The Democratic candidates for president offer stark contrasts to the present occupant of the Oval Office. With a potential coronavirus pandemic creating global anxiety, Senator Elizabeth Warren has just released a detailed plan how she would prevent, contain and treat infectious disease outbreaks at home and abroad.
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to prevent, contain and treat infectious disease outbreaks at home and abroad. Diseases like Ebola virus, Zika virus and most recently, coronavirus demonstrate the real threat that outbreaks pose to our health and security. The United States can be a leader in combating these problems. But to do so, we must invest at home to ensure our public health agencies, hospitals, and health care providers are ready to jump into action when outbreaks strike. And we must invest and partner with other countries to help build strong public health systems abroad.
By properly preparing, we will save lives, strengthen our relationships with allies, protect our interests, and help build resilience to outbreaks and pandemics around the world.
Warren’s Plan to prevent, contain, and treat infectious disease outbreaks will:
Restore White House leadership on health security by designating a senior official to focus solely on this issue and fully funding domestic public health and preparedness at key HHS agencies, in contrast to President Trump’s decision to eliminate this White House role and massive proposed budget cuts to public health;
Restore American leadership in the international community, reversing President Trump’s assault on the State Department and USAID;
Invest in global health security and rejoin global efforts on climate change by changing how diseases emerge and spread, reverse President Trump’s proposed global health cuts and retreat from international climate efforts.
Ensure evidence-based decisions and equity in response to outbreaks, relying on science to contain them and ensuring that all communities get the help they need to stay healthy.
Preventing, Containing, and Treating Infectious Disease Outbreaks at Home and Abroad
In 2014, the world watched as Ebola spread throughout six countries in West Africa and eventually jumped oceans to reach the United States, Spain, Italy, and the U.K. As the outbreak spread, over 50 countries stepped up to help respond. The experience revealed a new global reality: to effectively beat infectious diseases, we need all hands on deck.
In 2015 the state of Indiana experienced an outbreak of HIV stemming from the ongoing opioid epidemic. In a county with a population of less than 25,000, over 200 people contracted the virus. Simultaneously, Zika virus was spreading throughout the U.S. and causing birth defects in children born to some infected pregnant women.
Instead of building capacity to combat these problems, Donald Trump has deprioritized global health security and risked putting us on heels in a crisis.
Trump has repeatedly tried to nickel and dime federal programs essential to health security, proposing billions of dollars in cuts so drastic that even leading a House Republican thought they would leave Americans vulnerable. Trump eliminated the key position that coordinates global health security across the many federal agencies that work to keep us safe. And his response to natural disasters that could lead to serious outbreaks, like hurricanes in Puerto Rico, has been basically non-existent.
Like so much else, Trump’s approach to keeping us safe from disease outbreaks is a mess. But when he’s gone, we can fix it.
We can invest at home to ensure our public health agencies, hospitals, and health care providers are ready to jump into action when outbreaks strike. And we can help build strong public health systems abroad. By taking these steps, we will save lives, strengthen our relationships with allies, protect our interests, and help build resilience to outbreaks and pandemics.
That’s why I have a plan to prevent, contain, and treat infectious diseases — one that will help keep America safe and healthy. And as President, I will work across all levels of government here at home and with our many partners abroad to turn that plan into action.
Preventing Transmission and Preparing for Outbreaks The best way to beat a pandemic is to prevent it from starting in the first place. As President, I will work to build the foundations that help us catch infectious diseases before they spread.
Build strong public health systems at home and abroad. Combating infectious diseases requires building health infrastructure that enables us to handle epidemics whenever and wherever they strike. Diseases do not recognize borders — we need a global approach to a global problem. To build strong systems we must:
Fund agencies that prevent and manage outbreaks. President Trump has repeatedly proposed billions in cuts to the agencies responsible for fighting and preventing pandemics, a devastating blow that would put lives at risk. Some of the deepest proposed cuts were to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which runs essential pandemic prevention and response programs. As President, I will fully fund this work, ensuring that key agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the State Department, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have the support they need to do their jobs.
Prepare health departments, health care providers and
hospitals, and other facilities and frontline staff. We must increase
funding for the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative
agreement that supports the critical work of health departments across the
country to prepare for outbreaks, natural disasters, and more. Similarly, we
must continue to support the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP), which ensures
we equip facilities and train staff on the front lines.
Fully fund the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). Designed to build capacity in nearly 50 countries, the GHSA funds work in partnership with other countries to strengthen their public health infrastructure and combat outbreaks before they start. And in a few short years, it is clear that investment has paid off. Under President Trump some of this work has ramped down, but we know that the ability to stop an outbreak requires consistent investment and support. As President, I’ll provide it.
Reduce transmission of infectious diseases at home. By
reducing the transmission of communicable diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, we
keep families healthy and safe and strengthen our health system’s ability to
respond to global pandemics. That’s why I have a plan to invest $100 billion to
end the opioid epidemic, and why I’ve committed to end the domestic HIV epidemic by
2025 and ensure that patients can afford drugs like PrEP and
Hepatitis C treatments by acting on Day One of my presidency to
lower drug prices.
Move to Medicare for All. When people can’t
access basic health care, infectious diseases are more likely to spread and
cause severe, lasting health effects — as we saw in the recent Indiana HIV outbreak.
This is especially true in underserved communities, who can experience
the effects of outbreaks more
severely. Under Medicare for All, everyone will have high quality health care
they can afford, removing financial barriers for patients who may be contagious
and need to seek care. We all benefit when we stop the spread of infectious
Fully fund critical existing global health work. U.S. investments in global health, including programs that combat HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria help build capacity in countries around the world that enables them to better handle epidemics when they strike. As President, I will push to expand funding for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which funds vital services for individuals living with HIV or AIDS overseas and is a pillar of U.S. global health programs. I’ll also repeal the Trump administration’s heartless Global Gag Rule, which makes organizations that conduct or refer patients for abortion ineligible for global health funds — harming patients and reducing the capacity of other nations’ health systems.
Fight climate change. A changing climate means infectious diseases will spread to new places, and it’s already happening. In 2016, the Zika virus threatened more of the U.S. because changing climates mean the mosquitos that carry it now thrive further and further north. And Lyme disease is expected to increase by 20% in the next decade due to climate change. West Nile is projected to more than double by 2050 due to warming, costing upwards of $1 billion annually. Our health depends on fighting climate change. And I have a lot of plans for that.
Recommit to the Paris Agreement and invest in the Green
Climate Fund. On Day One of my administration, I’ll commit the United
States to rejoin the Paris Agreement, including meeting Obama era commitments
to the Green Climate Fund — a critical funding stream to prevent the spread of
climate fueled pandemics — and backfilling the contribution that the Trump
administration neglected to deliver.
Recognize interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. When it comes to pandemics, we must think about how animal, human, and environmental factors interact. Last year the Trump administration shut down the Predict program to test animals for dangerous pathogens that could cross over to humans. As President, I would restore this essential work. And I will support new scientific research to help understand and predict the impact of warmer temperatures on disease emergence and transmission.
Invest in CDC’s Climate and Health Program. This essential program invests in adaptation for the effects of climate change on our nation’s health, but it’s budget only allows for programs that cover roughly half our population. Rather than follow President Trump’s attempts to kill this program, I will expand it to cover every American so no community is left behind.
Prioritize effective federal management. As President, I’ll take key steps to ensure that the agencies who handle outbreaks have clear leadership, responsibility, and support.
Restore White House leadership position for health
security. President Obama created this position in response to the
Ebola epidemic. In 2018, the Trump administration eliminated it –
and I demanded answers. As
President, I will bring it back, with a formal senior lead in my White House
who focuses solely on global health security and oversees this work across the
entire federal government.
Rebuild the State Department and USAID. American security and health depend on robust diplomacy and development assistance, but the Trump administration has declared war on the State Department and USAID. We must reverse the trend of declining American diplomacy and development aid by creating a 21st century foreign service and corps of development specialists. My plan to rebuild the State Department ensures that we have the diplomats we need leading our engagement with the world to help effectively manage outbreaks.
Build on CDC’s legacy as the world and domestic leader in
public health. The Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) holds our nation’s largest supply of
medical countermeasures and medical supplies. Historically, CDC has managed the
SNS because it has the public health expertise to stock the right medical
countermeasures and ensure they get to communities who need them during an
emergency. In 2018, the Trump administration removed the
SNS from CDC management in an ill-advised attempt to
streamline response activities that could make it easier for drug companies to
lobby for their products to be included. As President, I will move it back to
optimize public health while ensuring coordination with other agencies.
Strengthen the Public Health Emergency Medical
Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE). PHEMCE coordinates the federal
government’s efforts to prepare for potential chemical, biological,
radiological and nuclear threats, as well as from emerging infectious diseases.
We must ensure the PHEMCE fully utilizes expertise from across agencies and
reinvigorate its ability to prepare for and respond to emergencies.
Develop vaccines for infectious diseases. The United States should join it’s peer countries and invest in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a public/private global alliance focused on vaccine development, and actively participate in global coalitions working toward vaccine development. I have pushed CDC to prepare for pandemic influenza, which must include the development of a universal flu vaccine — a necessity if we want to effectively fight the next strain of pandemic influenza.
Containing Outbreaks and Ensuring Equity Effectively containing infectious diseases requires effective coordination, flexible resources, clear data and communication, and the ability to move fast while not leaving anyone behind.
Ensure surge funding to handle the outbreak. Responding to pandemics costs money. And when it’s needed, it’s needed yesterday. In 2014, Congress did not provide funding to combat Ebola when it was out of control in West Africa, and waited until nearly 3 months after the first case occurred in the U.S. to appropriate additional funding. But epidemics don’t wait for Congress. To have a shot at getting ahead of the next big outbreak, we must appropriate and replenish funding for the Public Health Emergency Fund at HHS. This fund enables HHS to quickly respond to public health crises without waiting for supplemental appropriations from Congress.
Establish the Global Health Security Corps. Sometimes outbreaks occur in places experiencing intense conflict. And when health experts cannot enter those regions, outbreaks can grow exponentially. A bipartisan commission recently proposed creating a global health team that can handle these challenges — doctors, scientists, and aid workers with extensive security training who can go into conflict zones to do contact tracing, build trust in communities experiencing conflict, and work effectively with foreign governments at the local, regional, and national level. As president, I’ll launch this Global Health Security Corps to ensure that we can get the right expertise to the center of an outbreak before it becomes an epidemic.
Mitigate impact on underserved populations. Underserved and disadvantaged populations are hit harder by outbreaks. Adding insult to injury, vulnerable populations are often scapegoated for spreading disease. Outbreak responses must ensure that everyone can get the help they need. This requires constant effort on the front lines – but system-level solutions can help, too.
Practice ethical and evidence-based infection
control. My administration will work with state and local governments
to ensure that disease surveillance and response is based on facts and science,
not fear. We will also reject ill-informed, unscientific, and often
counterproductive travel bans in favor of science-based efforts at isolation
and quarantine. These efforts will be undertaken only when necessary, and we
will provide strict protection of civil liberties for those involved, including
the rejection of any unlawful detentions.
Leverage federal health care programs to respond to disasters.Studies have shown the clear connection between extreme weather events and outbreaks. After Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, for example, fatalities from bacterial Leptospirosis spiked, eventually leading to 26 deaths. In addition, despite the extensive damage to the islands infrastructure, the Trump administration waited months before delivering aid or assistance. I have committed to leveragefederal programs to quickly tailor health care responses to specific environmental disasters or outbreaks in affected communities when they occur.
Build equity protections into preparedness grant funding and government seeded innovations. I will instruct my administration to incorporate equity requirements into health preparedness and response programs to ensure all communities get the resources they need to stay healthy. I have also committed to improve environmental equity mapping via “a rigorous interagency effort to identify cumulative environmental health disparities and climate vulnerabilities and cross-reference that data with other indicators of socioeconomic health.” When the government helps fund development and clinical trials of medical countermeasures, we should be sure to negotiate a fair market price so that everyone can afford it.
Provideaggressive dissemination of reliable information. Communication is an essential element of effectively beating an outbreak. My administration will work with the private sector to promote the distribution of important factual information, to counter misinformation, and to ensure that critical facts are appropriately translated so communities can take the steps needed to stay healthy. The Trump administration banned CDC from using “evidence-based” or “policy-based,” as well as other terms, in official documents–unacceptable for an agency whose mission must be informed by science. In a Warren administration, science will once again be in charge at the CDC.
Uphold principles of open science and transparency. Sharing information about what is happening during an outbreak facilitates problem-solving. We must encourage sharing of specimens and data between researchers and public health officials, urge transparency from foreign governments, and increase support for data sharing platforms. During a public health emergency, publishers should not use paywalls to hide important data or force authors to keep data embargoed until publication. My administration will conduct a full-scale reassessment of the public health informatics supported by the federal government and modernize these systems, building on recent congressional investment. And I have already committed to improve interoperability of electronic health records, which will help providers all across this country see their patients’ medical histories and ensure that more patient data can be securely shared with critical public health databases, while ensuring that patient privacy is maintained.
Effectively partner with foreign governments and multilateral organizations. The U.S. cannot beat outbreaks alone. We must use all our tools, including diplomacy and international collaboration, to work through tough issues and partner with other countries. I’ll lead the world in promoting effective multilateral action, including through Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. And I’ll bolster our work with the World Health Organization (WHO) to continue reforms started after the 2014 Ebola outbreaks and improve the world’s ability to respond collectively to these crises.
Treating Emerging Infectious Diseases It’s essential that we continue pushing for medical advances — both to treat those who contract diseases and vaccinate against those we can prevent.
Invest in basic science. I have committed to invest $100 billion in the NIH — and $60 billion of that will fund basic science research. And when drug companies break the law, I’ll create a “swear jar” where companies will pay a portion of their profits from publicly-funded research back to the NIH. This funding will expand the research we need to develop vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases we know and novel diseases that have not yet emerged.
Invest and incentivize development of new medical countermeasures. To ensure we are able to effectively surge development during a pandemic, we must build and maintain strong infrastructure for medical countermeasure development. As President, I will ensure that small biotechnology innovators get ongoing support from Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and we will leverage the Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) expertise in manufacturing and clinical trials to help larger drug manufacturers bring these countermeasures to market at scale.
Bring new treatments to patients. The $40 billion I’ve committed to invest in the NIH will fund the creation of the National Institute for Drug Development — a new institute that will work to bring that basic research of the rest of the NIH into reality for patients. And under Medicare for All, we will be able to better incentivize the private sector development of drugs for which the market is currently broken, like vaccines and antibiotics. Vaccines prevent outbreaks from starting, while antibiotics provide critical protection against infections, and we are in desperate need of new antibiotics to combat resistant infections.
Enable surge support during outbreaks, especially for
diagnostics. BARDA and FDA must be ready to surge at times of
outbreak, when the need to quickly diagnose new cases is essential to
containing an outbreak and properly treating patients. My Administration will
work to provide this support and, when appropriate, use Emergency Use
Authorizations to get new diagnostics into the hands of health care providers
as soon as possible.
Prioritize therapies that work for all populations, especially kids. Therapies are often approved after being tested on populations that are not representative of the patient population. As a result, many therapies in the Strategic National Stockpile are not approved for kids, and some therapies do not work as effectively for racial minorities or women. As President, I will direct the FDA and BARDA to work with drug companies to develop pediatric medical countermeasures and increase the enrollment of underrepresented populations in clinical trials, ensuring that the treatments we develop work well for all of us.
Ensure treatments can reach patients quickly. Time is critical when you’re combating infectious diseases. We must make sure that our system is ready to “turn on” at a moment’s notice. That means we must constantly evaluate our medical countermeasure stockpiles and prepare annual updated biological threat assessments. And during an outbreak, we must quickly distribute medical countermeasures, with proper protections for equitable distribution across communities.
Ensure safety of high security labs. My administration will not allow labs to generate novel viruses with epidemic or pandemic potential, or to perform field testing of such viruses and will closely monitor dual-use research on biological threats and update policies as needed. This knowledge is incredibly important to protect our health, but could be harmful if used as a weapon. And we must be vigilant about lab safety standards and avoid accidentally mailing anthrax or forgetting about smallpox specimens for 50 years.
Diseases like coronavirus remind us why we need robust international institutions, strong investments in public health, and a government that is prepared to jump into action at a moment’s notice. When we prepare and effectively collaborate to address common threats that don’t stop at borders, the international community can stop these diseases in their tracks.
Vice President Joe Biden issued his own criticism of the Trump’s administration’s handling of a potential pandemic, in an op-ed in USA Today: Joe Biden: Trump is worst possible leader to deal with coronavirus outbreak citing the need for the President of the United States to cooperate with international partners to address this pandemic and prevent future ones. Biden writes that this is a moment that requires leadership — leadership that Trump is incapable of delivering — and lays out how his policies will be informed by science and reassert U.S. leadership on global health security.
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.
The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren has released a detailed plan to protect and empower renters as part of the fight to end the affordable housing crisis. This is from the Warren campaign:
A full-time, minimum-wage worker can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the nation. Gentrification is displacing communities of color, rising rents are crushing millions of families, and landlords are exploiting their power over tenants.
Elizabeth’s Housing Plan for America will invest $500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than three million housing units that will be affordable to working families. Her plan will lower rents by 10% nationwide, 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.
Today, she released an additional plan to expand on those efforts to protect and empower renters. Her plan will:
Everyone in America should have a decent, affordable, and safe place to live.
But today, stagnant wages, sky-rocketing rents, and a stark shortage of affordable options
are putting the squeeze on America’s 43 million renting households.
In 2015, 38% of renters were “rent burdened” — spending
over 30% of their income in rent. In 2017, 23 million low-income renters paid more than half
of their total household income on housing. Many renters also face high energy
bills, with low-income renters paying as much as 21% of their income because of energy inefficient housing. A
full-time, minimum-wage worker can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the nation. Gentrification is displacing communities of
color, rising rents are crushing millions of families, and landlords are
exploiting their power over tenants.
But for decades, the federal government has turned a blind eye to our growing
affordable housing crisis. When the government has made investments, it’s focused largely on homeownership. From
Nixon’s moratorium on new public housing construction to
Reagan’s severe cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s
rental assistance program to today’s corporate capture of the right to shelter, Washington has
failed America’s renters. To make matters worse, every singleTrumpadministrationbudget has slashed funding for HUD’s budget.
And shamelessly, some of the same Wall Street firms that tanked the dream of
homeownership for millions of American families are now the country’s biggest landlords — profiting off the destruction they
caused. In the wake of the 2008 crisis, private equity firms like Blackstone
went on a shopping spree, snatching up apartment complexes and single-family homes that had been foreclosed. Even the
United Nations Special Rapporteurs have reported on their aggressive eviction tactics,
the discriminatory impact of their policies on communities of color, and
their lobbying efforts against legislation that would protect
renters — and accused them of contributing to the global housing crisis.
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. 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.
Today, I’m expanding on those efforts with my plan to protect and empower
renters. It has four goals:
and uphold the rights of tenants
the growing cost of rent
in safe, healthy, and green public housing
exploitation by corporate landlords
Protect and uphold the rights of tenants
We’ll start by strengthening the rights of tenants. Over 805,000 renter households were threatened with
eviction in 2017. When landlords evict tenants, families lose their homes,
parents may lose their jobs, kids suffer in schools, and whole communities,
especially communities of color, can be displaced by gentrification and
skyrocketing rents. In many communities, landlords dramatically hike rents after evicting tenants, driving housing
costs up for everyone.
Tenants that organize to take on bad landlords are up against a massive power
imbalance. I’ll fight to put power back where it belongs: with tenants, not big
Landlords shouldn’t be able to arbitrarily push families out of their
communities to make an extra buck or because of thinly-veiled racism and
discrimination. I’ll work to secure tenants’ rights nationwide
— including by creating a federal just cause eviction standard, a right to
lease renewal, protections against constructive eviction, and tenants’ right to
organize. To enforce these rights, I’ll condition the $500 billion in new affordable housing funding to states from
my housing plan on states affirmatively adopting these key tenant protections.
Judges in eviction proceedings would also be required to consider how an
eviction might harm a tenant’s health conditions or a child’s ability to stay
enrolled in local public schools, and to temporarily stay evictions if tenants
can’t find another home in the same neighborhood.
As President, I’ll also fight for a nationwide right-to-counsel for
In 2010, 90% of tenants in eviction proceedings weren’t
represented by lawyers, but 90% of landlords were. That legal help matters. Legal
representation can significantly increase success in for tenants in their cases,
keep eviction filings off their records, and prevent them from having to enter
homeless shelters. That’s why I’ll fight to create a national housing
right-to-counsel fund which would provide grants to cities to guarantee
access to counsel for low- and middle-income tenants who are facing eviction or
taking their landlord to court for violations like breaching their lease, shutting
off their heat and water, or violating the housing code. And I’ll fight
to create a new tenants’ cause of action that allows tenants to sue landlords
who threaten or begin an illegal eviction.
I’ll also push to create a new Tenant Protection Bureau within the
Department of Housing and Urban Development — modeled after the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — to enforce tenants’ rights, take on bad
actors, and make sure landlords keep affordable housing affordable for working
families. Before the financial crash, I came up with the idea for a
consumer financial protection agency— a new federal agency dedicated to
protecting American consumers. I fought for that agency, helped build it from
scratch, and now the CFPB has returned nearly $12 billion directly to consumers scammed by
Tenants deserve a cop on the beat too. My new Tenant Protection Bureau, housed
within HUD, would enforce these federal tenant protections, like just-cause
eviction, for tenants in all federally-funded affordable housing developments,
ensure safe and decent living conditions, and guarantee that landlords don’t illegally
raise rents or fees in federally-subsidized housing. The Tenant Protection
Bureau will also empower community organizers with grants to state and local
groups who will sue for violations of tenant protections.
Tenants face similar dynamics to borrowers facing unscrupulous banks or
servicers. I’ll create a tenant hotline modeled after the CFPB consumer
complaint database that will route complaints from tenants to their
landlords through HUD, which could review the data for enforcement opportunities
and share the data with local officials and organizations to help them enforce
I’ll strengthen fair housing law and enforcement, giving HUD the tools to
take on modern-day redlining. A 2017 study in Virginia found that
Black tenants were more likely to be evicted, even accounting for
different income levels. Research has also shown that low-income women in Black
and Latinx neighborhoods face a heightened risk of eviction. Fifty years after the
passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), housing segregation endures, gentrification is pushing communities of color out of
the neighborhoods they built, people with disabilities face pervasive
discrimination, and nearly a quarter of transgender people report
experiencing housing discrimination.
We need to renew our fight against housing discrimination, and I’ll start on
day one. I’ll restore the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which
the Trump Administration put on ice. The AFFH rule would
fulfill the FHA’s promise to end housing segregation by requiring local
governments to identify housing policies and practices with racist effects and
undo them. I’ll also roll back the Trump administration’s effort to add work requirements to housing assistance. And I’ll withdraw
Trump’s racist proposed “mixed status” rule which, according to HUD’s own analysis,
would effectively evict tens of thousands of families and 55,000 children based on the immigration status
of household family members.
But reversing the Trump Administration’s attacks on civil rights isn’t enough.
The FHA protects against discrimination based on race, color, national origin,
religion, sex, familial status, and disability. To start, I’ll make sure that
HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, which has been gutted and undercut by the Trump administration, is fully
funded, staffed, and equipped to robustly enforce the FHA — which is
particularly critical for renters with disabilities who make up the majority of discrimination complaints.
My affordable housing bill would prohibit housing discrimination on
the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, veteran status,
and source of income, like a housing voucher. Under a Warren Administration,
HUD will issue regulations to the greatest extent it can under the Fair Housing
Act to end housing discrimination against domestic violence survivors, LGBTQ+
people, and based on tenants’ immigration status or criminal records. I’ll
fight for the Equality Act, which would explicitly ban anti-LGBTQ+
discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare, and public accommodations.
I’ll also direct HUD to take on chronic nuisance ordinances — local laws
that push domestic violence survivors, especially Black women, and people with disabilities, out of their homes.
And I support immigration reform that’s consistent with our values, including a
pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants — which would make them
eligible for public housing benefits.
I’ll also create a national small dollar grant program to help make sure
families aren’t evicted because of financial emergencies. I spent my
career studying why families go broke — so I know that it’s all too easy for a
family to fall behind on rent after a surprise trip to the emergency room or
car repair. Massachusetts pioneered several programs that provide small grants
to help families facing a one-time budget crunch, like the Homestart program, which provides grants of on
average $700 and some wraparound services to help families avoid
eviction. It’s been reported that 95% of their eviction prevention program recipients remain in
their homes four years later. I’ll fight to scale this program up nationwide,
likely saving federal, state, and local governments money by helping families
stay out of emergency homeless shelters.
While nobody should be homeless in America, we need to stop treating our
neighbors who are experiencing homelessness as criminals. All across the
country, cities and states make it illegal to live on the street, even when
there are fewer emergency shelter beds than people who need them — 34% of cities have city-wide bans on camping in public, 43% of cities prohibit sleeping in vehicles, and 9% of cities even prohibit sharing food with homeless people.
Even as the affordable housing crisis deepens, pushing more people out of
affordable housing, these laws are spreading — just this month the Las Vegas City Council voted to
criminalize camping on downtown streets. Enough is enough — it’s time to stop
criminalizing poverty. My Department of Justice will not fund efforts to
criminalize homelessness and will deny grant money to police departments who
are arresting residents for living outside.
I’ve also already committed to preventing and combating the epidemic of
LGBTQ+ youth, transgender, and veterans homelessness. My LGBTQ+ rights plan commits to reauthorizing and fully
funding the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and to creating a LGBTQ+ youth
homelessness prevention program within the U.S. Interagency Council on
Homelessness. And I will restore and strengthen the HUD Equal Access Rule, reversing Ben Carson’s horrific proposal to
allow shelters to discriminate against transgender women – so if a trans women
of color loses her home, she doesn’t face widespread discrimination from
homeless shelters. My plan to support our veterans calls to fully fund rapid re-housing and
permanent supporting housing through the Supportive Services for Veteran
Families (SSVF) and HUD-VASH programs and to create a new competitive grant
program to provide wrap-around services for veterans and their families. As we
fight to end homelessness and expand affordable housing, we won’t leave any
Tackling the growing cost of rent.
My Housing Plan for America tackles the
growing cost of rent at its root: a severe lack of affordable housing supply
and state and local land-use rules that needlessly drive up housing costs. My
plan would add more than 3 million new affordable housing units,
and I’ll commit to prioritizing a portion of these units to particularly
vulnerable groups like the chronically homeless, people living with HIV, people
with disabilities, seniors who want to age in place, and people who have been
incarcerated and are returning to the community. My plan will bring
down the rents by 10% nationwide and make targeted investments in
rural housing programs and in a new Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund to
support the construction of new housing for middle-class renters in communities
with severe housing supply shortages. My plan also invests $2.5 billion in the
Indian Housing Block Grant and the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant to build
or rehabilitate 200,000 homes on tribal land.
We’ll also incentivize the elimination of costly zoning rules — like minimum
lot sizes or parking requirements — with a $10 billion new competitive grant
program that state and local government can use to build infrastructure, parks,
roads, or schools on the condition that they reform land-use rules to allow for
the construction of additional well-located affordable housing units and to
protect tenants from rent spikes and eviction. And in doing all of this, my
plan would create 1.5 million new jobs.
But we must do more. More than 30 states have laws on the books that explicitly
prohibit cities from adopting rent control — and when tenants and
communities fight to repeal those laws, they’re met with fierce opposition from
real estate and private equity giants that have shelled out massive amounts of money to block them.
States shouldn’t be able to suppress local innovation or stop towns and cities
from adopting the housing policies that best protect their residents. That’s
why my administration will work to stop states from preempting local tenant
protection laws, including rent control. A Warren Administration will
side with people over private equity. I’ll condition the new affordable housing
money from my Housing plan that goes to states on repealing state laws that
prohibit local rent control laws and other tenant protections.
States and local governments across the country have adopted a number of
different strategies to tackle rising rent costs. This year, Oregon and California became the first states to pass
statewide rental control measures. From Maryland to Colorado, communities across the country have been
testing out the community land trust model, to try to break the link between
the cost of the land and the private, speculative market. As President,
I’ll create an Innovation Lab in HUD to study strategies that keep rents
affordable such as rent control, multi-year leases, zoning reform, and
community land trusts, and share data on what works and best practices. I’ll
also bring together a commission of federal, state, and local government
officials, public housing administrators, housing justice organizations,
homelessness advocates, and tenants’ unions to discuss affordability and
strategies to address it.
I’ll direct HUD to recognize strategies that prevent gentrification and
displacement of long time communities as ways for meeting jurisdictions’
obligations under the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. I’ll also
restore and improve the Small Area Fair Market Rent (SAFMR) rule, which the Trump
administration has tried to block. SAFMR sets the housing voucher
amounts at the zip code level rather than the metro level and promotes
integration by allowing vouchers to cover more in neighborhoods with higher
rental costs. I’ll also direct HUD to ensure that the shift does not reduce the
number of total housing units available to voucher holders, invest additional
resources and technical assistance to increase understanding of this rule among
public housing authorities (PHAs) and tenants, issue additional guidance on
setting payment standards, and make the administrative plans by PHAs of the
implementation of this rule publicly available.
Invest in safe, healthy, and green public housing.
Today, about 2 million people nationwide live in 1.1 million public housing units — and too
many are living in homes with lead, rats and roaches, and black
mold that jeopardize their health. Tenants who receive HUD rental assistance
are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions or go to an
emergency room than other similarly situated renters. Children in these
households are more likely to have asthma and face an acute risk of lead poisoning.
Public housing is also failing in meeting the needs of Section 8 eligible
renters who have disabilities. About 41% of all public housing units are home to a disabled person,
but only about 3% of those units actually have accessibility features.
The federal government’s decision to scale back or not match inflation when
funding public housing has resulted in a national public housing capital repair
backlog of $70 billion, leading to inaccessible housing for people with
disabilities and substandard living conditions. Because units have
been demolished or removed due to uninhabitable conditions, the total number of
public housing units has fallen by more than 250,000 since the mid-1990s. And with a median
public housing waiting list of 9 months, and in some cases, as long as 8 years, we can’t afford to lose a single unit.
As climate change makes summer heat waves and winter cold snaps more severe and
disasters more frequent, the number of habitable units could fall even further,
and public housing across the country is at risk. Last winter, nearly 90% of New York City Housing Authority units lost heat because
of boiler system breakdowns. Some of those same residents dealt with extreme heat in the summer, which can be particularly
dangerous to the elderly and residents with disabilities. In Charleston, South
Carolina, which is facing rising sea levels, 7 of the PHA’s properties are only a few feet above the high
tide level, and across the country, nearly half a million HUD-assisted housing units are in flood
We must invest in safe, healthy, and green homes. I’ll start by
repealing the Faircloth Amendment, which has prohibited
the use of federal funds for the construction or operation of new public
housing units with Capital or Operating Funds, effectively capping the number
of public housing units available at 1999 levels. I’ll fight to
completely close the national public housing capital repair backlog,
expand disability accessibility, and for 1:1 replacement of any units that have
to be removed or demolished. And I’ll fight for investments in new public
I’ll also update the rules of major federal housing funding programs, like
the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Housing Trust Fund,
Capital Magnet Fund, and Home Grant program, to allow PHAs or other public
institutions to use these funds to develop properties and Section 811 PRA
housing themselves and maintain public ownership. Under current rules, states
are required to contract with private developers. With this change, PHAs and
other public institutions will also be able to benefit from the massive
investment of my Housing plan. Like existing developments under these programs,
these projects would be subsidized to allow low-income tenants to live
alongside market rate tenants. And I’ll encourage PHAs to develop a
participatory budgeting process with residents on how capital dollars are
I believe that every renter has the right to a healthy home. I have
called for retrofitting 4% of our existing building stock each year in my
100% Clean Energy for America plan. I will
ensure that public housing units and public schools are prioritized for
retrofitting because more efficient homes mean lower energy bills, and the cost
of energy should not hold any family back. And I will work across federal
agencies to eliminate toxic substances like mold and lead from all
housing and drinking water sources by investing in toxic mold removal,
establishing a lead abatement grant program to remediate lead in all federal
buildings, and providing a Lead Safety Tax Credit to incentivize landlords to
invest in remediation for their tenants. I’ll fully fund CDC’s environmental
health programs like the Childhood Lead Prevention program, and fully
capitalize the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State
Revolving Fund to ensure that nobody’s drinking water is poisoned because of
crumbling infrastructure. And I will immediately roll back the amended timeline
of the EPA draft rule on lead pipe replacement, which the Trump administration
has tried to relax from 13 to 33 years.
For all new affordable rental units, I will ensure that the project
undergoes an environmental equity screen during both the siting and
construction phases so that we do not continue to subject low-income
communities to environmental racism through our housing policies. I will direct
the Department of Energy to provide technical assistance to utilities to better
support and incentivize on-bill financing to further adoption of clean energy,
no matter the income, credit, or renter status of each customer.
And as we modernize our public housing units, we will build livable communities
starting with a new Green Public Housing program that will create
millions of jobs and provide climate smart housing. Because of the massive
maintenance backlog in America’s public housing, and because the federal
government hasn’t funded new public housing construction in decades, manypublic housingbuildings aren’t equipped to withstand the
increasingly harsh realities of climate change. I am a proud supporter of the
Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, which will create grant programs for
public housing authorities to conduct deep energy retrofits, prioritize
workforce development, upgrade the facilities’ energy efficiency and water
quality, allow for community renewable energy generation, and encourage
recycling, community resiliency, and climate adaptation. My 100% Clean Energy
for America plan calls for all new commercial and residential buildings to have
zero carbon pollution by 2028, and this applies to any new public housing
development as well. Nobody should have to face substandard living conditions,
and through the Green Public Housing program, we will ensure that we raise the
standard of living for all renters.
And I will make sure we’re supporting those who have been displaced by
disaster. Renters are particularly vulnerable in the wake of natural disasters. But
for too long, renters have been overlooked in government post-disaster response
and recovery. That’s why I introduced the Housing Survivors of Major Disaster Act, which will require
FEMA to work with HUD to immediately set up the Disaster Housing Assistance
Program (DHAP) for temporary rental assistance and wraparound services to
disaster survivors. This will also support those who might not have residence
documentation, to ensure renters without leasing documents and people who are
homeless have access to these critical services.
Fight the exploitation of renters by corporate landlords.
Since the mortgage crisis, large private equity firms have become some of the
country’s biggest landlords — a big win for Wall Street, but a huge
loss for America’s renters. Take Blackstone, one of the largest private equity firms in the world. Since
2016, more than 600 complaints have been filed against Blackstone
subsidiary Invitation Homes with the Better Business Bureau, and Invitation
Homes is currently facing a class action lawsuit in California for
subjecting tenants to excessive and illegal late fees.
The problems extend to other private equity landlords too. Colony Capital, the
third-largest single family landlord in the country, evicted more than 30% of tenants living in its Atlanta
rentals. In Memphis, Firstkey Homes, a property management company owned by
Cerberus Capital Management, files for eviction at twice the rate of other property managers.
We can’t keep letting these firms loot the economy to pad their own pockets
while working families suffer. My plan to Rein in Wall Street will hold private equity firms
accountable and prevent private equity funds from snatching up properties and
dramatically raising rents, allowing more people to stay in their homes..
My Excessive Lobbying Tax will make it more costly for these firms
to lobby against policies that protect renters.
But we can do more. I’ll stop federal dollars from going to predatory
landlords and lenders with a long history of harassing tenants, forcing tenants
to live in dangerous or indecent conditions, or redlining our communities. I’ve
already committed to strict new requirements for Fannie
Mae and Freddie Mac, limiting the situations in which the agencies can sell
mortgages and imposing new requirements on Wall Street buyers to protect
I’ll also direct the Federal Housing Administration to deny
federal support to landlords that violate tenants’ rights. My FHA will
develop rules that prohibit federal agencies from insuring, guaranteeing, or
lending to landlords with a history of harassing tenants, violating housing
codes, unjust evictions, violating fair housing law, or engaging in
unconscionable rent increases. That means no federal support for landlords that
violate tenants’ rights — like Jared Kushner’s family firm, which is under investigation for harassing tenants out of
I’ll go further and allow all suits for violations of the Fair Housing Act
and Federal, state or local housing protections to reach to the private equity
firm and its general partners. After the housing crisis, private
equity firms gobbled up hundreds of thousands of Real Estate
Owned (REO) properties and troubled mortgages from FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.
In the years since, private equity firms have expanded their portfolios in
housing and have taken a particularly aggressive position in the market
for manufactured home parks. In the midst of the financial crisis, private equity firms
exploited legal loopholes and used shell companies to ensure tenants were
unable to get justice when they’re wronged and removing all disincentive for
My housing plan would end the pipeline of foreclosed homes from Federal
agencies to private equity firms, and My Wall Street plan allowed extended
liability for actions at a private equity portfolio company to the private
equity firm and its general partners in the case of a government enforcement
I’ll rein in payday lenders who take advantage of renters. Payday
lenders cluster in low-income areas, like around government-subsidized housing, and target communities of color. I’ve called out the unscrupulous, exploitative practices
for more than a decade. As President, I’ll direct the CFPB to issue a
comprehensive package of regulations on payday lenders, including limiting the
proximity of payday lenders near public housing. I’ll call for Congress to
repeal the Dodd-Frank provision that prohibits the CFPB from capping interest
rates, empowering the CFPB to effectively regulate these bad actors.
And I’ll take on “land contracts” agreements, predatory loans that are
frequently targeted at communities of color. Land contracts are high-interest loans that are often marketed as a path to
homeownership. Tenant-buyers make payments towards a lender over a long period
of time, and the lenders that own the homes are only required to turn over
legal title to the home after the renter has completely paid it off. But homes
— often houses lost in the foreclosure crisis — can be in such bad
condition they’re basically uninhabitable, and the contracts shift the costs of
fixing them up away from banks and onto unsuspecting families.
Worse still, these contracts are built to fail: If tenants fall behind on these unregulated,
high-interest loans, predatory lenders can seize the property — and keep would-be buyers’ money
— so they make it hard for families to keep up with payments by inflating
the prices, disguising debts, and hiding unfair terms in the fine print of
their land contracts. Predatory lenders target communities of color for land
contracts, including the same families displaced by rising rents. I’ll choose a
CFPB Director committed to reigning in land contracts.
Next, I’ll require large corporate landlords to publicly disclose data. I’ll
create a national public database of information about large corporate
landlords, by requiring them to report key data to HUD. The database will
include information like corporate landlords’ median rent, the number and
percentage of tenants they evicted, building code violations, the most recent
standard lease agreement used, and the identity of any individuals with an
ownership interest of 25% or more, either directly or indirectly, in large
landlords’ corporations, LLCs, or similar legal entities. And I’ll direct HUD
to study the impact that these kinds of landlords have on local rental markets.
The vigorous contest of
Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent
policy proposals to address major issues. Clearly
responding to the backlash against her radical plan to finance Medicare for
All, Senator Elizabeth Warren released details of how she would reduce health
care costs in America, eliminate profiteering from the health care system, and
complete a full transition to Medicare for All in her first term. Warren has
already released her plan to fully finance Medicare
for All when it’s up and running without raising taxes on the middle class by
“Medicare for All is
the best way to guarantee health care to all Americans at the lowest cost. I
have a plan to pay for it without
raising taxes on middle class families, and the transition I’ve outlined here
will get us there within my first term as president. Together, along with
additional reforms like my plans to reduce black maternal mortality rates,
ensure rural health care,
protect reproductive rights,
support the Indian Health Service,
take care of our veterans, and
secure LGBTQ+ equality, we will
ensure that no family will ever go broke again from a medical diagnosis – and
that every American gets the excellent health care they deserve. “
This is from the Warren campaign:
On Day One, Elizabeth will use her executive authority
Reverse Donald Trump’s sabotage of Obamacare
Improve the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Protect people with pre-existing conditions
Drastically lower pharmaceutical costs for millions of
families for drugs including Insulin, EpiPens, and drugs that save people from
The first bill Elizabeth will pass is her comprehensive set
of anti-corruption reforms which include ending lobbying as we know it and
knocking back the influence of Big Pharma and insurance companies.
And in her first 100 days, Elizabeth will use a
fast-track legislative process called budget reconciliation to create a true
Medicare for All option that will:
Include all the health care benefits of Medicare for All
described in the Medicare for All Act.
Be immediately free for nearly half of all Americans,
Children under the age of 18
Families making at or below 200% of the federal poverty
level (about $51,000 for a family of four)
Give every American over the age of 50 the choice to enter a
substantially improved Medicare program.
Consumer costs will automatically decline, so eventually
coverage under this plan will be free to everyone
Throughout her first term, she will fight for additional
health system reforms to save money and save lives–including a boost of
$100 billion in guaranteed, mandatory spending for new NIH
And no later than her third year in office, she will pass
legislation to complete the transition to Medicare for All: guaranteed
comprehensive health care for every American, long-term care, vision, dental,
and hearing, with a single payer to reduce costs and produce better health
Elizabeth’s plan can deliver an $11 trillion boost to
families who will never pay another premium, deductible, or co-pay.
And her plan will protect unions and make sure that there’s
support for workers affected by these changes.
My First Term Plan for Reducing Health Care Costs in
America and Transitioning to Medicare for All
I spent my career studying why families went broke. I rang
the alarm bells as the costs for necessities skyrocketed while wages remained
basically flat. And instead of helping, our government has become more tilted
in favor of the wealthy and the well-connected.
The squeeze on America’s families started long before the
election of Donald Trump, and I’m not running for president just to beat him.
I’m running for president to fix what’s broken in our economy and our
democracy. I have serious plans to raise wages for Americans.
And I have serious plans to reduce costs that are crushing our families, costs
like child care, education, housing – and health care.
The Affordable Care Act made massive strides in expanding
access to health insurance coverage, and we must defend Medicaid and the
Affordable Care Act against Republican attempts to rip health coverage away
from people. But it’s time for the next step.
The need is clear. Last year, 37 million American
adults didn’t fill a prescription because of costs. 36 million people
skipped a recommended test, treatment, or follow-up because of costs. 40 million people
didn’t go to a doctor to check out a health problem because of costs. 57 million people
had trouble covering their medical bills. An average family of four with
employer-sponsored insurance spent $12,378 on
employee premium contributions and out-of-pocket costs in 2018. And 87 million Americans
are either uninsured or underinsured.
Meanwhile, America spends about twice as much per
person on health care than the average among our peer countries while
delivering worse health outcomes than many of them. America is home to the best
health care providers in the world, and yet tens of millions of people can’t
get care because of cost, forcing families into impossible decisions. Whether
to sell the house or skip a round of chemo. Whether to cut up pills to save
money or buy groceries for the week. The way we pay for health care in the
United States is broken – and America’s families bear the burden.
We can fix this system. Medicare for All is the best way to
cover every person in America at the lowest possible cost because it eliminates
profiteering from our health care and leverages the power of the federal
government to rein in spending. Medicare for All will finally ensure that
Americans have access to all of the coverage they need – not just what
for-profit insurance companies are willing to cover – including vision, dental,
coverage for mental health and addiction services, physical therapy, and
long-term care for themselves and their loved ones. Medicare for All will mean
that health care is once again between patients and the doctors and nurses they
trust–without an insurance company in the middle to say “no” to access to the
care they need. I have put out a plan to fully
finance Medicare for All when it’s up and running without raising taxes on the
middle class by one penny.
But how do we get there?
Every serious proposal for Medicare for All contemplates
a significant transition period. Today, I’m announcing my plan to expand public
health care coverage, reduce costs, and improve the quality of care for every
family in America. My plan will be completed in my first term. It includes
dramatic actions to lower drug prices, a Medicare for All option available to
everyone that is more generous than any plan proposed by any other presidential
candidate, critical health system reforms to save money and save lives, and a
full transition to Medicare for All.
Here’s what I’ll do in my first 100 days:
I’ll pursue comprehensive anti-corruption reforms to
rein in health insurers and drug companies – reforms that are essential to make
any meaningful health care changes in Washington.
I’ll use the tools of the presidency to start improving
coverage and lowering costs – immediately. I’ll reverse Donald Trump’s
sabotage of health care, protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, take
on the big pharmaceutical companies to lower costs of key drugs for millions of
Americans, and improve the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid.
I will fight to pass fast-track budget reconciliation
legislation to create a true Medicare for All option that’s free for tens of
millions. I won’t hand Mitch McConnell a veto over my health care
agenda. Instead, I’ll give every American over the age of 50 the choice to
enter an improved Medicare program, and I’ll give every person in America the
choice to get coverage through a true Medicare for All option. Coverage under the
new Medicare for All option will be immediately free for children under the age
of 18 and for families making at or below 200% of the federal poverty level
(about $51,000 for a family of four). For all others, the cost will be modest,
and eventually, coverage under this plan will be free for everyone.
By the end of my first 100 days, we will have opened the
door for tens of millions of Americans to get high-quality Medicare for All
coverage at little or no cost. But I won’t stop there. Throughout my
term, I’ll fight for additional health system reforms to save money and save
lives – including a boost of $100 billion in guaranteed, mandatory spending for
new NIH research over the next ten years to radically improve basic
medical science and the development of new medical miracles for patients.
And finally, no later than my third year in office, I
will fight to pass legislation that would complete the transition to full
Medicare for All. By this point, the American people will have
experienced the full benefits of a true Medicare for All option, and they can
see for themselves how that experience stacks up against high-priced care that
requires them to fight tooth-and-nail against their insurance company. Per the
terms of the Medicare for All Act, supplemental private insurance that doesn’t
duplicate the benefits of Medicare for All would still be available. But by
avoiding duplicative insurance and integrating every American into the new
program, the American people would save trillions of dollars on health costs.
I will pursue each of these efforts in consultation with key
stakeholders, including patients, health care professionals, unions,
individuals with private insurance, hospitals, seniors currently on Medicare,
individuals with disabilities and other patients who use Medicaid, Tribal
Nations, and private insurance employees.
And at each step of my plan, millions more Americans will
pay less for health care. Millions more Americans will see the quality of their
current health coverage improve. And millions more Americans will have the
choice to ditch their private insurance and enter a high-quality public plan.
And, at each step, the changes in our health care system will be fully paid for
without raising taxes one penny on middle class families.
Every step in the coming fight to improve American health
care – like every other fight to improve
American health care – will be opposed by those powerful industries who profit
from our broken system.
But I’ll fight my heart out at each step of this process,
for one simple reason: I spent a lifetime learning about families going broke
from the high cost of health care. I’ve seen up close and personal how the
impact of a medical diagnosis can be devastating and how the resulting medical
bills can turn people’s lives upside down. When I’m President of the United
States, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that never happens
to another person again.
The First 100 Days of a Warren Administration
Donald Trump has spent nearly every day of his
administration trying to rip health coverage away from tens of millions of
Americans – first by legislation, then by regulation, and now by lawsuit. When
I take office, I will immediately work to reverse the damage he has done.
But I’ll do much more than that.
In my first 100 days, I will pick up every tool Donald
Trump has used to undermine Americans’ health care and do the opposite. While
Republicans tried to use fast-track budget reconciliation legislation to rip
away health insurance from millions of people with just 50 votes in the Senate,
I’ll use that tool in reverse – to improve our existing public insurance
programs, including by giving everyone 50 and older the option to join the
current Medicare program, and to create a true Medicare for All option that’s
free for millions and available to everyone.
But first, we must act to rein in Washington
Anti-Corruption Reforms to Rein in Health Industry
In Washington, money talks – and nowhere is that more
obvious than when it comes to health care. The health care industry spent $4.7
billion lobbying over the last decade. And health insurance and pharmaceutical
executives have been active in fundraising and donating to
candidates in the 2020 Democratic primary campaign as well.
Today, the principal lobbying groups for the drug companies,
health insurers, and hospitals have teamed up with dozens of other
health industry groups to create the Partnership for America’s Health Care
Future – a front group whose members spent a combined $143 million on
lobbying in 2018 and aims to torpedo
Medicare for All in this election. The Partnership has made clear that “whether
it’s called Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in, or the public option,
one-size-fits-all health care will never allow us to achieve [our]
Let’s not kid ourselves: every Democratic plan for
expanding public health care coverage is a challenge to these industries’
bottom lines – and every one of these plans is already being drowned in money
to make sure it never happens. Any candidate who believes more modest reforms
will avoid the wrath of industry is not paying attention.
If the next president has any intention of winning any
health care fight, they must start by reforming Washington. That’s why I’ve
released the biggest set of anti-corruption reforms since Watergate – and why
enacting these reforms is my top priority as president. Here are some of the
ways my plan would rein in the health care industry:
Close the revolving door. My plan will close the revolving door between
health care lobbyists and government, and end the practice of large
pharmaceutical companies like Novartis, United Health, Roche, Pfizer, and
Merck vacuuming up senior
government officials to try and monopolize government expertise, relationships,
and influence during a fight for health care reform.
Tax excessive lobbying. My plan will also
implement an excessive lobbying tax on
companies that spend more than $500,000 per year peddling influence – like
Pfizer, Amgen, Eli Lilly, Novartis, and Johnson & Johnson. Money from the
tax would be used to strengthen congressional support agencies, establish an
office to help the public participate in the rule-making process, and give our
government additional resources to fight back against an avalanche of corporate
End lobbyist bribery. My campaign finance plan
will ban all lobbyists – including health insurance and pharma lobbyists – from
trying to buy off politicians by donating or fundraising for their campaigns.
This will shut down the flow of millions of dollars in
Limit corporate spending to influence elections. My
plan bans all election-related spending from big corporations with a
significant portion of ownership from foreign entities. That would block major
industry players like UnitedHealth, Anthem, Humana, CVS Health, Pfizer,Amgen, AbbVie, Eli Lilly, Gilead, and Novartis – along
with any trade associations that receive money from them – from spending to
Crowd out corporate contributions with small dollar
donations. I support a constitutional amendment to get big money out
of politics. But until we enact it, my plan would institute a public financing
program that matches every dollar from small donations with six more dollars so
that congressional candidates are answering to the people who need health care
and affordable prescription drugs, rather than health insurance and
Passing these reforms will not be easy. But we should enact
as much of this agenda as possible, as quickly as possible. I will also use my
executive authority to begin implementing them wherever possible – including
through prioritizing DOJ and FEC enforcement against the corrupt
influence-peddling game. And I will voluntarily hold my administration to the
standards that I set in my anti-corruption plan so that all our federal
agencies, including those involved in health care, serve only the interests of
Money slithers through Washington like a snake. Any
candidate that cannot or will not identify this problem, call it out, and
pledge to make fixing it a top priority will not succeed in delivering any
public expansion of health care coverage – or any other major priority.
Immediate Executive Actions to Reduce Costs and Expand
Public Health Coverage.
There are a number of immediate steps a president can take
entirely by herself to lower drug prices, reduce costs, and improve Medicare,
Medicaid, and ACA access and affordability. I intend to take these steps within
my first 100 days.
Dramatically Lower Key Drug Prices
As drug companies benefit from taxpayer-funded R&D and
rake in billions of dollars in
profits, Americans are stuck footing the bill. The average American spends
roughly $1,220 per year on
pharmaceuticals – more than any comparable country. As president, I
will act immediately to lower the cost of prescription drugs, using every
available tool to bring pressure on the big drug companies. I’ll start by
taking immediate advantage of existing legal authorities to lower the cost of
several specific drugs that tens of millions of Americans rely on.
Some drug prices are high because pharmaceutical companies
jack up prices on single-source brand-name drugs, taking advantage of
government-granted patents and exclusivity periods to generate eye-popping
profits. Pharma giant Gilead, for example, launched its
Hepatitis C treatment Harvoni at $94,500-per-twelve week treatment – leaving as many as 85 percent of more than 3 million Americans with
Hepatitis C struggling to afford life-saving treatments.
The government has two
existing tools to combat price-gouging by brand-name drug companies, in
addition to tough antitrust enforcement against companies that abuse our patent
system and use every trick in the book to avoid competition. First, the
government can bypass patents (while providing “reasonable and entire
compensation” to patent holders) using “compulsory licensing authority.” The
Defense Department has used this authority as recently as 2014.
Second, under the march-in provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act, the
government can require re-licensing of certain patents developed with
government involvement when the contractor was not alleviating health or safety
needs. Just in this decade, federal research investments have contributed to
the development of hundreds of drugs –
all of which could be subject to this authority.
But new drugs aren’t the only unaffordable drugs on the
market. Even older, off-patent drugs can be expensive and inaccessible. Lack of
generic competition allows bad actors like Martin Shkreli to
boost the prices of decades-old drugs. Some of the biggest generic drug
companies in the country are now being sued by forty-four states for
price-fixing to keep profits high. Limited competition and other market
failures can also lead to drug shortages. Fortunately, the government can also
act to fix our broken generic drug market by stepping in to publicly
manufacture generic drugs, stopping price gouging in its tracks and bringing
On the first day of my presidency, I will use these tools
to drastically lower drug costs for essential medications – drugs with high
costs or limited supply that address critical public health needs. And
during my administration, we will use these tools to make other drugs
affordable as well.
Insulin was discovered nearly 100 years ago as
a treatment for diabetes – but today the drug is still unaffordable for too
many Americans. Eli Lilly’s brand-name insulin prices increased over 1,200% since the 1990s.
Insulin costs are too high because three drug companies –
Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and Eli Lilly – dominate the market, jacking up prices.
Americans with diabetes are rationing insulin, and
taxpayers are spending billions on it
through Medicare and Medicaid. It’s obscene.
No American should die because they can’t afford a century-old drug that can
be profitably developed for
$72 a year. I will use existing authorities to contract for manufacture of
affordable insulin for all Americans.
EpiPens deliver life-saving doses of
epinephrine, a drug that reverses severe allergic reactions to things like
peanuts and bee stings. Though epinephrine has been around for over a century, the pens
that deliver it are protected by a patent that
limits competition. In 2016, this lack of competition allowed Mylan, EpiPen’s
manufacturer, to jack up EpiPen prices by 400%, leaving
families unable to afford this life-saving medication. Though cheaper versions
have recently entered
the market, prices remain out of reach for
many American families. As president, I will use existing authorities to
produce affordable epinephrine injectors for Americans (and especially
children) who need it.
Humira is a drug with anti-inflammatory effects used
to treat diseases like arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease. It
is the best-selling prescription
drug in the world, treating millions. AbbVie, Humira’s manufacturer, has doubled the price
of Humira to more than $38,000 a year. In 2017, Medicaid and Medicare spent over
$4.2 billion on it – while AbbVie, its manufacturer, developed a “patent thicket” to
shield itself from biosimilar competition. In May 2019, the company
entered into a legal settlement preventing a competitor from entering the U.S.
market until 2023 – probably because prices went down by up to 80% once
biosimilars entered in Europe. My administration will pursue antitrust action
against AbbVie and other drug companies that pursue blatantly anti-competitive
behavior, and, if necessary, use compulsory licensing authority to facilitate
production, saving taxpayers billions.
Hepatitis C drugs like Harvoni are part of
a class described as
“miracle” drugs. Harvoni’s price tag – $94,500-per-treatment – left 85% of the more than 3 million Americans living
with Hepatitis C without a lifesaving medication, while taxpayers foot a $3.8billion bill. Although
the price has come down in recent years, it is still expensive for
too many. One estimate suggests that by
using compulsory licensing, the federal government could treat all Americans
with Hepatitis C for $4.5 billion – just 2% of the $234 billion it would
otherwise cost. That is exactly what I will do.
Truvada is a drug that – until recently –
was the only FDA-approved form
of pre-exposure prophylaxis, which can reduce the risk of HIV from sexual
activity by up to 99%. Truvada’s
manufacturer, Gilead, relied on $50 million in federal grants to
develop it, but today they rake in multi-billion dollar profits while Americans
struggle to afford it. The CDC estimates a million Americans could benefit from
Truvada, though only a fraction do today – largely due to to its $2,000-a-month price tag, which is nearly thirty times what
it costs in other countries. My administration will facilitate the production
of an affordable version – reducing HIV infections and saving taxpayers billions of dollars each
Antibiotics provide critical protection from
bacterial and fungal infections, and we are in desperate need of new
antibiotics to combat resistant infections. Every year, nearly
three million Americans contract antibiotic-resistant infections – and more
than 35,000 people die. But antibiotics don’t generate much money,
discouraging pharmaceutical investment, causing shortages, and contributing to price hikes.
Earlier this year, one biotech firm filed for bankruptcy after
marketing a new antibiotic, Zemdri, for less than a year. My administration
will identify antibiotics with high prices or limited supply and help produce
them to combat resistance and provide patients with the treatments they need.
Drug shortages leave doctors and patients
scrambling to access the treatments they need, forcing many to ration
medications and use inferior substitutes. Our nation’s hospitals, for example,
are currently experiencing a shortage of
vincristine – an off-patent drug that is the “backbone” of childhood cancer
treatment. The vincristine shortage began when Teva, one of its two suppliers,
made the “business decision” to stop manufacturing the drug. When I am
president, the government will track drugs in consistent shortage, like
vincristine, and I will use our administrative authority to ensure we have
Finally, I will also direct the government to study whether
other essential medicines, including breakthrough drugs for cancer or high-cost
drugs for rare diseases, might also be subject to these interventions because
they are being sold at prices that inappropriately limit patient
Make Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment A
The law currently requires health insurers to provide mental
health and substance use disorder benefits in parity with physical health benefits.
But in 2018, less than half of
people with mental illness received treatment and less than a fifth of people
who needed substance use treatment actually received it. As
president, I will launch a full-scale effort to enforce these requirements –
with coordinated actions by the IRS, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services, and Department of Labor to make sure health plans actually provide
mental health treatment in the same way they provide other treatment.
Reverse Trump’s Sabotage
I will reverse the Trump administration’s actions that have
undermined health care in America. Key steps include:
Protecting coverage for people with pre-existing
conditions. The Trump administration has abandoned its duty
to defend current laws in court, cheering on efforts to destroy protections for
pre-existing conditions, insurance coverage for dependents until they’re 26,
and the other critical Affordable Care Act benefits. In a Warren
administration, the Department of Justice will defend this law. And we will
close the loopholes created by the Trump administration, using 1332 waivers,
that could allow states to steer healthy people toward parallel, unregulated
markets for junk health plans. This will shut down a stealth attack on people
with pre-existing conditions who would see their premiums substantially
increase as healthier people leave the marketplace.
Banning junk health plans. The Trump
administration has expanded the use of
junk health insurance plans as an alternative to comprehensive health plans
that meet the standards of the ACA. These plans cover few benefits,
discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, and increase costs
for everyone else. And in some cases they direct as much as 50 percent of
patient premiums to administrative expenses or profit. I will ban junk plans.
Expanding ACA enrollment. I’ll re-fund the
Affordable Care Act programs that help people enroll in ACA coverage, programs
that have been gutted by the Trump administration.
Expanding premium tax credits. I will reverse
the Trump administration rule that artificially reduced premium tax credits for
many people, making coverage less affordable –
and instead will expand these credits.
Rolling back Trump’s sabotage of Medicaid. I’ll
reverse the Trump administration’s harmful Medicaid policies that take coverage
away from low-income individuals and families. I’ll prohibit restrictive and
ineffective policies like work requirements – which have already booted 18,000 people in
Arkansas out of the program – as well as enrollment caps, premiums, drug
testing, and limits on retroactive eligibility that can prevent bankruptcy.
Restoring non-discrimination protections in health
care. I will immediately reverse the Trump administration’s
terrible proposed rule permitting
health plans and health providers to discriminate against women, LGBTQ+ people,
individuals with limited English proficiency, and others.
Ending the Trump administration’s assault on reproductive
care. I’ll roll back the Trump administration’s domestic and global
gag rules, which deny Title X and USAID funding to health care providers who
provide abortion care or even explain where and how patients can access safe,
legal abortions. And I will overturn the Trump administration’s embattled proposed rule to
roll back mandatory contraceptive coverage.
Strengthen the Affordable Care Act
As president I will use administrative tools to strengthen
the ACA to reduce costs for families and expand eligibility. Key steps include:
Stop families from being kicked out of affordable
coverage. Because of something called the “family glitch,” an
entire family can lose access to tax credits that would help them buy health
coverage if one parent is offered individual coverage with a premium less than
9.86% of their family income. I’ll work to make sure that a family’s access to
tax credits is based on the affordability of coverage for the whole family –
not just one individual – so families who don’t actually have access to
affordable alternatives don’t lose their ACA tax credits.
Expand eligibility to all legally present
individuals. I’ll also work to extend eligibility for ACA tax credits
to all people who are legally present, including those eligible for the
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Put money back in workers’ pockets. The
Affordable Care Act requires insurance
companies to spend at least 80 percent of total premium contributions on health
care claims (and, in many cases, at least 85 percent), leaving the rest to be
spent on plan administration, marketing, and profit. Insurers who waste money
must issue rebates – but too often, these are returned to employers who don’t pass
on the savings to their employees. Insurance companies are expected to pay
out $1.3 billion in
rebates in 2019, with employers in the small-group market receiving an average
rebate of $1,190 and employers in the large-group market receiving an average
rebate of $10,660. My plan will require employers to pass along the full value
of the rebate directly to employees.
As president I will use administrative tools to strengthen
Expand Dental Benefits. The Medicare statute
prohibits coverage of dental care that is unrelated to other medical care,
unless it is medically necessary. This has been interpreted to largely exclude
any oral health care. As a result, almost two-thirds of
Medicare beneficiaries, or nearly 37 million people, lack access to dental
benefits. I will use my administrative authority to clearly expand the
medically necessary dental services Medicare can provide, improving the health
of millions of Medicare beneficiaries.
Stop private Medicare Advantage plans from bilking
taxpayers. Roughly one-third of Medicare beneficiaries get coverage
through a private Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare payments to these plans for
each enrollee are supposed to reflect the cost of covering that person through
traditional Medicare, but overwhelmingevidence shows that
these private plans make their enrollees appear sicker on paper than they
actually are to earn inflated payments at the expense of taxpayers. Some suggest that this
adds $100 billion or more to Medicare spending over ten years. My
administration will put an end to this fraud.
As president I will use administrative tools to strengthen
Medicaid and potentially allow millions more to access the program.
Use waiver authority to increase Medicaid eligibility. With
the approval of the federal government, states can use Section 1115
demonstration waivers to expand coverage to people who aren’t otherwise
eligible for Medicaid. Currently, however, states can only obtain these waivers
if projected federal spending under the new program will not be higher than without the
waiver. While I pursue legislative reforms to expand coverage, I’ll
also change this administrative restriction to allow these demonstrations to
fulfill their promise of providing affordable health coverage, including
working with states that want to expand Medicaid to uninsured individuals and
families above the statutory upper limit of Medicaid (138% of the poverty
level). Any state that chooses to expand in this way will not be penalized for
doing so when full Medicare for All comes online.
Streamlining eligibility and enrollment. Far too
many people miss out on Medicaid coverage because of red tape. Some states take
coverage away if someone misses just one piece of mail or forgets to notify the
state within 10 days of a change in income. These kinds of harsh policies help
explain why more than a million children “disappeared” from the
Medicaid and CHIP programs in the past year. I will eliminate these kinds of
unfair practices, and instead work with states to make it easier for everyone –
families, children, and people with disabilities – to maintain this essential
Ensuring access to care for beneficiaries in managed care
plans. I’ll roll back the Trump administration’s proposed changes to
rules regulating Medicaid managed care plans, which would dilute important
standards, such as requiring health plans to maintain adequate provider
networks guaranteeing access to care for Medicaid enrollees.
Antitrust Enforcement for Hospitals and Health
For years, both horizontal
mergers (where hospitals purchase other hospitals) and vertical mergers (where
hospitals acquire physician practices) have produced greater hospital and
health system consolidation, contributing to the skyrocketing costs of health
care. Today, “not a single
highly competitive hospital market remains in any region of the United
States.” Study after studyshowsthat mergers mean higher prices, lower quality,
and increased inequality due to the growing wage gap between
hospital CEOs and everyone else. Bringing down the cost of health care means
enforcing competition in these markets.
As president, I will appoint aggressive antitrust enforcers
who recognize the problems with hospital and health system consolidation to the
Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission. My administration will also
conduct retrospective reviews of significant new mergers, and break up mergers
that should never have taken place.
Bringing Health Records into the 21st Century
Congress spent $36 billion to get
every doctor in America using electronic health records, but we still do not have adequate digital
information flow in health care – in part because two big
companies make up about 85% of the market for
medical records at big hospitals. As they attempt to capture more of the
market, these companies are making it harder for systems to communicate with each other. My
administration will ramp up the enforcement against information blocking by big
hospital systems and health IT companies, and I will appoint leaders to the FTC
and DOJ who will conduct a rigorous antitrust investigation of the health
records market, especially in the hospital space.
Elevating the Voices of Workers in the Transition to
Medicare for All
The fundamental goal of my presidency will be returning
power to working people. Medicare for All accomplishes that by giving every
American high-quality coverage and freeing them from relying on the whims of
their employers or private insurance companies for the health care they need.
My plan to transition to Medicare for All will also put working people first,
and elevate their voices at each stage of the process.
My plan seeks to build on the achievements of generations of
working people and their unions who have fought for and won health care. I view
good health plans negotiated through collective bargaining as a positive
achievement for working people, and I will seek as part of the first phase of
my plan the elimination of the excise tax on those plans.
In my first weeks in office, I will issue an Executive Order
creating a commission of workers (including health care workers), union
representatives, and union benefit managers that I will consult at every stage
of the transition process. The commission will be responsible for providing
advice on each element of the transition to Medicare for All, including, at a
Ensuring workforce readiness and adequate access to care
across all provider types.
Determining national standards of coverage and benefits,
including long-term care.
Learning from successful existing non-profit health care
administrators and integrating them into the new Medicare for All system.
Ensuring a living wage for all health care workers and that
savings generated within the new system by hospitals and other health care
employers are shared fairly with all of the workers in the health care system.
Ensuring that workers are able to use the collective
bargaining process during the transition period and under the new Medicare for
All system to ensure both effective health outcomes and to ensure that savings
generated by the new system are fairly shared with workers.
In administering the Medicare for All system, my
administration will also rely on unions’ expertise on designing good benefits
for workers and helping workers navigate our health care system. During the
transition to Medicare for All – and even when we ultimately reach a full
Medicare for All system – my administration will seek to partner with
collectively bargained non-profit health care administrators. For example, we
will draw upon their expertise in helping workers choose providers, and look
for opportunities to enter into contracts with the administrators of unions’ collectively
bargained health plans to provide these services. And my plan will guarantee
that union-sponsored clinics are included within the Medicare for All system
and will continue serving their members.
Finally, Medicare for All will be an enormous boost to
the economy, lifting a weight off of both workers and businesses and creating
good new jobs, including in administering health care benefits. Still, the
Medicare for All legislation includes billions of dollars to provide assistance
to workers who may be affected by the transition to Medicare for All, and I
plan on consulting with the new worker commission and other affected parties to
ensure that money is spent as effectively as possible. In the past, transition
assistance programs have been underfunded and have not been as responsive as
they should have been to the actual needs of workers. That will not be the case
in my administration. No worker will be left behind.
Legislation to Expand Medicare and Create a True Medicare
for All Option
In 2017, Senate Republicans came within one vote of
shredding the Affordable Care Act and taking health care coverage away from
more than 20 million people. How did they get so close? By using a fast-track
legislative process called budget reconciliation, which only requires 50 votes
in the Senate to pass laws with major budgetary impacts. President Obama also
used this process to secure final passage of the Affordable Care Act.
I am a strong supporter of eliminating the filibuster, which
I believe is essential to preventing right-wing Senators who function as wholly
owned subsidiaries of major American industries from blocking real legislative
change in America. Any candidate for president who does not support this change
should acknowledge the extreme difficulty of enacting their preferred
legislative agenda. But I’m not going to wait for this to happen to start
improving health care – and I’m not going to give Mitch McConnell or the
Republicans a veto over my entire health care agenda.
That’s why, within my first 100 days, I will pass my own
fast-track budget reconciliation legislation to enact a substantial portion of
my Medicare for All agenda – including establishing a true Medicare for All
option that’s free for millions and affordable for everyone.
A True Medicare for All Option. There are many
proposals that call themselves a Medicare for All “public option” – but most of
them lack the financing to actually allow everyone in America to choose true
Medicare for All coverage. As a result, these proposals create the illusion of
choice, when in reality they offer tens of millions of Americans the decision
between unaffordable private insurance and unaffordable public insurance. A
choice between two bad options isn’t a choice at all.
My approach is different.
Because I have identified trillions in revenue to finance a
fully functioning Medicare for All system – without raising taxes on the middle
class by one penny – I can also fund a true Medicare for All option. The plan
will be administered by Medicare and offered on ACA exchanges. Here are its key
Benefits. Unlike public option plans, the
benefits of the true Medicare for All option will match those in the Medicare
for All Act. This includes truly comprehensive coverage for primary and
preventive services, pediatric care, emergency services and transportation,
vision, dental, audio, long-term care, mental health and substance use, and
Immediate Free Coverage for Millions. This plan
will immediately offer coverage at no cost to every kid under the age of 18 and
anybody making at or below 200% of the federal poverty level (about $51,000 for
a family of four) – including individuals who would currently be on Medicaid,
but live in states that refused to expand their programs.
Free, Identical Coverage for Medicaid
Beneficiaries. States will be encouraged to begin paying a
maintenance-of-effort to the Medicare for All option in exchange for moving
their Medicaid populations into this plan and getting out of the business of
administering health insurance. For states that elect to maintain their
Medicaid programs, Medicaid premiums and cost sharing will be eliminated, and
we will provide wraparound benefits for any Medicare for All option benefits
not covered by a state’s program to ensure that these individuals have the same
free coverage as Medicaid-eligible people in the Medicare for All option.
Eventual Free Coverage for Everyone. This plan
will begin as high-quality public insurance that covers 90% of costs and allows
people to utilize improved ACA subsidies to purchase coverage and reduce cost
sharing. There will be no premiums for kids under 18 and people at or below
200% of the federal poverty level. For individuals above 200% FPL, premiums
will gradually scale as a percentage of income and are capped at 5.0% of their
income. Starting in year one, the plan will not have a deductible — meaning
everyone gets first dollar coverage, and cost sharing will be zero for people
at or below 200% FPL. Cost sharing will scale modestly for individuals at or
above that level, with caps on out-of-pocket costs. In subsequent years,
premiums and cost sharing for all participants in this plan will gradually
decrease to zero.
Reducing Drug Prices. The Medicare for All
option will have the ability to negotiate for prescription drugs using the
mechanisms I’ve previously outlined,
helping to drive down costs for patients.
Automatic Enrollment. Anyone who is uninsured or
eligible for free insurance on day one, excluding individuals who are over 50
and eligible for expanded coverage under existing Medicare, will be
automatically enrolled in the Medicare for All option. Individuals who prefer
other coverage can decline enrollment.
Employee Choice. Workers with employer coverage
can opt into the Medicare for All option, at which point their employer will
pay an appropriate fee to the government to maintain their responsibility for
providing employee coverage. In addition, unions can negotiate to include a
move to the Medicare for All option via collective bargaining during the
transition period, with unionized employers paying a discounted contribution to
the extent that they pass the savings on to workers in the form of increased
wages, pensions, or other collectively-bargained benefits. This will support
unions and ensure that the savings from Medicare for All are passed on to
workers in full, not pocketed by the employer.
Provider Reimbursement and Cost Control. I
have identified cost
reforms that would save our health system trillions of dollars when implemented
in a full Medicare for All system. The more limited leverage of a Medicare for
All option plan will accordingly limit its ability to achieve these savings –
but as more individuals join, this leverage will increase and costs will go
down. Provider reimbursement for this plan will start above current Medicare
rates for all providers, and be reduced every year as providers’ administrative
and delivery costs decrease until they begin to approach the targets in my
Medicare for All plan. The size of these adjustments will be governed by
overall plan size and the progress of provider adjustment to new, lower
Expand and Improve Existing Medicare for Everyone Over
50. In addition to the Medicare for All option, any person over the
age of 50 will be eligible for expanded coverage under the existing Medicare
program, whose infrastructure will allow it to absorb new beneficiaries more
quickly. The expanded Medicare program will be improved in the following
Benefits. To the greatest extent possible,
critical benefits like audio, vision, full dental coverage, and long-term care
benefits will be added to Medicare, and we will legislate full parity for
mental health and substance use services.
Eventual Free Coverage for Everyone. Identical
to the Medicare program, enrollees will pay premiums in Part B and D, with a
$300 cap on drug costs in Part D. Plugging a huge hole in the current Medicare
program, out-of-pocket costs will be capped at $1,500 per year across Parts A,
B, and D, eliminating deductibles and reducing cost sharing. In subsequent
years, premiums and cost sharing will gradually decrease to zero.
Employee Choice. Identical to the Medicare for
All option, workers 50-64 can opt into expanded Medicare, at which point their
employer will pay an appropriate fee to the government to maintain their
responsibility for providing employee coverage.
Reducing Drug Prices. The expanded Medicare
program will receive the ability to negotiate for prescription drugs using the
mechanisms I’ve previously outlined,
helping to drive down costs for patients. And we will create a publicly run
prescription drug plan that is benchmarked off the best current Part D
Automatic Enrollment. Every person without
health insurance over the age of 50 will be automatically enrolled in the
expanded existing Medicare program.
Provider Reimbursement and Cost Control. Provider
reimbursement for new beneficiaries will start above current Medicare rates for
all providers, and be reduced every year as providers’ administrative and
delivery costs decrease until they begin to approach the targets in my Medicare
for All plan. It will be a new condition of participation that providers who
take Medicare or other federally subsidized insurance also take the Medicare
for All option. We will also adopt common sense reforms to bring down bloated
reimbursement rates, including reforms around post-acute care, bundled
payments, and site neutral payments.
Improving the Affordable Care Act. My reforms
will also strengthen Affordable Care Act plans – including the new Medicare for
All option – by making the following changes:
Expand Tax Credit Eligibility. We will lift the
upper limit on eligibility for Premium Tax Credits, allowing people over 400%
of the federal poverty level to purchase subsidized coverage and greatly
increasing the number of people who receive subsidies.
Employee Choice. We will allow any person or
family to receive ACA tax credits and opt into ACA coverage, regardless of
whether they have an offer of employer coverage. If an individual currently
enrolled in qualifying employer coverage moves into an ACA plan, their employer
will pay an appropriate fee to the government to maintain their responsibility
for providing employee coverage.
Lower Costs. Right now, people may pay up to 9.86% of their
income before they get subsidies. Under my plan, this cap would be lowered –
and to make sure those tax credits cover more, we will benchmark them to more
generous “gold” plans in the Marketplace. And we will increase eligibility for
cost sharing reductions, ensuring that more individuals can get into an
affordable exchange plan immediately.
Eliminate the Penalty for Getting a Raise. Right
now, if someone’s income goes up, they can be forced to repay thousands of
dollars in back premiums. We will change this and base tax credits on the
previous year’s income. And if someone’s income goes down, they will get the
higher subsidy for that year.
State Single-Payer Innovation Waivers. To help
states try out different payer arrangements and pilot programs, we will allow
states to receive passthrough funding to expand or improve coverage via the
ACA’s Section 1332 waivers. Combined with Medicaid waivers, these changes will
allow interested states to start experimenting immediately with consolidating
public payers and move towards a single-payer system.
Additional Financing. My plan to pay for
Medicare for All identifies $20.5 trillion in new revenue, including an
Employer Medicare Contribution, which will cover the long-term, steady-state
cost of a fully functioning Medicare for All system. The cost of this
intermediate proposal will be lower. Any revenue needed to meet the
requirements of fast-track budget reconciliation will be enacted as part of
this legislation from the financing options that I have already proposed.
Additional Health System Reforms to Save Money and Lives
After pursuing administrative changes, expanding existing
Medicare, and creating a true Medicare for All option, every person in the
United States will be able to choose free or low-cost public insurance. Tens of
millions will likely do so. But we can’t stop there. We must pursue additional
reforms to our health system to save money and save lives. Some of my
Investing in Medical Miracles. Many medical
breakthroughs stem from federal investments in
science – but in 2018, 43,763 out of 54,834 research
project grant applications to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were
rejected. We will boost medical research by investing an additional $100
billion in guaranteed, mandatory spending in the NIH over ten years, split
between basic science and the creation of a new National Institute for Drug
Development that will help take the basic research from the other parts of NIH
and turn it into real drugs that patients can use. We will prioritize
treatments that are uninteresting to big pharmaceutical companies but could
save millions of American dollars and lives. Any drugs that come out of this
research and to American consumers can be sold abroad, with the proceeds
reinvested to fund future breakthrough drug development. And by enacting my
Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act, the government can manufacture generic drugs
that are not available due to cost or shortage.
Ending the Opioid Epidemic. The opioid epidemic
is a public health emergency. In 2017, life expectancy in the United States
dropped for the third year in a row, driven in large part by deaths from drug
overdoses. We will enact my legislation, the CARE Act, to invest $100 billion
in federal funding over the next ten years in states and communities to fight
this crisis – providing resources directly to first responders, public health
departments, and communities on the front lines of this crisis.
Improved Administration. To cut down on time
wasted on paperwork, we will create single standardized forms for things like
prior authorizations and appeals processes to be used by all insurers (private
and public), and we will establish uniform medical billing for insurers and
All-Payer Claims Database. Right now, there are so
many middlemen in health care that no one knows for certain how much we pay for
different services across the whole system. A centralized repository of
de-identified claims data will help the government, researchers, and the market
better understand exactly what we pay for health care and what kind of quality
it gets us. Demystifying what we pay for what we get will be a critical part of
ensuring fair reimbursement under Medicare for All.
Antitrust Enforcement. In addition to
administrative actions to rein in anti-competitive hospital and electronic
medical record practices, we’ll also ban non-compete and no-poach agreements
and class action waivers across the board, while making it easier for private
parties to sue to prevent anti-competitive actions. I’ll work with states to
repeal Certificate of Public Advantage, or COPA, statutes
that shield health care
organizations from federal antitrust review and can lead to the
creation of large monopolies with little to no oversight. And I’ll also push to
ensure our antitrust laws apply to all health care mergers.
Ending Surprise Billing. Imagine being a woman
who schedules her baby’s delivery with her obstetrician at an in-network
hospital, but it turns out that the anesthesiologist administering the epidural
isn’t in-network. Even though she had no choice – and probably had no idea that
doctor was out-of-network – under the current system she gets hit with a huge
bill. We will end the practice of surprise billing by requiring that
services from out-of-network doctors within in-network hospitals, in addition
to ambulances or out-of-network hospitals during emergency care, be treated as
in-network and paid either prevailing in-network rates or 125% of the Medicare
reimbursement rate, whichever is lower.
Preventing Provider Shortages. With more people
seeking the care they need, it will be essential to increase the number of
providers. I will make these
critical investments in our clinicians, including by dramatically scaling up
apprenticeship programs to build a health care workforce rooted in the
community. I will lift the cap on residency placements, allowing 15,000 new
clinicians to enter the workforce. I will expand the National Health Service
Corps and Indian Health Service loan repayment program to allow more health
professionals – including physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses,
nurse practitioners, and other licensed practitioners – to practice in
underserved communities. I will also provide grants to states that expand
scope-of-practice to allow more non-physicians to practice primary care. And I
will push to close the
mental health provider gap in schools.
Completing the Transition to Medicare For All
By pursuing these changes, we will provide every person in
America with the option of choosing public coverage that matches the full
benefits of Medicare for All. Given the quality of the public alternatives,
millions are likely to move out of private insurance as quickly as
No later than my third year in office, at which point the
number of individuals voluntarily remaining in private insurance would likely
be quite low, I will fight to pass legislation to complete the transition to
the Medicare for All system defined by the Medicare for All Act by the end of
my first term in office.
Moving to this system would mean integrating everyone into a
unified system with zero premiums, copays, and deductibles. Senator Sanders’s
Medicare for All Act allows for supplemental private insurance to cover
services that are not duplicative of the coverage in Medicare for All; for
unions that seek specialized wraparound coverage and individuals with
specialized needs, a private market could still exist. In addition, we can
allow private employer coverage that reflects the outcome of a collective
bargaining agreement to be grandfathered into the new system to ensure that
these workers receive the full benefit of their bargain before moving to the
new system. But the point of Medicare for All is to cut out the middleman.
Every successful effort to move the United States to create
and expand new social programs – like Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid –
has required multiple steps. In fact, every credible Medicare for All proposal
has a significant, multi-step transition built in. That’s why it’s important to
have both short-term goals and long-term goals to guide the process and to
deliver concrete improvements to people’s lives at every stage.
I believe the next president must do everything she can
within one presidential term to complete the transition to Medicare for All. My
plan will reduce the financial and political power of the insurance companies –
as well as their ability to frighten the American people – by implementing
reforms immediately and demonstrating at each phase that true Medicare for All
coverage is better than their private options. I believe this approach gives us
our best chance to succeed.
Why do we need to transition to Medicare for All if a robust
Medicare for All option is available to everyone? The answer is simple and
blunt: cost and outcomes. Today, up to 30% of
current health spending is driven by the costs of filling out different
insurance forms and following different claims processes and fighting with
insurance companies over what is and is not covered. I have demonstrated how a
full Medicare for All system can use its leverage to wring trillions of dollars
in waste out of our system while delivering smarter care – and I’ve made clear exactly
how I would do it. The experience of other countries shows that this system is
the cheapest and most efficient way to deliver high-quality health care. As
long as duplicative private coverage exists, we will limit our ability to make
health care delivery more effective and affordable – and the ability of private
middlemen to abuse patients will remain.
Medicare for All will deliver an $11 trillion boost to
American families who will never pay another premium, co-pay, or deductible.
That’s like giving the average working family in America a $12,000 raise. This
final legislation will put a choice before Congress – maintain a two-tiered
system where private insurers can continue to profit from being the middlemen
between patients and doctors, getting rich by denying care – or give everybody
Medicare for All to capture the full value of trillions of dollars in savings
in health care spending. I believe that the American people will demand
Congress make the right choice.
Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to support and protect America’s veterans, service members and military families ahead of Veterans Day.
“All three of my
brothers served, so I know the responsibility we have to our service members,
military families, and veterans. As Commander-in-Chief, I will lead our Armed
Forces with awareness of the unique challenges service members and military
families face, and the difficulties veterans encounter as they navigate VA
during their transition to civilian life. I will honor our troops not only by
executing sound military strategy, but also by caring for our veterans after
they take off the uniform. And I will prioritize our most important strategic
asset – our people – as I reform Pentagon spending and address our most
pressing national security crises. The way I see it, this is not complicated.
It’s about a government that keeps its promises to those who served — it’s
about our values. “
This is from the
Charlestown, MA – As President, Senator Elizabeth Warren pledged to:
Raise service members’ pay at or above the Employment Cost
Index and protect earned benefits, ensuring that total compensation remains
competitive with the civilian sector and that it reflects the unique demands of
Prioritize family readiness by addressing spouse employment,
housing, child care and education, and take care of military caregivers
Expand mental health services and work to end military
suicide by setting a goal of cutting veterans’ suicides in half within her
Tackle sexual assault and prosecute sexual harassment as a
stand-alone crime under military law
Enforce equal treatment for all who serve, including women,
immigrants, and LGBTQ+ service members
Ease the transition for veterans by eliminating the benefits
backlog and establishing a “warm hand-off” between DOD and VA
Reject attempts to privatize the VA by investing in a VA
worthy of the veterans it serves — to provide the high-quality,
evidence-based, culturally competent programs that our veterans rely on for
years to come.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee,
Elizabeth has worked to achieve pay raises for senior enlisted
personnel, fix repeated promotion delays for
our National Guard, and fought to protect military families from fraud and
abuse. Major provisions of her bill with Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to
address unsafe and unsanitary housing conditions on military bases were
included as part of the Senate-passed FY2020 NDAA.
Keeping Our Promises to Our Service Members, Veterans,
and Military Families
This Veterans Day, Americans will gather in towns and cities
across our country to thank our military personnel past and present. With three
brothers who served, this day is especially meaningful to me.
Less than 1% of the U.S. population currently serves in
uniform. And while Americans rightly honor their service on November 11, too
often the day-to-day sacrifices of military families go unseen and unremarked.
Parades and salutes to the troops are important ways that Americans express
their gratitude, but they’re only platitudes if they’re not backed up with
meaningful action and policies that support our military both during and after
service — not just on Veterans Day, but every day.
For me, that starts with care in how we deploy our forces
abroad. Defense policy is veterans policy. For decades, we have been mired in a
series of wars that have sapped our strength and skewed our priorities. As a
member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have seen up close how 18
years of conflict have degraded equipment, eroded our forces’ readiness, and
postponed investment in critical military capabilities.
The burden of these wars has fallen primarily on our
military personnel, who have endured repeated deployments in dangerous places
around the globe year after year, and their families. 7,027 American
service members have lost their lives, almost 60,000 have been
injured, and countless more live every day with the invisible wounds of war.
I know our service members and their families are smart,
tough, and resourceful — they will accomplish any mission we ask of them,
whatever the cost. But it’s not fair to our men and women in uniform to ask
them to solve problems that don’t have a military solution. Nor is it fair to
them when we refuse to make the tough calls to change course when our
strategies aren’t working.
A strong military should act as a deterrent so that most of
the time, we won’t have to use it. We can honor our veterans by ending these
endless wars, reining in our bloated defense budget and reducing the influence of defense
contractors at the Pentagon, and bringing our troops home
responsibly — and then providing our veterans with the benefits they’ve
earned. That’s why today I’m introducing my plan to care for our nation’s
veterans, service members, military families, and survivors.
Protecting Earned Benefits for Those Who Serve
In prior generations, America experienced a tight
relationship between people in uniform and the rest of our nation. For a host
of reasons, however, our all-volunteer military is becoming more and more distant
from the population it serves. In recent years the military has sometimes
struggled to attract and retain sufficient personnel to meet recruitment
targets, in both raw numbers and increasingly technical skill sets. A majority of young
people are ineligible to serve, and low unemployment rates and declining propensity for
military service mean that even fewer apply to serve in today’s military. Many
who enlist do so because they have a family member who
It is clear that the services must do more to compete with
21st century careers and employers to continue to attract and retain the best
for the All Volunteer Force. That means more flexible talent management systems
and improved quality of life for service members and their families — and it
also means preserving best-in-class benefits for our military personnel. But
it’s about more than recruitment and readiness. It’s about honoring the
commitment of those who choose to serve with commitments of our own.
Guaranteeing Pay and Benefits
In past years, Congress and the Pentagon have too often
sought to balance the budget on the backs of our service members through
proposals for lower pay raises, increased out-of-pocket costs, and cuts to
benefits like housing and commissaries. Proposals that undermine total
compensation are a betrayal of our obligation to our service members, and they
undermine our ability to recruit and retain the best possible All Volunteer
To ensure that compensation remains competitive with the
civilian sector and that it reflects the unique demands of military life, as
President I will propose pay raises at or above the Employment Cost Index. I’ll
ensure that benefits such as housing allowances keep pace with market rates in
base communities, and work to ensure that service members are educated and
empowered to make decisions about their retirement and savings choices in light
of new options for blended retirement.
Empowering Military Students
Over the past 70 years, the GI Bill has helped send millions
of veterans to college, easing their transition to civilian life, and
contributing to our economic growth. I am committed to ensuring these benefits
are guaranteed and protected in the future — for our veterans and their family
members. I’ve fought to expand eligibility for educational benefits, including
by working to provide Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for Purple Heart recipients who
were not previously eligible, and expanding the Yellow Ribbon education program
to cover families of
fallen service members.
As benefits have increased — and increased in complexity —
as a result of GI Bill expansions, VA has scrambled at times to keep up,
leaving military students in the lurch. I’ve worked to ensure that delays at VA
don’t negatively impact student veterans, including by helping to pass a
bipartisan measure to protect student veterans’ access to education in
the event of delayed GI Bill disbursements.
Too often, the benefits provided to military and veteran
students have made them targets for predatory lenders and shady for-profit
schools. I’ve fought to protect students from these scams, including by
obtaining refunds for military borrowers cheated by loan servicers like
Navient. I also fought to restore GI benefits to
those cheated by fraudulent for-profit colleges like ITT Tech and Corinthian
But there is more to be done. My plan for affordable higher
education will make two- and four-year public college free, and
cancel student loan debt up to $50,000 for 42 million Americans — helping
thousands of military families burdened with higher education expenses beyond
what is covered by the GI Bill, and ensuring all of our veterans and their
families have the chance to get essential job training and degrees without
taking on a dime of student loan debt. My plan also completely cuts shady
for-profit colleges off from federal aid dollars, which will end their abuse of
veteran students for their GI Bill benefits once and for all.
Preventing Fraud and Abuse
When I set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, I
made protecting service members and veterans a priority. We established an
Office of Servicemember Affairs, and I recruited Holly Petraeus to run it.
Together, we met with active-duty service members and families to discuss
financial issues, including the base where two of my brothers completed their
I saw firsthand that today’s military families face
difficult financial challenges as they try to make ends meet, balancing
multiple deployments with raising a family. Some even told me that they felt like
they were fighting two wars at once – one in a distant war zone and another
here at home against creditors. But I’m proud to say that since 2011, the
office we established has heard from over 90,000 service
members from all 50 states and saved them nearly $230 million, providing
some measure of relief for our military families.
I’ve made fighting for military families a similar priority
in the Senate. I fought to prevent predatory lenders from “loan churning,” or
repeatedly refinancing VA-backed mortgages to pocket hefty fees. I
successfully expanded financial protections for
Gold Star spouses, passing a bipartisan bill to allow a survivor to terminate a
residential lease within one year of a service member’s death. And I worked
with my Republican colleagues in Congress to pass my Veterans Care Financial
Protection Act to protect low-income and older veterans in assisted care from
scams targeting their pension benefits.
As President, I’ll work with Congress to give the CFPB new
tools and additional authority to enforce the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
And I’ll appoint individuals at the CFPB and DOJ who will use the full extent
of those authorities to aggressively go after scammers and protect our men and
women in uniform. Criminals and predators will keep coming up with new and
creative ways to target the military community. We must be vigilant — but
military families can feel confident that a Warren Administration will always
have their backs.
Prioritizing Family Readiness
Military families form the backbone of our armed forces.
Just like other middle-class families, they worry about making ends meet:
finding child care, giving their children a good education, retiring with
dignity. But military families — particularly dual military couples — also
face special challenges, like regular moves from assignment to assignment and
the anxiety of a loved one’s deployment. And too often, the unique needs of
military communities are overlooked by Washington.
A Warren Administration will continue and expand current policy of
weighing basing and force structure decisions to account for quality of life
factors in the surrounding communities, including safe living environments,
available child care, quality of public schools, and employment opportunities
and licensing reciprocity for military spouses. There’s also a lot more we can
do to support and uplift our military families.
Increasing Military Spouse Employment
A majority of
military families report two incomes as vital to their family’s well-being. But
employment opportunities for military spouses are hindered by a variety of
factors, including frequent moves and lack of available child care at some
posts. Last year 30% of military
spouses were unemployed, and 56% of working
spouses reported being underemployed. Spouses in fields that require professional
licenses face an additional challenge, as occupational licensing and
credentialing standards vary from state to state.
Reduced spousal employment isn’t just bad for military
families — it results in up to $1 billion annually
in lost income and associated costs. We need to make spousal employment a
The Obama Administration made real progress in encouraging
states to offer licensing and credentialing reciprocity for the military
community — now we need to finish those efforts to remove barriers to military
We can start by making permanent the program to reimburse military spouses for
professional relicensing. I’ll also work with states to provide military
families with a one-stop shop where they can review licensing requirements
before a move.
I’ll also work with Congress to expand and better
communicate about special hiring preferences for on-base jobs for military
spouses and at American Job Centers. These preferences not only benefit
spouses, they help build communities on military installations.
We’ll expand educational opportunities like MyCAA for
military spouses, and provide targeted training for high-demand, high-growth
sectors and to help military spouses find careers that can move with
Military spouses bring unique strengths to the workforce —
it’s time we leverage those strengths to benefit not only our military families
but our economy.
Ensuring High Quality Childcare and Education
As a young working mother, child care almost sank me —
until my Aunt Bee stepped in to help. But finding affordable and high-quality
child care has gotten even harder since my children were growing up, and not
everyone is lucky enough to have an Aunt Bee of their own.
That’s why I have a plan to provide universal child
care for every single one of our babies from birth to school
age. It will be free for millions of American families, and affordable for
everyone. The federal government will partner with local providers to create a
network of child care options that would be available to every family. These
options would be held to high federal standards, and we’ll pay child care and
preschool workers the wages they deserve. And rather than diverting funding from
military daycare programs for a needless wall, I’ll invest again in growing DOD
child care centers and modernizing schools on base.
We’ll move forward with efforts to
introduce more flexibility into the personnel system for families who want to
limit moves for assignments, while ensuring that option does not hamper the
service member’s ability to get promoted and advance their military career.
We’ll invest the resources necessary to ensure families (and their household
goods) are no longer subjected to chaos and mistakes that
can impact the experience of transitioning to a new assignment. And we’ll seek
to limit family moves during the academic year — when they must occur, we’ll
provide dedicated support to families as they navigate transferring educational
Every military family is unique, and some have unique needs.
I’ll work to improve oversight and standardize DOD’s
Exceptional Family Member Program to care for dependents with special needs. We
need to do more to empower military families to make informed decisions,
taking their individual circumstances into account during relocation and
providing dedicated case management to help military families identify
appropriate programs and interventions regardless of their location. Supporting
these families isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also good for military
Wounded Warriors and their Families
About 30% of
veterans between the ages of 21 and 64 have a disability. As president, I will
keep fighting for the rights of people with disabilities and to ensure their
full inclusion through policy reforms and enforcement priorities. This includes
prioritizing the unique challenges that face veterans with disabilities.
As part of my plan to empower American workers,
I have committed to substantially increasing funding for the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission to uphold the rights
of veterans with disabilities at work. I will also ensure that the Department
of Labor is enforcing the law to protect disabled
veterans againist work discrimination. I support the Raise the Wage Act to
guarantee workers with disabilities a minimum wage of $15 an hour, and I will
push to pass the Transformation to Competitive
Employment Act, which would provide grants and assistance to support
a transition towards competitive, integrated employment for people with
It is often family members who care for injured service
members and veterans — in some cases, putting aside careers and other
opportunities to provide assistance to our wounded warriors. According to a
2014 report, there were approximately 5.5 million military
caregivers in the United States — but the physical and emotional strain on
this population is understudied and overlooked.
Medicare for All will expand access to long-term home and
community-based care, offering critical support and relieving the financial
burden on veterans and their families. A Warren Administration will also
empower our nation’s military caregivers by fully implementing the recommendations of
the federal advisory panel on caregiving. We’ll create an office within VA
focused on the needs of caregivers, ensuring that their voices are heard in the
policymaking process and that VA is fully communicating available resources.
We’ll ensure that caregivers are formally designated in a patient’s medical
record, so that they can be consistently included in medical planning about the
course of care. We’ll collect better data on the caregiver population and their
needs, including the impact on military children. And we’ll make sure we’re
also caring for the caregivers, themselves, including respite care.
To recognize caregiving for the valuable work it is, my plan to expand Social Security creates
a new credit for caregiving for people who qualify for Social Security
benefits. This credit raises Social Security benefits for people who take time
out of the workforce to care for a family member at least 80 hours a month,
including designated “primary family caregivers” of eligible veterans in the
Caregiver Support Program. For every month of caregiving that meets these
requirements, the caregiver will be credited for Social Security purposes with
a month of income equal to the monthly average of that year’s median annual
Lastly, I support eliminating the so-called “Widow’s Tax” and efforts
to ensure that all families of veterans who died or became totally disabled
from a service-connected condition receive the Dependency and Indemnity
Compensation (DIC) benefits that they are entitled to.
Providing Safe and Affordable Housing
In the mid-1990s, the Department of Defense agreed to
privatize the majority of the 300,000 houses it owned and operated on base,
many of which were in need of renovation after
decades of neglect. It was a good deal for the private developers, but this
system has turned out to be a lousy bargain for military families. With their
focus on short-term payoffs, private developers failed to
invest in and maintain the properties with which they were entrusted. That’s
why earlier this year, I released my plan to improve military housing by
ensuring that every base has a housing office staffed with advocates for the
service member and establishing a “bill of rights” that all military tenants
will receive when they move in.
And for those families who choose to live off base, and for
veterans, my plan to increase affordable housing makes
a historic federal investment to increase affordable housing supply, lowering
rents around the country by 10%. And while cost is a major challenge to finding
safe and affordable housing, too many service members and veterans face
additional obstacles, including landlords who don’t understand the
housing benefits they receive for their service and those who turn away service
members and veterans because of discriminatory stereotypes. My affordable
housing plan extends protection against discrimination under the Fair Housing
Act to include veteran status, which would include those using HUD-VASH
vouchers. I have also pushed hard for more resources for programs to end
veterans’ homelessness, including the successful Tribal HUD-VASH program to
assist Native American veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
find homes in Indian country.
Putting Service Members and Veterans First
Nearly two decades of combat has put significant stress on
the force, and this will continue to manifest itself long after combat
operations are over. Our first priority must be the care and safety of those
who serve or have served in uniform.
Eliminating Military Sexual Assault
For decades, the military has affirmed a “zero tolerance
policy” — and yet reports of sexual assault in the military have spiked. In
2018 alone, the Department of Defense estimated that more than 20,000 service
members experienced assault or unwanted sexual contact. These statistics are a
shameful breach of trust with those who serve. Annual promises from senior
military leaders to address the issue increasingly ring hollow — we owe it to
our service members to make real change.
Currently, skilled military prosecutors make an
evidence-based recommendation on whether or not a case should proceed to trial,
but then military commanders get to decide whether or not they want to listen.
That’s why I supported Senator Gillibrand’s effort to
remove cases of sexual assault from the chain of command and place trained
prosecutors in charge instead. It’s simple – if evidence of a crime warrants a
trial, then the case should go to trial. We need to reform the military justice
system so that the lawyers and judges trying cases have the necessary
experience and expertise, and so that every victim of a sexually-based crime
benefits from a competent, empowered advocate from the very first day they
We need to change the culture. Sexual harassment and sexual
assault are correlated— and 24% of
military women and 6% of military men said they had been sexually harassed in
the past year. In the
Senate, I worked to make so-called “revenge pornography”
prosecutable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. We should also
prosecute sexual harassment as a stand-alone crime under military law. We
should push to expose and prevent sexual harassment in the civilian workforce as
well, recognizing that our entire culture has work to do.
And we need to invest in survivors, helping them to get the
care they need so that they can recover, and so they can continue to serve.
Often, survivors worry that reporting a sexual assault may also bring to light
other misconduct, such as underage drinking or fraternization. Sometimes,
military commanders will distribute punishment for these offenses by survivors
while the sexual assault itself goes unaddressed. Even worse, more than 20% of
those who reported an assault also reported experiencing retaliation. If we
want to increase reporting and hold perpetrators of sexual assault accountable,
we need to exercise much wider discretion in the way we approach collateral
misconduct as part of instances of sexual assault. Until reporting an assault
is not perceived as a possible end to someone’s career, we will never fully
address this scourge.
Ending Veteran and Military Suicide
Our service members are resilient, but even the strongest
warriors need care. In 2017, 6,139 U.S. veterans
died by suicide, an average of nearly 17 each day, and 1.5 times the rate for
non-veteran adults. But only half of veterans
of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who may need mental health services —
including many with diagnoses that increase the risk of suicide, like PTSD, traumatic brain injury, substance use disorders,
or depression —
actually access them.
Every single one of these deaths is a tragedy that could
have been prevented. As President, I will set a goal of cutting veteran
suicides in half within my first term — and pursue a suite of concrete
policies to make sure we get there.
To get there, we need to invest more in research into the
causes of suicide, with a specific focus on contributing factors that are
specific to the military experience and a concerted effort to collect the data
that will save lives. We should conduct research targeting subgroups of
veterans who may be at higher risk of suicide, and evaluate the efficacy of
suicide prevention pilot programs and invest in those that make a meaningful
Veterans account for one in five firearm
suicides. My plan to prevent gun violence includes
a waiting period before purchase and a federal extreme risk protection law,
both of which have been shown to reduce suicides by gun.
We also need to provide consistent, accessible, high-quality mental
health care for all of our service members and veterans. Under Medicare for All
every person will have this essential care covered. But we must also address
the shortfall of mental health providers at DOD and VA, and in the areas where
In the last Congress, I led the fight to prevent budget cuts
to the Mental Health Block Grant and secured an additional $160 million for the
program, and I urged appropriators to designate $1 billion to mental health
programs through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. I have
also proposed significant
expansions of Community Health Centers and the National Health Service Corps,
which would help increase the supply of primary care and mental health
providers in underserved areas. We need to make it easier for service members
and veterans to see a mental health professional, including by significantly increasing
the number of mental health specialists at DOD and VA, streamlining appointment
processes, and enhancing access to telehealth options for those who cannot come
to a VA facility.
We should also focus on preventive care — early and often
throughout a military career, including by incorporating annual mental health
exams for service members in the same way they receive annual physical exams.
We should clearly communicate benefits and eligibility, raising awareness about
available care. And we must continue to remove the stigma around warfighters
seeking help, and do more to support military families who lose someone to
Treating the Opioid and Addiction Crisis
In 2017, over 70,000 people died
from a drug overdose — the highest year on record, with the majority due to opioids.
And the opioid crisis that has devastated so many American families has not
spared our military community. Stressors including deployment, combat exposure,
injury, and post-deployment reintegration have been shown to increase the risk
of substance abuse. Our military population has a higher risk of
substance use disorders, with 11% of veterans
from Afghanistan and Iraq treated by the VA being diagnosed with a substance use
My CARE Act to end the
opioid crisis — introduced in partnership with my late friend Congressman
Elijah Cummings of Baltimore — is a comprehensive plan to provide the
resources needed to begin treating this epidemic like the public health crisis
that it is. It would provide $100 billion in federal funding to states and
communities over the next ten years, because that’s what’s needed to make sure
every single person gets the treatment they need.
Under my plan, VA facilities will be able to participate in
planning councils to address the opioid crisis in order to ensure that veterans
are prioritized in our response and organizations serving veterans have a voice
in how the funding is spent. We will expand the number of inpatient beds
available to veterans for treatment and recovery. We’ll fund community-based
organizations, including eligible veteran-serving nonprofits, working to help
prevent and treat addicted veterans. And we’ll provide vocational training for
people struggling with addiction, helping them to get back into the civilian
workforce after their military careers.
Addressing the “Invisible Wounds” of War
17% of post-9/11
military veterans experience some form of traumatic brain injury during their
military service. TBI is associated with higher rates of PTSD, depression, and
substance abuse. While our knowledge of these conditions has improved
dramatically, it is still incomplete. Moreover, too many veterans don’t receive
the treatment they so badly need. While TBI is often associated with blunt
physical injuries to the head, research has shown that the blast wave produced
by even minor explosions, such as firing heavy weapons,
can result in TBI — even if the individual does not exhibit outward physical
signs of head injury.
In the Senate, I worked with my Republican colleagues to
establish a longitudinal study at
DOD to track the impact of blast exposure and brain health over time, and to
push DOD to track service member blast exposure.
We’ll use this data to improve our understanding of blast exposure injuries,
improve protective equipment, and develop innovative new treatments. We’ll also
use it to inform the safety guidance provided to our troops, including by
limiting non-combat exposure during training exercises.
Many states have established veterans’ courts or other
diversion programs to provide treatment rather than incarceration for veterans
with behavioral issues as a result of trauma, and I support the expansion of
these programs. I also support legalizing marijuana. I’ve co-sponsored
legislation to study the use of medical cannabis to treat veterans as an
alternative to opioids, because we need to pursue all evidence-based
opportunities for treatment and response.
The prevalence of certain rare cancers has been increasing steadily among
military personnel and veterans who have served overseas. It took years for
Vietnam veterans to receive treatment for exposure to Agent Orange — and some,
including Blue Water Navy veterans,
are still fighting for healthcare and benefits. Some veterans of more recent
wars attribute their illness to exposure to toxic burn pits used
by the military to dispose of waste, and at least one veterans group has projected that
deaths from cancer and other illnesses could outpace suicide deaths in the
military population by 2020.
As President, I will ensure that DOD tracks and records
potential toxic exposure by integrating it into the post-deployment checklist.
We need to ensure that adequate funding is allocated to research diseases that
may be connected to certain kinds of exposure. And we must treat those affected
without delay — we cannot allow today’s veterans to wait for earned health
Equal Treatment For All Who Serve
The diversity of our force is one of its unique strengths —
it allows us to incorporate different perspectives and experiences and to look
at problems in new ways. The data are clear: inclusive, diverse militaries
simply perform better. When we
discriminate or treat classes of service members as less worthy than their
peers, we fail to honor that diversity and we do enormous harm to our ability
to recruit a strong future force. Minority communities in the military —
particularly LGBTQ+, women, Black and Latinx service
members — are significantly under-represented in the leadership ranks. Here’s
what I’ll do to protect and honor everyone who volunteers to serve.
LGBTQ+ Service Members
The only thing that should matter when it comes to allowing
military personnel to serve is whether or not they can handle the job. Our
national security community is weaker when LGBTQ+ Americans are excluded. I
have opposed the Trump Administration’s shameful ban on transgender service
members from the start —
and I’ll reverse it on the first day of my presidency. In addition, advances
in care and treatment have
made it possible for individuals living with HIV to serve and deploy, and the
Pentagon’s policies should be updated to reflect these advances in medical
I’ve also supported efforts to review and correct the
military records of service members discharged solely due to their sexual
orientation, both before and during the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell era. As
Commander-in-Chief, I’ll prioritize this effort, ensuring that we reflect their
honorable service and reinstate the benefits they earned.
I’ll include the LGBTQ+ population in the VA’s Center for
Minority Veterans, ensuring that they receive targeted outreach and equal care
and are treated with dignity and respect. A Warren VA will ensure that every
LGBTQ+ person can get the equitable, gender-affirming, and culturally-competent
health care they need. That means providing all medically necessary care related
to the health of transgender people, including transition-related surgery,
and allowing providers discretion to deem gender-affirming procedures as
medically necessary based on an individualized assessment. This care will also
be available under Medicare for All.
Professional medical associations recognize the need for transition-related
surgery. VA’s blanket exclusion policy of medically necessary treatment is not
grounded in medicine; it should be repealed.
Empowering Women Service Members
Women make up 17.5% of the total
force. But they can face unique professional and personal challenges over the
course of a military career, including higher rates of sexual harassment and assault, higher rates
of divorce, challenges
starting a family, and fewer opportunities for career advancement.
I supported then-Defense Secretary Carter’s decision
to open combat positions to women across
the services, because the only thing that should matter is an individual’s
ability to meet the standards. I’m proud of the women who have risen to that challenge.
Now we must do more to recruit women into service, and then ensure that they
are given equal opportunities to compete for command and promotions. We’ll
invest in research on appropriate gear and injury prevention for women — over one
hundred years after being allowed to enlist, women still perform their duties
wearing equipment that doesn’t fit them, and therefore doesn’t adequately
protect them. And both DOD and VA should enhance the quality of and access to
care for women service members, including for preventive and reproductive care
and mental health.
A 21st century VA must also adapt to the modern fabric of
our veteran population, ensuring that gender-specific care is the norm. There
are about 2 million women veterans today,
and women represent the fastest growing veteran subgroup — that’s why I
successfully fought to ensure VA
has sufficient resources and expertise in its peer counseling program for women
veterans. I’ll also ensure that VA provides full reproductive health care for
all veterans, in addition to the full reproductive health coverage they will
have under Medicare for All. This includes IVF, which is currently only available to
married veterans with service-connected infertility who don’t need donor sperm
or eggs — discriminating against
unmarried veterans, those who delayed pregnancy during their service, and
same-sex couples. It also includes contraception, for which VA continues to charge veterans
despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act made it available without cost to
their civilian counterparts. This also includes abortions. I’ve called to
repeal the Hyde Amendment, which
blocks federal funds from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of
rape, incest, or the life of the woman. VA’s restrictions go even further,
prohibiting coverage for all abortions and all abortion counseling with no
exemptions, an extreme policy I will eliminate.
Too often, women veterans experience sexually explicit
comments and other forms of harassment that
make them feel unsafe and unwelcome and cause them to delay seeking care at
their local VA or miss appointments altogether. This is shameful and it has to
stop. I’ll ensure that a Warren VA has a comprehensive policy to eliminate
sexual harassment and assault and hold perpetrators — VA personnel or anyone
else — accountable, so that women veterans do not have to feel unsafe at their
VA medical center when they seek the care they’ve earned.
Immigrant Service Members
Immigrants to our country have a proud history of honorable
military service and often become citizens. But the Trump Administration has
done everything it can to make these patriotic individuals who volunteer to
serve and defend the United States of America feel unwelcome in our ranks.
In recent years, ICE has deported noncitizen veterans in
violation of its own policies, which require additional review before
proceeding with a removal case against a veteran. The Trump Administration has
taken steps to withdraw deportation protections from military family members,
including family of service members deployed in combat overseas. And under
DOD’s current policies, immigrant troops are being denied citizenship at
a rate higher than their civilian counterparts, and applications for
naturalization as a result of military service dropped 72% between 2017
This is a disgrace. It also undermines military readiness.
It’s not reasonable to expect service members to be able to concentrate on
their jobs when their families are being deported, which is why I’ve used my
position as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to urge the Trump
Administration to maintain critical programs like Parole in Place and Deferred
Action for undocumented family members of service members. Further, many
noncitizen veterans come to the attention of immigration enforcement as a
result of PTSD or other trauma associated with their military service; others
fear seeking treatment for that reason. Everyone who serves our country
deserves equal treatment and benefits, regardless of their citizenship status.
A Warren Administration will make it clear that we will
protect veterans and family members of serving military personnel from
deportation, and we will review the cases of those who have been deported for
possible return to the United States. Consistent with our national security
interests, I’ll restart the
Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, which
recruits non-citizens with specialized skills or language abilities, paired
with appropriate security and counterintelligence protections. I’ll also make
it easier for noncitizens who serve honorably in our military to naturalize and
become citizens. And we will heed the call of veterans to honor our commitment
to translators and
others who supported them in combat by re-launching the Direct Access Program
for these vulnerable refugees.
Easing the Transition for Veterans
Nearly 200,000 personnel
separate from military service every year. The initial transition away from
military service can be a challenging period, as veterans work to start school
or find a job, and readjust to family after time overseas. Many new veterans
struggle to find a sense of purpose or connection in new civilian careers and
communities. While DOD has improved its transition counseling in recent years,
we can do more to prepare service members to return to civilian life.
Ensuring a “Warm Hand-Off”
The key to an effective transition is a seamless connection
between DOD and the VA — but too often, veterans fall through the cracks. I’ll
direct DOD to require that service members pre-enroll and complete processing
at the VA before they leave active service. I’ll set a goal of completing
interoperable electronic records between DOD and VA by the end of my first
term. And I’ll direct VA to expand the vets.gov online
portal for veterans and provide veterans access to a VA-provided email, so that
the government can continue to communicate with them about their eligibility
even if they move physical addresses over time.
Eliminating the Benefits Backlog
While the VA has made progress in addressing its backlog of
benefits cases waiting for adjudication, today there are over 70,000 veterans
who have been waiting more than 125 days for a status determination. Moreover,
VA itself acknowledges it takes between 12-18 months to
review a new appeal, and 5-7 years to get a decision from a Veterans Law Judge.
As President, I’ll fully eliminate the initial claims and appeals backlog. And
in the interim, we’ll provide a presumption of eligibility for certain interim
benefits to all those waiting for a final status determination.
Our understanding of traumatic brain injury and other
complex injuries has improved dramatically in recent years, but VA’s disability
compensation process has not kept pace with those developments. I’ll task the
National Academy of Public Administration to review and overhaul the disability
ratings system to better accommodate “invisible” wounds like TBI. I’ll direct
them to take into account recommendations for best practices,
including training additional staff to evaluate cases and taking into account
symptoms that are closely-associated with undiagnosed TBI.
A key concern among veterans is that the benefits
adjudication process is byzantine and lacks transparency. I’ll make sure that
veterans automatically get full access to the results of their examinations and
put in place rigorous processes to ensure claims are granted consistently
nationwide. And to help veterans navigate the system and obtain the benefits
they deserve, I’ll also establish a grant program to fund additional
caseworkers at Veterans Service Organizations and other community-based
Clearing “Bad Paper” Discharges
As the research into PTSD and traumatic brain injuries has
improved, we’ve come to learn that these often invisible injuries lie behind
many less-than-honorable discharges. Nearly 6% of post-9/11
discharges have been other-than-honorable — and one study estimated that 62% of service
members separated for misconduct had been diagnosed within the 2 years prior to
separation with PTSD, TBI, or related conditions. These so-called “bad paper”
discharges can have a lasting negative impact, preventing the most vulnerable
veterans from accessing benefits, obtaining employment, and other earned and
I’ll create a DOD appeals board for veterans seeking to upgrade
their discharges to give those denied by the services another opportunity for
review and to ensure consistency across the services. I’ll direct that board to
expand “liberal consideration”
and consider a broader array of potentially mitigating evidence. I’ll direct
the VA to provide certain interim benefits to individuals with
other-than-honorable discharges until their appeals are adjudicated. And I’ll
direct DOD to establish guidance for commanders to ensure that individuals
first receive care for underlying conditions that may be contributing to
behavioral problems, rather than merely processed for administrative discharge.
Providing Good Jobs
Service members gain valuable skills in the military, but
often don’t know how to translate their skills into civilian life or receive
appropriate “credit” for military service in a civilian context. And while
public-private partnerships and other efforts have broken down the stigma
around hiring veterans, we can do more to set veterans up for long-term
It starts by making it easier for civilian employers to
identify military skill sets that most closely match their needs, and helping
veterans to describe their military experiences in language that resonates with
civilian employers. In the Senate, I’ve prioritized improving the employment
transition for retiring service members, for example by passing a bipartisan bill
that made it easier for service members to use their experience operating large
military vehicles to obtain a commercial driver’s license.
As President, I’ll direct DOD to expand resume and career
coaching opportunities for military personnel considering transition. To
encourage veteran entrepreneurship, I’m proposing a new program to allow
veterans to cash out their GI education benefits for a small business loan. And
we’ll invest in collaborative programs — like labor’s Helmets to Hardhats program
— to connect transitioning service members with federally-recognized
apprenticeship opportunities and good, union jobs.
Ending Veterans’ Homelessness
While the number of veterans experiencing homelessness has
dropped over the last decade, nearly 38,000 were still
homeless in January 2018. Veterans constituted nearly 9% of the total
adult homeless population. Even one homeless veteran is one too many. I’ll
restore SNAP benefits that the Trump administration seeks to cut that
support 1.4 million low-income
veterans, including those who are unemployed or with disabilities. SNAP is a
particularly critical support for young veterans and those recently who have
recently transitioned from active service. We’ll fully fund rapid re-housing
and permanent supportive housing through Supportive Services for Veteran
Families (SSVF) and HUD-VASH. And we’ll create a new competitive grant program
for communities to provide wrap-around services for veterans and their
families. We know that access to housing can be a barrier to many veterans –
and can enhance the scale of other challenges they face. By strengthening
and expanding programs like HUD-VASH, we can end veteran homelessness and allow
our veterans to focus on finding meaningful employment, receiving healthcare
for service-connected conditions, and building resilient lives.
Creating a 21st Century VA Health Care System
The Veterans Health Administration is America’s largest health care
system, providing care at over 1,200 health care facilities nationwide and
serving 9 million enrolled veterans each year.
In recent years, attacks on VA have intensified as
Republicans have pressed to privatize large chunks of VA service. My
Administration will be clear-eyed about leadership challenges at VA. We will
hold accountable leaders who fail to put veterans first or misuse resources,
and we will empower whistleblowers who report wrongdoing to address their
concerns and protect them from retaliation. But the truth is that care provided
by VA outperforms care at non-VA hospitals, as multiplestudies have shown.
And in a recent survey, 91% of veterans who
use VA care said they would recommend it to their fellow veterans. VA has
pioneered innovations in medical care and service delivery. It provides
world-class care for uniquely service-connected injuries, including treatment
for polytrauma, amputations, and spinal cord injuries.
While community care is appropriate where specialists are
unavailable or geographically inaccessible, let me be clear: a Warren
Administration will invest in the VA, not further dismantle it. We will not cut
the high-quality, evidence-based, culturally competent programs that our
veterans rely on. And under Medicare for All, veterans will all have
high-quality health coverage that gives them the option to seek care from
non-VA doctors and hospitals for no additional cost. If there isn’t a VA close
to where they live, Medicare for All will ensure that veterans still get the
care they need when they need it.
In the immediate-term, here’s what we can do to revitalize
our VA for the 21st century–
Work with Congress to implement more flexible hiring
authorities, with a goal of filling the nearly 49,000 staffing
vacancies, the vast majority of which are in the health administration.
Expand the number of physician recruiters and provide
additional financial incentives for physicians in hard-to-recruit specialties
and rural VA centers or those near tribal lands.
Reinvigorate VA’s training partnership program — nearly 70%
of U.S. doctors receive some training at a VA facility, but VA is hindered from
converting those into full-time positions because of the cumbersome hiring
Fully implement the VA MISSION Act — on-time, and in collaboration
with veteran’s groups, ensuring community providers are held to the same high
standards of care as VA providers and that the direct care system is not
weakened by siphoning away money into the private sector.
We’ll invest in modernizing aging infrastructure and
state-of-the-art medical equipment.
We’ll work to fill gaps in care, benefits, or other services
in underserved regions, including on tribal lands; and further integrating
federally-qualified health centers, DOD facilities, and the Indian Health
System as appropriate.
Read more about Warren’s plan for service members, veterans and military families 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.