring of our power, the source of our renewal. It strengthens and amplifies our leadership to keep us safe in the world. It’s the engine of our ingenuity that drives our economic prosperity. It’s the heart of who we are and how we see the world – and how the world sees us.
As president, I will ensure that democracy is once more the watchword of U.S. foreign policy – not to launch some moral crusade, but because it is in our enlightened self-interest.
We must restore our ability to rally the Free World – so we can once more make our stand upon new fields of action and together face new challenges.
We only have one opportunity to reset our democracy. After Trump, we have to be prepared to make the most of it.
So, what does that mean in practice?
First, it means repairing and reinvigorating our own democracy, even as we strengthen the coalition of democracies that stand with us on every continent.
I will start by putting our own house in order – remaking our education system so that a child’s opportunity in life isn’t determined by their zip code or race; reforming our criminal justice system to eliminate inequitable disparities; putting the teeth back in the Voting Rights Act.
I will seek greater transparency in our Campaign Finance System. We need to get big money out altogether, and ensure that foreign dark money doesn’t continue to pollute our politics.
We need to dedicate greater resources, including cyber resources, to defending our elections.
I served as a founding member of a Trans-Atlantic Commission on Election Integrity to fight back against Russia’s attacks on Western democracies. We asked candidates across Europe and North America to sign a pledge, committing to transparency in campaign finances and to reject the use of fabricated or hacked materials. Now that I am a candidate for office – I have signed that pledge, and I urge everyone running for president to do the same. It’s the right thing to do.
As individuals, and as a nation, we have to prove to the world that the United States is prepared to lead – not just with the example of our power, but the power of our example.
To that end, as president, I will take decisive steps to renew our core American values and return transparency to our government.
We believe in freedom of religion, which is why I will end the Muslim ban.
We believe in free speech, which is why I will end the Global Gag Rule that prevents money from going to international NGOs that even talk about family planning.
We believe in the power of a free press, which is why I will immediately return to daily press briefings at the White House, State Department, and Department of Defense.
We are a nation of immigrants. President Trump took those words out of the mission statement of our citizenship and immigration services. I will restore them.
Our Statue of Liberty invites in the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I will reverse Trump’s detrimental asylum policies and raise our target for refugee admissions to a level commensurate with our responsibility and the unprecedented global need.
A Biden administration would immediately end the horrific practice of separating families at our border and holding children in for-profit detention centers.
And I would order a review of Temporary Protected Status to vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in their countries ripped apart by violence or disaster – including Venezuelans and Haitians.
We’ve always been a nation that chooses science over fiction – and from climate change to standards for harmful environmental toxins to global health policy. We’re going to return facts to our policy making.
Renew a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls, at home and abroad. And revitalize our national commitment to advancing human rights and democracy around the world.
These changes – and many more, which I’ve released on our website – are just a start – a day-one down payment on our commitment to living our democratic values at home.
And then, I will invite my fellow democratic leaders to put strengthening democracy back on the global agenda.
We will organize and host in the United States, during the first year of my administration, a global Summit for Democracy to renew the spirit and shared purpose of the nations of the Free World.
Building off the successful model we instituted during the Obama-Biden administration with the Nuclear Security Summit – leaders who attend must come prepared with concrete commitments to take on corruption, counter authoritarianism, and advance human rights in their own nations.
We have to be honest about our friends that are falling short and forge a common agenda for action to address the greatest threats to our shared values. We’ll include civil society organizations from around the world that stand on the frontlines in defense of our democracies.
And we’ll challenge the private sector, including tech corporations and social media giants, to make their own commitments.
America’s openness fueled their success. Now I believe they have a duty to make sure their algorithms and platforms are not misused to sow division at home, or to empower the surveillance state, facilitate repression and censorship in China and elsewhere, spread hate, or spur people to violence.
Second, we will equip our people to succeed in the global economy with a foreign policy for the middle class. To win the competition for the future, we must double down on sharpening our innovative edge and uniting the economic might of our friends to counter abusive economic practices.
We know that economic security is national security. But there are a lot of communities across this country that are hurting because we’ve neglected the basics.
Our trade policy has to start at home, by strengthening our greatest asset – our middle class.
We have to take care of everything I’ve talked about on the campaign trail – giving every student the skills or training they need to obtain a good21st century job; making sure every single American has access to quality, affordable healthcare; investing in rebuilding our bridges and roads, modernizing our airports and trains; making sure Americans have access to broadband networks; reforming our taxes to reward work, not just wealth; leading the clean-economy revolution to create 10 million new jobs right here in the United States.
I will make investment in research and development a cornerstone of my presidency so that the United States is leading the charge with innovation. There’s no reason we should be falling behind China or anyone else when it comes to clean energy, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, 5G, and high-speed rail. And there’s no reason that we cannot ensure that our people are ready – for the transition that will inevitably accompany this new technology.
Ladies and Gentlemen – we have the greatest research universities in the world. The most agile system of venture capital. We’re virtually energy independent. We have a strong tradition of the rule of law. And most important, we have an extraordinary population of workers and innovators who have never let our country down.
A foreign policy for the middle class will also work to make sure the rules of the international economy are not rigged against us. Because when American businesses compete on a fair playing field – we win.
President Trump may think he’s being tough on China, but all he has delivered is more pain for American farmers, manufacturers, and consumers. His economic decision making is as short-sighted as the rest of his foreign policy. China is playing the long-game – extending its global reach and investing in the technologies of the future – while Trump is designating our closest allies – from Canada to the European Union – as National Security Threats in order to impose damaging and pointless tariffs.
By cutting us off from the economic clout of our partners, he knee-caps our capacity to take on the real economic threat.
We do need to get tough with China. If China has its way, it will keep robbing the U.S. of our technology and intellectual property, or forcing American companies to give it away in order to do business in China.
And the most effective way to meet that challenge is to build a united front of friends and partners to challenge China’s abusive behavior – even as we seek to deepen cooperation on issues where our interests converge, like climate change and preventing nuclear proliferation.
There’s no going back to business as usual on trade. We need new rules, and a new process that has the voices of all stakeholders at the table – including leaders representing labor and the environment.
We must negotiate from the strongest possible position. On our own, we represent about one-quarter of global GDP. When we join together with fellow democracies, that number doubles. China can’t afford to ignore half the global economy. That gives us substantial leverage to shape the future rules of the road on everything from the environment to labor, trade, technology and transparency so they continue to reflect democratic interests and values – America’s interests and values.
Not China’s. Not Russia’s.
The world does not organize itself. If we do not shape the norms and institutions that govern relations among nations, rest assure – that some other nation will step into the vacuum, OR – no one will – and chaos will result.
Which brings me to my final point.
The Biden foreign policy agenda will place America back at the head of the table, working with our allies and partners – to mobilize global action on global threats, especially those unique to our Century.
American leadership is not infallible. We have made missteps and mistakes.
Too often we have relied solely on the might of our military instead of drawing on our full array of strengths.
Let me be clear – I will never hesitate to protect the American people Including, when necessary, by using force.
As Vice President, I worked with President Obama to craft the military and diplomatic campaign that ultimately defeated ISIS. In fact, it turned out Trump’s secret plan to destroy the so-called caliphate was to continue the plan we put in place.
We have the strongest military in the world – I would argue in the history of the world. As President, I will ensure it stays that way. I will make the investments necessary – to equip our troops for the challenges of the next century, not the last one.
But the use of force should be our last resort, not our first. Used only to defend our vital interests, when the objective is clear and achievable, and with the informed consent of the American people.
It’s past time to end the Forever Wars, which have cost us untold blood and treasure.
As I have long argued, we should bring the vast majority of our troops home – from the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and narrowly focus our mission on Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
And we should end our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. [This prompted applause.]
Staying entrenched – in unwinnable conflicts – drains our capacity to lead on other issues that require our attention, and it prevents us from rebuilding the other instruments of American power.
So I will make it my mission – to restore American leadership – and elevate diplomacy as our principal tool of foreign policy.
I will reinvest in The Diplomatic Corps that this administration has hollowed out – and put our diplomacy back in the hands of genuine professionals.
Above all, diplomacy requires credibility.And Donald Trump has absolutely corroded our country’s credibility.
In the conduct of American foreign policy – and especially in times of crisis – a President’s word – is his or her most valuable asset.
But by pulling out of treaty after treaty, reneging on policy after policy – walking away from America’s responsibilities, and lying – about matters big and small – Trump has bankrupted America’s word in the world.
And he has alienated us from the very democratic allies we need most.
Trump has taken a battering ram to our NATO alliance – he treats it like an American-run protection racket.
He just doesn’t get it.
NATO is at the very heart of America’s national security. And more than that, it’s the bulwark of the liberal democratic ideal. It is an alliance – first and foremost – of values.
That makes it far more durable, reliable, and powerful than partnerships built by coercion or cash.
The same is true of our core alliances in Asia.
And let’s be clear: working cooperatively with other nations that share our values and goals doesn’t make America a sucker – it makes us more secure and more successful.
We amplify our own strength, extend our presence around the globe, and magnify our impact – while sharing the burden among willing partners.
No country, even one as powerful as ours, can go it alone against challenges that respect no borders and cannot be contained by walls.
As president, I will do more than just restore our historic partnershipsI’ll lead the effort to reimagine them – to better meet the challenges we’re grappling with today.
To keep NATO’s military capabilities sharp, while also expanding our capacity – to take on non-traditional threats like weaponized corruption, cyber theft, and new challenges in space and on the high seas. And, by the way, the increase in NATO defense spending started under the Obama-Biden administration.
We need to look for opportunities to strengthen cooperation with democratic friends – beyond North America and beyond Europe – reaching out to our partners in Asia, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, and India to fortify our collective capabilities.
Sustaining our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security.
Integrating our friends in Latin America and Africa and seizing opportunities throughout the broader network of democracies.
And in order to regain the confidence of the world – we’re going to have to prove that America says what it means, and means what it says.
Especially when it comes to the challenges that will define our time: the renewed threat of nuclear war, mass migration, disruptive technology, and climate change.
We cannot be a credible voice on non-proliferation and nuclear security while we are abandoning the deals we negotiated.
From North Korea to Iran, Russia to Saudi Arabia, Trump has made the prospect of nuclear proliferation, a new nuclear arms race, and even the use of nuclear weapons more likely.
I’ve worked on these issues my entire adult life. I understand what’s at stake and I understand the consequences of failing to act. That is why, as President, I would renew our commitment to arms control for a new era.
The historic Iran nuclear deal we negotiated blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Yet Trump cast it aside, prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program and become more provocative – raising the risk of another disastrous war in the region.
If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal, I would re-join the agreement and work with our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.
In North Korea, I will empower our negotiators and jumpstart a sustained, coordinated campaign with our allies and others – including China – to advance our shared objective of a denuclearized North Korea.
I will pursue an extension of the New START Treaty, an anchor of strategic stability between the United States and Russia, and use that as a foundation for new arms control arrangements.
And I would take other steps to demonstrate our commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons.
As I said in 2017, I believe the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring – and if necessary, retaliating against a nuclear attack. As president, I will work to put that belief into practice, in consultation with our Allies and our military.
By the same measure, we cannot push nations to meet their humanitarian obligations to address the biggest refugee and migration crisis since World War II if we are not living our democratic values and firmly rejecting Trump’s nativist rhetoric.
It shames our nation when a father and his baby daughter drown seeking our shores, when children are locked away in overcrowded detention centers – denied even the most basic necessities – when families are ripped apart.
Abandoning our deepest-held values does nothing to increase security at our border – and everything to diminish our standing in the world.
We need sensible policies that improve screening procedures at our legal ports of entry and make smart investments in border technology.
We need to work again with Canada and Mexico as neighbors – not adversaries. And we need to focus on the root causes driving migrants to our border.
As Vice President, I secured commitments from the leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to take on the corruption, violence, and endemic poverty in their countries that are driving people to leave their homes. Then I worked with a Republican Congress to approve a $750 million aid package to help support those reforms.
And guess what – it worked. Security improved and migration flows began to decrease in countries like El Salvador.
Trump announced an end to our aid – to Central America – via tweet, with no understanding of the consequences.
If elected President, I will relaunch that initiative, with a top-to-bottom review of our funding to the region to determine how we can continue to drive reforms that deliver results.
When it comes to the technologies of the future – like 5-G and Artificial Intelligence – other nations are devoting national resources to dominating their development and determining how they are used.
We have to ensure that 21st century technologies are used to promote greater democracy and shared prosperity– not to curb – freedom and opportunity at home and abroad.
As new technologies reshape our economy and society, we must ensure that these engines for progress are bound by laws and ethics as we’ve done at every technological turning point in history.
A Biden administration will join together with our democratic allies to develop secure, private-sector led 5-G networks, leaving no community – rural or low income – behind.
And the last example I’ll end on today is how the United States must lead the world to take on the existential threat we face – climate change. If we don’t get this right, nothing else matters.
I’ll put us on track to achieve a clean-energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050.
And, equally important because the United States is only 15 percent of global emissions, I’ll leverage our economic and our moral authority to push the world to urgent action.
I will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and convene a summit of the world’s largest carbon emitters, rallying nations to raise their ambitions and push our progress further – faster.
We’ll lock in enforceable commitments that will reduce emissions in global shipping and aviation – and we’ll pursue strong measures to make sure other nations can’t undercut us economically as we meet our own commitments.
That includes insisting that China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon, stops subsidizing coal exports and outsourcing pollution to other countries by financing billions of dollars of dirty fossil-fuel energy projects through their Belt and Road Initiative.
These are ambitious goals and we won’t accomplish any of them without the United States – flanked by our fellow democracies – leading the way.
We are facing enemies – both without and within – hoping to exploit the fissures in our society, undermine our democracy, break up our alliances, and return us to an international system where might determines right.
The answer to this threat is more openness – not less. More friendships, more cooperation, more alliances. More democracy.
Vladimir Putin wants to tell himself and anyone he can dupe into believing him that the liberal idea is “obsolete” – because he’s afraid of its power.
No army on earth can match – how the Electric Idea of Liberty – passes freely from person to person, jumps borders, transcends languages and cultures – how it can supercharge communities of ordinary citizens into activists and organizers and change agents.
We must once more harness that power and rally the Free World to meet the challenges facing our world today. And it falls to the United States of America to lead the way.
No other nation has the capacity. No other nation is built on that idea – that promise.
And it’s in our self-interest.
We have to champion liberty and democracy. We have to reclaim our credibility. We have to look with unrelenting optimism and determination toward the future.
Thank you, and God protect our troops.
See more detail on Biden’s foreign policy platform:
Charlestown, MA – Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, Democratic US
Senator from Massachusetts, released her plan to make voting easy and
convenient and secure our elections from threats both foreign and domestic:
Elections are the foundation of our democracy, but in the United
States – the greatest democracy in the world – our government treats voting
like it’s one of the least important things we do. We have around 8,000
election jurisdictions all doing their own thing. They are overstretched,
under-resourced, and their technology is often laughably out of date.
Voting should be easy. But instead, many states make it hard for
people to vote. We have all heard stories about polling places running
out of ballots, computer problems causing delays, ballot designs confusing voters, and
working people from voting. And on top of these administrative issues, racist
and partisan officials often deliberately seek to stop citizens from exercising
the right to vote. States have purged names from the voter rolls, limited
same-day registration, closed polling places
in communities of color, used
voter ID laws to try to disenfranchise
Native Americans, and even placed restrictions and
criminal penalties on efforts to
register new voters.
Our elections should be as secure as Fort Knox. But instead,
they’re less secure than your Amazon account. State and local
officials take their jobs seriously, but they often don’t have the resources to
secure their elections. Even then, it’s hard for local officials to defend
against attacks from foreign governments. In the 2016 election, the Russian
government tried to infiltrate at
state election systems and at least one election equipment company. They
tried to spear-phish more
than 100 local election officials’ email accounts. They even successfully broke into several
voter registration databases.
The harsh truth is that our elections are extremely vulnerable
to attack: Forty-two states use voter registration databases that are more than
a decade old. Laughably, in 2019, some still use Windows
2000 and Windows XP. Twelve
states still use paperless machines, meaning there’s no paper trail to
verify vote counts. Some states don’t require post-election audits.
train election officials to deal with cybersecurity threats. This is a national
security threat, and three years after a hostile foreign power literally
attacked our democracy, we’ve done far too little to address it.
We need a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to
vote. But the moral necessity of this amendment shouldn’t stop us from acting
now. The federal government already has the power to regulate federal elections,
secure our democracy, and put a stop to racist voter suppression.
Under our Constitution, Congress can regulate the “Times,
Places, and Manner,” of federal elections. This power is so broad that
this provision gives Congress “authority to provide a complete code for
congressional elections.” Congress also has the power to enforce the 14th and
15th Amendments to prevent voting discrimination, and the power of the purse to
grant money to the states to meet federal standards. It’s time to draw on these
constitutional powers to strengthen our democracy.
Enough is enough. It is time to make high-quality voting in the
greatest democracy in the world easy, convenient, and professional. It’s time
to secure our elections from all threats, foreign and domestic. It’s time to
address election security, administration problems, and voter suppression.
Here’s how my plan will work:
Federal elections get state-of-the-art federal machines, federal
ballots, and federal security. Right now some jurisdictions use dated
machines that are easily hackable with no paper trail. Ballot design is all
over the place. No more. The federal government will replace every voting
machine in the country with state-of-the-art equipment and require adoption of
a uniform federal ballot. And we will lock all federal voting technology
systems behind a security firewall like it’s Fort Knox.
Federal standards for federal elections. We have 8,000
election jurisdictions running elections. Problems with resources, malfeasance,
and errors are rampant. No more. We will have federal standards to ensure
everyone can vote, including mandating automatic and same-day registration,
early voting, and vote by mail. My plan will mean no more arbitrary voter
purges. No more registration issues. And no more gerrymandering. We will also
make Election Day a holiday to make it easier for people to get to the polls.
Enforce the law and expand access – through incentives where
possible, and with federal authority where necessary. My plan will give
states cutting-edge voting equipment and election security protocols, all paid
for by the federal government, and states will be required to follow all
federal standards for federal elections. States who also choose to meet these
requirements in their state elections can work through federal-state
partnership agreements to have those elections fully funded by the federal
government, too – and we’ll give them a bonus for achieving high voter turnout
rates. And where racist or corrupt politicians refuse to follow the law, the
federal government will temporarily take over the administration of their
federal elections to guarantee the fundamental right to vote.
Securing Our Elections
Under my plan, federal elections will get state-of-the-art
federal machines, federal ballots, and federal security. The federal
government will replace insecure and outdated systems with hand-marked,
voter-verified paper ballot machines. To prevent
hanging-chads and other confusing ballot designs, we’ll have uniform federal
ballots all across the country that are based on easy-to-use design principles.
The federal government will also provide every polling location with accessible
ballot machines for people with disabilities and conduct research into how to
improve voting security and accessibility for all people, including those with
disabilities and people for whom English isn’t their primary language.
Through a new independent Secure Democracy Administration, which
will replace the Election Assistance Commission and be staffed by civil
servants, the federal government will manage the cybersecurity aspects of
elections and develop additional security procedures for election
administration and the end-to-end handling of ballots. States will implement
these additional security measures, and will receive technical assistance and
training from the Secure Democracy Administration. In addition, states will be
required to conduct risk-limiting audits prior to certifying elections – and
we’ll have independent oversight of those audits.
Establishing Binding Federal Standards for Federal Elections
Our elections are never going to be secure, fair, or workable
with so many jurisdictions each making their own rules — especially when some
officials deliberately manipulate those rules to stop people from voting. Under
my plan, we’ll have a uniform set of federal election standards that achieve four
No more registration problems. My plan will mandate
automatic voter registration and same-day registration for federal elections.
State and federal government agencies will automatically register voters and
transfer that information to state elections officials, and voters can opt-out,
if they choose. Every state will also be required to offer same-day
registration, which acts as a fail-safe for anyone who is mistakenly left off
No more voter purges. Under my plan,
states will be banned from removing voters from the election rolls unless the
voter affirmatively requests to be removed or there is objective evidence of a
legitimate reason to remove them, like death, change of address, or loss of
eligibility to vote. We will also re-enfranchise those who have served their
time and left prison.
No more difficulties voting. We will make
Election Day a national holiday, and all federal elections will have a minimum
of 15 days of early voting, expanded voting hours, the option to vote with a sworn
statement of identity instead of an ID, convenient polling locations, and
voting by mail. And we will pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act and the
Native American Voting Rights Act to shut down a host of festering
No more gerrymandering.Under my plan,
states will be required to use independent redistricting commissions to draw
federal congressional districts to prevent gerrymandering. Both parties should
compete on a level playing field; not in a rigged game designed to suppress the
will of the people.
Enforcing the law and expanding access – through incentives
where possible, and with federal authority where necessary
Our democracy shouldn’t be about keeping people out – it should
strive to bring everyone to the polls. Under my plan, states will receive new
state-of-the-art machines and federal election security, all paid for by the
federal government, and they will also be obligated to comply with the federal
standards for federal elections. But we should make voting easier in all
elections – federal, state, and local. I’m
proposing a federal-state partnership so that states will have a strong
financial incentive to follow these rules in their state and local elections as
well — and to maximize voter turnout.
Here’s how it will work: the federal government will pay the
entirety of a state’s election administration costs, as long as the state meets
federal standards in its state and local elections and works to make voting
more convenient. States will create state implementation plans, describing how
they will adhere to federal law and increase access to voting (e.g. location of
polling places). The Secure Democracy Administration will review state
implementation plans for compliance with federal law, election security protocols,
potentially racially discriminatory impacts, and efforts to make voting more
convenient. States that achieve high percentage voter turnout, including across
racial, gender, and age groups, will be awarded additional bonus payments. All
plans will be finalized well in advance of Election Day, and states will
provide data on their election activities. If a state does not participate in
the federal-state partnership, but a local jurisdiction within the state wishes
to do so, the local jurisdiction can work with the federal government to create
a local implementation plan and it will get access to federal funds to cover
its election administration costs.
States can choose to follow their own rules for their state and
local elections. But if they do, they won’t receive new funding for
administering state elections beyond election security measures, and they will
still have to administer federal elections in accordance with federal law –
including preclearance for any changes that might have a discriminatory impact
under the Voting Rights Advancement Act.
If state or local election officials choose to ignore these
federal rules and instead move to violate them, my plan will give the Secure
Democracy Administration the authority to seek a court order to step in and
guarantee that every voter has access to the polls unless or until the state
shows its intent to fully comply with federal law. The right to vote is a fundamental
right, and we will not let racist and corrupt politicians undermine it or our
Our democracy is too important for it to be under-resourced and
insecure. We need to do everything we can to make sure our elections are
convenient, professional, and secure — and we should be willing to pay for it.
Based on estimates of national
election administration expenses, recentstateefforts to upgrade their election systems, and
assessments of the costs of newmachines and audits, to cover these
costs, we would allocate around $20 billion over ten years, which includes
around $15 billion for election administration and around $5 billion for
election security. This investment can be fully paid for with revenue generated
from the Ultra-Millionaire
Democracy hangs on the idea that whoever gets the most votes
wins. Politicians are supposed to compete over how many voters they can
persuade, not how many they can disqualify or demoralize. And we have a solemn
obligation to secure our elections from those who would try to undermine them.
That’s why the Constitution gives Congress the tools to regulate the administration
of federal elections. It’s time to pick up those tools and use them.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a declared 2020 candidate for 2020 presidential nomination, came to Long Island City, where local activists rejected Amazon, to propose a plan to rein in big tech and other giant multi-national companies that use their economic power to stifle competition and intimidate government. Here is her proposal — Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features
big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our
society, and our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private
information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And
in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.
I want a government that makes sure everybody — even the biggest and most
powerful companies in America — plays by the rules. And I want to make sure
that the next generation of great
American tech companies can flourish. To do that, we need to stop this generation of big tech companies
from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor
and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential
That’s why my Administration will make big, structural changes to the tech
sector to promote more competition—including breaking up Amazon, Facebook, and Google.
How the New Tech Monopolies Hurt Small Businesses and Innovation
America’s big tech companies provide valuable products but also wield enormous
power over our digital lives. Nearly half of all e-commerce goes
through Amazon. More than 70% of all Internet traffic goes through
sites owned or operated by Google or Facebook.
As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their
resources and control over the way we use the Internet to squash small
businesses and innovation, and substitute their own financial interests for the
broader interests of the American people. To restore the balance of power in
our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation
of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it’s time to break up our
biggest tech companies.
America’s big tech companies have achieved their level of dominance in part
based on two strategies:
Mergers to Limit Competition.
Facebook has purchased potential competitors Instagram and WhatsApp.
Amazon has used its immense market power to force smaller competitors
like Diapers.com to sell at a discounted rate. Google has
snapped up the mapping company Waze and the ad company DoubleClick. Rather
than blocking these transactions for their negative long-term effects on
competition and innovation, government regulators have waved them through.
Proprietary Marketplaces to Limit Competition. Many
big tech companies own a marketplace – where buyers and sellers transact –
while also participating on the marketplace. This can create a conflict of
interest that undermines competition. Amazon crushes small
companies by copying the goods they sell on the Amazon
Marketplace and then selling its own branded version. Google
allegedly snuffed out a competing small search engine
by demoting its content on its search algorithm, and it has
favored its own restaurant ratings over those of Yelp.
Weak antitrust enforcement has led to a dramatic reduction in
competition and innovation in the tech sector. Venture capitalists are now
hesitant to fund new startups to compete with these big tech companies because
it’s so easy for the big companies to either snap up growing
competitors or drive them out of business. The number of tech startups
has slumped, there are fewer high-growth young firms typical of
the tech industry, and first financing rounds for tech startups
have declined 22% since 2012.
With fewer competitors entering the
market, the big tech companies do not have to compete as aggressively in key
areas like protecting our privacy. And some of these companies have grown
so powerful that they can bully cities
and states into showering them with massive taxpayer handouts in exchange
for doing business, and can act — in the words of Mark Zuckerberg —
“more like a government than a traditional company.”
We must ensure that today’s tech giants do not crowd out potential competitors,
smother the next generation of great tech companies, and wield so much power
that they can undermine our democracy.
Restoring Competition in the Tech Sector
America has a long tradition of breaking
up companies when they have become too big and dominant — even if they are
generally providing good service at a reasonable price.
A century ago, in the Gilded Age, waves of mergers led to the creation of some
of the biggest companies in American history — from Standard Oil and JPMorgan
to the railroads and AT&T. In response to the rise of these “trusts,”
Republican and Democratic reformers pushed for antitrust laws to break up these
conglomerations of power to ensure competition.
But where the value of the company came from its network, reformers recognized
that ownership of a network and participating on the network caused a conflict
of interest. Instead of nationalizing these industries — as other countries
did — Americans in the Progressive Era decided to ensure that these networks
would not abuse their power by charging higher prices, offering worse quality,
reducing innovation, and favoring some over others. We required a structural
separation between the network and other businesses, and also demanded that the
network offer fair and non-discriminatory service.
In this tradition, my administration
would restore competition to the tech sector by taking two major steps:
First, by passing legislation that requires large tech platforms to be
designated as “Platform Utilities” and
broken apart from any participant on that platform.
Companies with an annual global revenue of
$25 billion or more and that offer to the public an online marketplace, an
exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties would be designated as
These companies would be prohibited from
owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform.
Platform utilities would be required to meet a standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users.
Platform utilities would not be allowed
to transfer or share data with third parties.
For smaller companies (those with annual global revenue of between $90 million
and $25 billion), their platform utilities would be required to meet the same
standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users, but
would not be required to structurally separate from any participant on the
To enforce these new requirements, federal regulators, State Attorneys General,
or injured private parties would have the right
to sue a platform utility to enjoin any conduct that violates these
requirements, to disgorge any ill-gotten gains, and to be paid for losses and
damages. A company found to violate these requirements would also have to pay a fine of 5 percent of annual revenue.
Amazon Marketplace, Google’s ad exchange, and Google Search would be platform
utilities under this law. Therefore, Amazon Marketplace and Basics, and
Google’s ad exchange and businesses on the exchange would be split apart.
Google Search would have to be spun off as well.
Second, my administration would
appoint regulators committed to reversing illegal and anti-competitive tech
Current antitrust laws empower federal regulators to break up mergers that
reduce competition. I will appoint regulators who are committed to using
existing tools to unwind anti-competitive mergers, including:
Whole Foods; Zappos
Waze; Nest; DoubleClick
Unwinding these mergers will promote healthy competition in the market — which will put pressure on big tech companies to be more responsive to user concerns, including about privacy.
Protecting the Future of the Internet
So what would the Internet look like after all these reforms?
Here’s what won’t change: You’ll still be able to go on Google and search like you do today. You’ll still be able to go on Amazon and find 30 different coffee machines that you can get delivered to your house in two days. You’ll still be able to go on Facebook and see how your old friend from school is doing.
Here’s what will change: Small businesses would have a fair shot to sell their products on Amazon without the fear of Amazon pushing them out of business. Google couldn’t smother competitors by demoting their products on Google Search. Facebook would face real pressure from Instagram and WhatsApp to improve the user experience and protect our privacy. Tech entrepreneurs would have a fighting chance to compete against the tech giants.
Of course, my proposals today won’t solve every problem we have with our big tech companies.
We must give people more control over how their personal information is collected, shared, and sold—and do it in a way that doesn’t lock in massive competitive advantages for the companies that already have a ton of our data.
We must help America’s content creators—from local newspapers and national magazines to comedians and musicians — keep more of the value their content generates, rather than seeing it scooped up by companies like Google and Facebook.
And we must ensure that Russia — or any other foreign power — can’t use Facebook or any other form of social media to influence our elections.
Those are each tough problems, but the benefit of taking these steps to promote competition is that it allows us to make some progress on each of these important issues too. More competition means more options for consumers and content creators, and more pressure on companies like Facebook to address the glaring problems with their businesses.
Healthy competition can solve a lot of problems. The steps I’m proposing today will allow existing big tech companies to keep offering customer-friendly services, while promoting competition, stimulating innovation in the tech sector, and ensuring that America continues to lead the world in producing cutting-edge tech companies. It’s how we protect the future of the Internet.
Elizabeth Warren, the senior Senator
from Massachusetts, launched her campaign for President in Lawrence, a small
mill town which was the site 100 years ago, textile workers, led mainly by
women, went on strike to demand fair wages, overtime pay and the right to join
a union. She laid out a platform built
on rebuilding the middle class, strengthening democracy, equal justice under
Here are highlights from her speech:
A little over 100 years ago, the textile mills in Lawrence
employed tens of thousands of people, including immigrants from more than 50
Business was booming. The guys at the top were doing great. But workers made so
little money that families were forced to crowd together in dangerous tenements
and live on beans and scraps of bread. Inside the mills, working conditions
were horrible. Children were forced to operate dangerous equipment. Workers
lost hands, arms, and legs in the gears of machines.
One out of every three adult mill workers died by the time they were 25.
But one day, textile workers in Lawrence – led by women – went on strike to
demand fair wages, overtime pay, and the right to join a union.
It was a hard fight. They didn’t have much. Not even a common language. But
they stuck together.
And they won. Those workers did more than improve their own lives. They changed
America. Within weeks, more than a quarter of a million textile workers
throughout New England got raises. Within months, Massachusetts became the
first state in the nation to pass a minimum wage law.
And today, there are no children working in factories. We have a national
minimum wage. And worker safety laws. Workers get paid overtime, and we have a
forty-hour work week.
The story of Lawrence is a story about how real change happens in
America. It’s a story about power – our power – when we fight together.
Today, millions and millions of American families are also struggling to
survive in a system that has been rigged by the wealthy and the well-connected.
And just like the women of Lawrence, we are ready to say enough is enough.
We are ready to
take on a fight that will shape our lives, our children’s lives, and our
grandchildren’s lives: The fight to build an America that works for everyone….
Over the years, America’s middle class had been deliberately
hollowed out. And families of color had been systematically discriminated
against and denied their chance to build some security.
The richest and most powerful people in America were rich, really rich – but
they wanted to be even richer – regardless of who got hurt.
So, every year, bit by bit, they lobbied Washington and paid off politicians to
tilt the system just a little more in their direction. And year by year, bit by
bit, more of the wealth and opportunity went to the people at the very top.
That’s how, today, in the richest country in the history of the world, tens of
millions of people are struggling just to get by.
This disaster has touched every community in America. And for communities of
color that have stared down structural racism for generations, the disaster has
hit even harder.
We can’t be blind to the fact that the rules in our country have been rigged
against people for a long time – women, LGBTQ Americans, African Americans,
Latinos, Native Americans, immigrants, people with disabilities – and we need
to call it out.
When government works only for the wealthy and well-connected, that is
corruption – plain and simple. It’s time to fight back and change the rules….
is enough, enough is enough.
is enough. Enough is Enough, the crowd responds.]
will say it is “Class warfare” – they’ve been waging class warfare against
middle class for decades. It’s time to fight back.
protect their economic advantage, the wealthy and well-connected have rigged
our political systems as well. They have bought off, bullied politicians in
both parties to make sure Washington is always on their side, some even try to
buy into office..The economy is working great for oil companies, government contractors,
private prisons, great for Wall Street banks and hedgefunds, but not anyone
of Climate Change, our existence is at
stake, but Washington refuses to lift a finger without permission from fossil
fuel companies. That is dangerous and wrong.
isn’t just climate change – any other major issue in America – gun violence, student loan debt, crushing
cost of health care, mistreatment of veterans, broken criminal justice system,
an immigration system that lacks commonsense and under this administration,
lacks a conscience. Overwhelming majorities want action – huge crowds march on Washington
demanding change, there are letters, phone calls, protests – but nothing
Because if you don’t have money and y9ou don’t have connections, Washington doesn’t
want to hear from you.
government works, only for wealthy and well connected that is corruption plain
and simple, and we need to call it out.
is a cancer on our democracy, and we will get rid of it only with strong
medicine, with real structural reform.
fight is to change the rules, so that our government, our economy, our
democracy work for everyone.
want to be crystal clear about exactly what I mean:
First we need to change the rules to
clean up Washington, end the corruption.
all know trump administration is most corrupt in living memory – but even after
Trump is gone, it won’t do just to do a better job of running a broken system. We
need to take power in Washington away from the wealthy and well connected and
put it back in hands of people where it belongs.
is why proposed strongest, most comprehensive anti corruption laws since
shut down the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington; end lobbying
as we know it; ban foreign governments from hiring lobbyists in Washington, and
make justices of US Supreme Court follow a basic code of ethics.
members of Congress from trading stocks. How is that not already illegal?
just one more: make every single candidate for federal office put their taxes
on line – I’ve done it.
Change the rules to put more economic power
in the hands of the American people. Workers and small businesses, middle class
families and people of color have been shut out of their chance to build wealth
for generations. That requires real structural change. Right now, giant
corporations in America have too much power, just roll right over everyone
else. Put power back in hands of workers. Make it quick and easy to join a
union. Unions built America’s middle class and will rebuild America’s middle class.
American companies accountable for their action; raise wages by putting workers into corporate
board rooms where real decisions made; break up monopolies when choke off
competition; take on Wall Street banks so big banks can never again threaten
security of our economy. And when giant
corporations and their leaders cheat customers, stomp out competitors and rob
workers, let’s prosecute them.
more thing: I am tired of hearing that we can’t afford to make real, real
investments in child care, college
and Medicare for All. I am tired of hearing we can’t afford to make
investments in things that create economic opportunities for families,
investments in housing and opioid treatment, that we can’t afford
to address things like rural neglect
or the legacy of racial discrimination,
I am tired of hearing what we can’t afford because it’s just not true.
are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Of course we can afford these investments. But we
need a government that makes different choices- choices that reflect our values
– stop handing out enormous tax giveaways to rich people and giant
corporations. Stop refusing to invest in
our children. Stop stalling on spending money, real money, on infrastructure and clean energy and a Green New
asking the people who have gained the most from our country to pay their fair
share. And that includes real tax reform
in this country, reforms that close loopholes
and giveaways to people at the top and an ultra
millionaires’ tax to make sure that rich people do their part for the
country that made them rich.
Change the rules to strengthen our
starts with a constitutional amendment
to protect the right of every American citizen
vote and have that vote counted.
that’s just the beginning.
every single voter suppression rule
that racist politicians use to steal votes from people of color.
partisan gerrymandering – by Democrats
Citizens United, our democracy is
not for sale.
not just elections. Real democracy requires equal justice under law. It’s not equal justice when kids with
ounce of pot gets thrown in jail, while bank executive who launders money for
drug cartel gets a bonus. We need reform.
not equal justice when for the exact same crime, African Americans are more
likely than whites to be arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced. Yes we
need criminal justice reform and we need it now.
We must not allow those with power to
weaponize hatred and bigotry to divide us. More than 50 years ago, Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr went to Montgomery and warned us of danger of division, how bigotry
and race bating used to divide blacks from white Americans so rich people can
keep picking all their pockets – that playbook around forever, whether straight
against gay, middle class against poor – same – rich and powerful use fear to
divide us. We’re done with that. Bigotry
has no place in the Oval Office.
is who we are – we come from different backgrounds, religions, languages,
experiences. We have different dreams. We are passionate about different
issues, and we feel the urgency of this moment in different ways, but today,
today we come together ready to raise our voices together until this fight is
movement won’t be divided by our differences, it will be united by the values
we share. We all want a country where everyone, not just the wealthy, everyone
can take care of their families; where every American, not just the ones who
hire armies of lobbyists, lawyers, can participate in democracy, a country
where every child can dream big and reach for real opportunity and we are in
the fight to build an America that works for everyone.
get it – this won’t be easy – a lot of people with money, power, armies of
lobbyists and lawyers, people who are prepared to spend more money than you and
I could ever dream of to stop us from making these solutions a reality – people
who will say, extreme or radical to demand an America where every American has
economic security and every kid has opportunity to succeed.
say, get ready, because change is coming
faster than you think.
is coming, change is coming, the crowd roars.]
This kind of fundamental change will be
a lot of people, including some of our friends, will say it’s so hard, it’s not
worth trying. But we will not give up. When I was home with my first baby, I had
the notion to go to law school. It was a crazy idea, but I persisted. It took
some time but eventually I figured out admissions, applications, how to pay
tuition, mapped out the 45 minute commute to campus. Weeks out, there was just
one more thing: child care.
daughter Amelia was nearly 2 years old. I looked for childcare but everywhere,
I struck out over and over. So down to the weekend before law school would
start, I finally found small place with cheerful teacher, play area, nothing
smelled funny, I could afford it. But the place would only take children who
were dependably potty trained. I looked over at Amelia – 5 days to dependably
potty train and almost 2 year old. I stand before you today courtesy of 3 bags
of M&Ms and a cooperative toddler.
that day – never let anyone tell me that anything is too hard.
they have tried.
said it would be too hard to build an agency that would stop big banks from
cheating Americans on mortgages, credit cards. We got organized. To date, big banks
have paid $12 billion to those they cheated.
When Republicans tried to sabotage the agency, I came back to
Massachusetts and then ran against one of them. No woman had ever won a Senate
seat in Massachusetts, and people said it would be “too hard” for me to get
elected. But we got organized, we fought back, we persisted, and now I am the
senior Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
So, no, I am not afraid of a fight. Not even a hard fight.
the women of the Everett Mill walked out from their machines and out into that
cold January air all those years ago, they knew it wouldn’t be easy, but they
knew what was at stake for themselves and their families, and they weren’t
going to tell anyone it was too hard – doubters told abolitionists, the
suffragettes, the foot soldiers of civil rights movement, it’s just too hard,
but they all, all kept going and they changed the history of America.
Sure, there will be plenty of doubters and cowards and armchair
critics this time around. But we learned a long time ago that you don’t get
what you don’t fight for. We are in this
fight for our lives, for our children, for our planet, for our futures – and we
will not turn back.
So here is the promise I make to you today: I will fight my heart out
so that every kid in America can have the same opportunity I had – a fighting
chance to build something real.
And here’s a big piece of how we’ll get it done: We’ll end the
unwritten rule of politics that says anyone who wants to run for office has to
start by sucking up to rich donors on Wall Street and powerful insiders in
taking a dime of PAC money in this campaign or a single check from a federal
lobbyist. I’m not taking applications from billionaires who want to run a Super
PAC on my behalf. And I challenge every other candidate who asks for your vote
in this primary to say exactly the same thing.
We’re going to keep building this campaign at the grassroots.
So now that Democrats have taken back control of the House, there is the internal (eternal) argument between the progressives and what I would call the pragmatists as to whether to act immediately to impeach Trump or use their powers for good and solve the ailing problems of the nation (health care, immigration reform, infrastructure, criminal justice reform, voting rights). As if that were even possible, given Mitch McConnell’s death grip over the Senate, and Trump’s likely veto.
But Democrats can do both – develop, debate and pass necessary legislation on health care, drug prices, protecting DACA recipients, rational immigration reform, gun violence prevention, campaign finance – and still hold the hearings and fulfill their Constitutional obligation for oversight and checks-and-balance on government.
Trump must be impeached. And it doesn’t matter if impeachment is likely to fail in the Senate where it is unlikely to get 67 votes. In the best of all worlds, the evidence would be so compelling, so damning, that even Republicans will go to Trump (as they did to Nixon), and say: resign or else (the “else” would be prosecution of Trump for high-crimes, along with his children; threats to prosecute his close associates would likely not bother Trump at all.) That is, if Republicans retain even a scintilla of actual patriotism and concern for the national good rather than retaining power, no matter how unscrupulously.
Certainly, Democrats should wait until the Mueller investigation is concluded – or re-start the hearings that should have taken place in Congress until sabotaged by the likes of Devin Nunes and others more loyal to Trump than to their oath of office. (Nunes, don’t forget, was on the transition team that brought Michael Flynn in as National Security Adviser.) Those hearings need to be held because the Republicans did a superb job of protecting and insulating Trump and preventing any real understanding or defense against what Russia did and how they did it, opening the way for others – be it China, Israel or North Korea, or a billionaire with a mission like Sheldon Adelson or the Kochs – to replicate the process with even greater sophistication and efficiency in the future.
Despite the fact impeachment would likely fail to get the 67 votes needed in the Senate, if Trump is not prosecuted for the slew of “high crimes and misdemeanors” already committed (violation of Emoluments Clause, repeated obstruction of justice, abuse of power, likely violations of Federal campaign laws and tax evasion, not to mention the likely conspiracy or collusion with Russia and other felons who hacked into the DNC), that sets a new standard for what a candidate and a president can do.
Either you have an Emoluments Clause or you don’t. Either you impeach for “high crimes and misdemeanors” or you say that actual “high crimes and misdemeanors” has nothing to do with it, impeachment is “political” with a political standard of criminality so that unless you lie about committing adultery when your opponents control Congress, nothing you do is illegal. You can violate Federal Elections law, hack voting machines, steal absentee ballots, but if you win and become president through such criminality, well then, tough luck for the rest of the world that has to abide by laws. If impeachment is only based on who has the majority, then there is no real Rule of Law, and no bedrock principle that “no man is above the law.” This would incentivize the next billionaire Mafioso who can offer $1 million and a pardon to a henchman to flip votes or hack or undertake a propaganda campaign (and shouldn’t there be some sort of “Truth in Advertising” standard for political messaging?).
In all of American history, there has never been a person endowed with the powers of the presidency who has been this blatantly corrupt and the very epitome of the monarch wannabe the Founders feared and thought they had inoculated the country against. It’s as if Trump things if he commits crimes openly, the outrageousness of it inoculates him. The Founders may have had their bouts with fake news but could not have anticipated data mining and Facebook and gerrymandering with the precision of knowing how to cut through a single block to produce an edge. They couldn’t have predicted black-box voting, the ability to hack into election rolls, to purge voter lists based on their propensity to vote for the other party, the mathematical calculations that go into shutting down polling places and devices.
The Justice Department has a “policy” against indicting a sitting president? Well, it’s just a policy. The Constitution actually requires the Senate to “advise and consent” on Supreme Court nominees, but that didn’t stop Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from doing the unprecedented thing of blocking Obama’s nominee for a year to save the seat for a radically right wing “justice.” The Justice Department has never been faced with a sitting president who has been named as Individual #1 in multiple felonies.
“Policy” didn’t stop the Supreme Court from ruling that a civil suit against President Bill Clinton having nothing to do with his presidency or crimes against the state, should go forward, or requiring him to give testimony under oath, or for that matter the Republican Congress from impeaching him, rather than censuring him, for lying about a consensual adulterous affair.
So far, Trump, who reacted to the sentencing memos against his consigliere Michael Cohen, and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, both of whom had pleaded guilty, that included him as “Individual #1” as if he had somehow been absolved because he wasn’t actually named, and instead of the word “collusion,” Mueller used a synonym, “synergy.” Trump may also be thinking that because Russia had worked with his flunkies, even for their own reasons (Manafort to pay off his debt?) or to enrich the Trump Organization rather than win, not realizing that Putin was out to win the presidency, that therefore he will be absolved of actual “collusion” or “conspiracy.”
“Totally clears the President. Thank you!” Trump tweeted, very possibly because he didn’t actually read the sentencing memos or doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “synergy.”
But if Trump is not impeached and his campaign’s criminal activity that amounted to stealing an election are not held to account, what will stop the next celebrity billionaire from buying his way onto the ticket, paying for a propaganda campaign, possibly paying off hackers to switch just enough votes with the promise of a hefty cash reward and likely pardon, or collaborating with a foreign power to use the full force of its intelligence/cyber apparatus? (Answer: Nothing. It will become the new modus operandi, and you don’t even need a foreign power to collude.)
The argument that Democrats need to be focused on “solving the problems” of the nation is sweet and sentimental, but the reality is anything that comes out of the Democratic-controlled House will be stopped in the Republican-controlled Senate, or by Trump veto. And when progressives realize that Democrats were ineffectual, instead of rallying in 2020, they will punish Democrats, as they did in 2010 (recall Sanders led that charge, then too, and got progressives to “protest” by staying home) and 2014 (when I bet Hispanics punished Obama for failing to get Comprehensive Immigration Reform through) despite McConnell having said right after Obama’s election that his priority was to make him one-term president. You can see it already in the way the progressive wing is determined to destroy any ability of Democrats to be successful by attacking Nancy Pelosi instead of advancing one of the young bucks into a different leadership position so they can be groomed when she does in fact step aside.
But if Trump is not impeached for high-crimes and misdemeanors, for obstruction of justice (firing Comey, Sessions, to list just two); abuse of power (sending US military to the border for a political purpose); campaign finance violations; violations of the Emoluments Clause and using foreign policy for personal enrichment (Russia, Qatar, UAE, China, India), tax fraud, money laundering, then what would be impeachable? Lying about adultery? (Oh, he did that too).