In contrast with the disjointed, chaotic,
ineffective, politicized handling to stem the coronavirus pandemic offered by
the Trump Administration still more concerned about the stock market than lives
(Trump suggested a new benchmark, that since as many as 65,000 people die each
year from seasonal flu – “Who knew? I find that amazing” – that anything less
would be considered victory), every Democratic candidate to replace Trump has
demonstrated more effective leadership. Trump has honed in on pushing the
Federal Reserve to lower interest rates, and for further tax cuts which will do
nothing to address the actual global economic impacts of a pandemic – curtailed
production and consumer demand as well as general business uncertainty – Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to
take decisive action to both keep American families healthy and stabilize the
economy. This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Today, Elizabeth Warren
released her plan to take decisive action to keep American families healthy and
stabilize our economy as the virus spreads.
Elizabeth Warren’s plan will:
Ensure that every American — including the millions of
Americans who are uninsured — can get all recommended evaluation and care for
coronavirus for free, including any recommended coronavirus vaccine once it is
Create an emergency paid leave program so that anyone who
meets the CDC’s description of relevant symptoms of coronavirus or is exposed
and placed under quarantine can get fully paid time off of work to consult a
doctor and recover—or provide care to a family member or other dependent who
Enact at least a $400 billion fiscal stimulus package to
head off the potential economic impact of coronavirus.
Elizabeth discussed these
concrete solutions to the coming economic shocks of coronavirus at a town hall
in Houston over the weekend. The plan released today builds on her
comprehensive plan to prevent, contain, and treat infectious diseases outbreaks
like coronavirus she released more than four weeks
ago — before any of the other candidates, or the incumbent in
the White House.
Protecting our People and our Economy from Coronavirus
Coronavirus is a public health emergency and a serious threat to the American
economy. While it’s important that our leaders communicate calmly and clearly
about the situation to avoid unnecessary panic, it’s just as important that we
take decisive action to keep American families healthy and stabilize our
economy as the virus spreads.
I rang the warning bells for years
before the 2008 crisis. Quicker action during the Bush
Administration could have reduced the severity of the crisis — or averted it
entirely. While we still don’t know the full scope of the public health and
economic impact of coronavirus, and even further actions may be necessary in
upcoming months, we should take the following steps right now to limit the
spread of the virus and get ahead of its economic impact:
Ensure that every American — including the millions of
Americans who are uninsured — can get all recommended evaluation and care for
coronavirus for free, including any recommended coronavirus vaccine once it is
Create an emergency paid leave program so that anyone
presenting with the symptoms of coronavirus, or who has a family member or
other dependent presenting with the symptoms of coronavirus, can get fully paid
time off of work to see a doctor, get treatment, or provide care.
Enact at least a $400 billion fiscal stimulus package to
head off the potential economic impact of coronavirus.
Ensuring Every American Can Get Free Care for Coronavirus
Medicare for All will prevent this kind of problem in the future. But in the short term, facing a potential outbreak, we must ensure that every person in this country can talk to a doctor if they think they might have coronavirus—and get the recommended testing and care they need if they do.
Our response must ensure that every person in this country can get recommended evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment for coronavirus for free. Congress should dedicate sufficient funding to reimburse health care providers and hospitals for uncompensated care relating to coronavirus. This fund should also be large enough to cover the costs of government mandated quarantines or isolation for patients who cannot afford any bills that it may generate. Congress should also require that insurers fully cover all recommended care for coronavirus, including appropriate evaluation, diagnostic testing, and treatment.
What does my plan mean for you? It means that you could get all recommended medical advice and care for coronavirus for free—regardless of whether you have hit your deductible, whether you’re on Medicare or Medicaid, or have no insurance at all.
Ensuring Hospital and Health System Capacity. Because of the way coronavirus spreads, many more people will be exposed to it than we saw with Zika or Ebola. That means our health system will see a surge in demand for basic primary care and diagnostic screenings in the midst of an already brutal flu season that has stretched hospitals’ capacity. To address the likely increase in people seeking medical evaluation and treatment for coronavirus, Congress should provide a temporary surge in funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers, Community Health Centers, Rural Health Clinics, and safety-net hospitals to increase their capacity.
Ensuring Access to Vaccines and Other Medical Countermeasures. We must increase federal investment in developing a coronavirus vaccine and ensure that every person who needs the vaccine can get it at no personal cost. As we did during the outbreak of H1N1 (the “swine flu”), the government should guarantee that it will purchase a bulk quantity of the eventual vaccine for coronavirus. This will create an incentive for the private sector to develop it quickly and ensure manufacturers of sufficient demand.
We must also ensure — either under existing laws or through new congressional action — that health insurance companies and federal health programs cover any recommended coronavirus vaccine with no cost sharing, similar to the H1N1 vaccines from 2009. The government can also distribute the vaccines to vulnerable populations and provide them for free to the uninsured. In the event that a private sector manufacturer wants to charge an outrageous price for the vaccine once it is developed, the government should contract for its manufacture or invoke compulsory licensing as I have called for in other drug pricing contexts, and as the government threatened to do during the 2001 anthrax scare.
Together, these actions will ensure that every American can get the vital medical advice and care they need for coronavirus for free. That is not only the moral thing to do, it limits the spread of the disease and keeps us all safer.
Guaranteeing Every American Fully Paid Emergency Leave for Coronavirus Testing and Recovery
America’s shameful lack of national paid leave and sick days will worsen the spread of coronavirus. People who feel sick will go into work anyway, afraid of losing their jobs or the pay they badly need. Parents may feel compelled to work even as their kids or their elderly relatives might need medical attention. Research shows that mandated paid leave and sick days dramatically reduce the spread of diseases.
Congress must act to pass Senator Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act, which would provide up to twelve weeks per year of paid leave to all workers to care for themselves and their loved ones in case of serious medical issues or the welcoming of a new child. As President, I will fight to make this policy the law. But in the face of a public health crisis, we can’t wait — and should immediately make cash assistance available to people who need time off because of coronavirus through an “emergency paid leave” program.
Here’s how it would work:
Anyone who meets the CDC’s description of relevant symptoms
or is exposed and placed under quarantine — or has a family member or other
dependent who meets that description — will be eligible for emergency paid
leave to take time off to follow CDC’s recommended course of action, which may
include self-isolation, evaluation and testing, or treatment.
Emergency paid leave will be available pursuant to CDC’s
guidelines about the appropriate length of recovery and quarantine or isolation
time for those who contract or are exposed to coronavirus. If a family
caretaker is also required during this period, that person will also be
eligible for emergency paid leave.
Anyone eligible for the program will receive emergency paid
leave that fully replaces their actual wage income — up to a cap set at the
99th wage percentile.
My emergency paid leave program will accomplish two critical
goals. First, it will give people the financial peace of mind to take time off
to stay home and recover or care for a loved one who has the symptoms of
coronavirus or has been exposed to it. That will help limit the spread of the
disease. Second, providing access to paid leave benefits funded by the
government rather than by employers during this health crisis will help
stabilize businesses, who will be relieved of the burden of potentially paying
large shares of their workforce for long absences.
Enacting At Least a $400 Billion Stimulus to Head Off the Projected Economic
Effects of Coronavirus, and Announcing a Federal Reserve Emergency Lending
Based on those factors and the range of projections for the economic impact
of coronavirus, we should immediately enact a stimulus package that represents
an authorization of at least 2% of GDP, or roughly $400 billion.
The stimulus should focus on the following categories of spending:
Low or no-interest loans to companies of all sizes that are
negatively affected by supply chain disruptions, reductions in tourism, or
other temporary coronavirus-related impacts, and that will use the funds to
avoid layoffs and hours reductions, not for additional executive compensation,
dividends, or share buybacks.
Unemployment insurance and other direct payments to
households — with exact amounts tied to unemployment levels and wage growth.
Other aid to state and local governments that may be losing
revenue because of coronavirus, in order to minimize reductions in services for
Jump starting our ability to make our own active
pharmaceutical ingredients and their base components by establishing a strategy
to support domestic manufacturers—with the ultimate goal of requiring all
federal agencies that procure or reimburse for drugs (like the DOD, VA, and
Medicare) to preference drugs with American-made ingredients. My legislation to
allow the government to manufacture drugs would provide a strong foundation for
Green infrastructure investments, like domestically produced
clean energy, that can be accomplished even with the supply chain disruptions
that are likely to exist with a widespread coronavirus outbreak.
In addition, whether the Federal Reserve Board chooses to cut interest rates or not, itshould announce as soon as possible — and no later than the markets opening on Monday — that it stands ready to use its emergency lending authority to create a broad-based emergency lending facility program to help real economy companies whose supply chains have been disrupted because of the coronavirus and who will use the money to do right by their workforce.
Companies across America are already struggling with supply chain disruptions, and we don’t want these temporary struggles to lead to widespread layoffs or for otherwise solid companies to go under. While Congress should deliver the stimulus package I described above to help these types of companies, an immediate announcement from the Fed of this type of program will give companies — and markets — confidence that the Fed is available as a lender of last resort if Congress fails to deliver, and could help avert a more severe downturn.
The vigorous contest of Democrats running for president has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan for Justice for Border Communities – a stark contrast to what Trump has done to punish asylum seekers, separating children from their parents, and most recently, using the coronavirus pandemic to raise the prospect of shutting the border to Mexico entirely.
“Our border region is made up of multinational, multicultural, economically vibrant communities that reflect the best of what our country can be. From affordable housing to investing in small businesses to stopping Trump’s monument to hate, we can make big, structural change to promote accountability, opportunity, and prosperity at the border,” Senator Warren stated.
This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, released her plan to ensure accountability in our border communities by rolling back the Trump administration’s incessant militarization, immediately stopping the construction of Trump’s wall on the border between Mexico and the United States, creating a fair and welcoming immigration system, and respecting the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystem.
She will also work to build a 21st century border economy by boosting small businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the digital divide, uplifting labor and environmental protections through trade, and developing the green workforce of the future.
Some new proposals in her plan include:
In her first 100 days, she will convene a borderlands
summit, bringing together federal, state, and local representatives, Tribal
Nations, members of the business community, community organizations and
stakeholders to undo the harm of the Trump administration and create more
prosperity in the region.
She will create a new position in the White House that
serves as an advisor to the president on border communities. This person will
direct an Interagency Task Force on Border Community Prosperity and coordinate
the entire federal government’s investment in our border communities.
She will end Trump’s deployment of military forces to the
Despite the immediate public health threat, the Trump
administration is demanding that we cut spending elsewhere to pay for emergency
funding we need to prepare for and respond to coronavirus — so she is
introducing a bill in the Senate to redirect funding diverted to the wall
toward coronavirus instead.
She will end Constitution-Free Zones: She will hold
immigration enforcement to the same due process and standards as other law
enforcement agencies — no more warrantless property searches, no more
arbitrary stops, no more violations of basic Constitutional rights.
She will reverse the Trump administration’s policy giving
Border Patrol agents the power to make “credible fear” determinations for
asylum-seekers rather than asylum officers.
She will invest resources in more culturally competent asylum
officers and immigration judges and better coordinate a full federal government
response to the humanitarian crisis at the border, just like we would with FEMA
under a natural disaster.
She will pardon those convicted of providing food and water
to migrants — because no one should go to jail simply for providing
humanitarian aid to another person in need.
She will create a Border Health Initiative within the
Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to focus on strengthening these health
institutions in ways that serve the unique needs of this region and its people.
She will build a 21st century border economy by investing in
our ports of entry.
The campaign recently did a Texas Latino Engagement tour —
and listened and learned from hundreds of Latino, Latina, and Latinx people in
San Antonio, Laredo, McAllen, Corpus Christi, and Houston.
Elizabeth will be in San
Antonio with former Secretary of HUD Julián Castro today.
But the challenges at the border did not start with Donald Trump’s ignorance
and bigotry. For decades, decisions made in Washington have divided and
disrupted communities, cities, Tribal Nations, and families — many of whom
have lived along what is now the border for longer than the United States has
The 15 million residents living
in our Southern borderlands — from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California
— deserve a champion and a partner in the White House. Building an
America that reflects our values means elevating the voices of those who have
traditionally been overlooked and underserved. We’ve got to make sure everyone
has a seat at the table, and that includes border communities and immigrant
advocacy groups. In my first 100 days, I will convene a borderlands summit,
bringing together federal, state, and local representatives, Tribal Nations,
members of the business community, community organizations, and stakeholders to
undo the harm of the Trump administration and create more prosperity in the
region. I will also create a new position in the White House that serves as an
advisor to the president on border communities. This person will direct an
Interagency Task Force on Border Community Prosperity and coordinate the entire
federal government’s investment in our border communities.
A Warren administration will ensure accountability in our border
communities by rolling back the Trump administration’s incessant
militarization of the border, creating a fair and welcoming immigration system,
and respecting the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystem. I’ll
fight for healthy and safe border communities with affordable housing,
high-quality education, health care, and economic opportunities. And together,
we’ll build a 21st century border economy by boosting small
businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the digital divide,
uplifting labor and environmental protections through trade, and developing the
green workforce of the future.
Accountability in Border Communities
We need a federal government that’s accountable to our border
communities. That means an immigration system that keeps families
together, preserves our security, grows our economy, honors our Constitution,
and reflects our values. That also means an approach to national security that
respects the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystems. As president,
my administration will:
Welcome those in need and protect rights and due process. My immigration plan commits
to decriminalizing migration, significantly reducing detention and ending
private detention facilities, providing rights and due process for all
immigrants, reaffirming asylum protections for those fleeing violence, and
ending policies like metering and the “Remain in Mexico” policy. As president,
I’ll also reverse the Trump administration’s policy giving Border Patrol agents
the power to make “credible fear” determinations for asylum-seekers rather than
asylum officers. A Warren administration will invest resources in more
culturally competent asylum officers and immigration judges and better
coordinate a full federal government response to the humanitarian crisis at the
border, just like we would with FEMA during a natural disaster. And I’ll pardon
those convicted of providing food and water to migrants — because no
one should go to jail simply for providing humanitarian aid to another person
Remake CBP and ICE in a way that reflects our values. We
spend billions of dollars each year on a
massive and cruel immigration detention and enforcement system that
breaks up families and keeps thousands locked up — with little evidence that it makes
our nation safer.A Warren
administration will reshape CBP and ICE from top to bottom, reducing
funding for detention and instead focusing their efforts on ports of entry and
homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods,
and preventing smuggling and trafficking. And to change the culture, I’ll
insist on transparency and strengthen the authorities of independent internal
watchdogs to prevent future abuses. I’ll designate a Justice Department task
force to investigate accusations of serious violations, and give it independent
authority to pursue any substantiated criminal allegations.
The Supreme Court ruling that a family can’t seek damages after
their son was killed by a border patrol agent because he was on
the Mexican side of the border when the agent shot him shows us that our system
of accountability is broken. In spite of the Supreme Court’s decision, a few
steps to one side of the border or another should not serve to forfeit basic
rights. As president, I’ll work to reverse the decision legislatively in order
to ensure accountability for victims of border patrol violence — regardless of
the side of the border. Furthermore, I support requiring Customs and Border
Patrol (CBP) agents to wear body cameras, a best practice in local law
enforcement that reduces use-of-force incidents and increases transparency.
And as new technology is deployed, a Warren administration will monitor
violations of privacy and limit the use of facial-recognition software. Let
there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating the basic rights of
immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren administration will hold you
Stop Trump’s Militarization of the Border. Despite Trump’s
rhetoric, the people seeking asylum at the southern border are not a threat to
our national security. And Trump’s wall is a monument to hate — and only the
latest attempt to treat the southern border as a war zone rather than as a
vibrant community. Many of the apprehensions at the border are families and
children who commonly turn themselves in to
Border Patrol to apply for asylum. This is a humanitarian
crisis in need of medical doctors, immigration lawyers, and social workers —
not military troops. As president, I will end Trump’s deployment of
military forces to the border. I’ve listened to communities at the border when
they say we do not need Trump’s failed wall, and I will immediately stop the
construction of Trump’s wall on the border between Mexico and the United
States. I will also work to repeal the sections of law that allow the federal government to
waive federal procurement rules or environmental impact reviews.
Despite the immediate public health threat, the Trump administration is demanding
that we cut spending elsewhere to pay for emergency funding we need to prepare
for and respond to coronavirus — so I am introducing a bill in the Senate to
redirect funding diverted to the wall toward coronavirus instead. We need to
get our priorities straight and focus on keeping the American people safe,
rather than funding some useless vanity project. Let’s be clear: our border
communities are not a war zone.
End Constitution-Free Zones. CBP has the authority to
operate within 100 miles of any “external boundary” — an area deep into
the interior of the country that covers about 200 million people, including
9 of the 10 largest U.S. cities. The Border Patrol operates numerous
immigration checkpoints and regularly stops people to check their immigration
status, raising concerns about racial profiling and violations of the
Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections. During natural disasters and daily
life, immigrant families are afraid to travel freely in their own communities.
Citizens of Tribal Nations such as the Tohono O’odham Nation who have tribal ID cards face
unnecessary hurdles with border patrol checkpoints. Agents also have the authority to enter private property
(except dwellings) 25 miles from the border, which includes almost
all of El Paso. There is no reason Border Patrol agents should have special
access to private property without receiving a warrant from a judge just like
the rest of law enforcement. As president, I will hold immigration enforcement
to the same due process and standards as other law enforcement agencies — no
more warrantless property searches, no more arbitrary stops, no more violations
of basic Constitutional rights. It’s time to rein in CBP, and ensure everyone’s
rights are respected.
Root Out White Nationalism. We need to call out white
nationalism for what it is—domestic terrorism. It is a threat to
American safety and security. In a Warren administration, we will use every
tool we have to defeat it, and that includes from within our military, our law
enforcement, and our immigration enforcement agencies. To start, I will
instruct these federal agencies to tighten their background check processes and
to better track incidents of bias crimes and reports of affiliation with white
nationalist or neo-Nazi groups in their ranks. Extremist ideology is a threat
to our values, and it has no place inside our government. As part of my plan to
reshape ICE and CBP, I’ve said that I will strengthen the authorities of
independent internal watchdogs to prevent future abuses. This includes tasking
the Inspectors General at both agencies to focus explicitly on reports of bias
crimes or racism on the job. A Warren administration will have zero tolerance
for these types of infractions.
From the 1918 Porvenir massacre through
today, we must also recognize the long history of racist violence along
the U.S.-Mexico border. Tragically, we have seen how this horrific
history repeated itself just last August, when a white nationalist, directly
echoing the rhetoric of President Trump, drove hundreds of miles to commit an
act of terror against the people of El Paso. As I laid out in my plan to combat white nationalism,
combatting white nationalist crime will be a top priority for the Departments
of Justice and Homeland Security in a Warren administration. My administration
will also work with federal and local law enforcement to crack down on
dangerous anti-immigrant vigilante militias at the border, which often include members of hate groups or
individuals with a history of violence,
including against U.S. citizens.
Respect Tribal Sovereignty. My plan for public lands
includes aggressive steps to
stop private interests from pillaging sacred lands. I will use all legal
authorities, including the Native American Graves
Protection and Repatriation Act, to protect sacred sites like Organ
Pipe. And absent extraordinary circumstances, respect for tribal sovereignty
means that no project, development or federal decision that will have a
significant impact on a tribal community, their lands, resources, members or
religious practices, should proceed without the free, prior, and informed
consent of the Tribal Nation concerned. I have also called for a new Sacred Lands Religious
Freedom Restoration Act to dramatically improve the
ability of Tribal Nations to block the imposition of development, extraction,
and land use decisions with respect to tribal lands.
Fighting for Safe, Healthy, High-Quality Living on the Border
A generation of barely budging wages and rising costs for basics like housing,
health care, child care, and education have squeezed family budgets. Many
families living in communities at our borders are hanging on by their
A lack of affordable housing and decades of systemic discrimination has
driven hundreds of thousands of people,
predominantly U.S. citizens of Mexican-descent, in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico,
and California to live in neighborhoods, called colonias, without basic
necessities like potable water, electricity, and safe housing. Border
communities have uninsured rates that are much higher than the national average
and have some of the highest rates of chronic diseases like diabetes in the
country. In the colonias in Texas, over 50% of adults do not have a
high school diploma.
A Warren administration will:
Invest in safe and affordable housing for all. My Housing Plan for America invests
$500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than
three million units that will be affordable to lower-income families —
including $523 million to create 380,000 affordable rental homes in rural
communities and $2.5 billion to build or rehabilitate 200,000 homes on
tribal lands, where overcrowding, homelessness, and substandard
housing have reached crisis levels. My plan will lower rents by 10%, reform
land-use rules that restrict affordable housing construction and further racial
segregation, and take a critical first step towards closing the racial wealth gap.
My plan to protect and empower renters tackles the growing cost of rent,
strengthens fair housing law and enforcement, fights for a nationwide right to
counsel for low-income tenants in eviction proceedings, and creates a national
small dollar grant program to help make sure families aren’t evicted because of
My administration will also take on “land contracts”
agreements, predatory loans that arefrequently targeted at
communities of color and areprevalent in border communities. In
these contracts, tenant-buyers can be subject to unjust eviction
proceedings, homes can be in such bad condition they’re basically
uninhabitable, interest rates exorbitantly high, and in the case of some
colonias, developers have failed to provide basic infrastructure
like a sewer system or paved roads. And because of the “forfeiture clause”
embedded in these kinds of agreements, if tenants fall behind on these
high-interest payments, lenders can seize the property — and keep the payments
that have been made as “liquidated damages.”
Texas is one state that has moved toward increasing protections after
a certain amount has been paid, but there’s more we can do. I’ll choose a CFPB
Director committed to reining in land contracts, work with states to require
that these contracts be recorded to collect better data and formalize land
titling, and strengthen protections and rights of these residents to ensure
their property isn’t lost to exploitative practices and can be passed onto
Protect Clean Water.Clean water is
vital to our health and welfare and to our economy. But decades of
environmental racism have allowed corporate polluters to
pump dangerous amounts of pollution into our border communities and unaccountable developers to
leave these communities without the resources and infrastructure to take it
on. 30% of people living in colonias
don’t have safe drinking water. Meanwhile, border communities have
been battling toxic waste dumping in
their neighborhoods. And yet, Trump’s 2021 budget proposal eliminates much of
the federal money allocated for water and wastewater projects that could have
been used to work towards clean drinking water in border regions.
A Warren administration will invest in our nation’s water systems. I have
committed to fully capitalize the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the
Clean Water State Revolving Fund to refurbish old water infrastructure and
support ongoing water treatment operations and maintenance, prioritizing the
communities most heavily impacted by inadequate water infrastructure. I will
also fully enforce Safe Drinking Water Act standards for all public water
systems and aggressively regulate chemicals that make their way into our water
supply, including from agricultural runoff. I’ll restore all funding to water
and wastewater projects the Trump administration has proposed to eliminate.
And, for the thousands of people who rely on private
sources for drinking water, a Warren administration will fight for
adequate funding so that everyone can have access to safe water. I’ll also make
giant agribusinesses pay the full costs of the environmental damage they wreak
on the border communities that surround them by closing the loopholes that they
use to get away with polluting and by beefing up enforcement of the Clean Air
and Clean Water Acts against them.
Health care is a human right and that’s why we need
Medicare for All. Under Medicare for All, every single person in this
country will be able to see the doctor they need and get their recommended
treatments. As president, I will immediately act to lower the cost of
prescription drugs, using every available tool to bring pressure on the big
drug companies and bring down the high costs of many common prescription drugs,
including Insulin. And within 100 days, I’ll work with Congress to expand
coverage to every American by expanding Medicare and creating a Medicare for
All option that is free for all kids and families at or below 200 percent of
While we work to deliver Medicare for All, a Warren
administration will roll back the Trump administration’s efforts to rip health
coverage away from people. The Trump administration’s reinterpretation of
Section 1557 would undermine critical nondiscrimination protections, weakening
requirements to make health information language-accessible. As president, I will
direct HHS to reinstate the Obama administration’s 2016 guidance that fully
upholds civil rights and nondiscrimination protections. I’ll roll back the
Trump administration’s Public Charge rule change, which is harming immigrants
with disabilities and forcing immigrant families to choose between staying
together and ensuring their children can get critical services. And I’ll
reverse the Trump administration’s harmful Medicaid policies, like work
requirements and block grants, that take coverage away from low-income
individuals and families.
Strengthen the Health System. While coverage is critical,
it’s only part of ensuring access to high-quality care. We also have a
responsibility to make sure that places that have experienced a loss in
services or are otherwise medically underserved get support to improve their
health systems and meet the needs of their communities.
That’s why I’ve committed to protecting health care in rural communities by
creating a new designation under Medicare for rural hospitals, ending the
harmful effects of consolidation, and dramatically increasing funding for
Community Health Centers. I will also establish a $25 billion dollar capital
fund to support a menu of options for improving care in health professional
shortage areas, including: constructing a new facility like a
Community Health Center, Rural Health Clinic, School-Based Health Center, or
birthing center; expanding capacity or services at an existing clinic;
establishing pharmacy services or a telemedicine program; supporting a diabetes
self-management education program; improving transportation to the nearest
hospital; or piloting models like mobile clinics and community paramedicine
programs. A Warren administration will also expand our health care workforce by
investing more resources in building the pipeline of culturally-competent and
language-inclusive medical professionals in rural areas and other areas with
shortages, from physicians to promotoras.
But we also need to support robust public health efforts to keep these
communities healthy and prepared to handle potential outbreaks — and to work
in partnership with the international community, including Mexico, in our
global health response. That’s why I’ve committed to fully fund the critical
agencies that support our public health infrastructure. To
double down on this commitment in the border region, I will also create a
Border Health Initiative within the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to
focus on strengthening these institutions in ways that serve the unique needs
of this region and its people.
Fight for high-quality education from the earliest years through college. 33 of the 44 counties along the
Southern border are non-metropolitan counties. Today, a majority of rural communities lack
sufficient access to child care. My plan for Universal Child Care will
provide high-quality child care free for millions and affordable for everyone.
My administration will also work closely with local providers and tribal
governments to make sure there are high-quality child care options available in
every community — including home-based child care services. And as part of a
comprehensive early childhood education system, I will ensure all children can
attend free high-quality universal pre-K.
I’m also committed to protecting English Language Learners by enforcing their
rights to meaningful access to rigorous coursework, teachers, special education
services, and integration with the rest of the student body, while fostering
their home language. And I will protect the rights of immigrant students,
ensuring that all immigrant children have access to a quality education, no
matter their native language, national origin, or immigration status.
Border states are
facing an acute teacher shortage.
My administration will treat teachers and staff like the professionals they are
by strengthening the ability of educators to organize and bargain for just
compensation and ensure that educators aren’t drowning in debt. I’ll also build
a more diverse teacher and school leadership pipeline by investing in Grow Your
Own and teacher residency programs. And I will push to fully fund the Teacher
Quality Partnership program to support teacher residency programs in high-need
areas, like rural communities, and in areas of expertise like Special Education
and Bilingual Education.
My student debt cancellation and
universal public college plan will cancel up to $50,000 in
student loan debt for more than 95% of Americans who carry it and make two-year
or four-year public college or technical school free. My plan also makes a
minimum $50 billion investment in HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal
Colleges and Universities, and other Minority-Serving Institutions.
Prevent Gun Violence in Border Communities and in Mexico. After
Trump, we’ll have work to do to restore our relationship with our Mexican
neighbors. One area where we can begin to make improvements immediately is
in stopping the flow of American guns
to Mexico. As Mexico struggles with record violence, Americans must
face the fact that our weak gun laws have not only fed an epidemic of gun
violence at home, but are also a leading driver of instability among our
neighbors. This instability in turn is displacing people across Mexico and
elsewhere in Latin America, feeding the humanitarian crisis that border
communities in both the U.S. and Mexico are facing today. I will fight to end gun violence,
recognizing that this is part of addressing the root causes of migration and improving
our relationship with Mexico. And as president, I will pass a new federal
anti-trafficking law making clear “straw purchases” are a federal crime and
prosecute gun traffickers by instructing my Attorney General to go after the
transnational gun trade with all the resources of the federal government.
Building a 21st Century Border Economy
A thriving border economy is crucial to the economic wellbeing of the rest of
our country. And when Trump has threatened to shut it down, the ramifications
have been felt quickly and acutely. In 2018, a 5 hour border crossing closure
at San Ysidro in California — the busiest land border crossing in
the world — cost local businesses $5.3 million. We
need a strong border economy that works for everyone. That means investments in
local small businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the
digital divide, trade that uplifts labor and environmental protections, and
developing the green workforce of the future.
Boosting Small Businesses. Small businesses are
essential to the prosperity of border communities, but these businesses have
been harmed by increased border militarization and Trump’s reckless tariff by tweet approach
to trade. People along the U.S.-Mexico border also confront barriers to
accessing the capital and financial services necessary to start and grow their
businesses — barriers that disproportionately affect Latino,
Native American, and Black entrepreneurs. My comprehensive agenda to boost
America’s small businesses will level the playing field for
small business owners on the border by providing access to credit, helping
small businesses deal with regulatory requirements, and unleashing the full
purchasing power of the federal government to support small businesses.
Protecting and Expanding Financial Services. The number of
rural counties without a locally owned community bank has doubled since 1994, and
border communities are increasingly becoming banking
deserts. I’ve proposed allowing the U.S. Postal Service to partner with
local community banks and credit unions to provide access to
low-cost, basic banking services online and at post offices. A Warren
Administration will also strengthen lending to small businesses in underserved
areas by expanding support for Community Development Financial Institutions,
which provide an important source of funding for
women, people of color, and rural communities. As president, my
administration will also protect immigrant families sending remittances by
enacting stronger rules at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau around
remittances to ensure fees are transparent, and I will oppose President Trump’s
proposed tax on remittances that targets wire transfers to Mexico, Latin
America, and the Caribbean to pay for his wall.
Extend Broadband to Border Communities. The communities
along the U.S.-Mexico border have some of the lowest levels of internet
connectivity in the nation. This digital divide is a
major barrier for people to find jobs, students to complete homework, small
business to connect to new markets, and it holds back the entire community.
That’s why as president, I will make it clear in federal statute that
municipalities have the right to build their own broadband networks and
establish a new $85 billion federal grant program to
massively expand broadband access across the country. I will also require all
telecommunications services to contribute fairly into the Universal Service
Fund to shore up essential universal service programs that provide subsidies to
low-income individuals, schools, and libraries to increase broadband adoption –
because every home in America deserves a fiber broadband connection at a price
families can afford.
Decreasing Wait Times. Under the Trump Administration, wait times
at ports of entry are dramatically increasing, reducing trade and commerce
and even impacting air quality for
surrounding communities. Every day almost $2 billion worth of products crosses
the U.S.-Mexico border, but delays in Texas can exceed 10 hours — this is
unacceptable. In places like Deming, New Mexico, students pushed across the
border because of unaffordable housing or to be with deported family
members get up at dawn to wait hours
through highly-militarized security checks to make it to school on
the U.S.-side on time. An estimated 40,000 children cross the
U.S.-Mexico border for school every day. First, we will
invest in dedicated pedestrian lanes for both U.S. citizens and students, and
the “All Lanes Open Initiative” so that there is better traffic flow
during the morning rush and expand the program to include evenings. We also
need to completely repeal the “hardening measures,” such as concrete
barriers topped with razor wire, and limit “tactical exercises” that create
choke points and slow down traffic. With the passage of the USMCA, we will
increase the number of custom officials and invest in modern technology to more
efficiently and effectively inspect and verify goods.
Leveling the Playing Field with Trade. As a Senator, I voted
for the USMCA — the revised NAFTA agreement. I supported the agreement because
it made some improvements for American workers, farmers, and consumers, and
Mexican workers too. It guarantees the right to organize for Mexican workers,
provides for new investments in combating pollution such as $300 million
to stop cross-border sewage flows,
and strengthens diplomatic ties with our neighbors at a time that President
Trump seeks to divide us.
But we will do much better for border communities in a Warren administration.
We need a new approach to trade that works for Americans who have been left
behind, including the communities on the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead of pursuing
a race to the bottom when it comes to worker’s rights and environmental
protection, it is time to use our leverage of the American market to encourage
other countries, including Mexico, to elevate their policies. When we raise
labor and environmental standards worldwide, we help millions of people living
abroad and let American workers compete on a more level playing field.
Building the Green Workforce of the Future. Border states
are emerging as leaders of the new green economy.Texas is the leading producer of
wind energy in the country, California is the leading producer
of solar energy, and clean energy investments in New Mexico and Arizona are on the
rise. To really bend the curve on climate, we’ll need sustained big, structural
change across a range of industries and sectors. My administration will commit
to investments in retraining, joint labor management apprenticeships, and
creating strong career pipelines to ensure a continuous supply of skilled,
available workers. And, we will look for every opportunity to partner with high
schools and vocational schools to build pathways to the middle class for kids
who opt not to go to college. Outside experts that have looked at my ideas for
a Green New Deal to analyze how they will drive job creation have estimated
that they will create 10.6 million new green jobs.
That means millions of new clean energy jobs in border states and honoring our
commitments and a just transition for fossil fuel workers, so that no one is
Honoring our Border Servicemembers and Veterans. Military
bases and military families are key drivers of local border economies, from the
Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma to Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio. Rather
than defunding military projects — like military base child care
facilities — to build Trump’s “wall”, we should be investing
in military readiness, infrastructure, and veterans and their families. From
military housing and child care to a 21st century VA system, I will keep our
promise to care for our nation’s veterans, service members, and military
The vigorous contest of Democrats
seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy
proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren released her
plan to “Restore Integrity and Competence to Government After Donald Trump”
presidency has been a dark period in American history. That period won’t end
just because Donald Trump has left office. If we want to write a new chapter in
the American story — one in which the government and economy actually work for
the people — we will have to cleanse the corruption from our government and
urgently act to appoint officials who will bring integrity to public service,”
This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – In one year, the next
president will start her first full day of work. Donald Trump will be leaving
behind a disaster: agencies gutted, others run by lobbyists and rife with
corruption and policies that have thrown our country into crisis. The next president
will need to have the energy, expertise, and vision to safeguard our country,
rebuild the government swiftly, and make fundamental changes so that it works
for the American people.
Elizabeth has a plan to restore integrity and competence to government after
Donald Trump. She will:
Address the corruption and incompetence of the Trump Administration by:
Asking for the resignations of all political appointees,
including U.S. Attorneys, with an exception only for those positions necessary
to preserve continuity and protect national security during the transition
Establishing an independent Justice Department Task Force to
investigate violations by Trump administration officials of federal bribery
laws, insider trading laws, and other anti-corruption and public integrity
laws, and give that task force independent authority to pursue any
substantiated criminal and civil violations.
Reviewing the performance of independent agencies and
removing leading officials for cause where there is justification to do
Identifying federal contracting arrangements that arose as a
result of corruption in the Trump administration – and ending them.
Swiftly appoint new personnel:
Elizabeth will announce her choices for the Cabinet by
December 1, 2020, other top nominations by December 15, 2020, and fully staff
all senior and mid-level White House positions by Inauguration Day.
She will not hire any current lobbyists. If someone has
served as a corporate lobbyist in the past, they will have a six year cooling
off period and there will be no waivers or exceptions. Non-corporate lobbyists
will have a two year cooling off period, and any waivers will be made public.
She will also institute a number of rules to make sure that
executive branch officials are working on behalf of the people – not themselves
or their former employers.
She will use a number of existing tools to swiftly fill
Build a government that reflects the energy and diversity of
The Cabinet and senior leadership team will reflect the full
diversity of America, including having at least 50% of Cabinet positions filled
by women and non binary people.
LGBTQ+ people will be represented across all levels of
government, including in leadership roles.
She will diversify recruitment to direct real resources
toward attracting entry-level applicants for public service from HBCUs, Tribal
Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and other
minority-serving institutions, and reform high-level recruiting processes to
attract diverse experienced hires into senior management positions.
She will create new paid fellowship programs for federal
jobs for people from marginalized communities and low-income applicants,
including formerly incarcerated individuals.
She will open up promotion pathways by requiring every
federal agency to incorporate diversity as part of their core strategic plan
and creating support networks through a government-wide mentorship program that
centers Black and Brown employees.
And she will recommit to President Obama’s efforts to raise
the level of people with disabilities in federal service.
One year from today, the next president will begin her first full day of work.
She will be inheriting a government in crisis: from children in cages at
detention facilities near the border to a reckless foreign policy that
endangers our country and a bigoted ban on travelers from Muslim-majority
countries, our country will be in desperate need of immediate course
correction. Further, Donald Trump will leave behind a government that has been
infected by corruption and incompetence, and his vindictive actions as
president suggest that he is likely to do everything he can to undermine the
next president. We cannot assume that everything will be fine once Donald Trump
leaves office. The next president will need to have the energy, expertise, and
vision to safeguard our country, rebuild the government swiftly, and make
fundamental changes so that it works for the American people.
I know how to get the government working for the people because I’ve done it
before. Back in 2010, President Obama picked me to get the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau (CFPB) up and running. We recruited a mission-driven staff
and set up the organization, and it took swift action to protect Americans from
financial predators and make financial products safer. From defending people
with crushing levels of student debt to fighting for servicemembers and their
families who were targeted by financial vultures, the agency used every tool in
its toolbox to stand up for ordinary Americans. And that agency has now returned
more than $12 billion directly to people who were cheated.
I have also spent the last seven years in the Senate studying the intimate
details of how our government works, finding the levers that can bring about
big structural change, and identifying the key positions that are responsible
for making these changes. And I have learned from a diverse community of
experts who share my vision for progressive, structural change and who know the
executive branch inside and out.
My agenda would make our government and our economy work for everyone. It
starts with anti-corruption reforms, democracy reforms, campaign finance
reforms — reforms that will break the stranglehold that corporate interests
have on Washington and get our government working for the people. We’ll also
make our economy work for everyone — from cancelling student loan debt to
providing universal child care for every kid age 0 to 5 to investing in green
manufacturing. But achieving this agenda while also addressing the crises that
Donald Trump has created will require an energetic president with expertise on
how the executive branch works, a real commitment to making the executive
branch free from corruption, and the courage to use every tool available to
deliver for working families.
Of the positions he has filled, Donald Trump has been stacking the government
with lobbyists, campaign donors, and cronies. Halfway through his first
term, he had already hired 281 lobbyists into
political appointments. Shortly after being elected, thirty-eight percent of those he
picked for high-level government jobs were donors and during
his first two years, 40% of his ambassadors came
from outside the foreign service. The mix of industry insiders and donors has
both created turmoil and opened up an opportunity for big businesses to tilt
the rules in their favor. This government run by and for lobbyists has
dismantled workplace safety and environmental rules, health care protections,
and dozens of other programs and regulations that benefit working people.
Rebuilding our government to work for the people won’t just happen. It’s going
to require painstaking work, extraordinary drive and urgency, and a serious
plan to root out the corruption and incompetence that Trump will leave behind.
That means cleaning out the corruption that has infected the government, and it
means moving immediately to fill key jobs and set up agencies with capable
officials committed to putting the public interest first.
Addressing the Corruption and Incompetence of the Trump Administration
On day one of my presidency, I will take aggressive steps to root out the
corruption and incompetence of the Trump administration and to hold that
administration accountable. I will:
Remove all political appointees. Rooting out the
corruption in our government starts with wiping the slate clean on political
appointments. Donald Trump gave influential, high-ranking positions to his
donors, friends, and political allies. I will ask for the resignations of all
political appointees, including U.S. Attorneys, save only those positions
necessary to preserve continuity and protect national security during the
Prevent political appointees from burrowing into career
positions. The law outlinesclear rules that
help prevent political appointees from circumventing standard hiring practices
and “burrowing” into the government by converting from a political appointment
into a career position. I will strengthen enforcement of rules around
conversion from appointed positions to career civil service to root out
officials who attempt to burrow into agencies.
Establish a Justice Department Task Force to investigate
corruption during the Trump administration and to hold government officials
accountable for illegal activity. Donald Trump has run the most
corrupt administration in history. He was impeached for withholding foreign
aid in an effort to try to benefit his re-election campaign. He
has enriched himself and his business through
the power of his office. And there are public reports of potentially illegal
corruption in everycorner of hisadministration. If we
are to move forward to restore public confidence in government and deter future
wrongdoing, we cannot simply sweep this corruption under the rug in a new
administration. That’s why I will direct the Justice Department to establish a
task force to investigate violations by Trump administration officials of
federal bribery laws, insider trading laws, and other anti-corruption and
public integrity laws, and give that task force independent authority to pursue
any substantiated criminal and civil violations. I have also committed to
establishing a task force to investigate accusations of serious violations by
immigration officials during the Trump era.
Review the performance of independent agencies and remove
leading officials for cause where there is justification to do so. For
good reason, the heads of independent agencies can only be removed for cause —
for example, if they neglect their duties or engage in malfeasance while in
office. My administration will review these agencies and determine whether any
of these agency heads warrant removal for cause — and I will not hesitate to
use my for-cause removal authority if the facts justify it.
Identify federal contracting arrangements that arose as a
result of corruption in the Trump administration – and end them. The
corruption in the Trump administration extends beyond those who work for the government
directly to those who have won contracts to execute government services. For
example, Donald Trump repeatedly pushed the
Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a particular company;
the company won the contract despite not meeting the standards for a bid. My
administration will review major contracts executed under the Trump
administration to identify conflicts of interest and other forms of corruption
and take action to cancel any contracts procured as a result of corrupting
Swiftly Appoint New Personnel Who Will Undo the Trump
Administration’s Disastrous Policies, Restore Integrity to Government, and
Fight on Behalf of the American People
It would be foolish to assume that after Trump is gone, the government will
start moving in the right direction all on its own. This will be no ordinary
transition between administrations. One year from now, the next president will
take charge in the middle of multiple crises – from the border, to our foreign
policy, to the undermining of health, safety, and environmental rules, to the
hollowing out and corruption of our public institutions.
My transition will move faster than any transition in modern history to
identify appointees and develop plans for making change starting on day one. Unlike
previous transitions, we will not be able to assume good faith cooperation on
the part of the outgoing administration, and we do not have an outgoing
administration that shares even the most basic values. There will be no time to
lose in putting teams in place to address the crises this administration has
brought on our country – and to take action on the extraordinary challenges
that the American people face.
And that is why I am committing to announcing my choices for the Cabinet by
December 1, 2020, other top nominations by December 15, 2020, and fully staff
all senior and mid-level White House positions by Inauguration Day. Historically,
the Obama administration was the most successful at sending nominations to the
Senate, delivering 35 nominations for confirmation on his first day in office.
As president, I will send the largest package of nominees to the Senate for
confirmation on day one. In addition, I will have the senior and mid-level
ranks of my White House fully staffed on day one, so that we can hit the ground
Source: Partnership for
Public Service, Center for Presidential Transition
I have often said that personnel is policy. The
choices of who to appoint are policy choices, because individuals make policy
decisions. But personnel is also performance. If our government doesn’t have
good people, it can’t perform for the American people. To meet this ambitious
schedule while also ensuring that our government reflects the interests of all
Americans, I will focus on three key areas: instituting hiring rules and
practices that end the revolving door and prevent corruption; building an
administration that reflects the experiences and diversity of our country; and
using all available tools to swiftly fill vacancies.
Ending the Revolving Door and Preventing Corruption
We must ensure that the next administration isn’t afflicted by the corrupting
influence of money that plagues Washington. I have introduced the biggest
anti-corruption legislation since Watergate and my first priority as president
is to pass my Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, so that we can clean up
every aspect of Washington policymaking.
But there are many actions a president can take all by herself, and my
administration will adopt the strictest anti-corruption hiring rules of any
administration in American history. And that starts by ending
the revolving door between big corporations and their lobbyists and government
My administration will not hire any current
lobbyists. If someone has served as a corporate lobbyist in the
past, my administration will require them to have a six year cooling off period
before they are eligible for a government position, and there will be no
waivers or exceptions. Non-corporate lobbyists will have a two year cooling off
period, and any waivers will be made public.
My administration will not hire employees of for-profit
federal contractors, unless I personally review the situation and decide it is
in the national interest. For-profit contractors and licensees do
business with the government – they are often awarded huge contracts and
licenses for important federal projects. Unless I make a specific exception, my
administration will not hire employees of such firms into the agencies or
departments that awarded contracts to their former employers for four years
after their last contract or license was awarded.
My administration will not hire executives of companies
that break federal law or are under investigation unless six years have passed
since the conclusion of the investigation or enforcement action. People
in the private sector can have valuable experience to bring to public service.
But too often, government agencies hire senior executives at companies and
banks that have broken federal law, are subject to enforcement actions, or are
under investigation. Leaders of companies and banks that don’t follow the law
should not be in a position of public trust developing and enforcing the law.
These appointments stop in my administration.
My administration will not hire any person who receives a
“golden parachute” from their employer. “Golden parachutes” – payments,
bonuses, salaries, or other forms of compensation contingent on accepting a
position in the federal government – create the impression that the recipients
will work in their former employers’ best interest – not the public’s. A Warren
administration will not allow such arrangements.
In addition to these hiring restrictions, my administration
will institute rules to make sure that executive branch officials are working
on behalf of the people – not themselves or their former employers:
To prevent conflicts of interest, officials in my
administration will have to divest from any individual stock, bond, or other
investment that federal ethics officials determine may be directly influenced
by the actions of the employee’s agency.
Senior officials in my administration will be required to
divest from all complex investments – including individual stocks and bonds, as
well as commercial real estate and privately-owned or closely-held
Senior officials must also commit to divesting any interests
in family trusts if ethics officials determine that an asset belonging to the
trust might pose a conflict of interest.
Further, executive branch officials who have not been Senate
confirmed must recuse themselves from matters affecting their former employer,
direct competitor, client, or organization that an employee belonged to in the
last four years. Senior officials will be prohibited from being employed
by or consulting for the private sector while simultaneously working in the federal
government. And anyone who volunteers for the federal government, including
White House staff and advisors, will have to agree to abide by all federal
ethics rules too.
The revolving door goes both ways, and too often, people in government depart
and take jobs working at the very firms they had been regulating. At best, this
creates the appearance of corruption. At worst, individuals who are thinking
about their next job corrupt the policymaking process to favor potential
employers. We will end this kind of revolving door corruption.
Senior members of my administration will be required to
pledge not to accept a lobbying appointment after finishing their official
duties – for life. This will apply to all members of my Cabinet, heads of
agencies, my Vice President – and me.
All other members of my administration will have to commit
to not lobby their former office or agency for two years after they leave the
administration – and six years if they become corporate lobbyists – or
until the administration ends, whichever is longer.
Senior government officials in my administration will also
have to pledge for a year not to work for or accept payment from any company
that has lobbied their department or office within the past two years.
Senior government officials in my administration will be
asked to commit not to work for any giant bank or company worth more than $150
billion, any federal contractor receiving more than $5 billion in revenue from
federal contracts, or any market-dominant company, as determined by the
Attorney General, for four years after leaving their post. And anyone in my
administration who participated in the process of granting a contract or
license to a for-profit contractor will also be required to agree not to accept
a job with that contractor for at least four years after leaving government
Both President Obama and President Trump issued their ownethics pledges at
the start of their administrations – and despite good intentions, both failedto curb the number
of lobbyists and government officials that spin through the revolving door.
That’s why the steps I have outlined here will eliminate the loopholes in
previous ethics pledges, principally by expanding the definition of ‘lobbyist’
to include anyone who is hired to influence government, not just those who are
required to register as a lobbyist under current law. Additionally, my plan
requires every executive branch employee – not just political appointees – to
abide by these rules as a condition of their government service and extends the
cooling off periods for executive branch staff to prevent them from lobbying
their former agency or office through the end of an administration. And it
removes the president’s ability to waive these requirements for corporate
lobbyists and executives of law-breaking companies.
Building a Government that Reflects the Energy and Diversity of America
It is not enough, of course, to have people in government who don’t have
conflicts of interest. We need people who are passionate about the mission of
their agencies, deeply understand the needs and experiences of all Americans,
and reflect the diversity of the American people.
Under the Trump Administration, we have seen appointees who are actively
hostile to the mission of their agencies. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos
doesn’t believe in public education. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler doesn’t
think climate change is a top priority. As President, I will appoint
people who want to fulfill the purposes of our government, not undermine it —
and that starts with some serious departures from the Trump Administration. For
example, I will appoint:
A Secretary of Education who has been a public
A Secretary of Labor who has been a labor
leader, and appointees to the National Labor Relations Board who have a record
of fighting for workers.
A Secretary of Agriculture who has a
demonstrated commitment to advocating for Black farmers.
A Secretary of Homeland Security who is committed
to undoing the damage caused by the Trump administration and who believes that
immigration makes our country stronger, not weaker.
Department of Justice officials who believe in
voting rights and the rule of law – including for the president.
Antitrust officials who will aggressively
scrutinize mergers, bring challenges to vertical and horizontal mergers, and
are not afraid to take on big tech, big ag, big pharma, and other consolidated
A Securities and Exchange Commission chair who
will require corporate political spending disclosure, strictly enforce our
securities laws, and use all existing tools to require robust disclosure of
A Federal Communications Commission chair who
will restore the 2015 Net Neutrality rules, block monopolistic mergers by media
and telecom corporations, and protect the Lifeline program that helps
low-income Americans afford broadband Internet.
An EPA head who believes in the urgency of
addressing climate change and protecting our environment.
Federal Reserve officials who believe in the
agency’s full employment mandate, recognize that inflation fears have been
overblown for years, and who are willing to let wages grow.
Our government officials can best serve the American public
when they reflect the diversity of the country itself. The federal government
does a dismal job on diversity and inclusion. The share of Latinas in the
federal workforce is about half that of the entire workforce. Even though Black
women are disproportionately represented in the federal workforce, they are
nearly absent from its leadership ranks. White workers make up nearly 80% of
the senior civil service despite making up only 63% of the overall federal
workforce. The Obama administration worked to raise the proportion of people
with disabilities to more than 14% of the federal workforce, but that dropped to 9.2% under Trump.
My administration will be committed to diversity and inclusion, starting on day
one. I will:
Build a Cabinet and senior leadership team that reflects the
full diversity of America, including having at least 50% of Cabinet positions
filled by women and non binary people.
Ensure representation of LGBTQ+ people across all levels of
government, including in leadership roles.
Diversify recruitment to direct real resources toward
attracting entry-level applicants for public service from HBCUs, Tribal
Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and other
minority-serving institutions, and reform high-level recruiting processes to
attract diverse experienced hires into senior management positions.
Create new paid fellowship programs for federal jobs for
people from marginalized communities and low-income applicants, including
formerly incarcerated individuals.
Open up promotion pathways by requiring every federal agency
to incorporate diversity as part of their core strategic plan and creating
support networks through a government-wide mentorship program that centers
Black and Brown employees.
Recommit to President Obama’s efforts to raise the level of
people with disabilities in federal service — and I will include federal
contractors and internship programs too.
Using Existing Tools to Swiftly Fill Government Vacancies
To implement the kind of big, structural changes I have proposed, we will need
to address the substantial vacancies in career civil service positions left
behind by the Trump administration. For example, the State Department lost
a significant percentage of
its employees in the first year of the Trump Administration alone. The federal
government has a number of tools to expedite
hiring processes, and a Warren administration would use them to put
well-qualified public servants to work as quickly as possible. For example:
My Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) will use
its direct hire authority to
identify areas of severe shortage and allow agencies to waive competitive
hiring processes in these areas of critical need.
Finally, I will designate officials at OPM to work with agencies to ensure that they are using their hiring authorities as effectively as possible while also prioritizing diversity in hiring and following all relevant laws, regulations, and administration policies.
Just before taking the stage at Kings Theater in Brooklyn, NY, with Julian Castro, in her campaign for president, Senator Elizabeth Warren detailed how her administration will fix the bankruptcy system to protect working families and give people a second chance. It is part of her plan to restructure the systemic impediments to financial and economic opportunity for ordinary Americans.The plan to reform bankruptcy laws is a particular jab at Vice President Joe Biden, who as Senator representing the State of Delaware, helped push the George W Bush re-write of the bankruptcy laws that shielded financial institutions but put consumers on the hook. This is from the Warren campaign:
As one of the nation’s leading experts on the financial pressures facing middle class families, Elizabeth conducted groundbreaking research on why families go broke. Elizabeth spent ten years battling the banking industry over the bad 2005 bankruptcy bill — which spent $100 million on lobbying efforts. The bill became law with overwhelming support from Republicans and support from some Democrats in Congress.
I spent most of my career
studying one simple question: why do American families go broke?
When I started my career as a young law
professor, I thought — like a lot of people at the time — that most families
went broke because they were irresponsible or wasteful. They lived beyond their
means. And when their irresponsibility finally caught up with them, they took
advantage of our bankruptcy system to get out from under their debts.But when I
started to teach bankruptcy, I found that no one — not even the supposed
“experts” — had actually dug into the data to figure out what drove families
So I found two incredible partners and set out
to gather the data about why families go broke. That was back when you had to
collect information by hand, and courts charged a lot to make copies for you.
To save money, I flew around to courthouses all over the country with my own
photocopier — nicknamed R2D2 — strapped into the airplane seat next to me,
copying thousands of bankruptcy filings to begin understanding why American
families turned to bankruptcy.
I’ll never forget sitting in a wood-paneled
courtroom in San Antonio on one of my first trips, watching the families filing
for bankruptcy move in and out of the courtroom to appear in front of the
judge. They looked just like the family I grew up in — hanging on to the
ragged edge of the middle class. Now they were standing in front of a judge,
ready to give up nearly everything they owned just to get some relief from the
bill collectors.Our research ended up showing that most of these families
weren’t reckless or irresponsible — they were just getting squeezed by an
economy that forced them to take on more debt and more risk to cling to their
place in America’s middle class.
And that meant one bad break could send them
tumbling over the edge. The data showed that nearly 90% of these families were
declaring bankruptcy for one of three reasons: a job loss, a medical problem,
or a family breakup.
In the early 1990s, Congress launched a
blue-ribbon commission to review the bankruptcy laws and suggest improvements.
I was asked to help. Initially, I said no. Then I thought about the stories I
had come across in our research. I thought about the family that finally got a
shot at their lifelong dream to launch a new restaurant — and it went
belly-up. The young and very tired woman who described how she finally managed
to leave her abusive ex-husband, but now was alone with her small children and
a pile of bills. The elderly couple who had cashed out everything they owned
and then went into debt to bail out their son who was fighting addiction and
put him through rehab again and again. And then I called back and said yes.
That’s what started my ten-year fight against
the banking industry’s effort to change our bankruptcy laws to squeeze
everything they could out of working families. Just as the commission’s report
was due, the banking industry wrote its own version of a bankruptcy bill and
got its allies in Congress to introduce it. In the industry’s version of the
world, Congress could support either “honest people who pay their bills” or
“people who skip out on their debts.” There wasn’t any room to talk about
rising health care costs or lost jobs that pushed working families to the
brink. I knew that those hundreds of changes in the industry-backed bill would
make it harder for struggling families to get relief.
And I knew I needed help. I was lucky to pick up
some terrific allies in the Senate. Senator Ted Kennedy, who led the fight for
years. Senators Paul Wellstone, Russ Feingold, and Dick Durbin all
enthusiastically jumped in. For the next three years, we fought off the
industry as best we could. Ultimately, however, the Senate and House passed the
industry-backed bill by wide margins. But President Clinton, in the last days
of his presidency, upended the industry plan and vetoed its bill.
The financial industry lost that round — but it
didn’t quit. Eventually, it rallied its allies in Congress again and managed to
push through another version of its bill in 2005 with overwhelming Republican
support and some Democratic support.
I lost that fight in 2005, and working families
paid the price. But I didn’t stop fighting to hold the financial industry
accountable and to help American families. I started laying the groundwork for
new protections for credit card users and in 2007 proposed the idea of a new
federal agency to protect
American families from tricks in mortgages, student loans, and other financial
products. The rules helping credit card users ended up in the Credit CARD Act,
which President Obama signed into law in 2009. And in 2010, President Obama
signed that new consumer agency — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau —
into law too. That agency has now returned
$12 billion to people who were cheated by
big banks and other financial firms.
But there are still serious problems with our bankruptcy
laws today, thanks in large part to that bad 2005 bill. That’s why I’m
announcing my plan to repeal the harmful provisions in the 2005 bankruptcy bill
and overhaul consumer bankruptcy rules in this country to give Americans a
better chance of getting back on their feet.
Making it Easier to Obtain Relief Through Bankruptcy
Thanks in part to the 2005 bankruptcy bill, our current
system makes it far too hard for people in need to start the bankruptcy process
so they can get back on their feet. My plan streamlines the process, reduces
costs, and gives people more flexibility in bankruptcy to find solutions that
match their financial problems.
Streamlining the bankruptcy filing process. Currently, there
are two main types of bankruptcy proceedings for individuals — the traditional
Chapter 7 proceeding and the longer and less generous Chapter 13 proceeding. In
Chapter 7, bankruptcy filers pay off their debts by surrendering all of their
property other than that protected by
“exemption” laws, but keep their future income. In Chapter 13,
filers keep their property, but undertake a multi-year repayment plan.
The core of the 2005 bankruptcy bill was an onerous and
complicated means test that forces many people with income above their state’s
median income to file for Chapter 13 and make payments from their wages for an
extended period. That is a big additional burden. In Chapter 13, debtors remain
in bankruptcy longer and must pay more to creditors. Many are unable to
complete their repayment plans and do not obtain a discharge of
their unpaid debts at all.
My plan does away with means testing and the two chapters
for consumer debtors. Instead, it offers a single system available to all
consumers. Here’s how it would work.
When people file for bankruptcy, they would disclose all of
their debts, assets, and income, just as they do now. And just as under the
current system, creditors must stop all collection actions against the debtor
outside of bankruptcy court.
Filers would then choose from a menu of options for
addressing their debts. The menu of options available would include a Chapter
7-type option of surrendering all non-exempt property in exchange for having
their unpaid debts “discharged,” as well as options that allow people to deal
with specific financial problems without involving all of their obligations.
For example, someone might use bankruptcy to cure a home mortgage delinquency
while continuing to pay other debts outside of bankruptcy. Or if someone has
long-term debt she needs to restructure, non-exempt property such as a car that
she needs to get to work, a family home she wants to protect, or if the debtor
simply wants to try to pay her creditors, the debtor can also choose to file a
payment plan and request that the court limit the stay of collection actions to
the extent necessary to execute that plan.
As with the current system, certain types of debts would be
non-dischargeable. Additionally, creditors could seek to dismiss a case or
object to an individual’s discharge on grounds of abuse, and they would have an
easier time proving abuse for higher-income debtors. These provisions would
protect against misuse of the bankruptcy system.
My plan would make the bankruptcy system simple, cheap,
fast, and flexible. It would eliminate the burdensome paperwork that drives up
costs for filers and deters them from seeking bankruptcy protection in the
first place. The 2005 bill imposed the same onerous paperwork requirements on a
middle-class American filing bankruptcy that it did on a wealthy real-estate
developer. Both must file the same documentation — including months of pay
stubs and old tax returns — much of which is useless to creditors looking to
get debts repaid.
These requirements are costly and ineffective. The
nonpartisan Government Accountability
Office estimates that these requirements increased what a
Chapter 7 filer had to pay for a lawyer by over 50%. My plan scraps this
unnecessary paperwork and simply requires that bankruptcy filers disclose their
assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. If necessary, the court can always
direct people to provide more information.
Congress also added to the cost of bankruptcy relief in the
2005 bill by putting onerous requirements on consumer bankruptcy attorneys.
Congress required attorneys to certify the accuracy of debtor’s financial
disclosures, to certify the debtor’s ability to make certain payments, to
advertise their services in certain ways, and to provide certain financial
advice to clients. These rules, opposed by the American Bar Association,
increase costs to lawyers that get passed on to consumers, while failing to
adequately protect consumers against unscrupulous lawyers. My plan gets rid of
these requirements and authorizes local bankruptcy courts to develop
disciplinary panels to strengthen enforcement of the existing rules that
discipline ineffective or dishonest lawyers.
Reducing the costs of filing for bankruptcy. A Chapter 7
bankruptcy case today costs the person filing for bankruptcy $1,200 in attorneys’ fees on
average. Academic studies document how
families and individuals, ironically, have to save up for bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy filings spike every spring as tax refunds go to pay a bankruptcy
lawyer, and on days when people often receive paychecks.
Worse, many bankruptcy filers are
shuffled into a more onerous Chapter 13 bankruptcy because it
is the only way they can afford to pay their bankruptcy lawyer. These people
often do not need the more complicated and more expensive Chapter 13 procedure,
which at $3,200 on average costs
more than twice a Chapter 7 filing. Chapter 7, however, requires the filer to
have the cash to pay the lawyer up front, and most people filing bankruptcy are
by definition short on cash, while Chapter 13 allows the person filing to pay
the lawyer over time. Forcing people into Chapter 13 because they cannot afford
to pay their lawyer up front is a ridiculous way to run a consumer debt relief
My plan makes it easier for people to pay for the bankruptcy
relief they need. It automatically waives filing fees for anyone below the
federal poverty level and slowly phases in the fees above that line. And it
allows the bankruptcy filer to pay off reasonable lawyers’ fees at any time
during or after the bankruptcy, not just up front.
These proposals will make it cheaper and quicker for people
to obtain debt relief. And speed is important. Research has shown that the “sweatbox” period when
consumers wrestle with the decision to file for bankruptcy is particularly
damaging to families and their financial health. The 2005 law benefited credit card
companies by extending the sweatbox period. Bankruptcy is not the
right solution for every family facing financial difficulties, but for those
who need bankruptcy relief, it should be available without unnecessary
obstacles or costs. My plan will shrink the sweatbox and make sure that
consumers who need bankruptcy are able to promptly obtain help.
Expanding People’s Rights to Take Care of Themselves and
Their Families During the Bankruptcy Process
Bankruptcy law places certain spending limitations on people
while they are in the bankruptcy process. My plan pares back some of the
limitations that place a particular burden on people — particularly parents
with children — and limit their ability to recover after the bankruptcy
For example, during the debate on the 2005 bankruptcy bill,
Democrats proposed modifying the bill so that renters in bankruptcy could
continue paying their rent if it allowed them to avoid eviction. While that
change was voted down in Congress, my plan adopts it as a fair way to let
people avoid the incredible disruption of an eviction during the bankruptcy
Similarly, my plan allows people in the bankruptcy process
who select a repayment plan option to set aside more money to cover the basics
for themselves and their children. In 2005, Congress rejected an
amendment to the bankruptcy bill that would have allowed
parents to spend a reasonable amount of money on toys and books and basic
recreation activities for their kids during the bankruptcy process. That’s just
wrong — and my plan will provide those protections.
In that same vote, Congress rejected a change that
would have allowed union members to continue paying their union dues during the
bankruptcy process — a critical protection so that people can maintain their
employment and get back on their feet after the bankruptcy process is over. My
plan adopts that protection too for those people who choose a repayment
Ending the Prohibition on Discharging Student Loan Debt
We have a student loan debt crisis in America. And one
reason is that our bankruptcy system makes it nearly impossible to get rid of
that debt, even when you have nothing left.
Over the past forty years, Congress and the courts have made
it progressively more difficult to gain relief from student loan debt in
bankruptcy. Congress initially passed a law saying
that publicly backed student loans could be discharged only with a showing of
“undue hardship” by the borrower. The courts eventually interpreted
that language to impose a very high standard for discharge — a
standard that generally doesn’t apply to other forms of consumer debt. Then, as
part of the 2005 bankruptcy bill, Congress explicitly protected
private student loans with the same undue hardship standard.
As President, I’ll attack the student debt crisis head on.
My student loan debt
cancellation plan cancels up to $50,000 in debt for 95% of
people who have it, relieving a massive burden on families and boosting our economy.
But for people who may still have debt, my bankruptcy reform plan ends the
absurd special treatment of student loans in bankruptcy and makes them
dischargeable just like other consumer debts.
Letting People Protect Their Homes and Cars in Bankruptcy
My plan also makes it easier for people to protect their
homes and cars in bankruptcy so they can start from a better foundation as they
try to rebuild their financial lives.
My plans also permits people to modify their mortgages in
bankruptcy — something that is generally prohibited by law. The restriction on
mortgage modifications in bankruptcy — even though other types of debts can be
renegotiated in bankruptcy — can hurt both bankruptcy filers and mortgage
lenders. Studies have found that the existing restriction on
modifications has not led to a lasting reduction in mortgage
rates. My plan ends this harmful limitation.
My plan further encourages win-win mortgage modifications
by creating a streamlined, standardized mortgage modification option in
The 2008 financial crisis resulted in an unprecedented wave
of mortgage foreclosures, with nearly 8 million foreclosures completed
in the decade starting in 2007. While not all of these foreclosures could have
been prevented, there were many foreclosures that made no sense. In these
cases, the lender and borrower should have been able to agree to a win-win
modification. Yet these common sense deals weren’t happening.
Bankruptcy does not currently provide a solution for this
problem. My plan does. As part of the menu of options available to a bankruptcy
filer, it offers a special streamlined pre-packaged mortgage bankruptcy
procedure that will allow struggling homeowners to get a statutorily defined
mortgage modification. Under this procedure, if a foreclosure has started, and
the homeowner certifies that she has attempted to negotiate a modification in
good faith, she could seek an automatic modification of the mortgage debt to
the market value of the property, with interest rates reduced to achieve a
sustainable debt-to-income ratio.
The homeowner benefits by receiving a sustainable mortgage.
The lender benefits from a modification that produces significantly better
recovery than foreclosure. The neighborhood also benefits by avoiding a nearby
foreclosure. This commonsense proposal should not only be win-win, but the
possibility of a mortgage modification in bankruptcy should encourage more
negotiated modifications outside of bankruptcy.
Finally, my plan will help address so-called “zombie”
mortgages. Mortgage lenders sometimes start, but do not complete, foreclosures
to avoid assuming liability for property taxes and code violations on the
mortgaged property. When the homeowner has vacated the property, the result is
a “zombie” title situation, in which the homeowner remains liable for taxes and
code violations but does not have use of the property. My plan uses bankruptcy
law to “slay” these zombie mortgages by enabling a homeowner who is no longer
in residence to force the lender to complete the foreclosure or otherwise take
title to the property and pay its ongoing costs. This will enable families to
move on with their lives and get a fresh start without the overhang of
liability for a former property they no longer live in. It will also help
communities by reducing the number of abandoned and derelict properties.
My plan goes beyond protecting homes to offering more fair
protection for people’s cars too. For over one-third of bankruptcy
filers, cars represent their most important asset. For these
struggling Americans, the family car is the principal resource that
bankruptcy’s safety net is protecting. And access to a car is often a
requirement for commuting to a job, getting children to child
care, and starting to rebuild finances.
As part of the 2005 bankruptcy bill, Congress made it more
difficult for Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers to keep their cars.
Under prior law, a debtor could keep their car by paying the lender the fair
market value of the car over a reasonable time. But the 2005 bill changed the
law so that families who want to keep their cars often repay more than the fair
market value of the car; they must pay the full amount of their original car
loan, regardless of the true worth of the vehicle.
Families should not have to pay more than the car is
actually worth to keep it. That’s why my plan repeals the 2005 bankruptcy bill
requirement, makes it easier for bankruptcy filers to keep their cars, and
ensures that their fresh start includes the ability to get to work, to school,
and to the doctor.
Addressing Racial and Gender Disparities in the
Bankruptcy doesn’t affect all
people equally — it mirrors the systemic inequalities in our economy. Women and people of color are more likely to file for bankruptcy, which is
in part a reflection of wealth and income disparities. The situation is especially dire
for middle-class families: my
research found that Black middle class families are three times more likely to
file for bankruptcy, and Latinx families are twice as likely, than white
families. The persistent wealth gap in America means that families of color
have far less wealth than white families on average — and at the same time, families of color are far
more likely to be abused by
predatory lending practices. The outcomes in our current bankruptcy system
aren’t equal, either. Black Americans appear to be much more likely to file for
bankruptcy under Chapter 13, a
costlier and more burdensome form of bankruptcy that requires people to make
several years of payments before getting their debts wiped out — and leaves many in an even worse
position as they struggle to
make these payments. The data suggests Black filers are more likely to have
their cases dismissed, too: people who live in majority Black zip codes are more than
twice as likely to have their cases thrown out as those living in majority white areas.I raised
the alarm on the disparate effects of bankruptcy during the years-long debate
over bankruptcy reform. I called out racial disparities in the economic security of middle-class
families filing for bankruptcy. I published articles showing that bankruptcy reform is a
women’s issue, and that women — in
fact, more women than would graduate from four-year colleges or file for
divorce — would be most affected by the changes Congress was considering.The
changes I’ve outlined above — like the new single entry point system that
eliminates the steering of Black bankruptcy filers into Chapter 13, the new
homestead exemption, and the elimination of the means test — will help address
some of these shameful racial and gender inequities in the bankruptcy system.
But my plan takes additional steps as well: Local
fines. Under current law, people who file for bankruptcy are generally not able
to discharge local government fines. Although some of these fines may have an
important governmental function, many operate as a regressive form of revenue
targeting lower-income Black communities in particular for truly minor offenses. My plan eliminates the
special privilege for local fines, with an exception for fines related to
death, personal bodily injury, or other egregious behavior that threatened
public safety.Civil Rights Debts. While current law prevents people from
discharging local fines, it permits discharging debts resulting from civil rights violations. That is unacceptable, especially as police brutality
and the shooting of unarmed Black children and adults in particular remain
serious problems in our country. My plan changes the law so it’s clear that
individuals cannot get relief from debts arising from the commission of civil
rights violations such as police brutality.Improved data collection and audits.
When individuals file bankruptcy petitions, they are obliged to make a long
list of disclosures — but not their race, gender, or age. Although extensive data collection efforts by
academics helped bring to light the differential experiences of filers of color, women, and older Americans, we can continue to improve upon our bankruptcy
system if we collect this information systematically. That’s why my plan
invites bankruptcy filers to provide their racial identification, gender, and
age if they choose to.
A simpler single portal into the personal bankruptcy system
and replacing many line-item categories with a lump-sum personal property
exemption, separate from the homestead exemption, will help align those values.
The lump-sum personal property exemption would be provided by household,
adjusted by the number of dependents, rather than by number of bankruptcy
filers in the household, to prevent under-protecting a single parent with
In addition, my plan adds extra protections for alimony,
child support income, the child tax credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit
(EITC), ensuring that people (especially single mothers) will be able to
provide for their families and get back on the path to financial security.
These sources of income and assets traceable to them would be exempt
Closing Loopholes that Benefit the Wealthy and Cracking
Down on Big Corporations
While the current bankruptcy system imposes all sorts of
obstacles for working families, it includes loopholes that benefit wealthy
individuals filing for bankruptcy and failed to hold big companies accountable
when they break the law. My plan closes these loopholes and imposes more
accountability so that our system is more fair.
Loopholes benefiting wealthy individuals. In certain states
like Delaware, wealthy individuals can file for bankruptcy and get debt relief
while shielding their assets by placing them in trusts for their own benefit.
This is known as the “Millionaire’s Loophole.”
As part of the 2005 bankruptcy legislation, Congress pretended to close the
Millionaire’s Loophole, while rejecting legislation that actually
would have shut it down. My plan stitches up the Millionaire’s Loophole once
and for all by ensuring that assets in self-settled trusts and revocable trusts
are not exempt from creditors’ claims in bankruptcy. My plan also closes off
the related “spendthrift clause”
loophole that allows the beneficiaries of “dynasty trusts” to
avoid paying their creditors (while maintaining such protection for bona fide
qualified disability trusts).
I am also committed to giving bankruptcy courts more tools
to address fraud. For example, under current law,
a bankruptcy filer who lied and submitted fraudulent documents regarding one of
his assets is entitled to an exemption even when it was shown that he lied. My
plan closes this enormous loophole so that courts can deny an exemption in an
asset that the filer has concealed or lied about.
My plan also strengthens the so-called “fraudulent transfer”
law. Fraudulent transfer law allows creditors to claw back certain transfers
the bankruptcy filer made with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud
creditors. For example, fraudulent transfer law would apply to a deadbeat
ex-spouse who has transferred money into a trust to avoid paying alimony. The
federal statute of limitations for actual fraudulent transfers is shorter than
that of some states, so my plan extends the federal statute of limitations to
match the longest state statute of limitations. Additionally, to discourage
third parties from receiving these fraudulent transfers, my plan updates
federal criminal law to add penalties for knowingly engaging in, aiding and
abetting, or receiving an actual fraudulent transfer.
Accountability for creditors. My plan also cracks down on
big companies that break the law or otherwise unfairly squeeze families in the
bankruptcy process. For example, some companies will use the bankruptcy process
to collect debts even as they have a track record of violating consumer
financial protection laws. By disallowing debts of creditors that harm debtors
by violating consumer financial laws, my plan strengthens the deterrent effect
of our consumer protection laws and helps ensure better compliance of creditors
and their agents, such as mortgage servicers and debt collectors.
My plan also stops companies from collecting on debts that
are no longer valid. In bankruptcy, many debt collectors attempt to
collect on expired debts, whose statute of limitations has run, by
filing claims to be paid and hoping that no one will notice that they no longer
have the right to collect the debt. This practice is harmful to everyone
involved, including other creditors with legally enforceable claims. The Supreme Court wrongly
ruled that seeking to get paid on expired debts does not
violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, so it’s up to Congress to fix
the law now. That’s what my plan does, by making clear that collection of an
expired debt is a violation of the law.
And my plan allows individuals to file to sue to deter
creditors from seeking to collect on debts that were already discharged in an
earlier bankruptcy. Too often, creditors, particularly companies that buy debts for
pennies on the dollar, attempt to collect debts that have been discharged in an
earlier bankruptcy. For decades this has been illegal, but the practice has
persisted because the courts have limited remedies available to address this
misconduct. As recommended by the American
Bankruptcy Institute’s Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy, my plan
gives bankruptcy filers the right to file a lawsuit and have the court order
compensation for the harms caused by creditors who violate this law. My plan
also gives courts the power to impose effective sanctions when they catch this
abuse on their own.
Finally, consumer loans often contain provisions requiring
the borrower to resolve any disputes outside of court, through arbitration. My
plan ensures that creditors cannot continue their efforts to go after consumers
during the bankruptcy process through mandatory arbitration as part of my larger fight against
unfair forced arbitration clauses. Disputes between bankruptcy filers and
creditors should be resolved openly and transparently as part of the bankruptcy
process in court, not in forced arbitration proceedings behind closed doors.
The vigorous contest of
Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent
policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren has
released independent analysis supporting her plans for a Green New Deal
creating 10.6 million new green jobs. This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren, campaigning for President, released a new independent analysis estimating that her plans for a Green New Deal will create 10.6 million new green jobs.
“America has a long and proud history of rising to the
challenges that have faced this country — and defeating the climate crisis is
no exception. A Warren administration will ensure that as we fight climate
change, each and every American benefits from the opportunities created by the
clean economy — especially the 10.6 million workers who will power our
transition to 100% clean energy.”
Elizabeth Warren’s plans for a Green New Deal will:
Develop the green workforce of the future by expanding job
training, partnering with unions to rebuild the middle class, and ensuring the
new clean economy is open to everyone
Rebuild and repower our energy grid to grow our economy,
invest in offshore wind, and achieve 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030
Transform our transportation sector by expanding green
public transportation programs and requiring all new light and medium-duty
vehicles sold by 2030 to be zero-emission vehicles
Repair our water infrastructure by rebuilding America’s
dams, levees, and inland waterways and ensuring safe drinking water for all
Rebuild our homes, buildings and schools to achieve safe and
affordable housing and provide our children with healthy living and learning
Finance the green jobs program by creating a new Green Bank
and issuing Green Victory Bonds, modeled after the programs FDR implemented
during the New Deal
My Plan to Create 10.6 Million Green Jobs
Earlier this month, climate scientists published new research suggesting the planet is hurtling towards an ecological tipping point that would irreversibly damage the earth and threaten our livable climate — for good. This most recent study adds to the growing body of evidence that climate change is happening faster than scientists originally thought. And it further reinforces what we already know: we have roughly a decade left to avoid catastrophic impacts by ending our economic dependence on fossil fuels and substantially reducing global emissions.
But while climate change presents an urgent threat, it also presents the greatest opportunity of our time: the chance to rebuild our economy with 100% clean energy, to address the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy, and to create millions of good, union jobs in the process. This is not the first time our country has faced a threat of this magnitude.
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt said we would build a historic air force of 185,000 planes to defeat the Nazis, America had a nascent military aircraft industry. But FDR rallied the nation to the task: by the end of World War II, we had produced around 300,000 aircraft in less than 5 years.
When John F. Kennedy told the nation that we would send a man to the moon in under a decade, people said that would be impossible, too. But our top scientists and engineers came together and changed the world forever, delivering not just a lunar landing but also a torrent of new technology that helped working Americans here at home.
From World War II to the space race, American ingenuity has risen to meet seemingly impossible challenges — leading the world and unleashing economic benefits for Americans in the process.
Today we face a new challenge. Defeating the climate crisis will require the ingenuity of the moon landing and an economic and industrial mobilization unseen since our efforts in World War II. It will need to happen at the speed and scale of FDR’s New Deal, which launched over 50 federal programs and pulled millions of Americans out of unemployment. It will take workers of all kinds to rebuild and repower our energy grid and to upgrade our transportation, building, and water systems to guard against the worst effects of climate change and protect our most vulnerable communities. And it will take workers in every corner of America — from construction foremen in the Rust Belt to pipefitters in the Bayou — to transform our country’s infrastructure.
The Green New Deal is the answer to this national call.
After the 2008 crash, President Obama ushered through the historic American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to jumpstart our economy and bring an end to the Great Recession. Included in this total federal investment was $90 billion for clean energy, making it one of the largest investments in clean energy in U.S. history. The Council of Economic Advisors later reported that every $1 invested in clean energy leveraged an additional $1.60 in non-federal and private dollars.
Using this historical data and other estimates as a guide, my plans for a Green New Deal will result in an estimated total public and private investment of $10.7 trillion in our new clean energy economy. And independent experts that examined my ideas for a Green New Deal to analyze how they will drive job creation estimated that they will create 10.6 million new green jobs. This will help rebuild the middle class by providing family-supporting wages, career pathways, and worker protections in our new green economy. This is the opportunity of the Green New Deal: a $10.7 trillion total investment in our clean economy that spurs 10.6 million green new jobs. And we’ll do it all together — with no community and no worker left behind.
I mean it when I say that defeating the climate crisis will be a top priority of my administration. That’s why today I’m releasing my plan to enact a climate change agenda that not only reduces our carbon emissions but also jumpstarts our economy.
Developing the Green Workforce of the Future
There are already clean energy job opportunities across the country. But with $10.7 trillion in federal and private investments, we can turn these opportunities into 10.6 million new, union jobs rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and transitioning to the new clean energy economy. To support the millions of skilled and experienced contractors we will need to plan and execute large construction and engineering projects in the new clean economy and to support the first responders, healthcare workers, social workers, and other public and private employees who respond to climate-induced disasters, my administration will commit to investments in retraining, joint labor management apprenticeships, and creating strong career pipelines to ensure a continuous supply of skilled, available workers. And, we will look for every opportunity to partner with high schools and vocational schools to build pathways to the middle class for kids who opt not to go to college.
Expanding job training.
We currently invest $200 million annually in apprenticeship programs across the country. Successfully training and re-training millions of skilled laborers to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, however, will require scaling up dramatically. That’s why my plan to Defend and Create American Jobs calls for a tenfold increase in investments in apprenticeships — a $20 billion commitment over the next ten years. I’ll follow Governor Inslee’s lead by re-establishing dedicated programs for green industrial and construction job training and placement under the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA), too.
And investing in job training is only the first step. A Warren administration will link public investments in clean energy infrastructure to apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship training, as well as graduation rates and local hires, to ensure that we are creating a full training-to-career pipeline. My plans also call for expanded technical and trade school opportunities to create pathways into good jobs in the new clean energy economy that will not require a college degree. And my administration will create regional sector-specific training partnerships to help better align training with the local job market, leverage the community college system, and ensure that workers gain transferable skills.
Partnering with unions to rebuild the middle class.
I am committed to ensuring that all of the 10.6 million new jobs in the clean economy pull working Americans back into the middle class — and to working hand-in-hand with unions to do so. That’s why I will fight for good wages and strong benefits for every worker that joins the new clean economy. A Warren administration will condition federal clean energy investments to state, local, and tribal governments on employers offering family-supporting wages and benefits — and will enforce this through Project Labor Agreements, prevailing wage laws, and Community Benefit Agreements. And I will work hand-in-hand with unions to return power to the working people powering the green economy. Unions built the middle class and unions will rebuild the middle class in the green economy of the future, too.
I’ve already committed to making sweeping reforms to our labor policy. These changes will extend labor rights to all workers — for example, narrowing the definition of “supervisor” under the National Labor Relations Act to end the exclusion of workers like the construction foremen that will lead the charge on building our clean energy grids. They will guarantee workers entering this new economy have a voice in actually shaping it by strengthening organizing and collective bargaining rights and increasing worker choice and control, including by requiring large companies to allow workers to elect no less than 40% of board members. And I will work with unions to design the training and apprenticeship programs that can create strong career pipelines for workers to enter this new green economy, helping to expand opportunities — and a continuous supply of skilled workers to power this transformation.
Ensuring the new clean economy is open to everyone.
In addition to employing millions of new workers in the clean economy, I am committed to leaving no worker behind as we transition to an economy powered on clean energy. That includes honoring our commitments to fossil fuel workers by holding fossil fuel companies accountable and defending worker pensions, benefits, and securing retirements. I will make sure the opportunities created are available to those who have traditionally been excluded — especially women and communities of color — by imposing new rules on companies that hope to receive federal contracts.
Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure as part of the new clean energy economy will take all of us, including returning citizens — which is why my administration will partner with organizations that make renewable energy and associated job training available to underserved communities and formerly incarcerated individuals. And my plan to empower workers will expand worker safety protections for workers entering the green economy — like our transit workers who are increasingly subject to assault — and I will strengthen anti-discrimination protections for workers from all backgrounds.
Repowering our Energy Sector
In 2018, clean energy industries employed over 3.2 million Americans — more workers than in the petroleum, natural gas and coal industries combined. The clean energy industry is rapidly expanding — the two fastest-growing jobs in the nation are solar panel installer and wind turbine technician. But there is more to do, and the federal government can and should play a role in increasing the speed and scale of this transition. A Warren administration will focus on rebuilding and repowering our energy grid to grow our economy — and my plans will create 6.8 million good paying jobs in the energy sector, all while cutting carbon pollution.
100% Clean Energy Plan
While some states and utilities have been leading the way on cleaning up their electricity sources, far too many are falling behind. My plan calls for the federal government to set a bold standard for achieving 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030, including carbon-free baseload solutions, putting us on the path to a 100% emissions-free electricity supply by 2035.
These ambitious targets will require us to ramp up renewable energy generation and deployment dramatically. Cleaning up our energy system will create a diverse range of jobs — from construction worker to electrician to project manager. But these good paying jobs won’t just be in renewable energy. They will also come from making homes, offices, and industries more energy efficient. And through my Green Manufacturing plan, we’ll jumpstart American research and manufacturing in areas like battery storage, which will require a whole new set of skills and laborers. And wherever possible, we’ll invest in modernizing our grid with American-made materials, spurring still more jobs right here at home.
Offshore Wind Jobs
Right now, there is only one offshore wind project operating in this country — Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm. It’s clear that today, we are failing to make use of the clean, powerful energy resource that lies just off our coasts. My Blue New Deal For Our Oceans plan will jumpstart the offshore wind industry. Bringing these offshore wind projects to life will generally require the help of workers from more than 70 different occupations — from machinists to engineers, sailors to ironworkers, electricians to longshoremen. By 2030, offshore wind energy development from Maryland to Maine could support more than 36,000 full time jobs. And even after they’re built, we will need workers to operate and service the turbines. My Blue New Deal also calls for electrifying and shoring up our ports, creating additional jobs throughout our coastal communities.
Restarting Our Transportation Sector
America’s transportation and trucking industry accounts for more than 10 million direct jobs, with over 3 million truck drivers alone. But right now, transportation also accounts for the largest portion of U.S. carbon pollution. Moreover, our public transportation infrastructure is crumbling: the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our roads a “D” grade on their most recent infrastructure report card, with one out of every five miles of highway pavement in poor condition.
For too long, our government has failed to invest in critical infrastructure — and unless we take action, poor conditions will continue to plague one of our most important industries. But this, too, is an opportunity: as we rebuild our crumbling transportation infrastructure, we can build in climate resiliency, and create a transportation system powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels. The massive project of investing in our transportation infrastructure will affect every state and county in the nation, creating about 2.6 million jobs in the public and private sector.
Build Green Program
Public transportation is a $71 billion industry that employs more than 430,000 people. And yet, 45% of Americans still do not have access to public transportation, leaving those without access reliant on car ownership to get to work, school and worship. We know that increasing public transportation rates and decreasing vehicle miles traveled is one of the best ways to reduce emissions. That’s why I’m proposing a new Build Green program, which would establish a new grant program to electrify public buses, school buses, rail, cars, and fleet vehicles that is modeled after the Department of Transportation’s BUILD grant program. This program will be paid for by closing corporate loopholes, and will open up new funding opportunities for states, cities, counties and tribal governments to expand and electrify public transportation options. A study conducted in the Twin Cities found Black, Asian-American, and Latinx commuters have longer commutes than white commuters. And people with disabilities face particular barriers in using and accessing public transportation. These investments will be crucial to ensuring equitable and accessible transportation for all.
100% Clean Vehicles.
Demand for passenger electric vehicles is growing at home and abroad — but even though more and more people want electric vehicles, they still only account for around 1% of vehicles on the road. To spur auto manufacturing in this space, I have put forward a bold and ambitious goal to require all new light -and medium-duty vehicles sold by 2030 to be zero emission vehicles. We’ll achieve this goal by investing in a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. By the end of the first term of a Warren administration, there will be a charging station at every rest stop in America. And this nation-wide network of charging infrastructure will begin to lay the groundwork for electrifying long-haul trucking, too. But charging station infrastructure is only half the battle. Right now, consumers don’t have enough access to vehicles. In 2011, there were only two mass market electric vehicles available to consumers — and even now, the auto industry offers only fifteen models. While car manufacturers are already trying to meet growing demand, my investment in clean energy technology, including products designed for use in the electric vehicle supply chain, will further increase adoption of electric vehicles by making it easier for auto manufacturers to build the vehicles that consumers want.
We’ve let our failure to take action destroy our transportation infrastructure for too long and a Warren administration will make sure that the Department of Transportation acts with the speed and scale necessary to address the climate challenges ahead of us. I will take executive action to require the Department of Transportation set performance management rules that require federal transportation investments to be accompanied by life-cycle analysis and reduction strategies for climate and other transportation related pollution.
Renewing Our Water Infrastructure
America’s water infrastructure is crumbling. The government’s failure to invest is putting Americans in danger in two ways: first, our levees, dams and inland waterways infrastructure are all at risk — and will only become more stressed by climate change as sea-level rise, extreme flooding, and drought all become more frequent and severe. Second, our drinking water is increasingly at risk: as the infrastructure supporting it crumbles, an estimated 77 million Americans live with tap water that violates federal safe water standards — and this number does not even include the millions more served by very small water systems or private domestic wells. Meanwhile, more and more Americans struggle to afford their water bills as water bill costs have risen at more than double the rate of inflation over the last 20 years. Fixing our water infrastructure is an urgent priority — but we risk not having enough hands on deck, as the water sector’s aging workforce increasingly enters into retirement. Reinvesting in our nation’s water infrastructure isn’t just essential for the health and the safety of our communities, it’s also a chance to grow our workforce. In a Warren administration, we’ll not only protect Americans by rebuilding our nation’s water infrastructure — we’ll also create about 190,000 thousand good, union jobs in the process.
Rebuilding America’s dams, levees, and inland waterways.
Our nation’s dams, levees, and inland waterways provide necessary infrastructure for shipping and hydroelectric power — but they’ve been so underfunded that they are putting our communities at risk. When the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway failed in 2017, nearly 200,000 people were evacuated from rural Northern California. And the failure of New Orleans’ levees during Hurricane Katrina made Katrina one of the most devastating U.S. hurricane on record, killing 1,800 people, damaging 70% of homes in New Orleans, and resulting in damages of $125 billion. This stops now. A Warren administration will triple the US Army Corps of Engineers’ annual budget so that they have the resources they need to upgrade our water infrastructure and defend our vulnerable communities from harm. We’ll pay for this with savings from my plan to transition the military away from its dependence on fossil fuels and other internal Department of Defense funding shifts. This dramatic expansion will create new opportunities for good, federal jobs as we update critical infrastructure across the nation — an investment that is more important than ever to defend vulnerable front-line communities from more frequent and more severe weather events.
Ensuring safe drinking water for all
Nearly a decade ago the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing access to water and sanitation as basic human rights. But today, the United States is in the middle of a dangerous drinking water crisis. Not only do an estimated 77 million Americans’ have tap water that violated federal standards, but at least 2 million Americans still don’t have access to running water. And because of a long legacy of unfair, racist, and deliberate policy choices, communities of color are disproportionately likely to lack access to safe, affordable drinking water. After decades of declining federal investments in safe water, it’s time to invest in safe, affordable water for our communities. That’s why I have committed to fully capitalizing federal programs that fund drinking water capital infrastructure, such as the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. And I will go further by supporting Rep. Joe Kennedy’s Affordable Safe Drinking Water Act, which would extend the horizon for states and localities to repay revolving loans and expand the funding to cover the installation of lead and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) filtering systems and remediation measures. These important updates to the State Revolving Fund programs will not only guarantee much-needed upgrades to our drinking water infrastructure, but will also spur necessary investments to allow for expanded job opportunities. My administration will continue to invest in brownfield remediation, which is why I have proposed to reinstate and then triple the Superfund Tax to ensure that we protect our communities from the legacy of environmental harm and we put people to work in the process. And I will remain committed to standing with communities across the country that are impacted by lead.
Jobs in the water sector are wide ranging: there are more than 200 different occupations, including in skilled trades, administration, and finance. What’s more, because every community needs quality water, these jobs exist across the nation. I will work to create more inclusive career paths for water workers to meet the needs of our drinking water infrastructure by fighting for increases in the percent of local hires and minority/women-owned contracts that are awarded as part of water-related government contracting. And I will work with Congress to fully fund the EPA’s Brownfields Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants Program and the Environmental Health Sciences Environmental Career Worker Training Program, which is helping to improve workforce development for water-related careers. Lastly and in order to confront America’s drinking water crisis head on, I will take executive action to develop a national inter-agency safe and affordable drinking water roadmap. And to inform this effort I will convene a Water Equity Advisory Council with representation from key environmental justice and community-based organizations that are on the frontlines of addressing our safe water crisis.
Rebuilding our Homes, Buildings and Schools
In his Second Inaugural Address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that the “test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Later that term, FDR signed into law the Wagner-Steagall Housing Act, which put Americans to work building new, modern affordable housing units across the country. But today, whether it’s a leaky window, an old appliance, or mold in a home, it’s hard-working Americans that pay the price through increased utility bills and housing costs.
As I’ve outlined in my 100% Clean Energy Plan, I’ll work with states and local governments to develop and implement new and stronger building codes to reach zero-carbon emissions and building those new standards into federal grant requirements, tax credits, and mortgage products. And I’ll launch an initiative to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, with the goal of upgrading 4% of buildings a year until the job is done. All told, my plans will create over 970,000 thousand new jobs as demand grows across sectors from the manufacturing of American-made energy efficient materials to large and small-scale construction efforts.
Safe and affordable housing
We currently have a government that has paid lip service to the idea of providing all Americans in need with safe and affordable housing. The federal government hasn’t funded new public housing construction in decades and has turned a blind eye to the massive maintenance backlog needed to make sure the limited housing we do have is safe to live in. That stops now. My Affordable Housing Plan would invest $500 billion over 10 years to address this crisis and would create 3 million new housing units. As a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, I recognize the right to safe, affordable housing for every American and the need for new, green jobs to realize FDR’s dream. My Green Public Housing program will build on the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, by raising living standards and providing the financial assistance necessary to retrofit these homes. This will require training a new American workforce and would alone create 240,000 new jobs. We can address the climate crisis while we tackle the housing crisis, too.
Providing our children with healthy learning and living environments
As a former public school teacher, I know firsthand how our children’s learning can be affected by their environment. More than half of our public schools need repairs in order to be in “good” condition. Our poor school infrastructure has serious effects on the health and academic outcomes of students and on the well-being of teachers and staff. That’s why in my K-12 plan I’ve committed at least an additional $50 billion to improving our school infrastructure. This will require a workforce across the country to identify the schools most in need and carry out the necessary upgrades to provide our children with the learning environment they deserve. There’s nothing more important to me than investing in our kids because it means we’re investing in our future.
Green infrastructure means inclusive infrastructure. We have to recognize that our building infrastructure crisis is an environmental justice crisis. The disparities in our building infrastructure reflect the racial inequities that exist in America today. Historically, redlining denied entire groups of people—primarily communities of color—the chance to live in neighborhoods of their choice while also making them the victims of environmental racism. Studies have shown that low-income and minority children bear the brunt of poisoning from lead-based paint and failing lead pipes in older housing units. Our system has also failed Americans with disabilities who occupy 41% of our public housing units and yet only 3% of those units are ADA accessible. These same inequities exist in our public schools, too. In New York City, for example, 83% of elementary schools in New York City are not fully accessible to students with disabilities.
This ends in a Warren administration. It’s the job of our government to reverse these injustices, and I will put Americans to work to finish the job. That’s why I will use the full force of the federal government to invest in addressing these disparities — and creating millions of good, union jobs in the process.Together, these plans will curb homelessness in America, put Americans to work in quality jobs, protect the health of American families, and ease the burden on their pocketbooks.
Financing the Green Jobs Plan
Defeating the climate crisis and transitioning our economy to run on 100% clean energy will take big, structural change. That’s why my plans will result in $10.7 trillion in federal funding to fight for a Green New Deal — backed up by detailed plans laying out exactly how we will use those dollars — to address the size of this crisis.
The transition to clean energy is an opportunity to transform our economy, creating new industries, like in zero-emissions building construction, and greatly expandingothers, like electric vehicle manufacturing, at a speed and scale not seen since World War II — and creating huge opportunities for state, local and non-federal investment in the process, too. My Administration will create new financing tools to unlock state, local, and private investment and direct it towards meaningful investments that tackle climate change, produce jobs, and reduce inequality. And my administration will put in place strong protections to ensure that this $10.7 trillion commitment flows to the right places, so that our climate investments benefit all Americans — not just the wealthy and well-connected.
A New Green Bank
A Green Bank is among the best ways to ensure a dedicated funding stream for an economy-wide climate transition to reconcile the scale of investment required with the speed of transition necessary to defeat the climate crisis. I’ll work with Congress to establish a bank modeled after and expanded upon the National Climate Bank Act, introduced earlier this year by my friend and colleague Senator Markey. We’ll put in place strong bipartisan oversight and governance to ensure that investments are equitable and benefit working Americans. And ultimately, this new Green Bank will mobilize $1 trillion in climate and green infrastructure investments across the country over 30 years.
The Green Bank will open up new markets for greater investment by working alongside existing federal authorities through direct spending, grants, and loans. It will provide security for investors looking for climate-friendly investments in mid- to large-scale infrastructure projects that serve the public interest but might not otherwise attract private capital due to risk-return thresholds, payback horizons, credit risk or other factors. It will increase the overall scale of clean energy investment and the pace of substitution of clean energy technologies for fossil-fuel based technologies, while also protecting consumers by keeping energy prices low and ensuring compliance with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s regulations. And it will expand opportunities for communities and the private sector by directing funds toward communities on the front lines of the climate crisis that have traditionally been left out of investment opportunities.
Green Victory Bonds
Today many states have green bonds programs, using the proceeds to fund land use projects, river and habitat preservation, and energy and water infrastructure. Green bonds have also surged in popularity worldwide, with sales growing 46% last year to about a total of about $460 billion.
While the federal government has never issued a green bond, the World War II-era “Victory Bond” program was a major success, raising $185 billion — over $2 trillion in 2012 dollars — and four out of five American households bought Victory Bonds. I’ll propose a “Green Victory Bond,” backed by the full-faith and credit of the United States by the Treasury Department, to finance the transition to a green economy. These Green Victory Bonds will be sold at levels that allow Americans across the socioeconomic spectrum the opportunity to own a piece of the climate solution, and to benefit from the new green economy that we build together.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate for President, has released details of her most controversial proposal, Medicare for All, promising that it will cover every person in America with health care, including long-term care, vision and dental, without increasing taxes on middle class families. Warren focuses on an overall restructuring taxes and spending – going after the loopholes and tax cheats and reining in military spending as well as drug costs and cutting healthcare costs by removing the for-profit insurance companies (gatekeepers) as middlemen. What her plan misses, though, is the obvious: collect the Medicare tax (1.45%, plus an extra 0.9% on income over $200,000) on all income, not just wages, and, if necessary raise the surcharge for incomes over $250,000. Interestingly, while employers would no longer pick and choose the private health insurance they subsidize, employers would still subsidize their employees’ Medicare cost. Health care is considered the leading issue for voters in 2020. Here is the detailed plan, from the Warren campaign: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.
– Today, Senator Elizabeth
Warren, candidate for President, released her plan to finance Medicare for All.
The coverage is identical to the coverage in the Medicare for All legislation
in the Senate and it will cover every single person in America with excellent,
high-quality health care, including long-term care and vision and dental.
Elizabeth will pay
for this plan without raising taxes one penny on middle class families. Instead, she will put about $11
trillion in the pockets of American families by eliminating what they would pay
in premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket costs over the next
Her numbers add up and
are backed by experts including:
Simon Johnson, the
former Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund and a professor at
Dr. Donald Berwick,
one of the nation’s top experts in health system management and improvement,
who ran the Medicare and Medicaid programs under President Barack Obama
Mark Zandi, Chief
Economist of Moody’s Analytics
former Chief Economist for the Obama Labor Department
Elizabeth’s plan to
dramatically improve health care and cut family costs would cost the United
States less than our current broken system. It would require $20.5 trillion in
new revenue, nearly half of which comes simply from having employers pay
Medicare instead of private insurance companies.
Elizabeth will finance
the remainder of Medicare for All with targeted defense spending cuts, new
taxes on financial firms, giant corporations, and the richest 1% of Americans,
and by cracking down on tax evasion and fraud. The $11 trillion in household
insurance and out-of-pocket expenses projected under our current system goes
right back into the pockets of America’s working people — substantially larger than the
largest tax cut in American history — and no middle class tax increases.
My daddy’s heart attack nearly sent our family skidding over
a financial cliff. Today I think about all the kids this year who will face the
double blow of nearly losing a parent and then watching their lives turn upside
down as their families struggle to pay a growing stack of medical
I spent my career studying why so many hard-working middle
class families were going broke. For years, my research partners and I traveled
the country from bankruptcy courtroom to bankruptcy courtroom, talking directly
to people who’d seen their lives turned upside down. We interviewed lawyers,
judges, and families involved in bankruptcy cases. To save on printing costs,
we lugged around a Xerox machine (I nicknamed him “R2-D2”) to save money on
photocopying court records.
Eventually, we built the largest and most comprehensive
database of consumer bankruptcy data ever assembled. That first study surprised
us: we found that 90% of families went bankrupt because of job loss, medical
problems, and marital disruption. That finding was confirmed in 2007 by my
later research, which found that the number one reason
families were going broke was health care – and three quarters of
those who declared bankruptcy after an illness were people who already had
It’s been nearly thirty years since we published that first
groundbreaking study. And after all that time, here’s where we are: between
2013 and 2016, the number one reason families
went broke was still because of health care – even though 91.2% of Americans
had health insurance in 2016.
Families are getting crushed by health costs. Just look at
how much an average family of four with employer-sponsored insurance personally
spent per year on employee premium contributions and out-of-pocket
costs in 2018. And this figure has increased each
87 million. That’s
how many American adults in 2018 were uninsured or “underinsured” – meaning
either they have no insurance or their so-called health insurance is like a car
with the engine missing. It looks fine sitting on the lot, but inadequate if
they actually need to use it. Nearly one in every
two adults not currently on Medicare has no insurance or unreliable insurance.
adults didn’t fill a prescription last year because of costs. 36 millionpeopleskipped
a recommended test, treatment, or follow-up because of costs. 40 millionpeople
didn’t go to a doctor to check out a health problem because of costs. 57 millionpeople
had trouble covering their medical bills.
Today, in 2019, in the United States of America, the
wealthiest nation in the history of the world, inadequate health coverage is
crushing the finances and ruining the lives of tens of millions of American
I’m running for President based on a radical idea – calling
out what’s broken and speaking plainly about how to fix it.
All my plans start with our shared values. There are two
absolute non-negotiables when it comes to health care:
One: No American should ever, ever die or go bankrupt
because of health care costs. No more GoFundMe campaigns to pay for care. No
more rationing insulin. No more choosing between medicine and groceries.
Two: Every American should be able to see the doctors they
need and get their recommended treatments, without having to figure out who is
in-network. No for-profit insurance company should be able to stop anyone from
seeing the expert or getting the treatment they need.
Health care is a human right, and we need a system that
reflects our values. That system is Medicare for All.
Let’s be clear: America’s medical professionals are among
the best in the world. Health care in America is world-class. Medicare for All
isn’t about changing any of that.
It’s about fixing what is broken – how we pay for that care.
And when it comes to health care, what’s broken is obvious.
A fractured system that allows private interests to profiteer off the health
crises of the American people. A system that crushes our families with costs
they can’t possibly bear, forcing tens of millions to go without coverage or
to choose between basic
necessities like food, rent, and health – or bankruptcy.
We must fix this system. And over the long-term, the best
way to achieve that goal is to move from the system we have now to a system of
Medicare for All.
Medicare for All is about where doctors, hospitals, and care
providers send the bill – to a collection of private insurance companies who make billions off
denying people care or to the Medicare program for fair compensation. Under
Medicare for All, everyone gets the care they need, when they need it, and
nobody goes broke.
A key step in winning the public debate over Medicare for
All will be explaining what this plan costs – and how to pay for it. This task
is made a hundred times harder by powerful health insurance and drug companies
that makebillions of dollars
off the current bloated, inadequate system – and would be perfectly happy to
leave things exactly the way they are.
In 2017 alone, health industry players whose profiteering
would end under Medicare for All unleashed more than 2,500 lobbyists on
Washington. These industries will spendfreely on shady TV
ads and lobbying to convince people that a program that saves them massive
sums of money will somehow cost them money.
That being able to see the doctors and get the treatments they need regardless
of what their employer or
their insurance company thinks
is somehow actually a loss of choice. That a program that covers more services,
more people, and costs the American people less than what we
currently spend on health care is somehow too expensive.
Meanwhile, where are the 2,500 lobbyists for the people who
get sick and can’t pay their medical bills? Where are the hundreds of
millions being spent so that people who are trying to balance a budget around
rising health care premiums and growing deductibles and copays can make their
voices heard in Washington? Washington hears plenty from the giant health
insurance and giant drug industries, but not so much from families being
squeezed to the breaking point.
So let’s focus on families’ expenses and families’ health
Start with the Medicare for All Act – which
I have cosponsored. The bill provides a detailed proposal for how to achieve
our end goal. But as economists and advocates have noted, the legislation
leaves open a number of key design decisions that will affect its overall cost,
and the bill does not directly incorporate specific revenue measures. While
much of this ambiguity results from the reasonable choice to delegate
significant implementation discretion to the Executive Branch, it has also
allowed opponents of
Medicare for All to make up their own price tags and try to scare middle class
families about the prospect of tax increases – despite the conclusions of expert after expert after expert that it is
possible to eventually move to a Medicare for All system that gives both high
quality coverage for everybody and dramatically lowers costs for middle class
The best way to fight misinformation is with facts. That’s
why today, I’m filling in the details and releasing a plan that describes how I
would implement the long-term policy prescriptions of the Medicare for
All Act and how to pay for it.
Under my plan, Medicare for All will cover the full list of
benefits outlined in the Medicare for All Act, including long-term
care, audio, vision, and dental benefits. My plan will cover every single
person in the U.S., and includes common-sense payment reforms that make
Medicare for All possible without spending any more money overall than we spend
My plan reflects careful, detailed analyses from key
national experts in health policy, tax policy, and economics. By filling in the
details, we can strip away all the misleading political attacks and make plain
the choice facing the American people:
Option 1: Maintain our current system, which will cost
the country $52 trillion over ten years. And under that current system
63 million have
coverage gaps or substandard coverage that could break down if they actually
get sick. And millions who have
health insurance will end up going broke at least in part from medical costs
Together, the American people will pay $11 trillion of
that bill themselves in the form of premiums, deductibles, copays,
out-of-network, and other expensive medical equipment and care they pay for
out-of-pocket – all while America’s wealthiest individuals and
biggest companies pay far
less in taxes than in other major countries.
Option 2: Switch to my approach to Medicare for All,
which would cost the country just under $52 trillion over ten
years. Under this new system –
Every person in America – all 331 million people
– will have full health coverage, and coverage for long-term care.
Everybody gets the doctors and the treatments they need,
when they need them. No more restrictive provider networks, no more insurance
companies denying coverage for prescribed treatments, and no more going broke
over medical bills.
The $11 trillion in
household insurance and out-of-pocket expenses projected under our current
system goes right back into the pockets of America’s working people. And we
make up the difference with targeted spending cuts, new taxes on giant corporations
and the richest 1% of Americans, and by cracking down on tax evasion and
fraud. Not one penny in middle-class tax increases.
That’s it. That’s the choice. A broken system that leaves
millions behind while costs keep going up and insurance companies keep sucking
billions of dollars in profits out of the system – or, for about the same
amount of money, a new system that drives down overall health costs and, on
average, relieves the typical middle class families of $12,400 in insurance
premiums and other related health care costs.
No middle class tax increases. $11 trillion in household
expenses back in the pockets of American families. That’s substantially larger than the
largest tax cut in American history.
Not every candidate for president supports moving to a
system of Medicare for All. Some who support Medicare for All will have
different ideas about how to finance and structure it. And everybody knows that
there must be a real transition. But you don’t get what you don’t fight for –
and my view is clear.
Every candidate who opposes my long-term goal of Medicare
for All should explain why the “choice” of private insurance plans is
more important than being able to choose the doctor that’s best for you without
worrying about whether they are in-network or not. Why it’s more important than
being able to choose the right prescription drug for you without worrying about
massive differences in copays. Why it’s more important than being able to
choose to start a small business or choose the job you want without worrying
about where your health care coverage will be coming from and how much it will
Every candidate who opposes my long-term goal of Medicare
for All should put forward their own plan to cover everyone, without costing
the country anything more in health care spending, and while putting $11
trillion back in the pockets of the American people by eliminating premiums and
virtually eliminating out-of-pocket costs. Or, if they are unwilling to do
that, they should concede that they think it’s more important to protect the
eye-popping profits of private insurers and drug companies and the immense
fortunes of the top 1% and giant corporations, rather than provide
transformative financial relief for hundreds of millions of American
And every candidate who opposes my long-term goal of
Medicare for All should put forward their own plan to make sure every single
person in America can get high-quality health care and won’t go broke – and
fully explain how they intend to pay for it. Or, if they are unwilling to do
that, concede that their half-measures will leave millions behind.
And make no mistake – any candidate who opposes my long-term
goal of Medicare for All and refuses to answer these questions directly should
concede that they have no real strategy for helping the American people address
the crushing costs of health care in this country. We need plans, not
THE COST OF MEDICARE FOR ALL
A serious conversation about how to pay for Medicare for All
requires, first, determining how much such a system would cost.
In recent years, several economists and think tanks have
attempted to estimate the cost of a single-payer system in the United States.
Those estimates consider how much our nation’s health care spending will change
over a ten year window, and range from a $12.5 trillion decrease
to a $7 trillion increase.
They also consider how much additional money the federal government would need
to fund this system, and those estimates range from a low of $13.5 trillion to a
high of $34 trillion over
Because nobody can actually see the future, some of this
variation results from different assumptions about how parts of our health care
system might work differently under Medicare for All. But most of the
difference comes from policy choices. And while the Medicare for All
Act is clear about some of these choices – for example, generous
benefits, long-term care coverage, and virtually no out-of-pocket expenses – it
is silent on a number of really important ones. How much will we pay for
medical care and for prescription drugs? What do we do with the existing money
that states spend on Medicaid? How aggressively will we cut administrative
costs? Aggressive choices mean a lower total cost. Less aggressive choices
result in a higher total cost.
Serious candidates for president should speak plainly about
these issues and set out their plans for cost control – especially those who
are skeptical of Medicare for All. Because whether or not we make modest or
transformative changes to our health care system, cancer, diabetes, strokes,
Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s aren’t going to simply disappear. And without
leadership from the top, neither will the mushrooming cost of care in America
that’s bankrupting our families.
I’ve asked top experts to consider the long-term cost of my
plan to implement Medicare for All over ten years – Dr. Donald Berwick, one of
the nation’s top experts in health system improvement and who ran the Medicare
and Medicaid programs under President Obama; and Simon Johnson, the former
Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund and a professor at MIT.
Their analysis begins with the assumptions of a recent study by the Urban
Institute and then examines how that cost estimate would change as certain new
key policy choices are applied. These experts conclude that my plan would slightly
reduce the projected amount of money that the United States would otherwise
spend on health care over the next 10 years, while covering everyone and giving
them vastly better coverage.
REDUCING INSURER ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS
The business model of private insurers is straightforward:
pay out less for medical care than they take in as premiums. This model is
located right in the center of our health care system, wasting huge amounts of
time and money documenting and arguing over who is owed what. Incredibly,
insurance companies spend a whopping $350 billion on
administration costs annually—and then, in turn, push huge additional
administrative costs onto hospitals, doctors, and millions of other health care
professionals in the from of complex billing—and then, in turn, drive up costs
incurred by employers as they attempt to navigate the complexity of providing
their employees with insurance.
Medicare for All will save money by bringing down the
staggering administrative costs for insurers in our current system. As the
experts I asked to evaluate my plan noted, private insurers had administrative
costs of 12% of premiums collected in 2017, while Medicare kept its
administrative costs down to 2.3%. My plan will ensure that Medicare for All
functions just as efficiently as traditional Medicare by setting net
administrative spending at 2.3%.
COMPREHENSIVE PAYMENT REFORM
In 2016, the United States spent nearly twice as
much on health care as ten high-income countries, and these costs have
been steadily rising for
decades, growing from 5.2%
of U.S. GDP in 1963 to 17.9% in 2017. But
instead of resulting in better health outcomes, Americans have the lowest
life expectancy of residents in high-income countries, the highest infant
mortality rate, and the highest obesity rates.
Why? As a group of health economists famously wrote, “It’s the prices,
Studieshave continued to
show that it’s not how much people use the health care system, often referred
to as “utilization,” but rather how much people pay that drives our high spending.
Compared to other high income countries, Americans simply pay more for health
care. We pay more for physicians and nurses. We pay more in administrative
costs. We pay more for prescription drugs.
A heart bypass surgery that costs nearly
$16,000 in the Netherlands costs an average of $75,000 in the United States. A
CT scan that costs $97 in Canada
costs an average of $896 here. And in the United States, hospitals can charge new parents
for holding their newborn after delivery.
Meanwhile, private equity firms fight bipartisan
legislation in Washington that might undermine the profitability of their
investments or prevent their hospitals from sending patients surprise bills.
And health care CEO salaries continue to soar. Between 2005 and 2015,
non-profit hospital CEO salaries increased by 93% to
an average of over $3 million, and last year, 62 health care CEOs raked in a
combined $1.1 billion – more
than the CDC spent on chronic disease prevention.
If we expect the American people to be able to afford health
care, we need to rein in these costs. Comprehensive payment reform, as part of
Medicare for All, will reduce this component of health care spending. Under my
approach, Medicare for All will sharply reduce administrative spending
and reimburse physicians and other non-hospital providers at current Medicare
rates. My plan will also rebalance rates in a budget neutral way that
increases reimbursements for primary care providers and lowers reimbursements
for overpaid specialties.
While private insurance companies pay higher rates, this system would be
expected to continue compensating providers at roughly the same overall rate
that they are currently receiving. Why? This is partially because providers
will now get paid Medicare rates for their Medicaid patients – a substantial
raise. But it’s also because providers spend an enormous amount of time on
billing and interacting with insurance companies that reduces their efficiency
and takes away from time with patients. Some estimate that hospitals will spend $210 billion on
average annually on these costs.
The nonpartisan Institute of Medicine estimates that
these wasted expenses account
for 13% of the revenue for physician practices, 8.5% for hospitals, and 10% for
other providers. Together, the improved efficiency will save doctors time and
money – helping significantly offset the revenue they will lose from
getting rid of higher private insurance rates.
Under my approach, Medicare for All will sharply
reduce administrative spending and reimburse hospitals at an average of 110% of
current Medicare rates, with appropriate adjustments for rural hospitals,
teaching hospitals, and other care providers with challenging cost structures.
In 2017, hospitals that treated Medicare patients were paid about 9.9% less than
what it cost to care for that patient. The increase I am proposing under
Medicare for All will cover hospitals’ current costs of care – but hospital
costs will also substantially decrease as a result of simpler administrative
processes, lower prescription drug prices, the end of bad debt from
uncompensated care, and more patients with insurance seeking care.
Of course, as Medicare currently recognizes,
not every provider situation is the same, and my Medicare for All program
maintains these base rate adjustments for geography and other factors. In
my plan for Rural
America, for example, I have committed to creating a new designation under
Medicare for rural hospitals due to the unique challenges health systems face
in rural communities. That’s why my plan allows for adjustments above the 110%
average rate for certain hospitals, like rural and teaching hospitals, and
below this amount for hospitals that are already doing fine with current
Medicare rates.Universal coverage will also have a
disproportionately positive effect on rural hospitals. Because people living in
rural counties are more likely to be
uninsured than people living in urban counties, these hospitals currently
provide a lot of uncompensated care. Medicare for All fixes that problem. And
I’ve previously laid out additional
investments to increase the number of Community Health Centers and grow our
health care workforce in rural and Native American communities, while cracking
down on anti-competitive mergers that lead to worse outcomes and higher costs
for rural communities.
We can also apply a number of common-sense, bipartisan
reforms that have been proposed for Medicare. Today, for example, insurers can
charge dramatically different prices for the exact same service based on where the service was
performed. Under Medicare for All, providers will receive the same
amount for the same procedure, saving hundreds of billions of dollars. We can
also make adjustments to things that we know Medicare currently pays too much
for – like post-acute care – by adjusting those payments down slightly while
accounting for the patient’s health status, bringing health care costs down
We will also shift payment rates so that we are paying for
better outcomes, instead of simply reimbursing for more services. We build on
the success of value-based reforms enabled by the Affordable Care Act,
including by instituting bundled payments for inpatient care and for 90 days of
post-acute care. Instead of paying providers for each individual service,
bundled payments reimburse providers for an entire “episode” of care and have
been shown to both improve outcomes and control costs. These
bundles help ensure that a patient’s different providers all communicate because
they are all tied to the same payment.
RESTORING HEALTH CARE COMPETITION
Health care consolidation has also contributed to
rising health care costs. One analysis found that over 90% of
metropolitan areas had health care provider markets that were either highly
concentrated or super concentrated in 2016. And despite the same kinds of empty
promises we see every time there’s industry consolidation – in this case, that
bigger hospitals would lead to better care – the data have not borne
this out. In fact, it’s theopposite: more
competition between providers creates incentives to improve care, and that
incentive will only increase under a
Medicare for All system where quality, not price, is the main differentiator in
Under Medicare for All, hospitals won’t be able to force
some patients to pay more because the hospital can’t agree with their insurance
company. Instead, because everyone has good insurance, providers will have to
compete on better care and reduced wait times in order to attract more
That’s why I will appoint aggressive antitrust enforcers to
the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission and allow hospitals to
voluntarily divest holdings to restore competition to hospital markets. I’ve
also previously committed to
strengthening FTC oversight over health care organizations, including
non-profit hospitals, to crack down on anti-competitive behavior. And I will
direct my FTC to block all future hospital mergers unless the merging companies
can prove that the newly-merged entity will maintain or improve care.
REINING IN OUT-OF-CONTROL PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS
Americans pay more for prescription drugs than anyone in the
world – $333 billion in
2017 alone. Americans spent $1,220 per person on
average for prescription drugs, while the next highest spending country,
Switzerland, spent $963 per person. That’s not because Americans use more
prescription medication – it’s because lax laws have allowed pharmaceutical
companies to charge insurance companies and patients exorbitant rates. In a
now-infamous example, when Turing Pharmaceuticals purchased the rights to the
HIV medication Daraprim, the company raised the price of
this life-saving drug from $13.50 per pill to a stunning $750 per tablet overnight.
The price of insulin has skyrocketed, forcing
people to risk their lives by rationing. And as prices continue to rise, more
Americans are turning to Canada in
search of affordable prices.
Reining in prescription drug costs should be a top priority
for any President – and there’s no better way to do it than through Medicare
for All. My administration will use a suite of aggressive policy tools to set a
net savings target that will bring down Medicare prices for brand name
prescription drugs by 70% and prices for generics by 30%, with an initial focus
on more expensive drugs.
Under Medicare for All, the federal government would have
real bargaining power to negotiate lower prices for patients. I will adopt an
altered version of the mechanism outlined in the Lower Prescription
Drug Costs Now Act which leverages excise taxes to bring manufacturers
to the table to negotiate prices for both branded and generic drugs, with no
drug exceeding 110% of the average international market price, but removes the
limit of the number of drugs Medicare can negotiate for and eliminates the
“target price” so Medicare could potentially negotiate prices lower than other
If negotiations fail, I will use two tools – compulsory
licensing and public manufacturing – to allow my administration to ensure
patient access to medicines by either overriding the patent, as modeled in
the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act, or by
providing public funds to support manufacturing of these drugs, as modeled in
my Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act. Medicare for All will also
incentivize pharmaceutical companies to develop the drugs we need – like
antibiotics, cancer cures, and vaccines. And it’s not just about driving down
drug prices. Making sure patients get important drug therapies up front that
keep them healthy and cost a fraction compared to more severe treatment down
the line can save money overall. Insurers, who may only cover individuals for a
few years of their lives, see those investments in long-term health as a cost
they’ll never recoup – so they have a financial incentive to deny patients these
treatments. But Medicare for All covers each patient for their entire lifespan.
There’s no perverse incentive to deny the prescriptions they need today because
the long-term benefits to their health won’t benefit their current private
STEMMING THE GROWTH OF MEDICAL COSTS
Year after year, U.S. health spending has grown at rates
above GDP growth, reaching a whopping 17.9% of GDP in
2017. Experts believe the changes to prescription drug spending and value-based
payment systems that I’ve already outlined will bring growth rates in line with
U.S. GDP, which CBO projects to be an average of 3.9% for
the next decade. And if growth rates exceed this rate, I will use available
policy tools, which include global budgets, population-based budgets, and
automatic rate reductions, to bring it back into line.
REDIRECTING TAXPAYER-FUNDED HEALTH SPENDING
Through Medicaid and public health plans for state
employees, state and local governments play a significant role in financing
health care coverage in America. Under my approach to Medicare for All, we will
redirect $6 trillion in existing state and local government insurance spending
into the Medicare for All system. This is similar to the mechanism that the
George W. Bush Administration used to redirect Medicaid spending to the federal
government under the Medicare prescription drug program.Under this
maintenance-of-effort requirement, state and local governments will redirect
$3.3 trillion of what they currently spend to support Medicaid and the
Children’s Health Insurance Program and $2.7 trillion of what they currently
spend on employer contributions to private insurance premiums for their
employees into Medicare for All. Because we bring down the growth rate of
overall health spending, states will pay less than they would have without
Medicare for All. They’ll also have far more predictable budgets, resulting in
improved long-term planning for state and community priorities.
Together, these policy choices represent significant
reductions in health care spending over current levels. Compared to the
estimate by the Urban Institute, they will save over $7 trillion over ten
years, bringing the expected share of additional federal revenue to just over
$26 trillion for that period. After incorporating the $6 trillion we will
redirect from states to help fund Medicare, the experts conclude that total
new federal spending required to enact Medicare for All will be $20.5 trillion.
PAYING FOR MEDICARE FOR ALL
Medicare for All puts all health care spending on the
government’s books. But Medicare for All is about the same price as our current
path – and cheaper over time. That means the debate isn’t really about
whether the United States should pay more or less. It’s about who should
Right now, America’s total bill for health care is projected
to be $52 trillion for the next ten years. That money will come from four
places: the federal government, state governments, employers, and individuals
who need care. Under my approach to Medicare for All, most of these funding
sources will remain the same, too.
Existing federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid will help
fund Medicare for All.
Existing state spending on health insurance will continue in
the form of payments to Medicare – but states would be better off because
they’d have more long-term predictability, and they’d pay less over time
because these costs will grow more slowly than they do today.
Existing total private sector employer contributions to
health insurance will continue in the form of contributions to Medicare – but
employers would be better off because under the design of my plan, they’d pay
less than they would have otherwise.
Here’s the main difference: Individual health care
Over the next ten years, individuals will spend $11 trillion
on health care in the form of premiums, deductibles, copays, and out-of-pocket
costs. Under my Medicare for All plan, that amount will drop from $11
trillion to practically zero.
I asked top experts – Mark Zandi, the Chief Economist of
Moody’s Analytics; Betsey Stevenson, the former Chief Economist for the Obama
Labor Department; and Simon Johnson – to examine options for how we can make up
that $11 trillion difference. They conclude that it
can be done largely with new taxes on financial firms, giant corporations, and
the top 1% – and making sure the rich stop evading the taxes we already have.
That’s right: We don’t need to raise taxes on the
middle class by one penny to finance Medicare for All.
Here’s how it would work.
REPLACING EMPLOYER HEALTH SPENDING WITH A NEW EMPLOYER
Let’s start with a basic fact: American companies are
already paying a lot for health care for their employees. They are projected to
pay nearly $9 trillion over the next ten years, mostly on employer
contributions for employee health insurance and on health-related expenses for
employees under workers’ compensation and long-term disability. My idea is that
instead of these companies sending those payments to private insurance
companies, they would send payments to the federal government for Medicare in
the form of an Employer Medicare Contribution.
In fact, it’ll be a better deal than what they have
now: companies will pay less than they otherwise would have, saving
$200 billion over the next ten years.
To calculate their new Employer Medicare Contribution,
employers would determine what they spent on health care over the last few
years and divide that by the number of employees of the company in those years
to arrive at an average health care cost per employee at the company.
(Companies would count part-time employees towards the total based on the
number of hours they worked during a year.) Under the first year of Medicare
for All, employers would then take that average cost, adjust it upwards to
account for the overall increase in national health care spending, and multiply
it by their total number of employees that year. Their Employer Medicare
Contribution would be 98% of that amount – ensuring that every company
paying for health care today will pay less than they would have if they were
still offering their employees comparable private insurance.
A similar calculation would apply to pass-through entities,
like law firms or private equity funds, even though many of the people that
work there technically aren’t employees. People who are self-employed would be
exempt from making Employer Medicare Contributions unless they exceed an income
Small businesses – companies with under 50 employees – would
be exempt from this requirement too if they aren’t paying for employee health
care today. When either new or existing firms exceed this employee threshold,
we would phase in a requirement that companies make Employer Medicare Contributions
equal to the national average cost of health care per employee for every
employee at that company. Merging firms would pay the weighted average cost of
health care per employee of the two firms that are merging.
Employers currently offering health benefits under a
collective bargaining agreement will be able to reduce their Employer Medicare
Contribution if they pass along those savings to workers in the form of
increased wages, pensions, or other collectively-bargained benefits. New
companies or existing companies who enter into a collective bargaining
agreement with their employees after the enactment of Medicare for All will be
able to reduce their Employer Medicare Contributions in the same way. Employers
can reduce their contribution requirements all the way down to the national
average health care cost per employee.
That way, my plan helps unions that have bargained
for good health care already, and creates a significant new incentive for
unionization generally by making collective bargaining appealing for both
workers and employers as a way of potentially reducing the employer’s Employer
Over time, an employer’s health care cost-per-employee would
be gradually shifted to converge at the average health care cost-per-employee
nationally. That helps make sure the system is fair but also gives
employers and employees time to adapt to the new system.
If we’re falling short of the $8.8 trillion revenue target
for the next ten years, we will make up lost revenue with a Supplemental
Employer Medicare Contribution requirement for big companies with extremely
high executive compensation and stock buyback rates.
There are a variety of ways to structure an employer
contribution to Medicare for All. This particular approach has the benefit of
helping American employers in a few ways:
Employers would collectively save $200 billion over the next
Employers receive far more certainty about how their health
care costs will vary over time and affect their finances.
Small businesses – who often suffer when competing for
employees because they can’t afford to
offer health care coverage – would no longer be at a competitive disadvantage
against bigger businesses.
Employers can reduce their Employer Medicare Contribution by
supporting unionization efforts and negotiating with workers to provide better
wages and benefits – reducing costs and promoting collective bargaining at the
Because my plan holds health care cost growth to GDP levels,
businesses will have stable balance sheets that grow with the economy instead
of crowding out other priorities.
By asking employers to pay a little less than what they
are already projected to pay for health care, we can get almost halfway to
where we need to go to cover the cost of my Medicare for All plan.
Automatic Increases in Take-Home Pay
Medicare for All puts a whole lot of money back in the
American people’s pockets. One way it does that is by taking the share of
premiums employees are responsible for paying through employer-sponsored
insurance – that line on pay stubs each week or month that says “health
insurance” – and returning it to working people. Congratulations on the
And higher take-home pay for workers also means additional
tax revenue just from applying our existing taxes – approximately $1.15
trillion if we apply average effective tax rates.
Medicare for All saves people money in other ways too. With
Medicare for All, nobody would need to put money in Health Savings Accounts or
medical savings accounts to try and protect themselves against the unthinkable.
And because individual spending on premiums, deductibles, copays, and
out-of-pocket costs will basically disappear, the tax break for medical
expenses in excess of 10% of Adjusted Gross Income becomes irrelevant.
Together, those changes would generate another
$250 billion in revenue.
All told, another $1.4 trillion in funding for Medicare for
All is generated automatically through existing taxes on the enormous amount of
money that will now be returned to individuals’ pockets from moving to a
Medicare for All system with virtually no individual spending on health
Here’s what that means: we can generate almost half
of what we need to cover Medicare for All just by asking employers to pay
slightly less than what they are projected to pay today, and through existing
So where does the rest of the money come from that allows us
to eliminate premiums, deductibles, copays, and most out-of-pocket spending for
every American? Four sources: (1) better enforcement of our existing tax laws
so we stop letting people evade their tax obligations; (2) targeted taxes on
the financial sector, large corporations, and the top 1% of individuals; (3) my
approach to immigration; and (4) shutting down a slush fund for defense
CRACKING DOWN ON TAX EVASION AND FRAUD
The federal government has a nearly 15% “tax gap”
between what it collects in taxes what is actually owed because of systematic
under-enforcement of our tax laws, tax evasion, and fraud. If that 15% gap
persists for the next ten years, we will collect a whopping $7.7 trillion less in
federal taxes than the law requires. By investing in stronger
enforcement and adopting best practices on tax reporting, withholding, and
filing, experts predict that we can close the tax gap by a third – generating
about $2.3 trillion in additional federal revenue without a single new
A big part of our current tax gap problem is that we’re letting
wealthier taxpayers get away with paying less than what they owe. Studies show that the
wealthiest 5% of taxpayers misrepresent their income more frequently than the
The wealthy and their allies in Washington have worked
to slash the IRS
budget, leaving it without the resources it needs. The agency today has about the
same number of revenue agents as it did when the economy was one-seventh its
current size in the 1950s. And the IRS insists on targeting low-income
taxpayers rather than wealthy ones, even though the amount of revenue we can
recover from wealthy taxpayers is far more.
We know how to fix this problem. We can draw lessons from
what works in other countries with much lower tax gaps and rely on the
recommendations of tax experts. Here’s a game plan:
Substantially increase funding for the IRS, including the
Criminal Investigation Division. The Treasury Department estimated in its
Fiscal Year 2017 budget request that every $1 invested in IRS enforcement
brings in nearly $6 in additional revenue – not even including an indirect
deterrence effect three times that amount.
Expand third-party reporting and withholding requirements.
Research shows that third-party reporting and withholding cuts down on the
tax misreporting rate substantially.
Strengthen enforcement of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance
Act (FATCA). FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to report the
holdings and income of U.S. taxpayers, but the IRS is generally not systematically matching these
reports to individual tax returns. We also don’t hold foreign financial firms
truly accountable for ignoring their reporting obligations. Automatically
matching FATCA reports to tax returns and instituting sanctions for
non-compliant foreign financial institutions would help narrow the tax gap.
Increase the nonfiler compliance program, strengthen
reporting requirements for international income, use existing currency
transaction reports to enforce cash income compliance, and increase reporting
requirements for virtual- or crypto-currencies, as suggested by the
Treasury Department’s Inspector General.
Allow employees who
disclose tax evasion and abuse to use the protections of the False Claims Act
and other whistleblower protections.
The experts who reviewed these ideas estimated that if we
implemented them, we could close the tax gap by one-third from 15% to 10%,
bringing us closer to the tax gap in countries like the United Kingdom (5.6%). That will
produce another $2.3 trillion in net federal revenue – without imposing a
single new tax.
TARGETED TAXES ON THE FINANCIAL SECTOR, LARGE
CORPORATIONS, AND THE TOP 1%
We can generate a whole lot of the remaining revenue we need
for Medicare for All just by eliminating bad incentives in our current tax
system and asking those who have done really well in the last few decades to
pay their fair share.
Let’s start with the financial sector. It’s been more than
ten years since the 2008 financial crisis, and while a lot of families
are still dealing with
the aftereffects, the financial sector is making record, eye-popping profits.
Meanwhile, the risk of another financial crisis remains unacceptably high. By
imposing targeted taxes and fees on financial firms, we can generate needed
revenue and also make our financial system safer and more secure.
For example, a small tax on financial transactions –
one-tenth of one percent on the sale of bonds, stocks, or derivatives – would
generate about $800 billion in
revenue over the next ten years. The tax would be assessed on and
collected from financial firms, and would likely have little to no effect on
most investors. Instead, according to experts, the tax could
help decrease what Americans pay in fees for their investments and reduce the
size of relatively unproductive parts of the financial sector.
We can also impose a fee on big banks that encourages them
to take on fewer liabilities and reduce the risk they pose to the financial
system. A small fee that applies only to the forty or so largest banks in the
country would generate an additional $100 billion over
the next ten years – while making our financial system more safe and
Next, we can make some basic changes to ensure that large
corporations pay their fair share and to fix some fundamental problems with our
current approach that actually encourage companies to shift jobs and investment
overseas. These changes will generate an estimated $2.9 trillion over
the next ten years.
For instance, our current tax system lets companies deduct
the cost of certain investments they make in assets faster than those assets
actually lose value. That means that if a company buys a machine for a million
dollars, it gets to deduct a million dollars from its taxes that same year –
even if the machine only loses $100,000 in value a year. Letting the company
write off the extra $900,000 all at once is like giving them an interest-free loan from
That might be worth it if the company responded to this tax
break by investing more and building out their businesses. But the datasuggest this isn’t
happening because companies don’t actually value these tax deferrals as much as
policymakers assume. Companies are mostly making the same investments they
would’ve made anyways – sometimes with small changes in timing – and getting a
write-off in exchange. Some experts even suggest that
accelerated expensing could induce less domestic investment,
That’s why I’m proposing to get rid of this loophole. Under
my plan, businesses will still write off the depreciation of their assets –
they’ll just do it in a way that more accurately reflects the actual loss in
value. This would generate $1.25 trillion over
We can also stop giant multinational corporations from
calling themselves American companies while sheltering their profits in foreign
tax havens to avoid paying their share for American investments.
Currently, a U.S. multinational corporation can make
billions in profits and attribute it to a company it set up in a tax haven like
the Cayman Islands, which has no corporate taxes. The Trump tax bill claimed to
address that problem by creating a global minimum tax rate for corporations,
but that minimum tax – the result of heavy lobbying by
multinationals – is too low and easily gamed. While Trump and congressional
Republicans claimed their
minimum tax would keep companies from shifting profits to tax havens and limit
offshoring, the opposite is happening. The current
approach bothencourages companies
to shift their profits to tax havens and actually incentivizes American
companies to outsource their operations overseas.
That’s why I’m proposing to institute a country-by-country minimum
tax on foreign earnings of 35% – equal to a restored top corporate tax rate for
U.S. firms – without permitting corporations to defer those payments. Under
my plan, corporations would have to pay the difference between the minimum tax
and the rate in the countries where they book their profits. For example, an
American corporation booking a billion dollars in profits in the Cayman
Islands, taxed at 0% there, would need to pay the federal government a 35% tax
rate – the difference between the new minimum rate (35%) and the foreign rate
(0%) – on the billion dollars in profits.
My plan would also collect America’s fair share of profits
that foreign companies make by selling their products to Americans. Today, we
have a “global tax deficit”: companies that sell their goods abroad don’t have
to pay the extra taxes that they would have to pay if they were subject to a
minimum effective tax rate in each country they operated in. Making U.S. firms
pay a country-by-country minimum tax effectively collects their whole global
tax deficit – but foreign companies should have to pay their fair share, too.
That’s why I’m proposing that the U.S. collect the fraction of this global tax
deficit that corresponds to the percentage of that company’s sales in the U.S.
In other words, if a foreign company should owe an additional $1 billion in
taxes if it were subject to a country-by-country minimum tax, the U.S. would
collect a fraction of that $1 billion based on the amount of sales that company
made in the United States.
Together, the country-by-country minimum tax and the
taxation of foreign firms based on their domestic sales would result in an
additional $1.65 trillion in
Finally, we can raise another $3 trillion over ten years by
asking the top 1% of households in America to pay a little more.
The tax burden on ultra-millionaires and billionaires is
less than half that of working families in the United States. In 2019, the
bottom 99% of families will pay 7.2% of their wealth
in taxes, while the top 0.1% of households will pay just 3.2%. My Ultra-Millionaire Tax, a
2-cent tax on the wealth of fortunes above $50 million, tackles this head on.
Under this tax, the top 0.1% – the wealthiest 75,000 Americans – would have to
pitch in two cents for every dollar of net worth above $50 million and three
cents for every dollar on net worth over $1 billion. With this version of the
Ultra-Millionaire Tax in place, the tax burden on the wealthiest households
would increase from 3.2% to 4.3% of total
wealth – better, but still below the 7.2% that the bottom 99% are projected to
Today, I’m going one step further. By asking
billionaires to pitch in six cents on each dollar of net worth above $1
billion, we can raise an additional $1 trillion in revenue and further close
the gap between what middle-class families pay as a percentage of their wealth
and what the top one-tenth of one percent pay.
Yes, billionaires will have to pay a little more, but they
will still likely pay less than what they would earn just from putting their
assets into an index fund and doing nothing. The average annual rate of return
of the S&P 500 has regularly topped 10%. And billionaires
have access to the kinds of fancy investment opportunities that can generate
even higher returns on average. Put it this way – should we ask billionaires to
pitch in an extra three cents on every dollar above $1 billion, or force
middle-class families to bear another $1 trillion in health care costs?
We can also change the way the government taxes investment
income for the top 1%. Today, taxes are only assessed on capital gains when securities are sold.
That means wealthy investors can put their money in the stock market, see it
grow, and not pay a dime in
taxes on those earnings unless or until it is taken out of the market. Under
the current system, they can then pass along those shares to their heirs when
they die and their heirs will be able to pay even less when
they choose to sell.
I’ve already proposed closing that loophole for how capital
gains are treated when shares are passed on to heirs. But we can go a step
further. Under a “mark-to-market” system for
the wealthiest 1% of households, we will tax capital gains income (excluding
retirement accounts) annually, rather than at the time of sale, and raise the
rates on capital gains to match the tax rates for labor income. Individuals
would still only pay taxes on gains and could use current losses to offset
Under this system, investment income will no longer be
treated differently than labor income for the top 1% of households.
Ultra-millionaires and billionaires won’t be able to earn income on giant
fortunes year after year without paying a penny in taxes. Andwe
can raise another $2 trillion over
ten years to pay for my Medicare for All plan.
I support immigration reform that’s consistent with our
values, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and
expanded legal immigration consistent with my principles. That’s not only the
right thing to do – it also increases federal revenue we can dedicate to
Medicare for All as new people come into the system and pay taxes. Based on
CBO’s analysis of the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill, experts
project that immigration reform would generate an additional $400 billion in
direct federal revenue.
REINING IN DEFENSE SPENDING
Since the attacks of 9/11, the United States has
appropriated $2 trillion to fund
combat and counterterrorism operations around the world via the Overseas
Contingency Operations fund, or OCO. On average this spending has amounted
to $116 billion per
year – and in total, an amount equivalent to nearly 10 percent of all
federal discretionary spending over that same time period.
including the President’s current Chief of Staff – and Democrats alike
agree that OCO is a budget gimmick that masks the true impact of war spending.
The emergency supplemental funding mechanism was never intended to fund the
costs of long-scale, long-term operations outside of the normal appropriations
process. And in recent years, OCO has also been used to fund so-called “base”
requirements unrelated to the wars, outside of the Budget Control Act caps – in
effect acting as a slush fund for increased Pentagon spending. And as
everything from more F-35s to massive bombs never
used in combat have migrated into the OCO account, the Department of Defense
has been spared from having to prioritize or live
within its means. It’s not just bad budgetary practice – it’s wasteful
I’ve called out this
slush fund for what it is. I’ve also called for an end to endless
combat engagements in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, and to
responsibly bring our combat troops home from these nations. These open-ended
commitments are not necessary to advance American foreign policy or
counterterrorism interests, their human cost has been staggering, and their
financial cost has created a drag on our economy by diverting money better
invested in critical domestic priorities.
I’ve also called to reduce defense spending overall.
The Pentagon budget will cost more this year than
everything else in the discretionary budget put together. That’s wrong, and
it’s unsustainable. We need to identify which programs actually benefit American
security in the 21st century, and which programs merely line the pockets of
defense contractors – then pull out a sharp knife and make some cuts.
As I have said repeatedly, under my Medicare for All plan,
costs will go up for the very wealthy and big corporations, and costs will go
down for middle-class families. I will not sign a bill that violates these
commitments. And as my plan to pay for Medicare for All makes clear, we can
meet these commitments without a tax increase on the middle class – and, in
fact, without any increase in income taxes at all.
America’s middle class is facing a crisis. For a generation,
wages have remained largely flat while family costs have exploded. I’ve spent
decades sounding the alarm about it. I’m running for President to fix it. That
means doing whatever we can to reduce the overall strain on family budgets.
Medicare for All can be a huge part of the solution. When
fully implemented, my approach to Medicare for All would mark one of the
greatest federal expansions of middle class wealth in our history. And
if Medicare for All can be financed without any new taxes on the middle class,
and instead by asking giant corporations, the wealthy, and the well-connected
to pay their fair share, that’s exactly what we should do.
ACHIEVING MEDICARE FOR ALL
Of course, moving to this kind of system will not be easy and
will not happen overnight. This is why every serious proposal for Medicare for
All contemplates a significant transition period.
In the weeks ahead, I will propose a transition plan that
will specifically address how I would use this time to begin providing
immediate financial relief to struggling families, rein in out-of-control
health care costs, increase coverage, and save lives. My transition plan will
take seriously and address substantively the concerns of unions, individuals
with private insurance, hospitals, people who work for private health insurers,
and medical professionals who worry about what a new system will mean for them.
It will also grapple directly with the entrenched political and economic
interests that would spend freely, as they havethroughout modern
American history, to influence politicians and
try to frighten the
American people into rejecting a plan that would save them thousands of dollars a year on
premiums and deductibles while making sure they can always see the health care
providers they need with false claims and scare tactics.
But there’s a reason former President Barack Obama has called Medicare for
All a good idea. There’s a reason the American people support it. It’s
because when it comes to the cost of health care, we are in the middle of a
We are paying twice as much as
any other major nation for care – even as tens of millions lack
coverage, and even as family after family sees its finances destroyed by a
health issue. And the American people know that in the
long-term, a simple system that covers everybody, provides the care they need
when they need it, puts $11 trillion back in their pockets and uses all of the
public’s leverage to keep costs as low as possible is the best option for their
family budgets and for the health of their loved ones.
As President, I’ll fight to get it done.
Read the plan here
Read expert letter on cost estimate of Medicare for All here
Read expert letter on financing Medicare for All here
With Attorney General
William Barr facing criticism for his direct involvement in extorting Ukraine
to engage in a bogus investigation intended to harm Democratic candidate for
2020 Vice President Joe Biden and opening a criminal investigation into the
intelligence officers in the CIA and FBI who initially investigated and exposed
Russian meddling in the 2016 Election and contacts with the Trump campaign,
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposals unveiled earlier this month to restore
trust in the federal judiciary are particularly noteworthy in light of
widespread concern that the judiciary has been politicized. This is from the
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren
detailed how she will strengthen the ethical integrity and impartiality of the
federal judiciary. Her plan will ensure that judges do not hear cases where
they have conflicts of interests, strengthen our nation’s ethics rules for
judges, and ensure accountability for judges who violate these rules.
Under her plan, investigations into judicial misconduct
could continue even when a judge resigns from office or is elevated to the Supreme
Court. This provision would allow the judiciary to reopen the investigations
into Alex Kozinski, Maryanne Trump Barry, Brett Kavanaugh, and any other judge
who benefited from this loophole.
In December 2017, more than 15 female law clerks alleged that Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski committed sexual misconduct and created a “hostile, demeaning and persistently sexualized environment” for employees. According to their accounts, Kozinski inappropriately touched female clerks and showed them pornography in his chambers.
The basic premise of our legal system is that every person
is treated equally in the eyes of the law – including judges. Our judiciary
only functions properly when it lives up to this promise, and it risks eroding
its legitimacy when the American people lose faith that
judges are ethical and fair-minded.
That’s why today I’m announcing my plan to strengthen the
ethical integrity and impartiality of the federal judiciary. It’s time to
ensure that judges do not hear cases where they have conflicts of interests,
strengthen our nation’s ethics rules for judges, and ensure accountability for
judges who violate these rules.
Recusing Judges and Supreme Court Justices with Conflicts
In 2011, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James
Hill ruled in favor of Johnson &
Johnson in a case brought by a woman who suffered from a
malfunctioning medical implant. He did so while owning as much as $100,000 in
the company’s stock. The same judge ruled on three other cases involving
companies in which he owned stock – and ruled in favor of the company each
time. Judge Hill, unfortunately, is not alone: one study identified 24 cases in
which judges owned stock in a company that appeared before them in court.
A basic principle of our federal judicial system is that
judges make decisions as disinterested, impartial observers – stepping aside
when they may not be able to decide cases objectively. This principle should
also bar judges from being the final arbiter of whether they can be objective
in the first place.
It’s time for fundamental reform:
Prohibit judges from deciding for themselves whether they
should recuse from a case due to a conflict. When a litigant believes
that a judge cannot consider a case in an unbiased manner, the litigant may
file a recusal motion asking for another judge to decide the case instead. But
our current system gives judges enormous discretion to decide for themselves whether
to grant recusal motions where their objectivity is challenged. My plan will
instead empower the Chief Judges within regional circuits to establish a
binding recusal process. It will also require courts to publish its reasons any
time judges are disqualified from a case without a recusal motion, including
when judges voluntarily recuse or when an automated conflict-checking
software disqualifies them.
Ban judges from owning or trading individual
stocks. It’s not enough for judges like James Hill to recuse in cases
with conflicts of interest – my plan would eliminate the appearance of
impropriety by banning federal judges from owning or trading individual stocks,
while allowing them to instead invest in conflict-free mutual funds or open new
investment accounts managed by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.
Law firms follow rules like these to avoid the appearance of financial
conflicts with the interests of their clients. Judges should certainly be held
to the same standard.
Require Supreme Court Justices to provide written
explanations of recusal decisions when a litigant challenges for recusal. If
a Supreme Court Justice has a conflict of interest, they are ethically
obligated to recuse themselves from considering a case, but the law allows them
to deny recusal motions without even providing an
explanation. Under my plan, when a party asks for a Justice to
recuse, the Judicial Conference will issue a non-binding, public advisory
opinion with its recommendation – and the challenged Justice will publicly
explain their final recusal decision in writing. Because all recusal decisions
will be a matter of public record, future litigants will understand these
conflicts and know when to bring recusal decisions of their own.
Strengthening Ethics Rules for All Judges.
Every lawyer in America is subject to ethics rules. Federal
judges are generally subject to a Code of Conduct that
applies the most basic of these principles to members of the judiciary.
That means that Supreme Court Justices can go on trips with litigants,
like Justice Scalia did when he heard a case involving Vice President
Cheney after going hunting with him –
without an independent ruling on whether it was proper to do so. It means
Justices can receive large speaking fees and all-expenses paid trips to fancy
conferences, like Justice Thomas did when the Federalist Society, an extremist
right-wing legal group, flew him to Palm Springs and
paid for meals and transportation for four days. And it means that someone
like Brett Kavanaugh can
face accusations of lying to Congress – without a full and fair
investigation by the judiciary. These actions could violate
the Judicial Code of Conduct,
but because unlike all other federal judges these Justices are not bound by a
code of ethics, they are immune from any judicial investigations into
We must act now to fix this – and that means strengthening
the Code of Conduct for all judges.
Here’s where I would start:
Extend the Code of Conduct to Supreme Court Justices. When
Judge Kavanaugh was elevated to the Supreme Court, 83 ethics complaints that had been
lodged against him were dismissed – and because the Supreme
Court is not covered by a Code of Conduct, no procedure exists to file new
complaints. Questions are oftenraised about the
behavior of Supreme Court Justices, such as Justice Thomas’s 13 years of
financial disclosures that failed to list $690,000
in payments to his wife from the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing judicial
activist group – but these actions are beyond the scope of current rules.
Enough. My plan applies the Code of Conduct for United States
Judges to Supreme Court Justices – and places the Judicial
Conference in charge of violations. My plan also allows individuals to file
complaints against Supreme Court Justices, just like they can against all other federal judges.
Strengthen the Code of Conduct to ensure a fair and
impartial judiciary. When judges accept gifts or financial
contributions from interested parties, public trust in a fair-minded judiciary
erodes. My plan strengthens the Code of Conduct so that judges generally cannot
receive paid speaking fees or
all-expenses-paid trips from outside organizations. To ensure that
judges continue to interact with the public without the appearance of
impropriety, my plan also establishes a modest fund to help cover reasonable
Real Enforcement for Judicial Misconduct.
When a lawyer violates the ethics rules, their state’s
judiciary can investigate their behavior and impose disciplinary punishment,
including stripping their licence to practice law.
But the panels of judges
that investigate judicial conduct complaints have limited disciplinary power beyond
asking the judge to voluntarily resign or asking the House of Representatives
to consider impeachment proceedings – a request the House is free to
It’s time for real accountability for judges. Here’s how
Continue investigations into judicial misconduct even
when a judge resigns from office or is elevated to the Supreme Court.
In 2016, Federal District Court Judge Walter Smith faced a judicial
investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of
court employees and drinking on the
bench while presiding over cases. Judge Smith resigned, and the complaints
filed against him were dismissed.
My plan extends the authority of the Judicial Conference to former judges so
that individuals under investigation cannot simply resign from the bench to
avoid accountability. This provision would allow the judiciary to reopen the
investigations into Alex Kozinski, Maryanne Trump-Barry, Brett Kavanaugh, and any
other judge who benefited from this loophole.
Provide strong disciplinary authority to judicial ethics
watchdogs, including the ability to strip non-vested taxpayer-funded pensions
Under today’s rules, even if retired judges could be investigated, the Judicial
Conference has no meaningful tools to discipline them. American taxpayers are
paying for the more than $180,000-per-year retirement pay of Judge Smith, Judge
Kozinski, Judge Trump-Barry, and several other judges who left office during
investigations into their behavior. We need to restore real accountability
within our judiciary.
That’s why my plan provides disciplinary tools to the Judicial Councils and
their parent organization, the Judicial Conference, including the ability to
strip sitting or retired judges of their non-vested pension benefits by making
retirement pay for new judges explicitly contingent on the absence of serious
misconduct. In addition to strengthening these disciplinary tools, my
administration will also work to prevent judicial misconduct against employees
and law clerks by supporting strong climate surveys,
questionnaires to court employees about the work environment in our federal
courts, to help the judiciary understand how to improve the culture within our
Create a new, fast-track impeachment process for federal
judges who commit impeachable offenses.
The Constitution reserves the impeachment of judges for only the most egregious offenses. But
when a judge commits a serious offense or ethical violation, we need to make
sure that there is a prompt investigation – and that Congress takes action.
It’s time to fast-track the process for judges who commit impeachable offenses.
My plan would strengthen the process to certify
that a judge may have committed an impeachable offense, and would ensure that
any impeachment referrals will trigger a series of automatic rules under which
the House Judiciary Committee will conduct a thorough investigation and vote
without unnecessary delay. These reforms will ensure that judges who commit
serious, impeachable offenses will more likely be promptly removed from office.
These changes will not only allow us to ensure
accountability for bad actors, including reopening inquiries into the conduct
of offenders like Brett Kavanaugh. They will also hold the vast majority of
judges who act in good faith to the highest ethical standards, and in the
process, begin to restore accountability and trust in a fair and impartial
The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. In a recent poll, Americans have indicated that education is a top issue. Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in public schools, paid for by a 2c wealth tax on fortunes above $50 million. “It’s time to live up to the promise of a high-quality public education for every student. My plan makes big, structural changes that would help give every student the resources they need to thrive.” This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren
released her plan to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in our public
schools — paid for by a two-cent wealth tax on fortunes above $50 million —
and make a series of legislative and administrative changes to ensure a great
public school education for every student.
Her plan has five objectives:
Fund schools adequately and equitably: Invest
hundreds of billions of dollars in pre-K-12 public education, paid for by her
wealth tax — including quadrupling Title I funding, fully funding the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, investing an additional $50 billion
in repairing and upgrading school buildings, and offering schools $100 billion
in Excellence Grants to invest in options that schools and districts identify
to help their students. A Warren Administration will also set the goal of
turning 25,000 public schools into true community schools. She will condition
the new Title I money on states chipping in more funding and adopting and
implementing more progressive funding formulas, so that more resources go to
the schools and students that really need them. She will also improve the way
the federal government allocates this new Title I funding.
Renew the fight against segregation and discrimination in
our schools: She will attack residential segregation in a variety of
ways, strengthen Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by expanding the private
right of action under Title VI to cover claims of disparate impact against
states and school districts, revive the Department of Education’s Office for
Civil Rights, apply particular scrutiny to breakway districts, and commit to
enforcing the civil rights of all students.
Provide a warm, safe, and nurturing school climate for
all our kids: She will cancel student breakfast and lunch debt and
provide free and nutritious school meals, eliminate high stakes testing, end zero
tolerance discipline policies, implement and expand Social Emotional Learning,
and address chronic absenteeism.
Treat teachers and staff like the professionals they are: She
will address not just teacher pay, but other important issues including strengthening
bargaining power, cancelling student loan debt, diversifying the teacher
pipeline, and funding professional development.
Stop the privatization and corruption of our public
education system: She will ensure public dollars are not diverted from
traditional public schools, end all federal funding for creating new charter
schools, and push to ensure that existing charter schools are subject to at
least the same level of transparency and accountability as traditional public
schools. She also supports banning for-profit charters, and will direct the IRS
to investigate so-called nonprofit schools that are violating the statutory
requirements for nonprofits, and will ban the storing and selling of student
I attended public school growing up in Oklahoma. After I
graduated from the University of Houston, a public university where tuition
cost only $50 a semester, my first job was as a special education teacher at a
public school in New Jersey. I later attended a public law school.
I believe in America’s public schools. And I believe
that every kid in America should have the same access to a high-quality
public education — no matter where they live, the color of their skin, or how
much money their parents make.
We’re not living up to that promise. Funding for public K-12
education is both inadequate and inequitable. I’ve long been concerned about
the way that school systems rely heavily on local property taxes, shortchanging
students in low-income areas and condemning communities caught in a spiral of
decreasing property values and declining schools. Despite a national expectation
of progress, public schools are more segregated today than they were thirty
years ago, and the link between school funding and property values perpetuates
the effects of ongoing housing discrimination and racist housing policies, like
redlining, that restricted homeownership and home values for Black
We ask so much of our public school teachers,
paraprofessionals, and school staff. But instead of treating them like
professionals — paying them well, listening to them, and giving them the
support they need — we impose extreme accountability measures that punish them
for factors they cannot possibly control. We divert public dollars from
traditional public schools that need them, leave our students vulnerable to
exploitative companies that prey on schools’ limited resources for profit, and
allow corruption to undermine the quality of education that our students
And each of these trends has gotten worse under Betsy DeVos
— a Secretary of Education who thinks traditional public schools are a “dead end.”
We can do so much better for our students, our teachers, and
our communities. I’ll start – as I promised in May
– by replacing DeVos with a Secretary of Education who has been a public school
teacher, believes in public education, and will listen to our public school
teachers, parents, and students.
But that’s just the beginning. As public school teachers
across the country know, our schools do not have the financial resources they
need to deliver a quality public education for every child. That’s why my plan
invests hundreds of billions of dollars in our public schools — paid for by a
two-cent wealth tax on fortunes above $50 million — and makes a series of
legislative and administrative changes to achieve five objectives:
Fund schools adequately and equitably so that all
students have access to a great public education.
Renew the fight against segregation and discrimination in
Provide a warm, safe, and nurturing school climate for
all our kids.
Treat teachers and staff like the professionals they are.
Stop the privatization and corruption of our public
What would this plan mean for America’s families? Parents
wouldn’t have to bust their budgets to live in certain exclusive neighborhoods
just to ensure that their children get a good education. Parents of children
with disabilities wouldn’t have to fight every day so their children get the
services they’re entitled to and that they need. Public school teachers and
staff would have more financial security and more freedom to use their
expertise to teach their students. And every student would have the chance to
go to a safe, enriching public school from pre-K to high school.
Funding Schools Adequately and Equitably
All students should have the resources they need to get a
great public education. That’s not happening today. The data show that more school
funding significantly improves student achievement, particularly for students from low-income
backgrounds. Yet our current approach to school funding at the
federal, state, and local level underfunds our schools and results in many
students from low-income backgrounds receiving less funding than
other students on a per-student basis. My plan makes a historic new federal
investment in public schools — and pushes both the federal government and
state governments to dedicate more resources to the schools and students that
need them most.
State and local funds make up about 90% of total K-12
education funding. The federal government provides roughly the remaining 10% of K-12
funding, primarily through Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education
Act of 1965.
Both sets of investments have serious shortcomings. On the
state side, even when states provide substantial supplemental funding for
high-need communities, reliance on local property tax revenue means wealthier
communities are often still able to spend more money on their public schools
than poorer communities. As of 2015, only 11 states used a
progressive funding formula — one that dedicates more money per-student to
high-poverty school districts. The remaining states use a funding formula that
is either basically flat per-student or dedicates less money per-student to
high-poverty districts. In a handful of states, students in high-poverty
districts get less than 75 cents for
every dollar that students in wealthier school districts get.
There are problems with federal funding too. The Elementary
and Secondary Education Act is a civil rights law Congress enacted to provide
supplemental support for students from low-income backgrounds or those who need
extra support, like English Language Learners and students who are homeless or
in foster care. Almost every school
district and 70% of
schools receive some Title
I money, but the current investment in Title I — $15.8 billion — is
not nearly enough to make up for state-level funding inequities. And Title I
funding itself is distributed based on a formula that isn’t always efficiently targeted
to ensure adequate support for the schools and students who need it most.
Our flawed approach to K-12 funding isn’t just producing
disparities in education between poor and rich students. It’s also helping
produce disparities in education based on race. Black and Latinx students
are disproportionately likely to
attend chronically under-resourced schools. Bureau of Indian Education schools
are badly underfunded too.
My plan addresses each and every aspect of this
problem. It starts by quadrupling Title I funding — an additional $450
billion over the next 10 years — to help ensure that all children get a
high-quality public education.
But we need to do more than just increase funding. We also
need to ensure that federal funds are reaching the students and schools that
need it most. That’s why I’m committed to working with public education
leaders and school finance experts to improve the way the federal government
allocates this new Title I funding. And I would impose transparency
requirements on this new funding so that we can understand what investments
work best and adapt our approach accordingly.
I’m also committed to using this new federal investment to
press states to adopt better funding approaches themselves. I would
condition access to this additional Title I funding on states chipping in more
funding, adopting more progressive funding formulas, and actually allocating
funding consistently with these new formulas. This would ensure that
both the federal government and state governments do their part to
progressively and equitably fund public schools while still ensuring that no
child gets less per-student funding than they do today.
My plan also lives up to our collective commitments to
students with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
protects the civil rights of students with disabilities by guaranteeing their
right to a free and appropriate public education. When Congress passed the
original version of IDEA in 1975, it promised to cover
40% of the additional costs of educating students with disabilities.
But today, Congress is failing spectacularly in meeting that
obligation. Last year, the federal government covered less than 15% of
these costs. That failure has shifted the burden to states and school districts
that simply can’t find the money to make up the difference. The result?
Students with disabilities are denied the resources they need
to fulfill their potential.
This will end under my administration. I’ll make
good on the federal government’s original 40% funding promise by committing an additional
$20 billion a year to IDEA grants. I will also expand IDEA funding for
3-5 year olds and for early intervention services for toddlers and infants.
In addition to ensuring that all students have the resources
they need for a high-quality public education, I’ll give schools the chance to
invest in programs and resources that they believe are most important to their
students. That’s why my plan will invest an additional $100 billion
over ten years in “Excellence Grants” to any public school. That’s the
equivalent of $1 million for every public school in the country to invest in
options that schools and districts identify to help their students. These funds
can be used to develop state-of-the art labs, restore afterschool arts
programs, implement school-based student mentoring programs, and more. I’ll
work with schools and school leaders to develop the best way to structure these
grants to meet their needs.
Those funds can also be invested in developing sustainable community schools —
and the Warren Administration will have the goal of helping 25,000
public schools transition to the community school framework by 2030. Community
schools are hubs of their
community. Through school coordinators, they connect students and families with
community partners to provide opportunities, support, and services inside and
outside of the school. These schools centeraround wraparound
services, family and community engagement, afterschool programs and expanded
learning time, and collaborative leadership structures.
Studies show that every
dollar invested in community schools generates up to $15 in economic return to
Finally, my plan will provide a surge of investment in
school facilities and infrastructure. About 50 million students
and 6 million adults spend their weekdays in public school buildings. Too many of
these schools are dealing with leaky roofs, broken heating systems, lead pipes,
black mold, and other serious infrastructure issues. According to the most
recent data, more than half of
our public schools need repairs to be in “good” condition. Our poor school
infrastructure has serious effects on
the health and academic outcomes of students and on the well-being of teachers
The vastly unequal state of public school facilities is
unacceptable and a threat to public education itself. We cannot legitimately
call our schools “public” when some students have state-of-the-art classrooms
and others do not even have consistent running water. The federal government
must step in.
That’s why, as President, I’ll invest at least an
additional $50 billion in school infrastructure across the country — targeted
at the schools that need it most — on top of existing funding for school
upgrades and improvements in my other plans. For example, my Clean Energy Plan for America commits
billions of dollars to retrofit and upgrade buildings to increase energy
efficiency and to invest in zero-emission school buses. My housing plan commits
$10 billion in competitive grants that communities can use for school repairs.
My Environmental Justice plan establishes
a lead abatement grant program focused on schools. My Plan to Invest in Rural America commits
to universal broadband so that every student in this country can access the
Internet at school. And I will fully fund Bureau
of Indian Education schools to support major construction and repair
Renewing the Fight Against Segregation and Discrimination
in Public Schools
While Donald Trump tries to divide us and pit people of
different races and backgrounds against each other, Americans know that we are
stronger because of our differences. As my dear friend Congressman Elijah
Cummings said earlier this
year before his passing, “America has always been at its best when we
understand that diversity is our promise — not our problem.” Integrated
communities and integrated schools help create a society built on mutual
respect and understanding.
But broad public affirmation of the Brown v. Board
of Education decisions in the 1950s and recent debates about
historical desegregation policies have obscured an uncomfortable truth — our
public schools are moresegregated today
than they were about thirty years ago.
We made only fitful progress towards integration in the
years immediately after the Brown v. Board decisions. But by
the mid-1980s, thanks to dedicated advocacy by civil rights leaders and
sustained investment and oversight by the federal government, school
segregation had declined.
Then we reversed course. The Supreme Court scaled back the
courts’ remedial tools to address segregation, which — as I called out at the
time as a law student — entrenched segregation, particularly in Northern urban
schools. To make matters worse, the Nixon and Reagan Administrations slashed investments
in integration efforts and loosened federal oversight, setting us on a path
towards heightened segregation. Over the same period, segregation of Latinx
students entrenched even
Integrated schools improve educational outcomes for
students of all races. And
integrated schools are demanded by our Constitution’s guarantee of equal
protection to every person in this country. In a Warren Administration, we will
achieve this goal.
The first step toward integrating our schools is integrating
our communities. Today in America, residential communities are highly
segregated. Some believe that’s purely a result of people choosing to live
close to other people who look like them. That’s wrong. Modern residential
segregation is driven at least in part by income inequality and parents
seeking out the best possible school districts for their children.
By investing more money in our public schools — and helping ensure that every
public school is a great one — my plan will address one of the key drivers of
Beyond that, my Housing Plan for America establishes
a $10 billion competitive grant program that offers states and cities money to
build parks, roads, and schools if they eliminate the kinds of restrictive
zoning laws that can further racial
segregation. And it includes a historic new down payment assistance program
that promotes integration by giving residents of formerly redlined areas help
to buy a home in any community they choose.
My plan would also use federal education funding to
encourage states to further integrate their schools. Under current law, states
may use a portion of
Title I funds to implement evidence-based interventions for low-performing
schools. The data show that students at integrated schools perform better, so even
in the absence of congressional action, my administration can and will use
these provisions to encourage states to use that portion of Title I money on
integration efforts of their own design. All told, that will add up to
billions of dollars a year that states can use to promote residential and
public school integration, including through the use of public magnet schools. And
to ensure that school districts won’t have to choose between integration and
federal funding, my plan will guarantee that districts will retain access to
Title I funds even if their successful integration efforts cause the districts
to fall below current Title I funding thresholds.
Incentives to integrate communities and schools will
encourage many districts to do the right thing. But they won’t be sufficient
everywhere. That’s why I’m committed to strengthening Title VI of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 — which prohibits discrimination
on the basis of race in any program or activity that receives federal funding
— and reviving robust enforcement of its terms. Betsy DeVos and the
Trump Administration have pulled back on
civil rights enforcement, seemingly content to let states and districts use
billions of taxpayer dollars to entrench or exacerbate racial segregation in
schools. That ends under a Warren Administration. Here’s what we’ll do:
Strengthen Title VI: Under current Supreme Court precedent on
Title VI, the government can challenge any policy that disproportionately harms
students of color, but students and parents can only bring a claim under Title
VI for intentional discrimination. Students and parents should have the right
to challenge systemic discrimination that perpetuates school segregation,
so I will push to expand the private right of action under Title VI to
cover claims of disparate impact against states and school districts. I
will also fight to give the Justice Department — in coordination with the
relevant funding agency — direct enforcement authority to bring disparate
impact claims under Title VI, and to give DOJ the right to issue subpoenas and
civil investigative demands under Title VI to strengthen their investigative
Revive and fund the Department of Education’s Office for
Civil Rights (OCR): OCR is responsible for enforcing federal civil
rights laws in our public schools. Betsy DeVos rescinded dozens of
guidelines intended to prevent discrimination and limited OCR’s
capacity to give complaints the consideration they deserve. My administration
will restore and expand OCR’s capacity, reinstate and update the rules and
guidance revoked by DeVos, press for new protections for students, and give OCR
clear marching orders to root out discrimination wherever it is
Subject attempts to create “breakaway” districts to
additional enforcement scrutiny: Since 2000, there have been at
least 128 attempts to
break off a part of an existing school district into its own separate district.
These “breakaway” districts are often wealthier and whiter than
the district they leave behind and typically result in massive funding inequities
between the new district and the old one. Under my leadership, the Department
of Education and the Justice Department will subject any attempt to create a
breakaway district to careful scrutiny and bring appropriate Title VI
Improve federal data collection to support better
outcomes: Activists, academics, and legislators rely on the Department
of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection to better monitor and remedy what’s
broken in our public education system. But there’s a years-long lag in
the data collection process — and the data that are collected glosses over
crucial details. I will increase funding for CRDC so that we can expand the
types of data collected, provide data collection training on the district and
state level, and produce data more quickly.
I am also committed to ending discrimination against all
students. My administration will strictly enforce the right of students
with disabilities to a free and appropriate public education. I will
push to build on Obama-era policies by writing new rules to help ensure that
students of color with disabilities are treated fairly when it comes to
identifying disabilities, classroom placement, services and accommodations, and
discipline. I am opposed to the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, and
I will push for sufficient training to ensure student, teacher, and staff
safety. I will protect students’ right to be educated in the least restrictive
environment. And in light of the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School
District, which affirmed the right
of every child to have the chance to meet challenging objectives, my Department
of Education will help schools and districts develop and implement ambitious
individualized education programs for all students with disabilities. This
includes upholding the right to
a fair and appropriate public education for students in juvenile detention
facilities, who are disproportionately students
I will also fight to protect the rights of LGBTQ+
students. When Gavin Grimm took
his school district to court to defend the rights of transgender students, he
bravely stood for the many LGBTQ+ students facing harassment and discrimination
in our schools. Today, more than half of
LGBTQ+ students report feeling unsafe at school, and nearly a fifth have been
forced to switch schools. That’s why I will press to enact the Safe Schools Improvement Act,
which requires school districts to adopt codes of conduct that specifically
prohibit bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender
identity. I will also direct the Department of Education to reinstate
guidance revoked under Trump
about transgender students’ rights under Title IX, and make clear that federal
civil rights law prohibits anti-LGBTQ+ rules like discriminatory dress codes,
prohibiting students from writing or discussing LGBTQ+ topics in class, or
punishing students for bringing same-sex partners to school events. And I will
affirm and enforce federal protections under Title IX for all students who are survivors of sexual
harassment and assault.
I will commit to protecting English Language Learners. Our
public schools are home to nearly 5 million English
Language Learners — about 10% of the entire student population. In 1974, the
Supreme Court ruled that failing
to give English Language Learners meaningful instruction was a violation of
their civil rights. But, once again, the Department of Education is failing these
students under Betsy DeVos. As President, I will affirm and strengthen the Obama Administration’s 2015
guidelines on the civil rights of English Language Learners to
include meaningful access to rigorous coursework, teachers, special education
services, and integration with the rest of the student body, while fostering
their home language.
I will also commit to protecting immigrant students and
their families. Immigration makes America stronger — economically,
socially, and culturally. But because of the Trump Administration’s inhumane
immigration policies, many immigrant students are afraid to go to school,
and many families living in the shadows are afraid to access resources like free school lunch.
I would end the Trump’s Administration’s monstrous policies and enact immigration reform that
is fair, humane, and reflects our values. I will ensure immigrant students
don’t get second-class status by being directed into GED programs instead of
classrooms. I will protect sensitive locations like schools from
immigrant enforcement actions. And I’ll recommit OCR to upholding and enforcing Plyler
v. Doe — which the Trump administration has tried to
undermine — so that all immigrant children have access to a quality education,
no matter their native language, national origin, immigration status, or
Finally, I will nominate judges who look like America and
are committed to applying our civil rights laws. The courts often have
the final say on critical civil rights matters. Donald Trump has appointed judges
who are overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male. During their confirmation
processes, dozens of his
appointees refused to state publicly that they would uphold Brown v.
Board of Education. I’m committed to appointing a diverse slate of judges,
including those who have a background in civil rights. And while it is shocking
to need to make this commitment, I will only appoint judges who will apply the
law as established in Brown v. Board of Education and other landmark
civil rights rulings.
Providing a Warm, Safe, and Nurturing School Climate for
All Our Kids
Every student deserves the opportunity to learn in a
traditional public school that’s welcoming and safe. Research shows that
students learn best when they have supportive and nurturing relationships with
teachers and administrators, and when learning is not just academic but social
and emotional too. With 46 million children
experiencing some form of trauma — whether it’s poverty, violence in the
community or in the home, homelessness, family separation, or an incarcerated
caretaker — we can’t expect schools to bear this burden alone.
In addition to my goal of turning 25,000 public schools into
true community schools, my plan will ensure the federal government plays its
part in trying to bring a positive and nurturing climate to every
Eliminate high-stakes testing: The push toward
high-stakes standardized testing has hurt both students and teachers. Schools
have eliminated critical
courses that are not subject to federally mandated testing, like social studies
and the arts. They can exclude students
who don’t perform well on tests. Teachers feel pressured to teach
to the test, rather than ensuring that students have a rich learning
I oppose high-stakes testing, and I co-sponsored successful legislation in
Congress to eliminate unnecessary and low-quality standardized tests. As
president, I’ll push to prohibit the use of standardized testing as a primary
or significant factor in closing a school, firing a teacher, or making any
other high-stakes decisions, and encourage schools to use authentic assessments
that allow students to demonstrate learning in multiple ways.
Cancel student breakfast and lunch debt and provide free
and nutritious school meals: No one should have to go into debt to get
a nutritious meal at school. I’ve already proposed expanding
the farm-to-school program one-hundred fold so that schools get access to
fresh, local, nutritious meals. I will also push to cancel all existing
student meal debt and increase federal funding to school meals programs so that
students everywhere get free breakfast and lunch. And to meaningfully
address student food insecurity and hunger, I will direct my Department of
Education to work with schools to look for ways to provide dinner, and meals
over weekends and
throughout long holidays, to students
who need it.
Invest in evidenced-based school safety: Despite
evidence that the militarization of our schools does not improve
school safety, the Trump Administration has doubled down
on militarization policies that only make students, teachers, and parents
feel less safe.
Enacting basic gun safety laws that
the overwhelming majority of Americans support is a critical step towards
improving school safety. But we need to take a different approach in
our schools, too — 14 million students
attend schools with police but no counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social
I will push to close the mental health provider gap in schools so that every
school has access to the staff necessary to support students. And if police
officers have to be in schools, they should receive training on discrimination,
youth development, and de-escalation tactics, and the contracts between
districts and law enforcement agencies should clearly define the
responsibilities and limitations of the officers and the rights of the
students. And no teacher should be armed — period.
End zero-tolerance discipline policies: Zero-tolerance
policies require out-of-school suspensions or expulsions on the first offense
for a variety of behaviors. These policies are ineffective, disproportionately hurt Black, Latinx, Native American,
and Southeast Asian and Pacific
Islander students, and can serve as the entry
point to the school-to-prison pipeline. My administration will
encourage schools to adopt discipline policies that draw students in rather
than pushing them out, including restorative justice programs, which
have been shown to dramatically reduce suspension
rates and the discipline gap between Black and White students. I will also push
to issue guidance to limit the use of discriminatory dress codes targeting
student dress and hairstyle that lead to students of color losing
valuable learning time and Muslim students being denied participation in
Establish more School-Based Health Centers: Students
do better when they
have access to good health care on site, but students from low-income
backgrounds are less likely to have
regular access to providers and preventative care. Students from rural
communities and students attending
Bureau of Indian Education schools also face significant barriers to health
care access. School-Based Health Centers have been shown to improve
grade promotion and decrease suspension rates and to increase the rates of
vaccination and detection of hearing and vision issues. I’ve committed
to establishing a $25 billion capital fund for
communities that are health professional shortage areas to improve access to
care through projects like constructing a School-Based Health Center or
expanding capacity or services at an existing clinic.
Expand the implementation of comprehensive, culturally
relevant curriculum and Social Emotional Learning: Rigorous,
culturally relevant, identity-affirming curriculum can increase attendance
and academic success of students. And Social Emotional Learning —
curriculum that focuses on empathy, responsible decision-making, and positive
relationships — has positive
effects too. Unfortunately, because of tight budgets, these subjects and
programs are often considered expendable. We should invest more in curricula
that engage all students across a wide array of subject areas like the arts,
STEM, civics, and health, including evidence-based inclusive sex ed. I’ll fight
to fully fund and target programs that conduct research in and support
well-rounded, culturally relevant education, some of which the Trump
administration has proposed eliminatingentirely. I’ve
already committed to
supporting programs to ensure that public school curriculum includes Native
American history and culture as a core component of all students’ education. In
addition to those programs, we should ensure that all the communities that make
up our public schools are reflected in school curricula. And I’ll require
states receiving these grants to provide the same well-rounded, culturally
relevant curriculum in alternative schools and juvenile detention
Provide better access to career and college readiness
(CCR): As President, I will enact legislation to make public two-year, four-year, and
technical colleges tuition-free for all students. We must also
ensure that students are able to take advantage of those opportunities and that
high schools are funded and designed to prepare students for careers, college,
and life. Students from low-income backgrounds are more likely than
their wealthier peers to graduate high school without having taken any CCR
coursework. Students with disabilities are also less likely to have
the opportunity to enroll in CCR courses. I’ve fought hard in Congress to make
sure high school students can access career and technical education without
paying out of pocket. I’ve also proposed dramatically
scaling up high-quality apprenticeship programs with a $20 billion investment
that will support partnerships between high schools, community colleges,
unions, and companies. I’ll work with the disability community to encourage
schools to begin the development of postsecondary transition plans, as required
by IDEA, earlier in a student’s school career. I’ll work with states to align high
school graduation requirements with their public college admission
requirements. And I’ll also direct the Department of Education to issue
guidance on how schools can leverage existing federal programs to facilitate
Address chronic absenteeism without punishing parents or
children: About 8 million students
missed at least three weeks of school during the 2015-2016 school year, with
Black and Latinx students more likely to be
chronically absent than their white and Asian peers. In younger grades,
students who are chronically absent are less likely to meet
state proficiency standards. In middle and high school, chronic absenteeism is
a predictor of whether a student drops out of school
before completing high school. I’m committed to
decriminalizing truancy and to working to decrease the rate of chronic
absenteeism through other means. My plan to invest in programs that promote
Social Emotional Learning, free school meals, and restorative justice would
help reduce chronic
absenteeism. I’ll also increase federal funding for pilot programs that
implement best practices in truancy reduction, like sending parents
easy-to-understand notices on the effects of chronic absenteeism, which has
been shown to improve attendance
Treating Public School Teachers and Staff Like the
Professionals They Are
Teachers, paraprofessionals, school staff, and school
leaders are the foundation of our public education system. But inadequate pay,
shrinking benefits, under-resourced classrooms, and dangerously high levels of
student debt are squeezing teachers and staff. We trust them to educate our
children, but we fail to treat them like the professionals they are.
Teachers have shown that they will stand together and fight
for what they believe in. They deserve a President who will fight for them too.
That’s why, as President, I will:
Provide funding for schools to increase pay and support
for all public school educators: Pay for our public school educators
is unacceptably low, and it’s putting incredible strain on them and causing
many to burn out and leave the profession. My plan to quadruple Title I funding
incentivizes states to shift their funding formulas to better support students
in critical ways, such as by increasing teacher pay with the goal of closing the educator pay gap and
also paying paraprofessionals and other education support professionals a living
wage. It also means additional funds to ensure that classrooms are
well-equipped with resources and supports so that teachers aren’t paying out of pocket.
Strengthen the ability of teachers, paraprofessionals,
and staff to organize and bargain for just compensation, for a voice in
education policy, and for greater investment in public education: One
of the best ways to raise teacher pay permanently and sustainably — and to
give teachers more voice in their schools — is to make it easier for teachers
to join a union, to bargain collectively, and to strike like educators did
across 14 states in
2018-2019. I have led the effort to
eliminate the ability of states to pass anti-union “right to work” laws, and I
will make enacting that change a top priority. And as part of my plan for empowering American
workers, I pledged to enact the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate
Act, which ensures that public employees like teachers can
organize and bargain collectively in each state, and authorizes voluntary
deduction of fees to support a union.
Ensure that anyone can become a teacher without drowning
in debt: A generation of educators is retiring, and our
country is facing a
looming teacher shortage. Our country’s student debt crisis hits teachers hard. Combined with
salaries that are far too low, that debt makes it difficult for many educators
to make ends meet and to continue teaching. Meanwhile, the debt forgiveness
programs that the government promised teachers for their years of service
turned out to be empty promises. My
college plan will wipe out debt for
most teachers and provide tuition-free public college so future teachers never
have to take on that debt in the first place. In addition, I will push states
to offer a pathway for teachers to become fully certified for free and to
invest in their educators and build teacher retention plans. I will increase
funding for Grow Your Own Teacher programs that
provide opportunities for paraeducators or substitute teachers to become
licensed teachers. And I will push to fully fund the Teacher Quality
Partnership program to support teacher residency programs in high-need areas,
like rural communities, and in areas of expertise like Special Education and
Build a more diverse educator and school leadership pipeline: Representation
matters in the classroom, and a diverse workforce helps all
students. Teachers of color can boost the academic
outcomes of their students and improve graduation
rates among students of color. Though the teacher workforce is getting more
diverse, it is not keeping pace with changes in student demographics: educators
of color comprise only 20% of the teaching
workforce, while students of color now represent more than half of
public school students.
My plan to cancel student loan debt, provide tuition-free public college, and
invest a minimum of $50 billion in Historically Black Colleges and Universities
and Minority Serving Institutions will help more Black, Latinx, Native
American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander students become educators and
school and district leaders. Over 38% of Black
teachers have degrees from HBCUs or MSIs. And Hispanic Serving Institutions are
playing a crucial role in
closing the teacher-student population demographic gap. I’ve also committed to
significantly increasing BIE funding so these schools can attract and train
teachers, particularly those from Native communities. But we must do more. I
will target the biases and discrimination that inhibit our ability to build a
diverse educator workforce and school leadership pipeline, such as pay discrimination,
by expanding OCR’s purview to investigate systemic and individual workplace
discrimination in our schools. And I am committed to passing the Equality Act to
guarantee workplace protections for LGBTQ+ teachers and staff.
Provide continuing education and professional development
opportunities to all school staff: Ongoing high-quality professional
development opportunities for teachers, administrators, and education support
professionals produce better
outcomes for students. As President, I will increase funding for critical
programs that fund professional development and ongoing education on effective
instruction, cultural competency, and child development for school staff, like
the Supporting Effective Instruction and Supporting Effective Educator
Development grants, that the Trump administration has proposed eliminating. And
I will invest in funding of IES research on best practices in professional
development that is effective and engages educators in decision-making on their
Combating the Privatization and Corruption of Our Public
To keep our traditional public school systems strong, we
must resist efforts to divert public funds out of traditional public schools.
Efforts to expand the footprint of charter schools, often without even ensuring
that charters are subject to the same transparency requirements and
safeguards as traditional public schools, strain the resources of school
districts and leave students behind, primarilystudents of color.
Further, inadequate funding and a growing education technology industry have
opened the door to the privatization and corruption of our traditional public
schools. More than half of the states allow public schools to be run by for-profit companies,
and corporations are leveraging their market power and schools’ desire to keep
pace with rapidly changing technology to extract profits at
the expense of vulnerable students.
This is wrong. We have a responsibility to provide great
neighborhood schools for every student. We should stop the diversion of public
dollars from traditional public schools through vouchers or tuition tax credits
— which are vouchers by another name. We should fight back against the
privatization, corporatization, and profiteering in our nation’s schools. I did
that when I opposed a ballot
question in Massachusetts to raise the cap on the number of charter schools,
even as dark money groups spent millions in
support of the measure. And as president, I will go further:
Ensure existing charter schools are subject to at least
the same level of transparency and accountability as traditional public
schools: Many existing charter schools aren’t subject to the
same transparency and accountability
requirements as traditional public schools. That’s wrong. That’s
why I support the NAACP’s recommendations to
only allow school districts to serve as charter authorizers, and to empower
school districts to reject applications that do not meet transparency and
accountability standards, consider the fiscal impact and strain on district
resources, and establish policies for aggressive oversight of charter schools.Certainstates are already
starting to take action along these lines to address the diversion of public
funds from traditional public schools. My administration will oppose the
authorization of new charter schools that do not meet these standards. My
administration also will crack down on union-busting and discriminatory enrollment, suspension, and expulsionpractices in
charter schools, and require boards to be made up of parents and members of the
public, not just founders, family members, or profit-seeking service providers.
End federal funding for the expansion of charter
schools: The Federal Charter School Program (CSP), a series of federal
grants established to
promote new charter schools, has been an abject failure. A recent report showed
that the federal government has wasted up to $1 billion on charter schools that
never even opened, or opened and then closed because of mismanagement and other
reasons. The Department of Education’s own watchdog has even criticized the
Department’s oversight of the CSP. As President, I would eliminate this
charter school program and end federal funding for the expansion of charter
schools. I would also examine whether other federal programs or tax credits
subsidize the creation of new charter schools and seek to limit the use of
those programs for that purpose.
Ban for-profit charter schools: Our public
schools should benefit students, not the financial or ideological interests of
wealthy patrons like the DeVos and Walton families. I
will fight to ban for-profit charter schools and charter schools that outsource
their operations to for-profit companies.
Direct the IRS to investigate so-called nonprofit schools
that are violating the statutory requirements for nonprofits: Many
so-called nonprofit schools – including charter schools – operate alongside closely
held, for-profit service providers. Others are run by for-profit companies that
siphon off profits from students and taxpayers. The IRS should investigate the
nonprofit status of these schools and refer cases to the Tax Fraud Division of
the Department of Justice when appropriate. I would also apply my plan’s ban on
for-profit charter schools to any of these so-called “nonprofit” schools
that actually servefor-profit interests.
And my plan would ban self-dealing in nonprofit schools to prevent founders and
administrators from funneling resources to service providers owned or managed
by their family members.
Expand enforcement of whistleblower actions against
schools that commit fraud against taxpayers: Our federal laws allow
whistleblowers to bring actions to expose fraud and retrieve stolen federal
money. The Department of Justice should expand its enforcement of these
whistleblower actions to address fraud that appears all too common in certain charter schools,
including online charter schools that falsify or inflate their
It’s also time to end the corporate capture of our education
system and crack down on corruption and anti-competitive practices in the
education industry. Here’s how we can start:
Require companies that lobby school systems that receive
federal funding to comply with expanded federal lobbying restrictions and
disclosure requirements: Corporate lobbyists spend millions of
dollars lobbying state
officials. If companies are lobbying for contracts from schools receiving
federal funding, they should be subject to our federal lobbying rules, even
when they are lobbying state officials. That’s why my plan would
require all companies that lobby for these contracts to comply with the new
federal lobbying proposals in my plan to end Washington corruption. That
means that these education conglomerates will have to disclose the details of
their meetings with all public officials, their lobbyists will not be able to
donate or fundraise for federal candidates, those lobbyists will not be able to
cycle through the revolving door into our federal government, and education
companies like Pearson that often spend over $500,000 in a single year on
lobbying will be subject to my new lobbying tax.
Ban the sharing, storing, and sale of student data:Severalinvestigations have revealed that
educational technology companies, for-profit schools, and other educational
entities are selling student data to corporations. My plan would extend the
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to ban the sharing,
storing, and sale of student data that includes names or other information that
can identify individual students. Violations should be punishable by
civil and criminal penalties.
Direct the FTC to crack down on anti-competitive data mining practices by educational technology companies: Big companies like Facebook and Google, and smaller companies like Class Dojo, have already collected student data to market products or to sell themselves to companies that can do so. As president, I would direct the FTC to crack down on these antic-competitive data mining practices by technology companies engaging in these practices in the education space, including by reviewing and blocking mergers of companies that have taken advantage of data consolidation.Require high-stakes testing companies to make all released prior testing materials publicly available: High-stakes testing companies create their own test prep companies using proprietary materials or sell these materials directly to those who can afford it, giving some children a distinct advantage on those tests. My plan would bar companies with federal government contracts from selling questions to individuals or to companies for commercial purposes.
Read statements of support from
National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and others here
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 confront the crisis of environmental injustice. “Justice cannot be a
secondary concern – it must be at the center of our response to climate change.”
This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren has released her plan to fight for justice as we take on the climate crisis. Warren will implement an equity screen for her proposed climate investments, directing at least $1 trillion into the most vulnerable communities over the next decade and investing not only in cleaning up pollution but in building wealth and lifting up the communities in most need.
The climate crisis demands all of us to act, but it is also an opportunity to create millions of new good, middle class, union jobs and to directly confront the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy. Elizabeth will honor our commitment to fossil fuel workers by fighting for guaranteed wage and benefit parity for workers transitioning into new industries, and to protect the pensions and benefits that fossil fuel workers have earned. She’ll partner with unions every step of the way.
She will hold corporate polluters accountable, working with Congress to create a private right of action for environmental harm, and imposing steep fines on violators that will be reinvested in impacted communities.
Elizabeth knows we need to elevate environmental justice at the highest levels. She’ll transform the Council on Environmental Quality into a Council on Climate Action with a broader mandate, including empowering frontline community leaders to speak directly to the White House.
In 1987, the United Church of Christ’s Commission on Racial Justice commissioned one of the first studies on hazardous waste in communities of color. A few years later — 28 years ago this month — delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit adopted 17 principles of environmental justice. But in the years since, the federal government has largely failed to live up to the vision these trailblazing leaders outlined, and to its responsibilities to the communities they represent.
From predominantly black neighborhoods in
Detroit to Navajo communities in
the southwest to Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, industrial
pollution has been concentrated in low-income communities for decades —
communities that the federal government has tacitly written off as so-called “sacrifice zones.” But
it’s not just about poverty, it’s also about race. A seminal study found
that black families are more likely to live in neighborhoods with higher
concentrations of air pollution than white families — even when they have the
same or more income. A more recent study found that while whites largely cause
air pollution, Blacks and Latinxs are more likely to breathe it in.
Unsurprisingly, these groups also experience higher rates of childhood asthma. And
many more low-income and minority communities are exposed to toxins in
their water — including lead and chemicals from industrial and agricultural
And these studies don’t tell the whole story. As I’ve
traveled this country, I’ve heard the human stories as well. In Detroit, I met
with community members diagnosed with cancer linked to exposure to toxins after
years of living in the shadow of a massive oil refinery. In New Hampshire, I
talked with mothers fighting for clean drinking water free of harmful PFAS
chemicals for their children. In South Carolina, I’ve heard the stories of the
most vulnerable coastal communities who face the greatest threats, from not
just sea-level rise, but a century of encroaching industrial polluters. In West
Virginia, I saw the consequences of the coal industry’s abandonment of the
communities that made their shareholders and their executives wealthy — stolen
pensions, poisoned miners, and ruined land and water.
We didn’t get here by accident. Our crisis of environmental
injustice is the result of decades of discrimination and environmental racism
compounding in communities that have been overlooked for too long. It is the
result of multiple choices that put corporate profits before people, while our
government looked the other way. It is unacceptable, and it must change.
Justice cannot be a secondary concern — it must be at the
center of our response to climate change. The Green New Deal commits us to a
“just transition” for all communities and all workers. But we won’t create true
justice by cleaning up polluted neighborhoods and tweaking a few regulations at
the EPA. We also need to prioritize communities that have experienced historic
disinvestment, across their range of needs: affordable housing, better
infrastructure, good schools, access to health care, and good jobs. We need
strong, resilient communities who are prepared and properly resourced to
withstand the impacts of climate change. We need big, bottom-up change —
focused on, and led by, members of these
No Community Left Behind
The same communities that have borne the brunt of industrial
pollution are now on the front lines of climate change, often getting hit first
and worst. In response, local community leaders are leading the fight to hold
polluters responsible and combat the effects of the climate crisis. In
Detroit’s 48217 zip code, for example, community members living in the midst of
industrial pollution told me how they have banded together to identify refinery
leakages and inform their neighbors. In Alabama and Mississippi, I met with
residents of formerly redlined neighborhoods who spoke to me about their fight
against drinking water pollution caused by inadequate municipal sewage systems.
Tribal Nations, which have been disproportionately impacted by environmental
racism and the effects of climate change, are leading the way in
climate resilience and adaptation strategies, and in supporting healthy
ecosystems. The federal government must do more to support and uplift the
efforts of these and other communities. Here’s how we can do that:
Improve environmental equity mapping. The EPA
currently maps communities
based on basic environmental and demographic indicators, but more can be done
across the federal government to identify at-risk communities. We need a
rigorous interagency effort to identify cumulative environmental health
disparities and climate vulnerabilities and cross-reference that data with
other indicators of socioeconomic health. We’ll use these data to adjust
permitting rules under Clean Air and Clean Water Act authorities to better
consider the impact of cumulative and overlapping pollution, and we’ll make
them publicly available online to help communities measure their own health.
Implement an equity screen for climate investments. Identifying
at-risk communities is only the first step. The Green New Deal will involve
deploying trillions of dollars to transform the way we source and use energy.
In doing so, the government must prioritize resources to support vulnerable
communities and remediate historic injustices. My friend Governor Jay Inslee
rightly challenged us to fund the most vulnerable communities first, and
both New York and California have
passed laws to direct funding specifically to frontline and fenceline
communities. The federal government should do the same. I’ll direct one-third
of my proposed climate investment into the most vulnerable communities — a
commitment that would funnel at least $1 trillion into these areas over the
Strengthen tools to mitigate environmental harms. Signed
into law in 1970, the National Environmental Policy Act provides the original
authority for many of our existing environmental protections. But even as
climate change has made it clear that we must eliminate our dependence on
fossil fuels, the Trump Administration has tried to weaken NEPA with
the goal of expediting even more fossil fuel infrastructure projects. At the
same time, the Trump Administration has moved to devalue the
consideration of climate impacts in all federal decisions. This is entirely
unacceptable in the face of the climate emergency our world is facing. As
president, I would mandate that all federal agencies consider climate impacts
in their permitting and rulemaking processes. Climate action needs to be mainstreamed
in everything the federal government does. But we also need a standard that
requires the government to do more than merely “assess” the environmental
impact of proposed projects — we need to mitigate negative environmental
Beyond that, a Warren Administration will do more to give the people who live
in a community a greater say in what is sited there — too often today, local
desires are discounted or disregarded. And when Tribal Nations are involved,
projects should not proceed unless developers have obtained the free, prior and
informed consent of the tribal governments concerned. I’ll use the full extent
of my executive authority under NEPA to protect these communities and give them
a voice in the process. And I’ll fight to improve the law to reflect the
realities of today’s climate crisis.
Build wealth in frontline communities. People of
color are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are vulnerable to climate
change risks or where they’re subject to environmental hazards like pollution.
That’s not a coincidence — decades of racist housing policy and officially
sanctioned segregation that denied people of color the opportunity to build
wealth also denied them the opportunity to choose the best neighborhood for
their families. Then, these same communities were targeted with the worst of
the worst mortgages before the financial crisis, while the government looked
the other way. My housing plan includes
a first-of-its-kind down-payment assistance program that provides grants to
long-term residents of formerly redlined communities so that they can buy homes
in the neighborhood of their choice and start to build wealth, beginning to
reverse that damage. It provides assistance to homeowners in these communities
who still owe more than their homes were worth, which can be used to preserve
their homes and revitalize their communities. These communities should have the
opportunity to lead us in the climate fight, and have access to the economic
opportunities created by the clean energy sector. With the right investments
and with community-led planning, we can lift up communities that have experienced
historic repression and racism, putting them on a path to a more resilient
Expand health care. People in frontline
communities disproportionately suffer from certain cancers and other illnesses
associated with environmental pollution. To make matters worse, they are less likely to have
access to quality health care. Under Medicare for All, everyone will have high
quality health care at a lower cost, allowing disadvantaged communities to get
lifesaving services. And beyond providing high quality coverage for all, the
simplified Medicare for All system will make it easier for the federal
government to quickly tailor health care responses to specific environmental
disasters in affected communities when they occur.
Research equity. For years we’ve invested in
broad-based strategies that are intended to lift all boats, but too often leave
communities of color behind. True justice calls for more than
‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions — instead we need targeted strategies that take
into account the unique challenges individual frontline communities face. I’ve
proposed a historic $400 billion investment
in clean energy research and development. We’ll use that funding to research
place-based interventions specifically targeting the communities that need more
No Worker Left Behind
The climate crisis will leave no one untouched. But it also
represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity: to create millions of
good-paying American jobs in clean and renewable energy, infrastructure, and
manufacturing; to unleash the best of American innovation and creativity; to
rebuild our unions and create real progress and justice for workers; and to
directly confront the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil
The task before us is huge and demands all of us to act. It
will require massive retrofits to our nation’s infrastructure and our
manufacturing base. It will also require readjusting our economic approach to
ensure that communities of color and others who have been systematically harmed
from our fossil fuel economy are not left further behind during the transition
to clean energy.
But it is also an opportunity. We’ll need millions of
workers: people who know how to build things and manufacture them; skilled and
experienced contractors to plan and execute large construction and engineering
projects; and training and joint labor management apprenticeships to ensure a
continuous supply of skilled, available workers. This can be a great moment of
national unity, of common purpose, of lives transformed for the better. But we
cannot succeed in fighting climate change unless the people who have the skills
to get the job done are in the room as full partners.
We also cannot fight climate change with a low-wage economy.
Workers should not be forced to make an impossible choice between fossil fuel
industry jobs with superior wages and benefits and green economy jobs that pay
far less. For too long, there has been a tension between transitioning to a
green economy and creating good, middle class, union jobs. In a Warren
Administration we will do both: creating good new jobs through investments in a
clean economy coupled with the strongest possible protections for workers. For
instance, my Green Manufacturing plan
makes a $1.5 trillion procurement commitment to domestic manufacturing
contingent on companies providing fair wages, paid family and medical leave,
fair scheduling practices, and collective bargaining rights. Similarly,
my 100% Clean Energy Plan will
require retrofitting our nation’s buildings, reengineering our electrical grid,
and adapting our manufacturing base — creating good, union jobs, with
prevailing wages determined through collective bargaining, for millions of
skilled and experienced workers.
Our commitment to a Green New Deal is a commitment to a
better future for the working people of our country. And it starts with a
real commitment to workers from the person sitting in the White House: I will
fight for your job, your family, and your community like I would my own. But
there’s so much more we can do to take care of America’s workers before,
during, and after this transition. Here are a few ways we can start:
Honor our commitment to fossil fuel workers. Coal
miners, oil rig workers, pipeline builders and millions of other workers have
given their life’s blood to build the infrastructure that powered the American
economy throughout the 20th century. In return, they deserve more than
platitudes — and if we expect them to use their skills to help reengineer
America, we owe them a fair day’s pay for the work we need them to do. I’m
committed to providing job training and guaranteed wage and benefit parity for
workers transitioning into new industries. And for those Americans who choose
not to find new employment and wish to retire with dignity, we’ll ensure full
financial security, including promised pensions and early retirement
Defend worker pensions, benefits, and secure retirement. Together,
we will ensure that employers and our government honor the promises they made
to workers in fossil fuel industries. I’ve fought for years to protect pensions
and health benefits for retired coal workers, and I’ll continue fighting to
maintain the solvency of multi-employer pension plans. As president, I’ll
protect those benefits that fossil fuel workers have earned. My plan to empower American workers commits
to defending pensions, recognizing the value of defined-benefit pensions, and
pushing to pass the Butch-Lewis Act to
create a loan program for the most financially distressed pension plans in the
country. And my Social Security plan
would increase benefits by $200 a month for every beneficiary, lifting nearly 5
million seniors out of poverty and expanding benefits for workers with
disabilities and their families.
Create joint safety-health committees. In 2016, more than 50,000 workers
died from occupational-related diseases. And since the beginning of his
administration, Trump has rolled back rules and regulations that limit exposure to certain
chemicals and requirements around facility safety inspections,
further jeopardizing workers and the community around them. When workers have
the power to keep themselves safe, they make their communities safer too. A
Warren Administration will reinstate the work safety rules and regulations
Trump eliminated, and will work to require large companies to create joint
safety-health committees with representation from workers and impacted communities.
Force fossil fuel companies to honor their obligations. As
a matter of justice, we should tighten bankruptcy laws to prevent coal and
other fossil fuel companies from evading their responsibility to their workers
and to the communities that they have helped to pollute. In the Senate, I have fought to
improve the standing of coal worker pensions and benefits in bankruptcy — as
president, I will work with Congress to pass legislation to make these changes
And as part of our commitment, we must take care of all
workers, including those who were left behind decades ago by the fossil fuel
economy. Although Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal is the inspiration for this
full scale mobilization of the federal government to defeat the climate crisis,
it was not perfect. The truth is that too often, many New Deal agencies and
policies were tainted by structural racism. And as deindustrialization led to
prolonged disinvestment, communities of color were too often both the first to
lose their job base, and the first place policymakers thought of to dump the
refuse of the vanished industries. Now there is a real risk that poor
communities dependent on carbon fuels will be asked to bear the costs of
fighting climate change on their own. We must take care not to replicate the
failings and limitations of the original New Deal as we implement a Green New
Deal and transition our economy to 100% clean energy. Instead we need to build
an economy that works for every American — and leaves no one behind.
Prioritizing Environmental Justice at the Highest Levels
As we work to enact a Green New Deal, our commitment to
environmental justice cannot be an afterthought — it must be central to our
efforts to fight back against climate change. That means structuring our
government agencies to ensure that we’re centering frontline and fenceline
communities in implementing a just transition. It means ensuring that the most
vulnerable have a voice in decision-making that impacts their communities, and
direct access to the White House itself. Here’s how we’ll do that:
Elevate environmental justice at the White House.
I’ll transform the Council on Environmental Quality into a Council on Climate
Action with a broader mandate, including making environmental justice a
priority. I’ll update the 1994 executive order that
directed federal agencies to make achieving environmental justice part of their
missions, and revitalize the
cabinet-level interagency council on environmental justice. We will raise the
National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to report directly to the White
House, bringing in the voices of frontline community leaders at the highest
levels. And I will bring these leaders to the White House for an environmental
justice summit within my first 100 days in office, to honor the contributions
of frontline activists over decades in this fight and to listen to ideas for
how we can make progress.
Empower the EPA to support frontline communities. The
Trump Administration has proposed dramatic cuts to
the EPA, including to its Civil Rights office, and threatened to eliminate EPA’s
Office of Environmental Justice entirely. I’ll restore and grow both offices,
including by expanding the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE)
and Environmental Justice Small Grant programs. We’ll condition these
competitive grant funds on the development of state- and local-level
environmental justice plans, and ensure that regional EPA offices stay open to
provide support and capacity. But it’s not just a matter of size. Historically,
EPA’s Office of Civil Rights has rejected nine out of ten cases
brought to it for review. In a Warren Administration, we will aggressively
pursue cases of environmental discrimination wherever they occur.
Bolster the CDC to play a larger role in environmental
justice. The links between industrial pollution and negative public health
outcomes are clear. A Warren
Administration will fully fund the Center for Disease Control’s environmental
health programs, such as childhood lead poisoning prevention, and community
health investigations. We will also provide additional grant funding for
independent research into environmental health effects.
Diminish the influence of Big Oil. Powerful
corporations rig the system to work for themselves, exploiting and influencing
the regulatory process and placing industry representatives in positions of
decision-making authority within agencies. My plan to end Washington corruption would
slam shut the revolving door between industry and government, reducing
industry’s ability to influence the regulatory process and ensuring that the
rules promulgated by our environmental agencies reflect the needs of
communities, not the fossil fuel industry.
Right to Affordable Energy and Clean Water
Nearly one-third of
American households struggle to pay their energy bills, and Native American,
Black, and Latinx households are more likely to be energy insecure. Renters are
also often disadvantaged by landlords unwilling to invest in safer buildings,
weatherization, or cheaper energy. And clean energy adoption is unequal along
racial lines, even after accounting for differences in wealth. I have a plan to move the
United States to 100% clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy in electricity
generation by 2035 — but energy justice must be an integral part of our
transition to clean energy. Here’s what that means:
Address high energy cost burdens. Low-income
families, particularly in rural areas, are spending too much of their
income on energy, often the result of older or mobile homes that are not
weatherized or that lack energy efficient upgrades. I’ve committed to meet
Governor Inslee’s goal of retrofitting 4% of U.S. buildings annually to
increase energy efficiency — and we’ll start that national initiative by
prioritizing frontline and fenceline communities. In addition, my housing plan
includes over $10 billion in competitive grant programs for communities that invest
in well-located affordable housing — funding that can be used for
modernization and weatherization of homes, infrastructure, and schools. It also
targets additional funding to tribal governments, rural communities, and
jurisdictions — often majority minority — where homeowners are still
struggling with the aftermath of the
2008 housing crash. Energy retrofits can be a large source of green jobs, and
I’m committed to ensuring that these are good jobs, with full federal labor
protections and the right to organize.
Support community power. Consumer-owned energy
cooperatives, many of which were established to electrify rural areas during
the New Deal, serve an estimated 42 million people
across our country. While some co-ops are beginning to transition their assets
to renewable energy resources, too many are locked
into long-term contracts that make them dependent on coal and other dirty fuels
for their power. To speed the transition to clean energy, my administration
will offer assistance to write down debt and restructure loans to help
cooperatives get out of long-term coal contracts, and provide additional low-
or no-cost financing for zero-carbon electricity generation and transmission
projects for cooperatives via the Rural Utilities Service. I’ll work with
Congress to extend and expand clean energy bonds to
allow community groups and nonprofits without tax revenue to access clean
energy incentives. I’ll also provide dedicated support for the four Power Marketing
Administrations, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Appalachian Regional
Commission to help them build publicly-owned clean energy assets and deploy
clean power to help communities transition off fossil fuels. Accelerating the
transition to clean energy will both reduce carbon emissions, clean up our
air, and help bring down rural consumers’ utility bills.
Protect local equities. Communities that host large
energy projects are entitled to receive a share of the benefits. But too often,
large energy companies are offered millions in tax subsidies to locate in a
particular area — without any commitment that they will make a corresponding
commitment in that community. Community Benefit Agreements can help address
power imbalances between project developers and low-income communities by
setting labor, environmental, and transparency standards before work begins.
I’ll make additional federal subsidies or tax benefits for large utility
projects contingent on strong Community Benefits Agreements, which should
include requirements for prevailing wages and collective bargaining rights. And
I’ll insist on a clawback provision if a company doesn’t hold up its end of the
deal. If developers work with communities to ensure that everyone benefits from
clean energy development, we will be able to reduce our emissions faster.
It’s simple: access to clean water is a basic human right.
Water quality is an issue in both urban and rural communities. In rural areas,
for example, runoff into rivers and streams by Big Agriculture has poisoned local
drinking water. In urban areas, lack of infrastructure investment has resulted
in lead and other poisons seeping
into aging community water systems. We need to take action to protect our
drinking water. Here’s how we can do that:
Invest in our nation’s public water systems.
America’s water is a public asset and should be owned by and for the public. A
Warren Administration will end decades of disinvestment and privatization of
our nation’s water system — our government at every level should invest in
safe, affordable drinking water for all of us.
Increase and enforce water quality standards. Our
government should enforce strict regulations to ensure clean water is available
to all Americans. I’ll restore the Obama-era water rule that protected our
lakes, rivers, and streams, and the drinking water they provide. We also need a
strong and nationwide safe drinking water standard that covers PFAS and other
chemicals. A Warren Administration will fully enforce Safe Drinking Water Act
standards for all public water systems. I’ll aggressively regulate chemicals
that make their way into our water supply, including by designating PFAS as a
Fund access to clean water. Our clean drinking water
challenge goes beyond lead, and beyond Flint and Newark. To respond, a Warren
Administration will commit to fully capitalize the Drinking Water State
Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to refurbish old water
infrastructure and support ongoing water treatment operations and maintenance,
prioritizing the communities most heavily impacted by inadequate water
infrastructure. In rural areas, I’ll increase funding for the Conservation
Stewardship Program to $15 billion annually, empowering family farmers to help
limit the agricultural runoff that harms local wells and water systems. To
address lead specifically, we will establish a lead abatement grant program
with a focus on schools and daycare centers, and commit to remediating lead in
all federal buildings. We’ll provide a Lead Safety Tax Credit for homeowners to
invest in remediation. And a Warren Administration will also fully fund IDEA
and other support programs that help children with developmental challenges as
a result of lead exposure.
Protecting the Most Vulnerable During Climate-Related
In 2018, the U.S. was home to the world’s three costliest environmental
catastrophes. And while any community can be hit by a hurricane, flood, extreme
weather, or fire, the impact of these kinds of disasters are particularly
devastating for low-income communities, people with disabilities,
and people of color. Take
Puerto Rico for example. When Hurricane Maria hit the island, decades of racism
and neglect were multiplied by the government’s failure to prepare
and Trump’s racist post-disaster response —
resulting in the deaths of at least 3,000 Puerto
Ricans and long-term harm to many more. Even as we fight climate change, we
must also prepare for its impacts — building resiliency not just in some
communities, but everywhere. Here’s how we can start to do that:
Invest in pre-disaster mitigation. For every dollar
invested in mitigation, the government and communities save $6 overall. But
true to form, the Trump Administration has proposed to steep cuts to
FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, abandoning communities just as the risk
of climate-related disasters is on the rise. As president, I’ll invest in
programs that help vulnerable communities build resiliency by quintupling this
Better prepare for flood events. When I visited
Pacific Junction, Iowa, I saw scenes of devastation: crops ruined for the
season, cars permanently stalled, a water line 7 or 8 feet high in residents’
living rooms. And many residents in Pacific Junction fear that this could
happen all over again next year.
Local governments rely on FEMA’s flood maps, but some of these maps haven’t
been updated in decades. In my first
term as president, I will direct FEMA to fully update flood maps with
forward-looking data, prioritizing and including frontline communities in this
process. We’ll raise standards for new construction, including by reinstating
the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. And we’ll make it easier for
vulnerable residents to move out of flood-prone properties — including by
buying back those properties for low-income homeowners at a value that will
allow them to relocate, and then tearing down the flood-prone properties, so we
can protect everyone.
Mitigate wildfire risk. We must also invest in
improved fire mapping and prevention programs. In a Warren Administration, we
will dramatically improve fire mapping and prevention by investing in advanced
modeling with a focus on helping the most vulnerable — incorporating not only
fire vulnerability but community demographics. We will prioritize these data to
invest in land management, particularly near the most vulnerable communities,
supporting forest restoration, lowering fire risk, and creating jobs all at
once. We will also invest in microgrid technology, so that we can de-energize
high-risk areas when required without impacting the larger community’s energy
supply. And as president, I will collaborate with Tribal governments on land
management practices to reduce wildfires, including by incorporating
traditional ecological practices and exploring co-management and the return of
public resources to indigenous protection wherever possible.
Prioritize at-risk populations in disaster planning and
response. When the most deadly fire in California’s history struck the town
of Paradise last November, a majority of the
victims were disabled or elderly. People with disabilities face increased difficulties in
evacuation assistance and accessing critical medical care. For people who are
homeless, disasters exacerbate existing
challenges around housing and health. And fear of deportation can deter undocumented
people from contacting emergency services for help evacuating or from going to
an emergency shelter. As president, I will strengthen rules to require disaster
response plans to uphold the rights of vulnerable populations. In my immigration plan, I
committed to putting in place strict guidelines to protect sensitive locations,
including emergency shelters. We’ll also develop best practices at the federal
level to help state and local governments develop plans for at-risk communities
— including for extreme heat or cold — and require that evacuation services
and shelters are fully accessible to people with disabilities. During
emergencies, we will work to ensure that critical information is shared in ways
that reflect the diverse needs of people with disabilities and other at-risk
communities, including through ASL and Braille and languages spoken in the
community. We will establish a National Commission on Disability Rights and
Disasters, ensure that federal disaster spending is ADA compliant, and support
people with disabilities in disaster planning. We will make certain that
individuals have ongoing access to health care services if they have to leave
their community or if there is a disruption in care. And we will ensure
that a sufficient number of disability specialists are present in state
emergency management teams and FEMA’s disaster response corps.
Ensure a just and equitable recovery. In the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,
disaster scammers and profiteers swarmed, capitalizing on others’ suffering to
make a quick buck. And after George W. Bush suspended the
Davis-Bacon Act, the doors were opened for contractors to under-pay and subject
workers to dangerous working conditions, particularly low-income and immigrant
workers. As president, I’ll put strong protections in place to ensure that
federal tax dollars go toward community recovery, not to line the pockets of
contractors. And we must maintain high standards for workers even when disaster
Studies show that the white and wealthy receive
more federal disaster aid, even though they are most able to financially
withstand a disaster. This is particularly true when it comes to housing —
FEMA’s programs are designed to protect homeowners, even as homeownership
has slipped out of reach for
an increasing number of Americans. As president, I will reform post-disaster
housing assistance to better protect renters, including a commitment to a
minimum of one-to-one replacement for any damaged federally-subsidized
affordable housing, to better protect low-income families. I will work with
Congress to amend the Stafford Act to make grant funding more flexible to allow
families and communities to rebuild in more resilient ways. And we will
establish a competitive grant program, based on the post-Sandy Rebuild by Design pilot,
to offer states and local governments the opportunity to compete for additional
funding for creative resilience projects.
Under a Warren Administration, we will monitor post-disaster recovery to help
states and local governments better understand the long-term consequences and
effectiveness of differing recovery strategies, including how to address climate gentrification,
to ensure equitable recovery for all communities. We’ll center a right to
return for individuals who have been displaced during a disaster and prioritize
the voices of frontline communities in the planning of their return or
relocation. And while relocation should be a last resort, when it occurs, we
must improve living standards and keep communities together whenever possible.
Holding Polluters Accountable
In Manchester, Texas, Hurricane Harvey’s damage wasn’t
apparent until after the storm had passed — when a thick, chemical smell
started wafting through the majority Latinx community, which is surrounded by
nearly 30 refineries and
chemical plants. A tanker failure had released 1,188 pounds of
benzene into the air, one of at least one hundred area leaks that happened in
Harvey’s aftermath. But because regulators had turned off air
quality and toxic monitoring in anticipation of the storm, the leaks went
unnoticed and the community uninformed.
This should have never been allowed to happen. But
Manchester is also subject to 484,000 pounds of
toxic chemical leaks on an average year. That’s not just a tragedy — it’s an
outrage. We must hold polluters accountable for their role in ongoing, systemic
damage in frontline communities. As president, I will use all my authorities to
hold companies accountable for their role in the climate crisis. Here’s how we
can do that:
Exercise all the oversight tools of the federal
government. A Warren Administration will encourage the EPA and Department
of Justice to aggressively go after corporate polluters, particularly in cases
of environmental discrimination. We need real consequences for corporate
polluters that break our environmental law. That means steep fines, which we
will reinvest in impacted communities. And under my Corporate Executive Accountability
Act, we’ll press for criminal penalties for executives when their
companies hurt people through criminal negligence.
Use the power of the courts. Thanks to a Supreme
Court decision, companies are
often let completely off the hook, even when their operations inflict harm on
thousands of victims each year. I’ll work with Congress to create a private
right of action for environmental harm at the federal level, allowing individuals
and communities impacted by environmental discrimination to sue for damages and
hold corporate polluters accountable.
Reinstitute the Superfund Waste Tax. There are over 1300 remaining
Superfund sites across the country, many located in or adjacent to frontline
communities. So-called “orphan” toxic waste clean-ups were originally funded by
a series of excise taxes on the petroleum and chemical industries. But thanks
to Big Oil and other industry lobbyists, when that tax authority expired in
1995 it was not renewed. Polluters must pay for the consequences of their
actions — not leave them for the communities to clean up. I’ll work with
Congress to reinstate and then triple the Superfund tax, generating needed
revenue to clean up the mess.
Hold the finance industry accountable for its role in the
climate crisis. Financial institutions and the insurance industry underwrite
and fund fossil fuel investments around the world, and can play a key role in
stopping the climate crisis. Earlier this year, Chubb became the
first U.S. insurer to commit to stop insuring coal projects, a welcome
development. Unfortunately, many banks and insurers seem to be moving in the
opposite direction. In fact, since the Paris Agreement was signed, U.S. banks
including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Bank of America have
actually increased their
fossil fuel investments. And there is evidence that big banks are replicating a tactic they
first employed prior to the 2008 crash — shielding themselves from climate
losses by selling the mortgages most at risk from climate impacts to Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac to shift the burden off their books and onto taxpayers at a
To accelerate the transition to clean energy, my Climate Risk Disclosure Act would
require banks and other companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions
and price their exposure to climate risk into their valuations, raising public
awareness of just how dependent our economy is on fossil fuels. And let me be
clear: in a Warren Administration, they will no longer be allowed to shift that
burden to the rest of us.
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.