In contrast with the disjointed, chaotic,
ineffective, politicized handling to stem the coronavirus pandemic offered by
the Trump Administration still more concerned about the stock market than lives
(Trump suggested a new benchmark, that since as many as 65,000 people die each
year from seasonal flu – “Who knew? I find that amazing” – that anything less
would be considered victory), every Democratic candidate to replace Trump has
demonstrated more effective leadership. Trump has honed in on pushing the
Federal Reserve to lower interest rates, and for further tax cuts which will do
nothing to address the actual global economic impacts of a pandemic – curtailed
production and consumer demand as well as general business uncertainty – Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to
take decisive action to both keep American families healthy and stabilize the
economy. This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Today, Elizabeth Warren
released her plan to take decisive action to keep American families healthy and
stabilize our economy as the virus spreads.
Elizabeth Warren’s plan will:
Ensure that every American — including the millions of
Americans who are uninsured — can get all recommended evaluation and care for
coronavirus for free, including any recommended coronavirus vaccine once it is
Create an emergency paid leave program so that anyone who
meets the CDC’s description of relevant symptoms of coronavirus or is exposed
and placed under quarantine can get fully paid time off of work to consult a
doctor and recover—or provide care to a family member or other dependent who
Enact at least a $400 billion fiscal stimulus package to
head off the potential economic impact of coronavirus.
Elizabeth discussed these
concrete solutions to the coming economic shocks of coronavirus at a town hall
in Houston over the weekend. The plan released today builds on her
comprehensive plan to prevent, contain, and treat infectious diseases outbreaks
like coronavirus she released more than four weeks
ago — before any of the other candidates, or the incumbent in
the White House.
Protecting our People and our Economy from Coronavirus
Coronavirus is a public health emergency and a serious threat to the American
economy. While it’s important that our leaders communicate calmly and clearly
about the situation to avoid unnecessary panic, it’s just as important that we
take decisive action to keep American families healthy and stabilize our
economy as the virus spreads.
I rang the warning bells for years
before the 2008 crisis. Quicker action during the Bush
Administration could have reduced the severity of the crisis — or averted it
entirely. While we still don’t know the full scope of the public health and
economic impact of coronavirus, and even further actions may be necessary in
upcoming months, we should take the following steps right now to limit the
spread of the virus and get ahead of its economic impact:
Ensure that every American — including the millions of
Americans who are uninsured — can get all recommended evaluation and care for
coronavirus for free, including any recommended coronavirus vaccine once it is
Create an emergency paid leave program so that anyone
presenting with the symptoms of coronavirus, or who has a family member or
other dependent presenting with the symptoms of coronavirus, can get fully paid
time off of work to see a doctor, get treatment, or provide care.
Enact at least a $400 billion fiscal stimulus package to
head off the potential economic impact of coronavirus.
Ensuring Every American Can Get Free Care for Coronavirus
Medicare for All will prevent this kind of problem in the future. But in the short term, facing a potential outbreak, we must ensure that every person in this country can talk to a doctor if they think they might have coronavirus—and get the recommended testing and care they need if they do.
Our response must ensure that every person in this country can get recommended evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment for coronavirus for free. Congress should dedicate sufficient funding to reimburse health care providers and hospitals for uncompensated care relating to coronavirus. This fund should also be large enough to cover the costs of government mandated quarantines or isolation for patients who cannot afford any bills that it may generate. Congress should also require that insurers fully cover all recommended care for coronavirus, including appropriate evaluation, diagnostic testing, and treatment.
What does my plan mean for you? It means that you could get all recommended medical advice and care for coronavirus for free—regardless of whether you have hit your deductible, whether you’re on Medicare or Medicaid, or have no insurance at all.
Ensuring Hospital and Health System Capacity. Because of the way coronavirus spreads, many more people will be exposed to it than we saw with Zika or Ebola. That means our health system will see a surge in demand for basic primary care and diagnostic screenings in the midst of an already brutal flu season that has stretched hospitals’ capacity. To address the likely increase in people seeking medical evaluation and treatment for coronavirus, Congress should provide a temporary surge in funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers, Community Health Centers, Rural Health Clinics, and safety-net hospitals to increase their capacity.
Ensuring Access to Vaccines and Other Medical Countermeasures. We must increase federal investment in developing a coronavirus vaccine and ensure that every person who needs the vaccine can get it at no personal cost. As we did during the outbreak of H1N1 (the “swine flu”), the government should guarantee that it will purchase a bulk quantity of the eventual vaccine for coronavirus. This will create an incentive for the private sector to develop it quickly and ensure manufacturers of sufficient demand.
We must also ensure — either under existing laws or through new congressional action — that health insurance companies and federal health programs cover any recommended coronavirus vaccine with no cost sharing, similar to the H1N1 vaccines from 2009. The government can also distribute the vaccines to vulnerable populations and provide them for free to the uninsured. In the event that a private sector manufacturer wants to charge an outrageous price for the vaccine once it is developed, the government should contract for its manufacture or invoke compulsory licensing as I have called for in other drug pricing contexts, and as the government threatened to do during the 2001 anthrax scare.
Together, these actions will ensure that every American can get the vital medical advice and care they need for coronavirus for free. That is not only the moral thing to do, it limits the spread of the disease and keeps us all safer.
Guaranteeing Every American Fully Paid Emergency Leave for Coronavirus Testing and Recovery
America’s shameful lack of national paid leave and sick days will worsen the spread of coronavirus. People who feel sick will go into work anyway, afraid of losing their jobs or the pay they badly need. Parents may feel compelled to work even as their kids or their elderly relatives might need medical attention. Research shows that mandated paid leave and sick days dramatically reduce the spread of diseases.
Congress must act to pass Senator Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act, which would provide up to twelve weeks per year of paid leave to all workers to care for themselves and their loved ones in case of serious medical issues or the welcoming of a new child. As President, I will fight to make this policy the law. But in the face of a public health crisis, we can’t wait — and should immediately make cash assistance available to people who need time off because of coronavirus through an “emergency paid leave” program.
Here’s how it would work:
Anyone who meets the CDC’s description of relevant symptoms
or is exposed and placed under quarantine — or has a family member or other
dependent who meets that description — will be eligible for emergency paid
leave to take time off to follow CDC’s recommended course of action, which may
include self-isolation, evaluation and testing, or treatment.
Emergency paid leave will be available pursuant to CDC’s
guidelines about the appropriate length of recovery and quarantine or isolation
time for those who contract or are exposed to coronavirus. If a family
caretaker is also required during this period, that person will also be
eligible for emergency paid leave.
Anyone eligible for the program will receive emergency paid
leave that fully replaces their actual wage income — up to a cap set at the
99th wage percentile.
My emergency paid leave program will accomplish two critical
goals. First, it will give people the financial peace of mind to take time off
to stay home and recover or care for a loved one who has the symptoms of
coronavirus or has been exposed to it. That will help limit the spread of the
disease. Second, providing access to paid leave benefits funded by the
government rather than by employers during this health crisis will help
stabilize businesses, who will be relieved of the burden of potentially paying
large shares of their workforce for long absences.
Enacting At Least a $400 Billion Stimulus to Head Off the Projected Economic
Effects of Coronavirus, and Announcing a Federal Reserve Emergency Lending
Based on those factors and the range of projections for the economic impact
of coronavirus, we should immediately enact a stimulus package that represents
an authorization of at least 2% of GDP, or roughly $400 billion.
The stimulus should focus on the following categories of spending:
Low or no-interest loans to companies of all sizes that are
negatively affected by supply chain disruptions, reductions in tourism, or
other temporary coronavirus-related impacts, and that will use the funds to
avoid layoffs and hours reductions, not for additional executive compensation,
dividends, or share buybacks.
Unemployment insurance and other direct payments to
households — with exact amounts tied to unemployment levels and wage growth.
Other aid to state and local governments that may be losing
revenue because of coronavirus, in order to minimize reductions in services for
Jump starting our ability to make our own active
pharmaceutical ingredients and their base components by establishing a strategy
to support domestic manufacturers—with the ultimate goal of requiring all
federal agencies that procure or reimburse for drugs (like the DOD, VA, and
Medicare) to preference drugs with American-made ingredients. My legislation to
allow the government to manufacture drugs would provide a strong foundation for
Green infrastructure investments, like domestically produced
clean energy, that can be accomplished even with the supply chain disruptions
that are likely to exist with a widespread coronavirus outbreak.
In addition, whether the Federal Reserve Board chooses to cut interest rates or not, itshould announce as soon as possible — and no later than the markets opening on Monday — that it stands ready to use its emergency lending authority to create a broad-based emergency lending facility program to help real economy companies whose supply chains have been disrupted because of the coronavirus and who will use the money to do right by their workforce.
Companies across America are already struggling with supply chain disruptions, and we don’t want these temporary struggles to lead to widespread layoffs or for otherwise solid companies to go under. While Congress should deliver the stimulus package I described above to help these types of companies, an immediate announcement from the Fed of this type of program will give companies — and markets — confidence that the Fed is available as a lender of last resort if Congress fails to deliver, and could help avert a more severe downturn.
Capitalists are actually much more responsive to the public will than lawmakers – which may not be saying much. But as the United Nations Climate Summit demonstrated, corporations and the financial institutions that fund them are becoming more conscious of climate change. Even former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has become an advocate for climate action. More investors are factoring in the cost of climate disasters as well as the change to agriculture, human productivity and health, availability of resources including potable water. Still, corporations that are wedded to the status quo and an economy and society oriented around fossil fuels and intense carbon emissions, that don’t respect air and water quality, need a nudge. Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, has just released a plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis.
“Climate change poses a systemic risk to the health and stability of our financial system,” Senator Warren stated. “And yet, Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action. My plan to Stop Wall Street From Financing the Climate Crisis is just the first step to ensuring our financial system is ensured against the worst effects of climate change and Wall Street stops financing the climate crisis.“
This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren released her
plan to stop Wall Street from financing the climate crisis. Elizabeth’s plan
will limit and manage the risk that climate change poses to our economy by
reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and insurers pay
the true cost of climate change, instead of passing it on to millions of
Elizabeth rang the alarm in
the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis. She is sounding the alarm on Wall
Street once again as we face the existential threat of our time: climate
change. It’s clear that our entire financial system is in major
danger from the climate crisis. And yet, neither the largest U.S. financial
institutions, nor the public watchdogs that
are supposed to hold them accountable, have taken adequate steps to address
Wall Street’s role in exacerbating the crisis.
As President, Elizabeth Warren will:
Direct the Federal Reserve to invoke its authority under Section 165 of
Dodd-Frank to impose “enhanced prudential standards” –– things like
higher capital standards, or tougher stress testing –– on large
financial institutions based on their exposure to climate-related risks.
Treat climate change as the systemic risk to our financial system that
it is and use existing financial regulations to push the Financial Stability
Oversight Council (FSOC) to carefully examine the risks posed by climate change
and use its authority to designate financial institutions as
“systemically important” if appropriate.
Go beyond her Climate Risk Disclosure Plan by strengthening
SEC rules that govern the climate change expertise in the composition
of boards of directors, as well as in shareholder representation and disclosure
in proxy voting.
Elizabeth will also require U.S. banks to report annually how much
fossil fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to
all fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure.
Fight for pensions by pushing the Securities and Exchange
Commission and Department of Labor –– the two government bodies charged with
regulating pensions –– to declare carbon-intensive investments not consistent
with a fund manager’s fiduciary duty to its clients.
Hold insurance companies accountable for the risk they’re
spreading through the financial system — and through vulnerable communities —
by working with Congress to make large insurance companies doing business in
the U.S. disclose the size of the premiums they’re deriving from coal, oil and
gas projects, associated infrastructure, and companies.
Elizabeth will also investigate insurers who talk out of both sides of
their mouth when they deny coverage to policyholders under
the guise of too much climate risk, while simultaneously insuring fossil fuel
Transition us away from Donald Trump’s climate-denying
administration at a speed unmatched by any transition in modern
history. As part of that transition, she will announce her choices for Cabinet,
including a Treasury Secretary who understands the financial risks of the
climate crisis, by December 1, 2020. And she will staff all senior and mid-level
White House positions, like financial regulators, by Inauguration Day.
Requiring implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the
elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade
Dedicating $100 billion to helping other countries purchase and deploy
American-made clean energy technology that is manufactured right here at home
under the Green Marshall Plan.
Ending all American support for international oil and gas projects
through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment
Committing to using America’s voting power in the World Bank and other
global financial institutions to cut off investment in fossil fuel projects and
to direct that investment into clean energy projects instead.
Stop Wall Street from Financing the Climate Crisis
I’ve spent most of my career getting to the bottom of what’s happening to
working families in America. And when I saw the seeds of the 2008 financial
crisis growing, I rang the alarm as
loud as I could. But the people with the power to stop the crisis didn’t listen
— not enough of them anyway. Not the banks, not Alan Greenspan or other federal
regulators, not Congress. And when the financial crisis hit in 2008, working
families lost it all while the big banks that broke the economy got a fat
And once again, as we face the existential threat of our time –– climate
change –– Wall Street is refusing to listen, let alone take real action.
It’s clear that our entire financial system is in major danger from the climate
crisis. And yet, neither the largest U.S. financial institutions, nor the public watchdogs that
are supposed to hold them accountable, have taken adequate steps to address
Wall Street’s role in exacerbating the crisis. In fact, many of the largest banks and assetmanagers have
actually increased their holdings of fossil fuel assets since
the Paris Agreement was signed. And in the two years immediately after the
Paris Agreement was adopted, the six largest U.S. bank investors in fossil
fuels companies loaned, underwrote, or otherwise financed over $700 billion for fossil fuel
companies. Wall Street banks are making a quick buck accelerating
climate change, all while communities across the country are suffering from the lasting impacts
of industrial pollution and the increasingly devastating
effects of climate change.
There has been some movement by big financial firms. A recently leaked report from J.P. Morgan —
the world’s largest financial backer of fossil fuel companies — stated that
the climate crisis could lead to “catastrophic outcomes where human life as we
know it is threatened.” Late last year, Goldman Sachs announced that
it will spend $750 billion over ten years on sustainable finance projects,
restrict financing to all new oil production and exploration in the Arctic, and
impose stricter lending requirements for coal companies. And in a letter to
investors earlier this year, Blackrock –– the world’s largest asset manager ––
announced that it will exit investments with high
environmental risk, like thermal coal, and launch new investment
products that screen for fossil fuels. While these actions are a small step in
the right direction, they are long overdue given the relative impact the
financial industry has had on the climate crisis — and they’re not enough to
protect us from a climate-fueled financial collapse, either.
We will not defeat the climate crisis if we have to wait for the financial
industry to self-regulate or come forward with piecemeal voluntary commitments.
Winning a Green New Deal and achieving 100% clean energy for our global economy
–– or enacting any of my 13 plans to defeat the climate
crisis –– will be near impossible so long as large financial
institutions are allowed to freely underwrite investments in dirty fossil
This ends when I am president. A Warren administration will act
decisively and swiftly to manage the risk that climate change poses to our
economy by reining in Wall Street and ensuring our banks, asset managers, and
insurers pay the true cost of climate change instead of passing it on to
millions of Americans. We can make the financial system work for good
as we transition to 100% clean energy, but first, we have to change the way
Wall Street is currently doing business.
Use existing financial regulations to tackle climate change because it is
a systemic risk to our financial system
Foreign financial regulators understand that the climate crisis poses serious
risks to the financial system. European regulators are warning of a “green swan” event that
could trigger a climate change-driven financial crisis. The Governor of the
Bank of England, Mark Carney, and the Governor of the Banque de France,
François Villeroy warned that climate change poses a
“catastrophic effect” to the global economy that could lead to
“a sudden collapse in asset prices” similar to the to the 2008 financial
crisis, and has urged central banks, such as the Federal Reserve Board, to play
a much larger role in tackling the crisis.
I am sounding the alarm on Wall Street once again –– just as I did in
the lead up to the 2008 financial crash.
The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was our country’s
response to the 2008 crisis. It included tools that our federal regulators
could use to protect the safety and soundness of our financial
system. Regulators should use those tools now to address the systemic risk that
climate change poses.
Specifically, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) –– a body
created by Dodd-Frank to bring together heads of financial regulatory agencies
to assess threats across jurisdictions and markets –– should carefully examine
the risks posed by climate change and use its authority to designate financial
institutions as “systemically important” if appropriate. And the Federal
Reserve should invoke its authority under Section 165 of Dodd-Frank to impose
“enhanced prudential standards” –– things like higher capital standards and
margin requirement, or tougher stress testing –– on large financial
institutions based on their climate-related risks.
By using the authorities Congress has already given them, federal regulators
can mitigate the climate-related risk in our financial system and help accelerate
the transition towards a clean energy economy.
Increase corporate accountability through the Securities & Exchange
That’s a problem in two ways. First, there are a lot of companies that could be
badly hurt by the likely environmental effects of climate change, and their
financial implications such as stranded assets, and supply-chain risk. We’ve
already seen how record storms, flooding, and wildfires can cause billions of dollars in damage.
Second, global efforts to combat climate change will have an enormous impact on
certain types of companies, particularly those in the energy sector. The Task
Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures found that reductions in greenhouse
gas emissions and increasingly affordable deployment of clean
energy technology could have “significant, near-term financial implications”
for Big Oil and fossil fuel companies.
My Climate Risk Disclosure plan addresses
these problems by requiring companies to publicly disclose both of these types
of climate-related risks. It directs the Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) to issue rules that make every public company disclose detailed
information, including the likely effect on the company if climate change
continues at its current pace and the likely effect on the company if the world
successfully restricts greenhouse gas emissions to meet the targets of the
Paris Agreement. My plan also requires the SEC to tailor these disclosure
requirements for specific industries so that, for instance, fossil fuel
companies will have to make even more detailed disclosures.
But disclosure is just the first step. There is more the SEC can do to ensure
companies are more accurately accounting for climate risk, which is why a
Warren administration will go further by strengthening SEC rules that govern
the climate change expertise in the composition of boards of directors, as well
as in shareholder representation and disclosure in proxy voting. My
administration will also require U.S. banks to report annually how much fossil
fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to all
fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. And a Warren administration will
work with the SEC Office of Credit Ratings to direct credit rating agencies to
impose process standards — like climate due diligences — that incorporate the
physical and financial risks that climate change presents to securities and
other financial assets, as well as to the companies that issue them.
For the millions of public school teachers, firefighters, police officers, and
other state and federal public employees who spend their careers in service to
our government, pension funds provide a shot at a decent retirement. Most
simply, pensions are deferred wages for our public employees. And yet
today, our pension systems are failing our public employees.
That’s in part because they are invested in fossil fuels –– leaving
all the risk of fossil fuel investments in hard working Americans’ retirement
One recent analysis found
that pension funds would be significantly more successful without risky fossil
investments. California’s $238 billion state teachers retirement fund CalSTRS
–– which serves nearly a million public school teachers –– would have earned an
additional $5.5 billion over ten years without its fossil fuel investments. And
Colorado’s state pension fund PERA –– which serves 600,000 current and former
teachers, state troopers, corrections officers, and other public employees ––
would have earned almost $2 billion more in value. This matters for
hard-working pension-holders: investments in fossil fuels over the last 10
years have lost many of California’s public school teachers $5,572 each, and
cost many of Colorado’s public employees $2,900 each. And yet, despite calls
from environmentalists to divest from fossil fuels, in January of this
year CalSTRS rejected divestment,
claiming it would have a “lasting negative impact on the
health of the fund.”
As president, I will fight for every person’s pension, because every
American deserves the right to retire with dignity after spending their career
in service of our local, state and federal government. A Warren
administration would explicitly state policy preferences for limiting climate
risk, beginning with divestment from fossil fuels and prioritizing investments
in environmental, social and governance (ESG) options. And I would go further
by pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Labor ––
the two government bodies charged with regulating pensions –– to declare
carbon-intensive investments not consistent with a fund manager’s fiduciary
duty to its clients.
And, 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 ––
and as president, I will work with Congress to pass legislation to make these
changes a reality.
Instead of halting the effects of climate change, insurers are passing on
the high prices to consumers — or foregoing offering protection to vulnerable
Americans altogether. In some places, insurance companies are pulling
out of areas entirely, leaving consumers exposed. For example, the number of
new and renewed homeowners’ insurance policies fell by 8,700 in
California counties at greatest risk for wildfires. But some insurance
providers will still write policies in vulnerable areas, ratcheting up the monthly prices
consumers pay to counterbalance their increased risk. Premiums
rose in every single state in the nation over the past decade, with states
in tornado alley experiencing the
highest jumps by an average of over $500. And private companies
are taking advantage of the price increases: the number of private flood
insurers has more than doubled since 2016, and they’ve taken in an additional half
a billion in premiums since the prior year.
It’s time to hold insurance companies accountable for the risk they’re
spreading through the financial system — and through vulnerable
communities. I’ll work with Congress to make large insurance companies
doing business in the U.S. disclose the size of the premiums they’re deriving
from coal, oil and gas projects, associated infrastructure, and companies. I’ll
investigate insurers who talk out of both sides of their mouth when they deny coverage to policyholders under
the guise of too much climate risk, while simultaneously insuring fossil fuel
projects. I’ll push the SEC to require insurance companies to show that they
have evaluated climate-related risks in their underwriting processes and in
their reserves. I will reform the National Flood Insurance Program by making it
easier for existing residents to move out of flood-prone properties – both
inland and coastal – including a program to buy back those properties from
low-income homeowners at market value. And within my first term I will ensure
the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps are fully updated, so that
we can raise the standard for new construction through the Federal Flood Risk
Personnel is Policy
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, economic leaders from across
the world highlighted the vital need to include climate risks in
economic analysis. But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin found himself in a
minority of one, arguing that costs were being overestimated when
considering the impacts of climate change. Either he’s uninformed or he’s
lying: study after study shows that we
are drastically underestimating the cost of the climate
I have often said that personnel is policy. The
regulators in charge of protecting the American people need to understand the
risk that the climate crisis poses to our entire financial system — and the
millions whose livelihoods depend on it. That’s why I will appoint at every
level of the system financial regulators committed to holding financial
institutions accountable for climate risk. Here’s what that means:
I will appoint a Treasury Secretary who — unlike Steven Mnuchin —
believes in the power of markets to help defeat the climate crisis: because
right now, research in both of those fields shows
how vital it is that we expose the climate risk.
I’ll appoint financial regulators — including Federal Reserve
governors, Commodity Futures Trading Commission commissioners, and leadership
of every other agency represented on the Financial Stability Oversight Council
— who understand the clear threat climate change poses to our financial system
and who implement policy that addresses financial institutions’ exposure to
climate risks and hold them accountable to addressing.
I’ve already pledged to appoint an SEC
chair who will use all existing tools to require robust
disclosure of climate-related risks. I’ll also appoint SEC commissioners who
will manage the threat climate change poses to the economy by pushing for
corporate disclosure of climate risk and a shift of finances away from fossil
The size and the scope of the risk that climate poses to our financial
system requires immediate action. I’ve committed to transitioning us
away from Donald Trump’s climate-denying administration at a speed unmatched by
any transition in modern history, so that we can begin tackling the urgent
challenges ahead on Day One. As part of that transition, I will
announce my choices for Cabinet, including a Treasury Secretary who understands
the financial risks of the climate crisis, by December 1, 2020. And I’ll staff
all senior and mid-level White House positions, like financial regulators, by Inauguration
Day — so that we can begin de-risking our financial system from the moment I’m
Work with international allies
One of the next catastrophic global financial crises may well be caused by the growing
climate crisis. The 2008 recession proved how financial crises are
no longer isolated: their impact echoes across countries. That’s why addressing
the financial risks of the climate crisis is an international issue. But
the United States isn’t just lagging behind other countries on addressing the
climate risk: right now, we’re not even in the same league.
A Warren Administration will work with international allies to build a more
resilient financial and environmental future for our planet. And I’ll use every
tool in the box to build that world. As President I’ll advocate for the Federal
Reserve to join the global coalition of central banks known as the Network on Greening the Financial
System. As we transition to a 100% clean energy economy, the United
States should be a leader on the global stage, and having a seat at the table
is the first step. As part of my New Approach to Trade, I
will require implementation of the Paris Climate accord and the elimination of
fossil fuel subsidies as preconditions for any trade agreement. My Green
Marshall Plan will dedicate $100 billion to helping other countries purchase
and deploy American-made clean energy technology that is manufactured right
here at home. And we should end all American support for international oil and
gas projects through the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment
Corporation. We should also commit to using America’s voting power in the World
Bank and other global financial institutions to cut off investment in fossil
fuel projects and to direct that investment into clean energy projects instead.
Our efforts should be dedicated to accelerating the global transition to clean
The vigorous contest of Democrats running for president has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan for Justice for Border Communities – a stark contrast to what Trump has done to punish asylum seekers, separating children from their parents, and most recently, using the coronavirus pandemic to raise the prospect of shutting the border to Mexico entirely.
“Our border region is made up of multinational, multicultural, economically vibrant communities that reflect the best of what our country can be. From affordable housing to investing in small businesses to stopping Trump’s monument to hate, we can make big, structural change to promote accountability, opportunity, and prosperity at the border,” Senator Warren stated.
This is from the Warren campaign:
Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, released her plan to ensure accountability in our border communities by rolling back the Trump administration’s incessant militarization, immediately stopping the construction of Trump’s wall on the border between Mexico and the United States, creating a fair and welcoming immigration system, and respecting the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystem.
She will also work to build a 21st century border economy by boosting small businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the digital divide, uplifting labor and environmental protections through trade, and developing the green workforce of the future.
Some new proposals in her plan include:
In her first 100 days, she will convene a borderlands
summit, bringing together federal, state, and local representatives, Tribal
Nations, members of the business community, community organizations and
stakeholders to undo the harm of the Trump administration and create more
prosperity in the region.
She will create a new position in the White House that
serves as an advisor to the president on border communities. This person will
direct an Interagency Task Force on Border Community Prosperity and coordinate
the entire federal government’s investment in our border communities.
She will end Trump’s deployment of military forces to the
Despite the immediate public health threat, the Trump
administration is demanding that we cut spending elsewhere to pay for emergency
funding we need to prepare for and respond to coronavirus — so she is
introducing a bill in the Senate to redirect funding diverted to the wall
toward coronavirus instead.
She will end Constitution-Free Zones: She will hold
immigration enforcement to the same due process and standards as other law
enforcement agencies — no more warrantless property searches, no more
arbitrary stops, no more violations of basic Constitutional rights.
She will reverse the Trump administration’s policy giving
Border Patrol agents the power to make “credible fear” determinations for
asylum-seekers rather than asylum officers.
She will invest resources in more culturally competent asylum
officers and immigration judges and better coordinate a full federal government
response to the humanitarian crisis at the border, just like we would with FEMA
under a natural disaster.
She will pardon those convicted of providing food and water
to migrants — because no one should go to jail simply for providing
humanitarian aid to another person in need.
She will create a Border Health Initiative within the
Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to focus on strengthening these health
institutions in ways that serve the unique needs of this region and its people.
She will build a 21st century border economy by investing in
our ports of entry.
The campaign recently did a Texas Latino Engagement tour —
and listened and learned from hundreds of Latino, Latina, and Latinx people in
San Antonio, Laredo, McAllen, Corpus Christi, and Houston.
Elizabeth will be in San
Antonio with former Secretary of HUD Julián Castro today.
But the challenges at the border did not start with Donald Trump’s ignorance
and bigotry. For decades, decisions made in Washington have divided and
disrupted communities, cities, Tribal Nations, and families — many of whom
have lived along what is now the border for longer than the United States has
The 15 million residents living
in our Southern borderlands — from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California
— deserve a champion and a partner in the White House. Building an
America that reflects our values means elevating the voices of those who have
traditionally been overlooked and underserved. We’ve got to make sure everyone
has a seat at the table, and that includes border communities and immigrant
advocacy groups. In my first 100 days, I will convene a borderlands summit,
bringing together federal, state, and local representatives, Tribal Nations,
members of the business community, community organizations, and stakeholders to
undo the harm of the Trump administration and create more prosperity in the
region. I will also create a new position in the White House that serves as an
advisor to the president on border communities. This person will direct an
Interagency Task Force on Border Community Prosperity and coordinate the entire
federal government’s investment in our border communities.
A Warren administration will ensure accountability in our border
communities by rolling back the Trump administration’s incessant
militarization of the border, creating a fair and welcoming immigration system,
and respecting the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystem. I’ll
fight for healthy and safe border communities with affordable housing,
high-quality education, health care, and economic opportunities. And together,
we’ll build a 21st century border economy by boosting small
businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the digital divide,
uplifting labor and environmental protections through trade, and developing the
green workforce of the future.
Accountability in Border Communities
We need a federal government that’s accountable to our border
communities. That means an immigration system that keeps families
together, preserves our security, grows our economy, honors our Constitution,
and reflects our values. That also means an approach to national security that
respects the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystems. As president,
my administration will:
Welcome those in need and protect rights and due process. My immigration plan commits
to decriminalizing migration, significantly reducing detention and ending
private detention facilities, providing rights and due process for all
immigrants, reaffirming asylum protections for those fleeing violence, and
ending policies like metering and the “Remain in Mexico” policy. As president,
I’ll also reverse the Trump administration’s policy giving Border Patrol agents
the power to make “credible fear” determinations for asylum-seekers rather than
asylum officers. A Warren administration will invest resources in more
culturally competent asylum officers and immigration judges and better
coordinate a full federal government response to the humanitarian crisis at the
border, just like we would with FEMA during a natural disaster. And I’ll pardon
those convicted of providing food and water to migrants — because no
one should go to jail simply for providing humanitarian aid to another person
Remake CBP and ICE in a way that reflects our values. We
spend billions of dollars each year on a
massive and cruel immigration detention and enforcement system that
breaks up families and keeps thousands locked up — with little evidence that it makes
our nation safer.A Warren
administration will reshape CBP and ICE from top to bottom, reducing
funding for detention and instead focusing their efforts on ports of entry and
homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods,
and preventing smuggling and trafficking. And to change the culture, I’ll
insist on transparency and strengthen the authorities of independent internal
watchdogs to prevent future abuses. I’ll designate a Justice Department task
force to investigate accusations of serious violations, and give it independent
authority to pursue any substantiated criminal allegations.
The Supreme Court ruling that a family can’t seek damages after
their son was killed by a border patrol agent because he was on
the Mexican side of the border when the agent shot him shows us that our system
of accountability is broken. In spite of the Supreme Court’s decision, a few
steps to one side of the border or another should not serve to forfeit basic
rights. As president, I’ll work to reverse the decision legislatively in order
to ensure accountability for victims of border patrol violence — regardless of
the side of the border. Furthermore, I support requiring Customs and Border
Patrol (CBP) agents to wear body cameras, a best practice in local law
enforcement that reduces use-of-force incidents and increases transparency.
And as new technology is deployed, a Warren administration will monitor
violations of privacy and limit the use of facial-recognition software. Let
there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating the basic rights of
immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren administration will hold you
Stop Trump’s Militarization of the Border. Despite Trump’s
rhetoric, the people seeking asylum at the southern border are not a threat to
our national security. And Trump’s wall is a monument to hate — and only the
latest attempt to treat the southern border as a war zone rather than as a
vibrant community. Many of the apprehensions at the border are families and
children who commonly turn themselves in to
Border Patrol to apply for asylum. This is a humanitarian
crisis in need of medical doctors, immigration lawyers, and social workers —
not military troops. As president, I will end Trump’s deployment of
military forces to the border. I’ve listened to communities at the border when
they say we do not need Trump’s failed wall, and I will immediately stop the
construction of Trump’s wall on the border between Mexico and the United
States. I will also work to repeal the sections of law that allow the federal government to
waive federal procurement rules or environmental impact reviews.
Despite the immediate public health threat, the Trump administration is demanding
that we cut spending elsewhere to pay for emergency funding we need to prepare
for and respond to coronavirus — so I am introducing a bill in the Senate to
redirect funding diverted to the wall toward coronavirus instead. We need to
get our priorities straight and focus on keeping the American people safe,
rather than funding some useless vanity project. Let’s be clear: our border
communities are not a war zone.
End Constitution-Free Zones. CBP has the authority to
operate within 100 miles of any “external boundary” — an area deep into
the interior of the country that covers about 200 million people, including
9 of the 10 largest U.S. cities. The Border Patrol operates numerous
immigration checkpoints and regularly stops people to check their immigration
status, raising concerns about racial profiling and violations of the
Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections. During natural disasters and daily
life, immigrant families are afraid to travel freely in their own communities.
Citizens of Tribal Nations such as the Tohono O’odham Nation who have tribal ID cards face
unnecessary hurdles with border patrol checkpoints. Agents also have the authority to enter private property
(except dwellings) 25 miles from the border, which includes almost
all of El Paso. There is no reason Border Patrol agents should have special
access to private property without receiving a warrant from a judge just like
the rest of law enforcement. As president, I will hold immigration enforcement
to the same due process and standards as other law enforcement agencies — no
more warrantless property searches, no more arbitrary stops, no more violations
of basic Constitutional rights. It’s time to rein in CBP, and ensure everyone’s
rights are respected.
Root Out White Nationalism. We need to call out white
nationalism for what it is—domestic terrorism. It is a threat to
American safety and security. In a Warren administration, we will use every
tool we have to defeat it, and that includes from within our military, our law
enforcement, and our immigration enforcement agencies. To start, I will
instruct these federal agencies to tighten their background check processes and
to better track incidents of bias crimes and reports of affiliation with white
nationalist or neo-Nazi groups in their ranks. Extremist ideology is a threat
to our values, and it has no place inside our government. As part of my plan to
reshape ICE and CBP, I’ve said that I will strengthen the authorities of
independent internal watchdogs to prevent future abuses. This includes tasking
the Inspectors General at both agencies to focus explicitly on reports of bias
crimes or racism on the job. A Warren administration will have zero tolerance
for these types of infractions.
From the 1918 Porvenir massacre through
today, we must also recognize the long history of racist violence along
the U.S.-Mexico border. Tragically, we have seen how this horrific
history repeated itself just last August, when a white nationalist, directly
echoing the rhetoric of President Trump, drove hundreds of miles to commit an
act of terror against the people of El Paso. As I laid out in my plan to combat white nationalism,
combatting white nationalist crime will be a top priority for the Departments
of Justice and Homeland Security in a Warren administration. My administration
will also work with federal and local law enforcement to crack down on
dangerous anti-immigrant vigilante militias at the border, which often include members of hate groups or
individuals with a history of violence,
including against U.S. citizens.
Respect Tribal Sovereignty. My plan for public lands
includes aggressive steps to
stop private interests from pillaging sacred lands. I will use all legal
authorities, including the Native American Graves
Protection and Repatriation Act, to protect sacred sites like Organ
Pipe. And absent extraordinary circumstances, respect for tribal sovereignty
means that no project, development or federal decision that will have a
significant impact on a tribal community, their lands, resources, members or
religious practices, should proceed without the free, prior, and informed
consent of the Tribal Nation concerned. I have also called for a new Sacred Lands Religious
Freedom Restoration Act to dramatically improve the
ability of Tribal Nations to block the imposition of development, extraction,
and land use decisions with respect to tribal lands.
Fighting for Safe, Healthy, High-Quality Living on the Border
A generation of barely budging wages and rising costs for basics like housing,
health care, child care, and education have squeezed family budgets. Many
families living in communities at our borders are hanging on by their
A lack of affordable housing and decades of systemic discrimination has
driven hundreds of thousands of people,
predominantly U.S. citizens of Mexican-descent, in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico,
and California to live in neighborhoods, called colonias, without basic
necessities like potable water, electricity, and safe housing. Border
communities have uninsured rates that are much higher than the national average
and have some of the highest rates of chronic diseases like diabetes in the
country. In the colonias in Texas, over 50% of adults do not have a
high school diploma.
A Warren administration will:
Invest in safe and affordable housing for all. My Housing Plan for America invests
$500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than
three million units that will be affordable to lower-income families —
including $523 million to create 380,000 affordable rental homes in rural
communities and $2.5 billion to build or rehabilitate 200,000 homes on
tribal lands, where overcrowding, homelessness, and substandard
housing have reached crisis levels. My plan will lower rents by 10%, reform
land-use rules that restrict affordable housing construction and further racial
segregation, and take a critical first step towards closing the racial wealth gap.
My plan to protect and empower renters tackles the growing cost of rent,
strengthens fair housing law and enforcement, fights for a nationwide right to
counsel for low-income tenants in eviction proceedings, and creates a national
small dollar grant program to help make sure families aren’t evicted because of
My administration will also take on “land contracts”
agreements, predatory loans that arefrequently targeted at
communities of color and areprevalent in border communities. In
these contracts, tenant-buyers can be subject to unjust eviction
proceedings, homes can be in such bad condition they’re basically
uninhabitable, interest rates exorbitantly high, and in the case of some
colonias, developers have failed to provide basic infrastructure
like a sewer system or paved roads. And because of the “forfeiture clause”
embedded in these kinds of agreements, if tenants fall behind on these
high-interest payments, lenders can seize the property — and keep the payments
that have been made as “liquidated damages.”
Texas is one state that has moved toward increasing protections after
a certain amount has been paid, but there’s more we can do. I’ll choose a CFPB
Director committed to reining in land contracts, work with states to require
that these contracts be recorded to collect better data and formalize land
titling, and strengthen protections and rights of these residents to ensure
their property isn’t lost to exploitative practices and can be passed onto
Protect Clean Water.Clean water is
vital to our health and welfare and to our economy. But decades of
environmental racism have allowed corporate polluters to
pump dangerous amounts of pollution into our border communities and unaccountable developers to
leave these communities without the resources and infrastructure to take it
on. 30% of people living in colonias
don’t have safe drinking water. Meanwhile, border communities have
been battling toxic waste dumping in
their neighborhoods. And yet, Trump’s 2021 budget proposal eliminates much of
the federal money allocated for water and wastewater projects that could have
been used to work towards clean drinking water in border regions.
A Warren administration will invest in our nation’s water systems. I have
committed to fully capitalize the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the
Clean Water State Revolving Fund to refurbish old water infrastructure and
support ongoing water treatment operations and maintenance, prioritizing the
communities most heavily impacted by inadequate water infrastructure. I will
also fully enforce Safe Drinking Water Act standards for all public water
systems and aggressively regulate chemicals that make their way into our water
supply, including from agricultural runoff. I’ll restore all funding to water
and wastewater projects the Trump administration has proposed to eliminate.
And, for the thousands of people who rely on private
sources for drinking water, a Warren administration will fight for
adequate funding so that everyone can have access to safe water. I’ll also make
giant agribusinesses pay the full costs of the environmental damage they wreak
on the border communities that surround them by closing the loopholes that they
use to get away with polluting and by beefing up enforcement of the Clean Air
and Clean Water Acts against them.
Health care is a human right and that’s why we need
Medicare for All. Under Medicare for All, every single person in this
country will be able to see the doctor they need and get their recommended
treatments. As president, I will immediately act to lower the cost of
prescription drugs, using every available tool to bring pressure on the big
drug companies and bring down the high costs of many common prescription drugs,
including Insulin. And within 100 days, I’ll work with Congress to expand
coverage to every American by expanding Medicare and creating a Medicare for
All option that is free for all kids and families at or below 200 percent of
While we work to deliver Medicare for All, a Warren
administration will roll back the Trump administration’s efforts to rip health
coverage away from people. The Trump administration’s reinterpretation of
Section 1557 would undermine critical nondiscrimination protections, weakening
requirements to make health information language-accessible. As president, I will
direct HHS to reinstate the Obama administration’s 2016 guidance that fully
upholds civil rights and nondiscrimination protections. I’ll roll back the
Trump administration’s Public Charge rule change, which is harming immigrants
with disabilities and forcing immigrant families to choose between staying
together and ensuring their children can get critical services. And I’ll
reverse the Trump administration’s harmful Medicaid policies, like work
requirements and block grants, that take coverage away from low-income
individuals and families.
Strengthen the Health System. While coverage is critical,
it’s only part of ensuring access to high-quality care. We also have a
responsibility to make sure that places that have experienced a loss in
services or are otherwise medically underserved get support to improve their
health systems and meet the needs of their communities.
That’s why I’ve committed to protecting health care in rural communities by
creating a new designation under Medicare for rural hospitals, ending the
harmful effects of consolidation, and dramatically increasing funding for
Community Health Centers. I will also establish a $25 billion dollar capital
fund to support a menu of options for improving care in health professional
shortage areas, including: constructing a new facility like a
Community Health Center, Rural Health Clinic, School-Based Health Center, or
birthing center; expanding capacity or services at an existing clinic;
establishing pharmacy services or a telemedicine program; supporting a diabetes
self-management education program; improving transportation to the nearest
hospital; or piloting models like mobile clinics and community paramedicine
programs. A Warren administration will also expand our health care workforce by
investing more resources in building the pipeline of culturally-competent and
language-inclusive medical professionals in rural areas and other areas with
shortages, from physicians to promotoras.
But we also need to support robust public health efforts to keep these
communities healthy and prepared to handle potential outbreaks — and to work
in partnership with the international community, including Mexico, in our
global health response. That’s why I’ve committed to fully fund the critical
agencies that support our public health infrastructure. To
double down on this commitment in the border region, I will also create a
Border Health Initiative within the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to
focus on strengthening these institutions in ways that serve the unique needs
of this region and its people.
Fight for high-quality education from the earliest years through college. 33 of the 44 counties along the
Southern border are non-metropolitan counties. Today, a majority of rural communities lack
sufficient access to child care. My plan for Universal Child Care will
provide high-quality child care free for millions and affordable for everyone.
My administration will also work closely with local providers and tribal
governments to make sure there are high-quality child care options available in
every community — including home-based child care services. And as part of a
comprehensive early childhood education system, I will ensure all children can
attend free high-quality universal pre-K.
I’m also committed to protecting English Language Learners by enforcing their
rights to meaningful access to rigorous coursework, teachers, special education
services, and integration with the rest of the student body, while fostering
their home language. And I will protect the rights of immigrant students,
ensuring that all immigrant children have access to a quality education, no
matter their native language, national origin, or immigration status.
Border states are
facing an acute teacher shortage.
My administration will treat teachers and staff like the professionals they are
by strengthening the ability of educators to organize and bargain for just
compensation and ensure that educators aren’t drowning in debt. I’ll also build
a more diverse teacher and school leadership pipeline by investing in Grow Your
Own and teacher residency programs. And I will push to fully fund the Teacher
Quality Partnership program to support teacher residency programs in high-need
areas, like rural communities, and in areas of expertise like Special Education
and Bilingual Education.
My student debt cancellation and
universal public college plan will cancel up to $50,000 in
student loan debt for more than 95% of Americans who carry it and make two-year
or four-year public college or technical school free. My plan also makes a
minimum $50 billion investment in HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal
Colleges and Universities, and other Minority-Serving Institutions.
Prevent Gun Violence in Border Communities and in Mexico. After
Trump, we’ll have work to do to restore our relationship with our Mexican
neighbors. One area where we can begin to make improvements immediately is
in stopping the flow of American guns
to Mexico. As Mexico struggles with record violence, Americans must
face the fact that our weak gun laws have not only fed an epidemic of gun
violence at home, but are also a leading driver of instability among our
neighbors. This instability in turn is displacing people across Mexico and
elsewhere in Latin America, feeding the humanitarian crisis that border
communities in both the U.S. and Mexico are facing today. I will fight to end gun violence,
recognizing that this is part of addressing the root causes of migration and improving
our relationship with Mexico. And as president, I will pass a new federal
anti-trafficking law making clear “straw purchases” are a federal crime and
prosecute gun traffickers by instructing my Attorney General to go after the
transnational gun trade with all the resources of the federal government.
Building a 21st Century Border Economy
A thriving border economy is crucial to the economic wellbeing of the rest of
our country. And when Trump has threatened to shut it down, the ramifications
have been felt quickly and acutely. In 2018, a 5 hour border crossing closure
at San Ysidro in California — the busiest land border crossing in
the world — cost local businesses $5.3 million. We
need a strong border economy that works for everyone. That means investments in
local small businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the
digital divide, trade that uplifts labor and environmental protections, and
developing the green workforce of the future.
Boosting Small Businesses. Small businesses are
essential to the prosperity of border communities, but these businesses have
been harmed by increased border militarization and Trump’s reckless tariff by tweet approach
to trade. People along the U.S.-Mexico border also confront barriers to
accessing the capital and financial services necessary to start and grow their
businesses — barriers that disproportionately affect Latino,
Native American, and Black entrepreneurs. My comprehensive agenda to boost
America’s small businesses will level the playing field for
small business owners on the border by providing access to credit, helping
small businesses deal with regulatory requirements, and unleashing the full
purchasing power of the federal government to support small businesses.
Protecting and Expanding Financial Services. The number of
rural counties without a locally owned community bank has doubled since 1994, and
border communities are increasingly becoming banking
deserts. I’ve proposed allowing the U.S. Postal Service to partner with
local community banks and credit unions to provide access to
low-cost, basic banking services online and at post offices. A Warren
Administration will also strengthen lending to small businesses in underserved
areas by expanding support for Community Development Financial Institutions,
which provide an important source of funding for
women, people of color, and rural communities. As president, my
administration will also protect immigrant families sending remittances by
enacting stronger rules at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau around
remittances to ensure fees are transparent, and I will oppose President Trump’s
proposed tax on remittances that targets wire transfers to Mexico, Latin
America, and the Caribbean to pay for his wall.
Extend Broadband to Border Communities. The communities
along the U.S.-Mexico border have some of the lowest levels of internet
connectivity in the nation. This digital divide is a
major barrier for people to find jobs, students to complete homework, small
business to connect to new markets, and it holds back the entire community.
That’s why as president, I will make it clear in federal statute that
municipalities have the right to build their own broadband networks and
establish a new $85 billion federal grant program to
massively expand broadband access across the country. I will also require all
telecommunications services to contribute fairly into the Universal Service
Fund to shore up essential universal service programs that provide subsidies to
low-income individuals, schools, and libraries to increase broadband adoption –
because every home in America deserves a fiber broadband connection at a price
families can afford.
Decreasing Wait Times. Under the Trump Administration, wait times
at ports of entry are dramatically increasing, reducing trade and commerce
and even impacting air quality for
surrounding communities. Every day almost $2 billion worth of products crosses
the U.S.-Mexico border, but delays in Texas can exceed 10 hours — this is
unacceptable. In places like Deming, New Mexico, students pushed across the
border because of unaffordable housing or to be with deported family
members get up at dawn to wait hours
through highly-militarized security checks to make it to school on
the U.S.-side on time. An estimated 40,000 children cross the
U.S.-Mexico border for school every day. First, we will
invest in dedicated pedestrian lanes for both U.S. citizens and students, and
the “All Lanes Open Initiative” so that there is better traffic flow
during the morning rush and expand the program to include evenings. We also
need to completely repeal the “hardening measures,” such as concrete
barriers topped with razor wire, and limit “tactical exercises” that create
choke points and slow down traffic. With the passage of the USMCA, we will
increase the number of custom officials and invest in modern technology to more
efficiently and effectively inspect and verify goods.
Leveling the Playing Field with Trade. As a Senator, I voted
for the USMCA — the revised NAFTA agreement. I supported the agreement because
it made some improvements for American workers, farmers, and consumers, and
Mexican workers too. It guarantees the right to organize for Mexican workers,
provides for new investments in combating pollution such as $300 million
to stop cross-border sewage flows,
and strengthens diplomatic ties with our neighbors at a time that President
Trump seeks to divide us.
But we will do much better for border communities in a Warren administration.
We need a new approach to trade that works for Americans who have been left
behind, including the communities on the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead of pursuing
a race to the bottom when it comes to worker’s rights and environmental
protection, it is time to use our leverage of the American market to encourage
other countries, including Mexico, to elevate their policies. When we raise
labor and environmental standards worldwide, we help millions of people living
abroad and let American workers compete on a more level playing field.
Building the Green Workforce of the Future. Border states
are emerging as leaders of the new green economy.Texas is the leading producer of
wind energy in the country, California is the leading producer
of solar energy, and clean energy investments in New Mexico and Arizona are on the
rise. To really bend the curve on climate, we’ll need sustained big, structural
change across a range of industries and sectors. My administration will commit
to investments in retraining, joint labor management apprenticeships, and
creating strong career pipelines to ensure a continuous supply of skilled,
available workers. And, we will look for every opportunity to partner with high
schools and vocational schools to build pathways to the middle class for kids
who opt not to go to college. Outside experts that have looked at my ideas for
a Green New Deal to analyze how they will drive job creation have estimated
that they will create 10.6 million new green jobs.
That means millions of new clean energy jobs in border states and honoring our
commitments and a just transition for fossil fuel workers, so that no one is
Honoring our Border Servicemembers and Veterans. Military
bases and military families are key drivers of local border economies, from the
Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma to Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio. Rather
than defunding military projects — like military base child care
facilities — to build Trump’s “wall”, we should be investing
in military readiness, infrastructure, and veterans and their families. From
military housing and child care to a 21st century VA system, I will keep our
promise to care for our nation’s veterans, service members, and military
The 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. 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, Democratic candidate for President, has released details of her most controversial proposal, Medicare for All, promising that it will cover every person in America with health care, including long-term care, vision and dental, without increasing taxes on middle class families. Warren focuses on an overall restructuring taxes and spending – going after the loopholes and tax cheats and reining in military spending as well as drug costs and cutting healthcare costs by removing the for-profit insurance companies (gatekeepers) as middlemen. What her plan misses, though, is the obvious: collect the Medicare tax (1.45%, plus an extra 0.9% on income over $200,000) on all income, not just wages, and, if necessary raise the surcharge for incomes over $250,000. Interestingly, while employers would no longer pick and choose the private health insurance they subsidize, employers would still subsidize their employees’ Medicare cost. Health care is considered the leading issue for voters in 2020. Here is the detailed plan, from the Warren campaign: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.
– Today, Senator Elizabeth
Warren, candidate for President, released her plan to finance Medicare for All.
The coverage is identical to the coverage in the Medicare for All legislation
in the Senate and it will cover every single person in America with excellent,
high-quality health care, including long-term care and vision and dental.
Elizabeth will pay
for this plan without raising taxes one penny on middle class families. Instead, she will put about $11
trillion in the pockets of American families by eliminating what they would pay
in premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket costs over the next
Her numbers add up and
are backed by experts including:
Simon Johnson, the
former Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund and a professor at
Dr. Donald Berwick,
one of the nation’s top experts in health system management and improvement,
who ran the Medicare and Medicaid programs under President Barack Obama
Mark Zandi, Chief
Economist of Moody’s Analytics
former Chief Economist for the Obama Labor Department
Elizabeth’s plan to
dramatically improve health care and cut family costs would cost the United
States less than our current broken system. It would require $20.5 trillion in
new revenue, nearly half of which comes simply from having employers pay
Medicare instead of private insurance companies.
Elizabeth will finance
the remainder of Medicare for All with targeted defense spending cuts, new
taxes on financial firms, giant corporations, and the richest 1% of Americans,
and by cracking down on tax evasion and fraud. The $11 trillion in household
insurance and out-of-pocket expenses projected under our current system goes
right back into the pockets of America’s working people — substantially larger than the
largest tax cut in American history — and no middle class tax increases.
My daddy’s heart attack nearly sent our family skidding over
a financial cliff. Today I think about all the kids this year who will face the
double blow of nearly losing a parent and then watching their lives turn upside
down as their families struggle to pay a growing stack of medical
I spent my career studying why so many hard-working middle
class families were going broke. For years, my research partners and I traveled
the country from bankruptcy courtroom to bankruptcy courtroom, talking directly
to people who’d seen their lives turned upside down. We interviewed lawyers,
judges, and families involved in bankruptcy cases. To save on printing costs,
we lugged around a Xerox machine (I nicknamed him “R2-D2”) to save money on
photocopying court records.
Eventually, we built the largest and most comprehensive
database of consumer bankruptcy data ever assembled. That first study surprised
us: we found that 90% of families went bankrupt because of job loss, medical
problems, and marital disruption. That finding was confirmed in 2007 by my
later research, which found that the number one reason
families were going broke was health care – and three quarters of
those who declared bankruptcy after an illness were people who already had
It’s been nearly thirty years since we published that first
groundbreaking study. And after all that time, here’s where we are: between
2013 and 2016, the number one reason families
went broke was still because of health care – even though 91.2% of Americans
had health insurance in 2016.
Families are getting crushed by health costs. Just look at
how much an average family of four with employer-sponsored insurance personally
spent per year on employee premium contributions and out-of-pocket
costs in 2018. And this figure has increased each
87 million. That’s
how many American adults in 2018 were uninsured or “underinsured” – meaning
either they have no insurance or their so-called health insurance is like a car
with the engine missing. It looks fine sitting on the lot, but inadequate if
they actually need to use it. Nearly one in every
two adults not currently on Medicare has no insurance or unreliable insurance.
adults didn’t fill a prescription last year because of costs. 36 millionpeopleskipped
a recommended test, treatment, or follow-up because of costs. 40 millionpeople
didn’t go to a doctor to check out a health problem because of costs. 57 millionpeople
had trouble covering their medical bills.
Today, in 2019, in the United States of America, the
wealthiest nation in the history of the world, inadequate health coverage is
crushing the finances and ruining the lives of tens of millions of American
I’m running for President based on a radical idea – calling
out what’s broken and speaking plainly about how to fix it.
All my plans start with our shared values. There are two
absolute non-negotiables when it comes to health care:
One: No American should ever, ever die or go bankrupt
because of health care costs. No more GoFundMe campaigns to pay for care. No
more rationing insulin. No more choosing between medicine and groceries.
Two: Every American should be able to see the doctors they
need and get their recommended treatments, without having to figure out who is
in-network. No for-profit insurance company should be able to stop anyone from
seeing the expert or getting the treatment they need.
Health care is a human right, and we need a system that
reflects our values. That system is Medicare for All.
Let’s be clear: America’s medical professionals are among
the best in the world. Health care in America is world-class. Medicare for All
isn’t about changing any of that.
It’s about fixing what is broken – how we pay for that care.
And when it comes to health care, what’s broken is obvious.
A fractured system that allows private interests to profiteer off the health
crises of the American people. A system that crushes our families with costs
they can’t possibly bear, forcing tens of millions to go without coverage or
to choose between basic
necessities like food, rent, and health – or bankruptcy.
We must fix this system. And over the long-term, the best
way to achieve that goal is to move from the system we have now to a system of
Medicare for All.
Medicare for All is about where doctors, hospitals, and care
providers send the bill – to a collection of private insurance companies who make billions off
denying people care or to the Medicare program for fair compensation. Under
Medicare for All, everyone gets the care they need, when they need it, and
nobody goes broke.
A key step in winning the public debate over Medicare for
All will be explaining what this plan costs – and how to pay for it. This task
is made a hundred times harder by powerful health insurance and drug companies
that makebillions of dollars
off the current bloated, inadequate system – and would be perfectly happy to
leave things exactly the way they are.
In 2017 alone, health industry players whose profiteering
would end under Medicare for All unleashed more than 2,500 lobbyists on
Washington. These industries will spendfreely on shady TV
ads and lobbying to convince people that a program that saves them massive
sums of money will somehow cost them money.
That being able to see the doctors and get the treatments they need regardless
of what their employer or
their insurance company thinks
is somehow actually a loss of choice. That a program that covers more services,
more people, and costs the American people less than what we
currently spend on health care is somehow too expensive.
Meanwhile, where are the 2,500 lobbyists for the people who
get sick and can’t pay their medical bills? Where are the hundreds of
millions being spent so that people who are trying to balance a budget around
rising health care premiums and growing deductibles and copays can make their
voices heard in Washington? Washington hears plenty from the giant health
insurance and giant drug industries, but not so much from families being
squeezed to the breaking point.
So let’s focus on families’ expenses and families’ health
Start with the Medicare for All Act – which
I have cosponsored. The bill provides a detailed proposal for how to achieve
our end goal. But as economists and advocates have noted, the legislation
leaves open a number of key design decisions that will affect its overall cost,
and the bill does not directly incorporate specific revenue measures. While
much of this ambiguity results from the reasonable choice to delegate
significant implementation discretion to the Executive Branch, it has also
allowed opponents of
Medicare for All to make up their own price tags and try to scare middle class
families about the prospect of tax increases – despite the conclusions of expert after expert after expert that it is
possible to eventually move to a Medicare for All system that gives both high
quality coverage for everybody and dramatically lowers costs for middle class
The best way to fight misinformation is with facts. That’s
why today, I’m filling in the details and releasing a plan that describes how I
would implement the long-term policy prescriptions of the Medicare for
All Act and how to pay for it.
Under my plan, Medicare for All will cover the full list of
benefits outlined in the Medicare for All Act, including long-term
care, audio, vision, and dental benefits. My plan will cover every single
person in the U.S., and includes common-sense payment reforms that make
Medicare for All possible without spending any more money overall than we spend
My plan reflects careful, detailed analyses from key
national experts in health policy, tax policy, and economics. By filling in the
details, we can strip away all the misleading political attacks and make plain
the choice facing the American people:
Option 1: Maintain our current system, which will cost
the country $52 trillion over ten years. And under that current system
63 million have
coverage gaps or substandard coverage that could break down if they actually
get sick. And millions who have
health insurance will end up going broke at least in part from medical costs
Together, the American people will pay $11 trillion of
that bill themselves in the form of premiums, deductibles, copays,
out-of-network, and other expensive medical equipment and care they pay for
out-of-pocket – all while America’s wealthiest individuals and
biggest companies pay far
less in taxes than in other major countries.
Option 2: Switch to my approach to Medicare for All,
which would cost the country just under $52 trillion over ten
years. Under this new system –
Every person in America – all 331 million people
– will have full health coverage, and coverage for long-term care.
Everybody gets the doctors and the treatments they need,
when they need them. No more restrictive provider networks, no more insurance
companies denying coverage for prescribed treatments, and no more going broke
over medical bills.
The $11 trillion in
household insurance and out-of-pocket expenses projected under our current
system goes right back into the pockets of America’s working people. And we
make up the difference with targeted spending cuts, new taxes on giant corporations
and the richest 1% of Americans, and by cracking down on tax evasion and
fraud. Not one penny in middle-class tax increases.
That’s it. That’s the choice. A broken system that leaves
millions behind while costs keep going up and insurance companies keep sucking
billions of dollars in profits out of the system – or, for about the same
amount of money, a new system that drives down overall health costs and, on
average, relieves the typical middle class families of $12,400 in insurance
premiums and other related health care costs.
No middle class tax increases. $11 trillion in household
expenses back in the pockets of American families. That’s substantially larger than the
largest tax cut in American history.
Not every candidate for president supports moving to a
system of Medicare for All. Some who support Medicare for All will have
different ideas about how to finance and structure it. And everybody knows that
there must be a real transition. But you don’t get what you don’t fight for –
and my view is clear.
Every candidate who opposes my long-term goal of Medicare
for All should explain why the “choice” of private insurance plans is
more important than being able to choose the doctor that’s best for you without
worrying about whether they are in-network or not. Why it’s more important than
being able to choose the right prescription drug for you without worrying about
massive differences in copays. Why it’s more important than being able to
choose to start a small business or choose the job you want without worrying
about where your health care coverage will be coming from and how much it will
Every candidate who opposes my long-term goal of Medicare
for All should put forward their own plan to cover everyone, without costing
the country anything more in health care spending, and while putting $11
trillion back in the pockets of the American people by eliminating premiums and
virtually eliminating out-of-pocket costs. Or, if they are unwilling to do
that, they should concede that they think it’s more important to protect the
eye-popping profits of private insurers and drug companies and the immense
fortunes of the top 1% and giant corporations, rather than provide
transformative financial relief for hundreds of millions of American
And every candidate who opposes my long-term goal of
Medicare for All should put forward their own plan to make sure every single
person in America can get high-quality health care and won’t go broke – and
fully explain how they intend to pay for it. Or, if they are unwilling to do
that, concede that their half-measures will leave millions behind.
And make no mistake – any candidate who opposes my long-term
goal of Medicare for All and refuses to answer these questions directly should
concede that they have no real strategy for helping the American people address
the crushing costs of health care in this country. We need plans, not
THE COST OF MEDICARE FOR ALL
A serious conversation about how to pay for Medicare for All
requires, first, determining how much such a system would cost.
In recent years, several economists and think tanks have
attempted to estimate the cost of a single-payer system in the United States.
Those estimates consider how much our nation’s health care spending will change
over a ten year window, and range from a $12.5 trillion decrease
to a $7 trillion increase.
They also consider how much additional money the federal government would need
to fund this system, and those estimates range from a low of $13.5 trillion to a
high of $34 trillion over
Because nobody can actually see the future, some of this
variation results from different assumptions about how parts of our health care
system might work differently under Medicare for All. But most of the
difference comes from policy choices. And while the Medicare for All
Act is clear about some of these choices – for example, generous
benefits, long-term care coverage, and virtually no out-of-pocket expenses – it
is silent on a number of really important ones. How much will we pay for
medical care and for prescription drugs? What do we do with the existing money
that states spend on Medicaid? How aggressively will we cut administrative
costs? Aggressive choices mean a lower total cost. Less aggressive choices
result in a higher total cost.
Serious candidates for president should speak plainly about
these issues and set out their plans for cost control – especially those who
are skeptical of Medicare for All. Because whether or not we make modest or
transformative changes to our health care system, cancer, diabetes, strokes,
Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s aren’t going to simply disappear. And without
leadership from the top, neither will the mushrooming cost of care in America
that’s bankrupting our families.
I’ve asked top experts to consider the long-term cost of my
plan to implement Medicare for All over ten years – Dr. Donald Berwick, one of
the nation’s top experts in health system improvement and who ran the Medicare
and Medicaid programs under President Obama; and Simon Johnson, the former
Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund and a professor at MIT.
Their analysis begins with the assumptions of a recent study by the Urban
Institute and then examines how that cost estimate would change as certain new
key policy choices are applied. These experts conclude that my plan would slightly
reduce the projected amount of money that the United States would otherwise
spend on health care over the next 10 years, while covering everyone and giving
them vastly better coverage.
REDUCING INSURER ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS
The business model of private insurers is straightforward:
pay out less for medical care than they take in as premiums. This model is
located right in the center of our health care system, wasting huge amounts of
time and money documenting and arguing over who is owed what. Incredibly,
insurance companies spend a whopping $350 billion on
administration costs annually—and then, in turn, push huge additional
administrative costs onto hospitals, doctors, and millions of other health care
professionals in the from of complex billing—and then, in turn, drive up costs
incurred by employers as they attempt to navigate the complexity of providing
their employees with insurance.
Medicare for All will save money by bringing down the
staggering administrative costs for insurers in our current system. As the
experts I asked to evaluate my plan noted, private insurers had administrative
costs of 12% of premiums collected in 2017, while Medicare kept its
administrative costs down to 2.3%. My plan will ensure that Medicare for All
functions just as efficiently as traditional Medicare by setting net
administrative spending at 2.3%.
COMPREHENSIVE PAYMENT REFORM
In 2016, the United States spent nearly twice as
much on health care as ten high-income countries, and these costs have
been steadily rising for
decades, growing from 5.2%
of U.S. GDP in 1963 to 17.9% in 2017. But
instead of resulting in better health outcomes, Americans have the lowest
life expectancy of residents in high-income countries, the highest infant
mortality rate, and the highest obesity rates.
Why? As a group of health economists famously wrote, “It’s the prices,
Studieshave continued to
show that it’s not how much people use the health care system, often referred
to as “utilization,” but rather how much people pay that drives our high spending.
Compared to other high income countries, Americans simply pay more for health
care. We pay more for physicians and nurses. We pay more in administrative
costs. We pay more for prescription drugs.
A heart bypass surgery that costs nearly
$16,000 in the Netherlands costs an average of $75,000 in the United States. A
CT scan that costs $97 in Canada
costs an average of $896 here. And in the United States, hospitals can charge new parents
for holding their newborn after delivery.
Meanwhile, private equity firms fight bipartisan
legislation in Washington that might undermine the profitability of their
investments or prevent their hospitals from sending patients surprise bills.
And health care CEO salaries continue to soar. Between 2005 and 2015,
non-profit hospital CEO salaries increased by 93% to
an average of over $3 million, and last year, 62 health care CEOs raked in a
combined $1.1 billion – more
than the CDC spent on chronic disease prevention.
If we expect the American people to be able to afford health
care, we need to rein in these costs. Comprehensive payment reform, as part of
Medicare for All, will reduce this component of health care spending. Under my
approach, Medicare for All will sharply reduce administrative spending
and reimburse physicians and other non-hospital providers at current Medicare
rates. My plan will also rebalance rates in a budget neutral way that
increases reimbursements for primary care providers and lowers reimbursements
for overpaid specialties.
While private insurance companies pay higher rates, this system would be
expected to continue compensating providers at roughly the same overall rate
that they are currently receiving. Why? This is partially because providers
will now get paid Medicare rates for their Medicaid patients – a substantial
raise. But it’s also because providers spend an enormous amount of time on
billing and interacting with insurance companies that reduces their efficiency
and takes away from time with patients. Some estimate that hospitals will spend $210 billion on
average annually on these costs.
The nonpartisan Institute of Medicine estimates that
these wasted expenses account
for 13% of the revenue for physician practices, 8.5% for hospitals, and 10% for
other providers. Together, the improved efficiency will save doctors time and
money – helping significantly offset the revenue they will lose from
getting rid of higher private insurance rates.
Under my approach, Medicare for All will sharply
reduce administrative spending and reimburse hospitals at an average of 110% of
current Medicare rates, with appropriate adjustments for rural hospitals,
teaching hospitals, and other care providers with challenging cost structures.
In 2017, hospitals that treated Medicare patients were paid about 9.9% less than
what it cost to care for that patient. The increase I am proposing under
Medicare for All will cover hospitals’ current costs of care – but hospital
costs will also substantially decrease as a result of simpler administrative
processes, lower prescription drug prices, the end of bad debt from
uncompensated care, and more patients with insurance seeking care.
Of course, as Medicare currently recognizes,
not every provider situation is the same, and my Medicare for All program
maintains these base rate adjustments for geography and other factors. In
my plan for Rural
America, for example, I have committed to creating a new designation under
Medicare for rural hospitals due to the unique challenges health systems face
in rural communities. That’s why my plan allows for adjustments above the 110%
average rate for certain hospitals, like rural and teaching hospitals, and
below this amount for hospitals that are already doing fine with current
Medicare rates.Universal coverage will also have a
disproportionately positive effect on rural hospitals. Because people living in
rural counties are more likely to be
uninsured than people living in urban counties, these hospitals currently
provide a lot of uncompensated care. Medicare for All fixes that problem. And
I’ve previously laid out additional
investments to increase the number of Community Health Centers and grow our
health care workforce in rural and Native American communities, while cracking
down on anti-competitive mergers that lead to worse outcomes and higher costs
for rural communities.
We can also apply a number of common-sense, bipartisan
reforms that have been proposed for Medicare. Today, for example, insurers can
charge dramatically different prices for the exact same service based on where the service was
performed. Under Medicare for All, providers will receive the same
amount for the same procedure, saving hundreds of billions of dollars. We can
also make adjustments to things that we know Medicare currently pays too much
for – like post-acute care – by adjusting those payments down slightly while
accounting for the patient’s health status, bringing health care costs down
We will also shift payment rates so that we are paying for
better outcomes, instead of simply reimbursing for more services. We build on
the success of value-based reforms enabled by the Affordable Care Act,
including by instituting bundled payments for inpatient care and for 90 days of
post-acute care. Instead of paying providers for each individual service,
bundled payments reimburse providers for an entire “episode” of care and have
been shown to both improve outcomes and control costs. These
bundles help ensure that a patient’s different providers all communicate because
they are all tied to the same payment.
RESTORING HEALTH CARE COMPETITION
Health care consolidation has also contributed to
rising health care costs. One analysis found that over 90% of
metropolitan areas had health care provider markets that were either highly
concentrated or super concentrated in 2016. And despite the same kinds of empty
promises we see every time there’s industry consolidation – in this case, that
bigger hospitals would lead to better care – the data have not borne
this out. In fact, it’s theopposite: more
competition between providers creates incentives to improve care, and that
incentive will only increase under a
Medicare for All system where quality, not price, is the main differentiator in
Under Medicare for All, hospitals won’t be able to force
some patients to pay more because the hospital can’t agree with their insurance
company. Instead, because everyone has good insurance, providers will have to
compete on better care and reduced wait times in order to attract more
That’s why I will appoint aggressive antitrust enforcers to
the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission and allow hospitals to
voluntarily divest holdings to restore competition to hospital markets. I’ve
also previously committed to
strengthening FTC oversight over health care organizations, including
non-profit hospitals, to crack down on anti-competitive behavior. And I will
direct my FTC to block all future hospital mergers unless the merging companies
can prove that the newly-merged entity will maintain or improve care.
REINING IN OUT-OF-CONTROL PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS
Americans pay more for prescription drugs than anyone in the
world – $333 billion in
2017 alone. Americans spent $1,220 per person on
average for prescription drugs, while the next highest spending country,
Switzerland, spent $963 per person. That’s not because Americans use more
prescription medication – it’s because lax laws have allowed pharmaceutical
companies to charge insurance companies and patients exorbitant rates. In a
now-infamous example, when Turing Pharmaceuticals purchased the rights to the
HIV medication Daraprim, the company raised the price of
this life-saving drug from $13.50 per pill to a stunning $750 per tablet overnight.
The price of insulin has skyrocketed, forcing
people to risk their lives by rationing. And as prices continue to rise, more
Americans are turning to Canada in
search of affordable prices.
Reining in prescription drug costs should be a top priority
for any President – and there’s no better way to do it than through Medicare
for All. My administration will use a suite of aggressive policy tools to set a
net savings target that will bring down Medicare prices for brand name
prescription drugs by 70% and prices for generics by 30%, with an initial focus
on more expensive drugs.
Under Medicare for All, the federal government would have
real bargaining power to negotiate lower prices for patients. I will adopt an
altered version of the mechanism outlined in the Lower Prescription
Drug Costs Now Act which leverages excise taxes to bring manufacturers
to the table to negotiate prices for both branded and generic drugs, with no
drug exceeding 110% of the average international market price, but removes the
limit of the number of drugs Medicare can negotiate for and eliminates the
“target price” so Medicare could potentially negotiate prices lower than other
If negotiations fail, I will use two tools – compulsory
licensing and public manufacturing – to allow my administration to ensure
patient access to medicines by either overriding the patent, as modeled in
the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act, or by
providing public funds to support manufacturing of these drugs, as modeled in
my Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act. Medicare for All will also
incentivize pharmaceutical companies to develop the drugs we need – like
antibiotics, cancer cures, and vaccines. And it’s not just about driving down
drug prices. Making sure patients get important drug therapies up front that
keep them healthy and cost a fraction compared to more severe treatment down
the line can save money overall. Insurers, who may only cover individuals for a
few years of their lives, see those investments in long-term health as a cost
they’ll never recoup – so they have a financial incentive to deny patients these
treatments. But Medicare for All covers each patient for their entire lifespan.
There’s no perverse incentive to deny the prescriptions they need today because
the long-term benefits to their health won’t benefit their current private
STEMMING THE GROWTH OF MEDICAL COSTS
Year after year, U.S. health spending has grown at rates
above GDP growth, reaching a whopping 17.9% of GDP in
2017. Experts believe the changes to prescription drug spending and value-based
payment systems that I’ve already outlined will bring growth rates in line with
U.S. GDP, which CBO projects to be an average of 3.9% for
the next decade. And if growth rates exceed this rate, I will use available
policy tools, which include global budgets, population-based budgets, and
automatic rate reductions, to bring it back into line.
REDIRECTING TAXPAYER-FUNDED HEALTH SPENDING
Through Medicaid and public health plans for state
employees, state and local governments play a significant role in financing
health care coverage in America. Under my approach to Medicare for All, we will
redirect $6 trillion in existing state and local government insurance spending
into the Medicare for All system. This is similar to the mechanism that the
George W. Bush Administration used to redirect Medicaid spending to the federal
government under the Medicare prescription drug program.Under this
maintenance-of-effort requirement, state and local governments will redirect
$3.3 trillion of what they currently spend to support Medicaid and the
Children’s Health Insurance Program and $2.7 trillion of what they currently
spend on employer contributions to private insurance premiums for their
employees into Medicare for All. Because we bring down the growth rate of
overall health spending, states will pay less than they would have without
Medicare for All. They’ll also have far more predictable budgets, resulting in
improved long-term planning for state and community priorities.
Together, these policy choices represent significant
reductions in health care spending over current levels. Compared to the
estimate by the Urban Institute, they will save over $7 trillion over ten
years, bringing the expected share of additional federal revenue to just over
$26 trillion for that period. After incorporating the $6 trillion we will
redirect from states to help fund Medicare, the experts conclude that total
new federal spending required to enact Medicare for All will be $20.5 trillion.
PAYING FOR MEDICARE FOR ALL
Medicare for All puts all health care spending on the
government’s books. But Medicare for All is about the same price as our current
path – and cheaper over time. That means the debate isn’t really about
whether the United States should pay more or less. It’s about who should
Right now, America’s total bill for health care is projected
to be $52 trillion for the next ten years. That money will come from four
places: the federal government, state governments, employers, and individuals
who need care. Under my approach to Medicare for All, most of these funding
sources will remain the same, too.
Existing federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid will help
fund Medicare for All.
Existing state spending on health insurance will continue in
the form of payments to Medicare – but states would be better off because
they’d have more long-term predictability, and they’d pay less over time
because these costs will grow more slowly than they do today.
Existing total private sector employer contributions to
health insurance will continue in the form of contributions to Medicare – but
employers would be better off because under the design of my plan, they’d pay
less than they would have otherwise.
Here’s the main difference: Individual health care
Over the next ten years, individuals will spend $11 trillion
on health care in the form of premiums, deductibles, copays, and out-of-pocket
costs. Under my Medicare for All plan, that amount will drop from $11
trillion to practically zero.
I asked top experts – Mark Zandi, the Chief Economist of
Moody’s Analytics; Betsey Stevenson, the former Chief Economist for the Obama
Labor Department; and Simon Johnson – to examine options for how we can make up
that $11 trillion difference. They conclude that it
can be done largely with new taxes on financial firms, giant corporations, and
the top 1% – and making sure the rich stop evading the taxes we already have.
That’s right: We don’t need to raise taxes on the
middle class by one penny to finance Medicare for All.
Here’s how it would work.
REPLACING EMPLOYER HEALTH SPENDING WITH A NEW EMPLOYER
Let’s start with a basic fact: American companies are
already paying a lot for health care for their employees. They are projected to
pay nearly $9 trillion over the next ten years, mostly on employer
contributions for employee health insurance and on health-related expenses for
employees under workers’ compensation and long-term disability. My idea is that
instead of these companies sending those payments to private insurance
companies, they would send payments to the federal government for Medicare in
the form of an Employer Medicare Contribution.
In fact, it’ll be a better deal than what they have
now: companies will pay less than they otherwise would have, saving
$200 billion over the next ten years.
To calculate their new Employer Medicare Contribution,
employers would determine what they spent on health care over the last few
years and divide that by the number of employees of the company in those years
to arrive at an average health care cost per employee at the company.
(Companies would count part-time employees towards the total based on the
number of hours they worked during a year.) Under the first year of Medicare
for All, employers would then take that average cost, adjust it upwards to
account for the overall increase in national health care spending, and multiply
it by their total number of employees that year. Their Employer Medicare
Contribution would be 98% of that amount – ensuring that every company
paying for health care today will pay less than they would have if they were
still offering their employees comparable private insurance.
A similar calculation would apply to pass-through entities,
like law firms or private equity funds, even though many of the people that
work there technically aren’t employees. People who are self-employed would be
exempt from making Employer Medicare Contributions unless they exceed an income
Small businesses – companies with under 50 employees – would
be exempt from this requirement too if they aren’t paying for employee health
care today. When either new or existing firms exceed this employee threshold,
we would phase in a requirement that companies make Employer Medicare Contributions
equal to the national average cost of health care per employee for every
employee at that company. Merging firms would pay the weighted average cost of
health care per employee of the two firms that are merging.
Employers currently offering health benefits under a
collective bargaining agreement will be able to reduce their Employer Medicare
Contribution if they pass along those savings to workers in the form of
increased wages, pensions, or other collectively-bargained benefits. New
companies or existing companies who enter into a collective bargaining
agreement with their employees after the enactment of Medicare for All will be
able to reduce their Employer Medicare Contributions in the same way. Employers
can reduce their contribution requirements all the way down to the national
average health care cost per employee.
That way, my plan helps unions that have bargained
for good health care already, and creates a significant new incentive for
unionization generally by making collective bargaining appealing for both
workers and employers as a way of potentially reducing the employer’s Employer
Over time, an employer’s health care cost-per-employee would
be gradually shifted to converge at the average health care cost-per-employee
nationally. That helps make sure the system is fair but also gives
employers and employees time to adapt to the new system.
If we’re falling short of the $8.8 trillion revenue target
for the next ten years, we will make up lost revenue with a Supplemental
Employer Medicare Contribution requirement for big companies with extremely
high executive compensation and stock buyback rates.
There are a variety of ways to structure an employer
contribution to Medicare for All. This particular approach has the benefit of
helping American employers in a few ways:
Employers would collectively save $200 billion over the next
Employers receive far more certainty about how their health
care costs will vary over time and affect their finances.
Small businesses – who often suffer when competing for
employees because they can’t afford to
offer health care coverage – would no longer be at a competitive disadvantage
against bigger businesses.
Employers can reduce their Employer Medicare Contribution by
supporting unionization efforts and negotiating with workers to provide better
wages and benefits – reducing costs and promoting collective bargaining at the
Because my plan holds health care cost growth to GDP levels,
businesses will have stable balance sheets that grow with the economy instead
of crowding out other priorities.
By asking employers to pay a little less than what they
are already projected to pay for health care, we can get almost halfway to
where we need to go to cover the cost of my Medicare for All plan.
Automatic Increases in Take-Home Pay
Medicare for All puts a whole lot of money back in the
American people’s pockets. One way it does that is by taking the share of
premiums employees are responsible for paying through employer-sponsored
insurance – that line on pay stubs each week or month that says “health
insurance” – and returning it to working people. Congratulations on the
And higher take-home pay for workers also means additional
tax revenue just from applying our existing taxes – approximately $1.15
trillion if we apply average effective tax rates.
Medicare for All saves people money in other ways too. With
Medicare for All, nobody would need to put money in Health Savings Accounts or
medical savings accounts to try and protect themselves against the unthinkable.
And because individual spending on premiums, deductibles, copays, and
out-of-pocket costs will basically disappear, the tax break for medical
expenses in excess of 10% of Adjusted Gross Income becomes irrelevant.
Together, those changes would generate another
$250 billion in revenue.
All told, another $1.4 trillion in funding for Medicare for
All is generated automatically through existing taxes on the enormous amount of
money that will now be returned to individuals’ pockets from moving to a
Medicare for All system with virtually no individual spending on health
Here’s what that means: we can generate almost half
of what we need to cover Medicare for All just by asking employers to pay
slightly less than what they are projected to pay today, and through existing
So where does the rest of the money come from that allows us
to eliminate premiums, deductibles, copays, and most out-of-pocket spending for
every American? Four sources: (1) better enforcement of our existing tax laws
so we stop letting people evade their tax obligations; (2) targeted taxes on
the financial sector, large corporations, and the top 1% of individuals; (3) my
approach to immigration; and (4) shutting down a slush fund for defense
CRACKING DOWN ON TAX EVASION AND FRAUD
The federal government has a nearly 15% “tax gap”
between what it collects in taxes what is actually owed because of systematic
under-enforcement of our tax laws, tax evasion, and fraud. If that 15% gap
persists for the next ten years, we will collect a whopping $7.7 trillion less in
federal taxes than the law requires. By investing in stronger
enforcement and adopting best practices on tax reporting, withholding, and
filing, experts predict that we can close the tax gap by a third – generating
about $2.3 trillion in additional federal revenue without a single new
A big part of our current tax gap problem is that we’re letting
wealthier taxpayers get away with paying less than what they owe. Studies show that the
wealthiest 5% of taxpayers misrepresent their income more frequently than the
The wealthy and their allies in Washington have worked
to slash the IRS
budget, leaving it without the resources it needs. The agency today has about the
same number of revenue agents as it did when the economy was one-seventh its
current size in the 1950s. And the IRS insists on targeting low-income
taxpayers rather than wealthy ones, even though the amount of revenue we can
recover from wealthy taxpayers is far more.
We know how to fix this problem. We can draw lessons from
what works in other countries with much lower tax gaps and rely on the
recommendations of tax experts. Here’s a game plan:
Substantially increase funding for the IRS, including the
Criminal Investigation Division. The Treasury Department estimated in its
Fiscal Year 2017 budget request that every $1 invested in IRS enforcement
brings in nearly $6 in additional revenue – not even including an indirect
deterrence effect three times that amount.
Expand third-party reporting and withholding requirements.
Research shows that third-party reporting and withholding cuts down on the
tax misreporting rate substantially.
Strengthen enforcement of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance
Act (FATCA). FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to report the
holdings and income of U.S. taxpayers, but the IRS is generally not systematically matching these
reports to individual tax returns. We also don’t hold foreign financial firms
truly accountable for ignoring their reporting obligations. Automatically
matching FATCA reports to tax returns and instituting sanctions for
non-compliant foreign financial institutions would help narrow the tax gap.
Increase the nonfiler compliance program, strengthen
reporting requirements for international income, use existing currency
transaction reports to enforce cash income compliance, and increase reporting
requirements for virtual- or crypto-currencies, as suggested by the
Treasury Department’s Inspector General.
Allow employees who
disclose tax evasion and abuse to use the protections of the False Claims Act
and other whistleblower protections.
The experts who reviewed these ideas estimated that if we
implemented them, we could close the tax gap by one-third from 15% to 10%,
bringing us closer to the tax gap in countries like the United Kingdom (5.6%). That will
produce another $2.3 trillion in net federal revenue – without imposing a
single new tax.
TARGETED TAXES ON THE FINANCIAL SECTOR, LARGE
CORPORATIONS, AND THE TOP 1%
We can generate a whole lot of the remaining revenue we need
for Medicare for All just by eliminating bad incentives in our current tax
system and asking those who have done really well in the last few decades to
pay their fair share.
Let’s start with the financial sector. It’s been more than
ten years since the 2008 financial crisis, and while a lot of families
are still dealing with
the aftereffects, the financial sector is making record, eye-popping profits.
Meanwhile, the risk of another financial crisis remains unacceptably high. By
imposing targeted taxes and fees on financial firms, we can generate needed
revenue and also make our financial system safer and more secure.
For example, a small tax on financial transactions –
one-tenth of one percent on the sale of bonds, stocks, or derivatives – would
generate about $800 billion in
revenue over the next ten years. The tax would be assessed on and
collected from financial firms, and would likely have little to no effect on
most investors. Instead, according to experts, the tax could
help decrease what Americans pay in fees for their investments and reduce the
size of relatively unproductive parts of the financial sector.
We can also impose a fee on big banks that encourages them
to take on fewer liabilities and reduce the risk they pose to the financial
system. A small fee that applies only to the forty or so largest banks in the
country would generate an additional $100 billion over
the next ten years – while making our financial system more safe and
Next, we can make some basic changes to ensure that large
corporations pay their fair share and to fix some fundamental problems with our
current approach that actually encourage companies to shift jobs and investment
overseas. These changes will generate an estimated $2.9 trillion over
the next ten years.
For instance, our current tax system lets companies deduct
the cost of certain investments they make in assets faster than those assets
actually lose value. That means that if a company buys a machine for a million
dollars, it gets to deduct a million dollars from its taxes that same year –
even if the machine only loses $100,000 in value a year. Letting the company
write off the extra $900,000 all at once is like giving them an interest-free loan from
That might be worth it if the company responded to this tax
break by investing more and building out their businesses. But the datasuggest this isn’t
happening because companies don’t actually value these tax deferrals as much as
policymakers assume. Companies are mostly making the same investments they
would’ve made anyways – sometimes with small changes in timing – and getting a
write-off in exchange. Some experts even suggest that
accelerated expensing could induce less domestic investment,
That’s why I’m proposing to get rid of this loophole. Under
my plan, businesses will still write off the depreciation of their assets –
they’ll just do it in a way that more accurately reflects the actual loss in
value. This would generate $1.25 trillion over
We can also stop giant multinational corporations from
calling themselves American companies while sheltering their profits in foreign
tax havens to avoid paying their share for American investments.
Currently, a U.S. multinational corporation can make
billions in profits and attribute it to a company it set up in a tax haven like
the Cayman Islands, which has no corporate taxes. The Trump tax bill claimed to
address that problem by creating a global minimum tax rate for corporations,
but that minimum tax – the result of heavy lobbying by
multinationals – is too low and easily gamed. While Trump and congressional
Republicans claimed their
minimum tax would keep companies from shifting profits to tax havens and limit
offshoring, the opposite is happening. The current
approach bothencourages companies
to shift their profits to tax havens and actually incentivizes American
companies to outsource their operations overseas.
That’s why I’m proposing to institute a country-by-country minimum
tax on foreign earnings of 35% – equal to a restored top corporate tax rate for
U.S. firms – without permitting corporations to defer those payments. Under
my plan, corporations would have to pay the difference between the minimum tax
and the rate in the countries where they book their profits. For example, an
American corporation booking a billion dollars in profits in the Cayman
Islands, taxed at 0% there, would need to pay the federal government a 35% tax
rate – the difference between the new minimum rate (35%) and the foreign rate
(0%) – on the billion dollars in profits.
My plan would also collect America’s fair share of profits
that foreign companies make by selling their products to Americans. Today, we
have a “global tax deficit”: companies that sell their goods abroad don’t have
to pay the extra taxes that they would have to pay if they were subject to a
minimum effective tax rate in each country they operated in. Making U.S. firms
pay a country-by-country minimum tax effectively collects their whole global
tax deficit – but foreign companies should have to pay their fair share, too.
That’s why I’m proposing that the U.S. collect the fraction of this global tax
deficit that corresponds to the percentage of that company’s sales in the U.S.
In other words, if a foreign company should owe an additional $1 billion in
taxes if it were subject to a country-by-country minimum tax, the U.S. would
collect a fraction of that $1 billion based on the amount of sales that company
made in the United States.
Together, the country-by-country minimum tax and the
taxation of foreign firms based on their domestic sales would result in an
additional $1.65 trillion in
Finally, we can raise another $3 trillion over ten years by
asking the top 1% of households in America to pay a little more.
The tax burden on ultra-millionaires and billionaires is
less than half that of working families in the United States. In 2019, the
bottom 99% of families will pay 7.2% of their wealth
in taxes, while the top 0.1% of households will pay just 3.2%. My Ultra-Millionaire Tax, a
2-cent tax on the wealth of fortunes above $50 million, tackles this head on.
Under this tax, the top 0.1% – the wealthiest 75,000 Americans – would have to
pitch in two cents for every dollar of net worth above $50 million and three
cents for every dollar on net worth over $1 billion. With this version of the
Ultra-Millionaire Tax in place, the tax burden on the wealthiest households
would increase from 3.2% to 4.3% of total
wealth – better, but still below the 7.2% that the bottom 99% are projected to
Today, I’m going one step further. By asking
billionaires to pitch in six cents on each dollar of net worth above $1
billion, we can raise an additional $1 trillion in revenue and further close
the gap between what middle-class families pay as a percentage of their wealth
and what the top one-tenth of one percent pay.
Yes, billionaires will have to pay a little more, but they
will still likely pay less than what they would earn just from putting their
assets into an index fund and doing nothing. The average annual rate of return
of the S&P 500 has regularly topped 10%. And billionaires
have access to the kinds of fancy investment opportunities that can generate
even higher returns on average. Put it this way – should we ask billionaires to
pitch in an extra three cents on every dollar above $1 billion, or force
middle-class families to bear another $1 trillion in health care costs?
We can also change the way the government taxes investment
income for the top 1%. Today, taxes are only assessed on capital gains when securities are sold.
That means wealthy investors can put their money in the stock market, see it
grow, and not pay a dime in
taxes on those earnings unless or until it is taken out of the market. Under
the current system, they can then pass along those shares to their heirs when
they die and their heirs will be able to pay even less when
they choose to sell.
I’ve already proposed closing that loophole for how capital
gains are treated when shares are passed on to heirs. But we can go a step
further. Under a “mark-to-market” system for
the wealthiest 1% of households, we will tax capital gains income (excluding
retirement accounts) annually, rather than at the time of sale, and raise the
rates on capital gains to match the tax rates for labor income. Individuals
would still only pay taxes on gains and could use current losses to offset
Under this system, investment income will no longer be
treated differently than labor income for the top 1% of households.
Ultra-millionaires and billionaires won’t be able to earn income on giant
fortunes year after year without paying a penny in taxes. Andwe
can raise another $2 trillion over
ten years to pay for my Medicare for All plan.
I support immigration reform that’s consistent with our
values, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and
expanded legal immigration consistent with my principles. That’s not only the
right thing to do – it also increases federal revenue we can dedicate to
Medicare for All as new people come into the system and pay taxes. Based on
CBO’s analysis of the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill, experts
project that immigration reform would generate an additional $400 billion in
direct federal revenue.
REINING IN DEFENSE SPENDING
Since the attacks of 9/11, the United States has
appropriated $2 trillion to fund
combat and counterterrorism operations around the world via the Overseas
Contingency Operations fund, or OCO. On average this spending has amounted
to $116 billion per
year – and in total, an amount equivalent to nearly 10 percent of all
federal discretionary spending over that same time period.
including the President’s current Chief of Staff – and Democrats alike
agree that OCO is a budget gimmick that masks the true impact of war spending.
The emergency supplemental funding mechanism was never intended to fund the
costs of long-scale, long-term operations outside of the normal appropriations
process. And in recent years, OCO has also been used to fund so-called “base”
requirements unrelated to the wars, outside of the Budget Control Act caps – in
effect acting as a slush fund for increased Pentagon spending. And as
everything from more F-35s to massive bombs never
used in combat have migrated into the OCO account, the Department of Defense
has been spared from having to prioritize or live
within its means. It’s not just bad budgetary practice – it’s wasteful
I’ve called out this
slush fund for what it is. I’ve also called for an end to endless
combat engagements in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, and to
responsibly bring our combat troops home from these nations. These open-ended
commitments are not necessary to advance American foreign policy or
counterterrorism interests, their human cost has been staggering, and their
financial cost has created a drag on our economy by diverting money better
invested in critical domestic priorities.
I’ve also called to reduce defense spending overall.
The Pentagon budget will cost more this year than
everything else in the discretionary budget put together. That’s wrong, and
it’s unsustainable. We need to identify which programs actually benefit American
security in the 21st century, and which programs merely line the pockets of
defense contractors – then pull out a sharp knife and make some cuts.
As I have said repeatedly, under my Medicare for All plan,
costs will go up for the very wealthy and big corporations, and costs will go
down for middle-class families. I will not sign a bill that violates these
commitments. And as my plan to pay for Medicare for All makes clear, we can
meet these commitments without a tax increase on the middle class – and, in
fact, without any increase in income taxes at all.
America’s middle class is facing a crisis. For a generation,
wages have remained largely flat while family costs have exploded. I’ve spent
decades sounding the alarm about it. I’m running for President to fix it. That
means doing whatever we can to reduce the overall strain on family budgets.
Medicare for All can be a huge part of the solution. When
fully implemented, my approach to Medicare for All would mark one of the
greatest federal expansions of middle class wealth in our history. And
if Medicare for All can be financed without any new taxes on the middle class,
and instead by asking giant corporations, the wealthy, and the well-connected
to pay their fair share, that’s exactly what we should do.
ACHIEVING MEDICARE FOR ALL
Of course, moving to this kind of system will not be easy and
will not happen overnight. This is why every serious proposal for Medicare for
All contemplates a significant transition period.
In the weeks ahead, I will propose a transition plan that
will specifically address how I would use this time to begin providing
immediate financial relief to struggling families, rein in out-of-control
health care costs, increase coverage, and save lives. My transition plan will
take seriously and address substantively the concerns of unions, individuals
with private insurance, hospitals, people who work for private health insurers,
and medical professionals who worry about what a new system will mean for them.
It will also grapple directly with the entrenched political and economic
interests that would spend freely, as they havethroughout modern
American history, to influence politicians and
try to frighten the
American people into rejecting a plan that would save them thousands of dollars a year on
premiums and deductibles while making sure they can always see the health care
providers they need with false claims and scare tactics.
But there’s a reason former President Barack Obama has called Medicare for
All a good idea. There’s a reason the American people support it. It’s
because when it comes to the cost of health care, we are in the middle of a
We are paying twice as much as
any other major nation for care – even as tens of millions lack
coverage, and even as family after family sees its finances destroyed by a
health issue. And the American people know that in the
long-term, a simple system that covers everybody, provides the care they need
when they need it, puts $11 trillion back in their pockets and uses all of the
public’s leverage to keep costs as low as possible is the best option for their
family budgets and for the health of their loved ones.
As President, I’ll fight to get it done.
Read the plan here
Read expert letter on cost estimate of Medicare for All here
Read expert letter on financing Medicare for All here
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.Ahead of her speech in Washington Square Park near the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, in which she delineated how corruption in Washington has allowed the rich and powerful to tilt the rules and grow richer and more powerful, Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to end Washington corruption.
Warren has already
advanced comprehensive anti-corruption legislation in Congress, but she is
going further with a set of far-reaching and aggressive proposals. “Her plan
will end lobbying as we know it, end self-dealing in the White House, end
corporate capture of the federal government’s rule-making process, hold our
federal judiciary and the Supreme Court to the highest ethical standards, and
Warren declared, “No
matter what brings you into this fight — whether it’s child care, student
loans, health care, immigration, or criminal justice, one thing is crystal
clear: corruption is making it worse — and it’s at the root of the major
problems we face as a democracy.
“Reforming the money
game in Washington isn’t enough. We also need to comprehensively clean up our
campaign finance system. That’s why I’ve also called for a constitutional
amendment to overturn Citizens
United. It’s why we need to get rid of the Super PACs and secret
spending by billionaires and giant corporations that try to buy our democracy.
It’s why we need to break the grip that big donors have by creating a system of
exclusive public funding of our elections. But even if we solve our campaign
finance problems, comprehensive anti-corruption reforms targeted at Washington
itself are necessary to finally end the stranglehold that the wealthy and the
well-connected have over our government’s decision-making processes.
“I believe that we can
root out corruption in Washington. I believe we must make big, structural
changes that will once again restore our trust in government by showing that it
can work for all of us. And when I’m President, that’s exactly what I’ll do.”
This is from the Elizabeth Warren campaign:
In 1958, the National Election Survey first asked Americans a simple question: Do you trust the government to do the right thing most of the time? That year, 73% of Americans said yes.
2019, that number is just 17%. Five out of every six Americans do not trust
their government to do the right thing.
have so many people lost faith in government?
true that right-wing politicians have spent a generation attacking the very
idea of government. But it’s also true that these days, our government doesn’t
work for most people. Sure, it works great for the wealthy and the
well-connected — but for everybody else, it doesn’t.
doesn’t work because big insurance companies and hospital conglomerates put
profits ahead of the health and well-being of the American people, and dump
piles of money into political campaigns and lobbying efforts to block any move
toward Medicare for All.
doesn’t work because big oil companies that have concealed climate studies —
and funded bought-and-paid-for climate denial research — bury regulators in an
avalanche of shady, bad-faith pseudoscience and then spend freely on influence
peddling in Congress to make sure nothing like a Green New Deal ever sees the
light of day.
doesn’t work because giant pharmaceutical companies want to squeeze every last
penny out of the people who depend on their prescriptions, while their army of
lobbyists suffocates reform any time there’s a discussion in Congress on drug
child care. Criminal justice reform. Affordable housing. Gun reform. Look
closely, and you’ll see — on issue after issue, widely popular policies are
stymied because giant corporations and billionaires who don’t want to pay taxes
or follow any rules use their money and influence to stand in the way of big,
We’ve got to call that out for what it is: corruption, plain and
no mistake about it: The Trump Administration is the most corrupt
administration of our lifetimes.
tax bill is a $1.5 trillion giveaway that primarily helps large corporations and wealthy
Americans. Half of the total registered lobbyists in Washington
worked on issues involving the word “tax” the year the bill was written —
that’s eleven lobbyists for every member of Congress. And when the members of
Congress who championed it lost their elections, they got juicy gigs in the lobbying industry themselves.
Supreme Court Justices were hand-picked by right-wing extremist groups that
spent millions on television ads — first to hold open a Supreme Court seat in
the Obama Administration, and then to pressure the Senate to rubber stamp their
candidates of choice, even when it meant ignoring serious sexual assault charges to ram through
these problems did not start with Donald Trump. They are much bigger than him —
and solving them will require big, structural change to fundamentally transform
why I’ve released plans to fight Washington corruption. A plan to make sure
that no president is above the law. A plan to tackle defense contractor coziness at the Pentagon.
A plan to ban private prisons and expand oversight, transparency, and
enforcement for all contractors hired by the federal government. In Congress,
I’ve previously advanced wide-ranging anti-corruption legislation.
we must go further.
Today, I’m announcing a comprehensive set of far-reaching and
aggressive proposals to root out corruption in Washington. It’s the most
sweeping set of anti-corruption reforms since Watergate. The goal of these
measures is straightforward: to take power away from the wealthy and the
well-connected in Washington and put it back where it belongs — in the hands of
plan lays out nearly a hundred ways that we can change our government to fix
this problem — from improving public integrity rules for federal officials in
every branch of government to ending lobbying as we know it, fixing the
criminal laws to hold corrupt politicians to account, and ensuring our federal
agencies and courts are free from corrupting influences.
I’m just getting started.
Restoring Public Integrity
you choose to be a public servant, you should serve the public — not your own
financial interests or the financial interests of the rich and powerful. But we
face a crisis of confidence in the ethics and public integrity of federal
officials in America. The revolving door in and out of the Trump Administration
is spinning out of control, and wave after wave of people in Trump’s orbit are
trying to profit personally from his presidency — including him.
even before Trump entered the White House, our nation’s public integrity rules
were far too lax. Too many public officials can easily leverage public service
for personal gain. And the ability to walk around government with obvious and
direct personal financial conflicts reduces public faith in honest officials.
To fix this, we need a total rewrite of our ethics laws.
We must begin by rooting out financial conflicts of interest in
Trump is a walking conflict of interest. Actually, more like 2,310 conflicts of interest — and counting.
His refusal to divest from his businesses has opened the door for giant
corporations, foreign lobbyists, and our own government officials to curry
favor with his administration and pad his own bottom line.
to a study by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in
Washington, Donald Trump has visited one of his own properties for nearly a
third of the total days that he has been president. Trump’s Washington hotel
even sent the federal government a bill for $200,000 because Secret Service agents
were forced to stay there as well.
countries have also taken the hint. Representatives from 65 foreign governments
have visited Trump properties since he took office, and embassies have begun
booking Trump’s hotels for their events. Trump has egged them on, shamelessly
floating another one of his properties as the venue for a future international summit.
corporations and billionaires have also tried to curry favor with Donald Trump
by patronizing his properties. T-Mobile sent its top executives to the Trump
Hotel in DC right after the company announced a merger requiring the Trump
administration’s approval. Payday lenders held their annual meetings at Trump’s golf club in Miami, while the
Trump administration has consistently gutted restrictions and regulations on
exploitative payday lenders. And several wealthy donors who pay the $200,000
Mar-a-Lago membership fee — which doubled when Trump became President — have
exerted “sweeping influence” at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
Trump’s own appointees and political allies have tried to suck up to Trump by
exploiting his conflicts of interest. More than 100 Republican Members of Congress have become patrons of
Trump’s businesses since he became President. Most recently, Trump’s Attorney
General William Barr spent $30,000 at Trump’s Washington Hotel, implausibly
claiming that it was the only place he could find for his holiday party in
Washington — and on an official trip to Ireland, Vice President Mike Pence
stayed at a Trump property reportedly at Trump’s instruction, even though it was three hours away from his
scheduled meetings in Dublin.
is by far the most egregious example — and we need new rules to hold leaders
accountable for this kind of conduct. But we cannot condemn this conduct
without also acknowledging that opportunities for the appearance of
self-dealing are far too easy across the federal government. Restoring public
confidence isn’t just about replacing Trump and his cronies. We need new bright
lines and clear rules to eliminate the possibility of public officials serving
where I would start:
End self-dealing in the White House by applying conflict of
interest laws to the President and Vice President. Under my plan,Presidents
and Vice Presidents would be required to place their businesses into a blind
trust to be sold off. No more payoffs. No more bribes from foreign governments.
No more self-dealing.
Disclose tax returns of federal candidates and officeholders to
the public automatically. Tax return disclosure for federally elected officials
shouldn’t be optional — it should be the law. And it shouldn’t just apply to Presidents
— it should apply to everyone running for or serving in federal elected office.
Presidential candidates, in particular, should follow the standard set by
Barack Obama for releasing at least eight years of returns. (I’ve released
eleven.) And the IRS should simply put out the required tax returns for
qualified candidates themselves — so nothing like Donald Trump’s refusal to
disclose his taxes can ever happen again.
Force senior government officials to divest from privately-owned
assets that could present conflicts of interest. White House
advisers like Jared Kushner have been allowed to use their
government positions to further enrich themselves and their families, while
Cabinet Officials like Betsy DeVos have hundreds of millions held in
privately-owned accounts that make it nearly impossible to determine who could
exercise influence over DeVos and her family. The fact that such conduct could
pass any kind of ethics screen makes it clear that we need new rules. My plan
puts an end to this practice by requiring senior officials, including those who
are unpaid like Kushner, to divest from their businesses and other conflicted
Completely ban the practice of government officials trading
individual stocks while in office. Under current law, members of Congress can
trade stocks and then use their powerful positions to increase the value of
those stocks and pad their own pockets. Tom Price, Trump’s former Secretary of
Health and Human Services, purchased pharmaceutical stocks while in the
House of Representatives — then fought hard to get a return on his investment
by pushing policies that would benefit giant pharmaceutical companies. And
another member of Congress, Chris Collins, was charged for trading the same stocks based on insider information. But
prosecutions like this are rare. And even where investments don’t influence
decisions, the existence of these direct conflicts undermine public confidence
solution is simple — ban members of Congress and senior government officials
from owning or trading individual stocks. Instead, they can invest in conflict-free
mutual funds or funds managed by the federal Thrift Savings Program. Law firms
follow these kinds of rules to prevent the appearance of financial conflicts
with the interests of their clients — there’s no reason important public
servants and elected officials shouldn’t, too.
Shut down a raft of additional shady practices that provide
opportunities for government officials to serve their own financial
interests. My plan bans members of Congress and senior congressional staff
from serving on corporate boards — whether or not they’re paid to do so. It
also strengthens ethics requirements for presidential transition teams to
ensure that those who are shaping our government disclose any conflicts of
interest and comply with the highest ethical standards. And to ensure that
there are no questions about whether members of Congress are acting based on
financial conflicts, like lobbyist-turned-Senator-turned-lobbyist Jon Kyl, my plan requires
every member of Congress, including appointed ones, to disclose their financial
conflicts before they take office.
Finally, we must immediately end the possibility of trading on
access to insider political information. Every year, hundreds of millions of
dollars flow into so-called “political intelligence” firms that hire operatives to prowl the
halls of Congress for insider information and sell that information to Wall Street traders trying to make a buck. My plan
combats this practice by implementing strict disclosure requirements and
regulations on so-called “political intelligence consulting,” including
criminal penalties for former public officials who use insider political
information to make investments or advise others who are doing so.
Next, it’s time to close and padlock the revolving door between
government and industry.
Trump has not just enriched himself and his advisers; he has turned his White
House into a case study in the dangers of the revolving door between industry
of these people was Gary Cohn, the former President of Goldman Sachs, who
became Trump’s top economic adviser. On his way out of Goldman, the firm gave
him a whopping $285 million — $123 million in the form of cash and
stocks that he could only collect if he left the firm to work in government.
call that a “pre-bribe.” And it paid off, too. While cashing that $285 million
check, Gary Cohn helped rewrite our nation’s tax laws, rammed the changes
through Congress, and gave Goldman Sachs their money back — and a few billion dollars in change.
are countless examples like this in the Trump Administration, but it’s a
widespread problem in official Washington — and it goes far beyond obvious and
egregious quid-pro-quo bribery. When someone serves in government with plans to
immediately turn around and work in the industry they’ve been overseeing, that
individual faces obvious incentives to advance the interests of their future
employer. And when someone moves immediately from a regulated company to a job
regulating that company, the public is right to worry about the risk that such
individuals will prioritize the interests of their old bosses.
must be able to benefit from tapping private sector expertise, and public
servants who leave government should be able to find post-government
employment. Similarly, volunteer and part-time government positions, which make
sense in certain situations, necessarily assume some level of outside work. But
there is a difference between expertise and graft.
isn’t simply a matter of replacing Trump with an honest President. We’ve seen
the issue of industry lobbyists and top execs spinning freely through the
revolving door to and from important government positions in both Democratic
and Republican administrations. Fixing the underlying problem requires us to
tighten up the rules to ensure that when government officials are making
decisions, they are considering only the public interest — and not their own
personal interests or the interests of their friends and future employers.
are some obvious steps to help address this problem:
Ban “golden parachutes” that provide corporate bonuses to
executives for serving in the federal government. We can’t let big
companies get away with installing their top executives in senior government
positions and paying them pre-bribes on their way out the door. Under my plan,
this would be illegal.
Restrict the ability of lobbyists to enter government
jobs. Under my proposal, current lobbyists won’t be able to take
government jobs for 2 years after lobbying, with limited exceptions for when
the hiring is in the national interest. Corporate lobbyists will have to wait
at least 6 years — no exceptions, and no waivers. These extensive cooling off
periods will help ensure that if anyone with this background is hired into a
government role, they are being selected because of their expertise, and not
Make it illegal for elected officials and top government
appointees to become lobbyists — ever. My plan bans Presidents, Vice Presidents,
Members of Congress, federal judges, and Cabinet Secretaries from ever becoming
lobbyists — not for one or two years, but for life. All other federal employees
will also be barred from lobbying their former office, agency, or House of
Congress after they leave government service for at least 2 years — or 6 years
for corporate lobbyists.
Restrict the ability of companies to buy up former federal
officials to rig the game for themselves. Under my plan,
companies would be banned from immediately hiring former senior government
officials whose agency or office the company has lobbied in the past two years.
And because the biggest and most market-dominant corporations in America also
exercise outsized political power, my plan blocks them from using personnel
hires to rig the game by banning giant companies, banks, and monopolies from
hiring former senior government officials for at least four years.
Next, we’ll hold our federal judiciary to the highest ethical
corporations and powerful interests haven’t limited their influence-peddling to
Congress and the White House. They’ve also turned their attention to the
is “no formal mechanism for review of conflicts” for Supreme Court
justices. But covering your eyes doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see. The
Federalist Society — an extremist, corporate-funded right-wing group that
hand-picked Trump’s list of Supreme Court nominees — picked up Justice Clarence Thomas’s bills to attend a
fancy retreat hosted by the Koch brothers. And for years, Justice Thomas failed
to file public disclosures indicating that his wife worked as the White House
liaison for the Heritage Foundation, a group whose
co-founder personally began the conservative push to
overturn Roe v. Wade.
not just Supreme Court Justices, either. Federal judges can do just about
anything without disclosing it, and in the rare instance where their ethical
violations are discovered and they face investigation, they can escape further
scrutiny altogether by resigning without penalty.
federal court system only works if the American people have faith that it is
neutrally dispensing fair-minded justice without bias or personal interests
interfering in judicial decisions. If we want the American people to believe
this, we need some serious judicial ethics reforms.
where I’d start:
Ensure Supreme Court Justices are held to the same standard as
the rest of the federal judiciary. Today, every federal judge is bound by a Code
of Conduct — except Supreme Court justices. It’s a recipe for corruption. We
can fix it by applying the Code of Conduct for United States Judges to Supreme
Strengthen ethics requirements for federal judges. Corporations and
advocacy organizations routinely provide federal judges with all-expenses-paid
trips to extravagant seminars. My plan tightens existing rules that prohibit
judges from accepting gifts and establishes a new fund to cover reasonable
expenses for participating in judicial seminars. No more big speaking fees and
no more fancy trips to hunting lodges and golf courses. My plan also bans
federal judges from owning individual stocks.
Require judges to disclose key information so the American
people can verify that their conduct is above ethical reproach. My plan requires the
Judicial Conference of the United States — the institution in charge of
administering our federal courts — to publicly post judges’ financial reports,
recusal decisions, and speeches to bring these activities out of the shadows.
This will build public confidence that cases are being heard by fair and
Close the loophole that allows federal judges to escape
investigations for misconduct by stepping down from their post. When Ninth Circuit
Judge Alex Kozinski was confronted with a judicial ethics investigation for
sexual misconduct towards young female law clerks, he resigned — and the investigation immediately
ended. Similarly, sexual assault and perjury complaints against Brett Kavanaugh
were dismissed when he was confirmed to the Supreme
Court, and Donald Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump-Barry resigned from the bench,
ending an investigation into the Trump family’s decades-long tax schemes, including potential fraud. Under my plan,
investigations will remain open until their findings are made public and any
penalties for misconduct are issued.
Ending Lobbying As We Know It
fundamental promise of our democracy is that every voice matters. But when
lobbyists and big corporations can buy influence from politicians, that promise
is broken. The first thing to do to fix it is to end lobbying as we know it.
Constitution guarantees the American people the right to petition their
government with grievances. Lobbying isn’t new — it’s been around for
centuries. What’s new is the weaponization of lobbying to coerce our government
into doing whatever corporate interests want. While companies have an important
role to play in our democratic conversation, the voices of corporations and
powerful interests shouldn’t be the only voices in the room. But that’s exactly
to the 1970s, there was little corporate spending on lobbying. Last year,
over eleven thousand registered lobbyists roamed the halls of
government, mostly representing their powerful clients — to the tune of over $3
billion. It’s no wonder everyone else has such a hard time breaking through the
boom in the influence-peddling game has happened around the same time that
right-wing ideologues have slashed independent government resources and
in-house expertise, which are essential for officials to maintain their
independence from the “expertise” of self-interested corporate lobbyists.
Meanwhile, most corporate lobbying work remains hopelessly opaque — nominally
governed by a patchwork of weak definitions, few meaningful restrictions, and
inadequate reporting and disclosure requirements. And the free rein granted to
corporate lobbyists to also fundraise for political campaigns crosses the line
from influence peddling to legalized bribery.
can break the grip that lobbyists for giant corporations have on our
government. Together, we can end lobbying as we know it. Here’s where to start:
Expand the definition of lobbyists to include everyone who is
paid to influence lawmakers. Because of our weak laws, only individuals who meet directly
with politicians or spend more than 20% of their time lobbying are required to register as lobbyists. That means law
firms, consultancies, and even self-described lobbying firms that hire
individuals for the express purpose of influencing government may be able to
avoid these registration requirements — allowing powerful interests to
influence policy without any public accountability. This practice, endemic on
both sides of the aisle, must end.
plan brings this activity out of the shadows by strengthening the definition of
a lobbyist to include all individualspaid to influence government.
It also creates a new designation for corporate lobbyists to identify
individuals paid to influence government on behalf of for-profit entities and
their front-groups — and subjects these corporate hired guns to additional
Ban lobbying for foreign entities — period. President Trump’s
campaign chair currently sits in prison, convicted in part of
failing to properly register his shady foreign lobbying activity on behalf of
Ukraine. But what is the justification for allowing foreign governments to use
Americans as hired guns who sit in the shadows, quietly attempting to influence
our domestic political system? That’s not how diplomacy should work. Other
nations have ambassadors and diplomatic staff in the United States. If those
governments want to interact with our political process they can do so through
normal, above-board diplomatic channels. My plan categorically bans the
practice of private lobbying for foreign governments, foreign individuals, and
foreign companies. No more K Street influence-peddlers looking out for the
interests of China, Russia, or Saudi Arabia.
Impose strict rules on all lobbyists, including preventing them
from donating to or fundraising for political candidates. Paid lobbyists are
hired for one objective: to advance the interests of their clients. Allowing
individuals who are paid to influence government officials on policy to also
give gifts or funnel money to the political campaigns of those same officials
sounds like legalized bribery. My plan not only bans lobbyists from making
political contributions, it also bans them from bundling donations or hosting
fundraisers for political candidates. And it outlaws lobbying contingency fees,
where lobbyists are only paid if they successfully influence politicians to
achieve a policy outcome that serves their client’s narrow interests.
Dramatically expand the kinds of information lobbyists are
required to disclose. Our current laws require only minimal disclosure from
lobbyists of their activities. This prevents the American people from fully
understanding who is trying to influence government — and why. My plan requires
all lobbyists to report publicly all meetings with Congressional offices or
public officials, the documents they provide to those individuals, and all
government actions they attempt to influence. It also demands that all
charitable non-profit organizations, social welfare organizations, and trade
associations disclose any donors whose money was used to develop products to
influence Congressional testimony, agency rulemaking, or for lobbying purposes.
Impose a tax on excessive lobbying — and use this revenue to
give Congress and agencies the tools to fight back against the corporate
influence machine. In 2018, lobbyists spent a whopping $3.4 billion trying to influence public policy on
behalf of their clients, including $95 million from the pro-corporate Chamber of
Commerce, $73 million from the National Association of
Realtors, and $28 million from the Big Pharma lobbying group. The
right to petition our government does not allow industries to exercise
unlimited financial influence over policymakers. That’s why I will impose a tax
on any entity that spends over $500,000 per year on lobbying. The tax will
reduce the financial incentive for excessive lobbying, and its revenue will be
used to counter the effects of excessive lobbying by providing additional
financial resources for agencies to research and review regulatory actions that
are the targets of excessive lobbying activity, as well as additional funding
for the National Public Advocate, an office established to help the public
engage with the rulemaking process, and for Congressional support agencies.
Strengthen Congressional independence from lobbyists. Congressional offices
and agencies are severely underfunded, creating unnecessary pressure to rely on
lobbyists for expertise. My plan transitions Congressional staff to competitive
salaries and reinstates the nonpartisan Congressional Office of Technology
Assessment to help members of Congress understand new areas of science and
technology — because members of Congress should be able to access expertise and
information without being dependent on lobbyists.
End Corporate Capture of our Federal Agencies
federal agencies — agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the
Department of Labor, and the Department of Energy — were created by Congress to
enforce and implement laws that protect the broad interests of the public
against the unrestrained exercise of corporate power. But because of the
revolving door, the avalanche of lobbyists, and the weakness of our agency
tools to fight back, agencies often find their agendas hijacked by the very
industries they are supposed to regulate. We can and should make additional
changes to strengthen agencies’ independence and their ability to act
decisively in the public interest.
are some of the steps my plan takes to address this:
Stop powerful actors from peddling fake research — often funded
by undisclosed donors — and hold corporations accountable for lying to
regulators. I’ll crack down on corporations who manipulate agencies by
submitting sham research — like the climate denial studies bought and paid for by oil and gas magnates like the Koch
Brothers — by requiring individuals who submit a public comment on a proposed
rule to disclose editorial conflicts-of-interest related to any
non-peer-reviewed research they cite. Studies that are determined to have
conflicts of interest will be withheld from the rulemaking process unless the
individual offering that research certifies that they have undergone rigorous,
independent peer review. Otherwise, we’ll treat them like the bad faith junk
science that they are, excluding them from the rulemaking process and
preventing any court from considering them too. And if a company misleads an
agency with “analysis” it knows to be false, they’ll be prosecuted just like
anyone else who lies under oath to Congress or in a court of law.
End the practice of inviting corporate bigwigs to negotiate
rules their companies would have to follow and put a stop to the stall tactics
they use to kill public interest rules. My plan restricts the parties eligible to
participate in the negotiated rulemaking process so that industry no longer has
an open door to dominate the process. It also closes the loopholes that have
allowed industry and agencies to delay the implementation of rules it
disfavors, including by ending so-called informal review, reducing the review
period to 45 days, and clarifying that only Appeals Courts — not individual
Federal District judges — can temporarily block the implementation of rules.
And my plan requires agencies to publicly justify the withdrawal of any public
Give the public the tools to fight back against corporations who
seek to co-opt this process for their benefit. My plan establishes an
Office of the Public Advocate to help the public engage with important legal
changes made by federal agencies during the rulemaking process. I’ll also allow
private individuals to bring lawsuits against federal agencies for
unnecessarily delaying or failing to enforce agency rules — and against corporations
who have violated them.
Ensuring Access to Justice for All
justice is supposed to be the promise of the American legal system. But it’s
not delivering on that promise. Instead, we have one system for the wealthy and
the well-connected, and a different one for everyone else. It’s hard enough to
hold a powerful company accountable through our legal system, but recent developments in the law have made it even harder for
individuals to even bring those cases in the first place. We need to reform our
legal rules to make sure every person who has been harmed can have their day in
how I’ll start:
Ban forced arbitration clauses. Many companies force
their employees and consumers to sign “forced arbitration” clauses as part of
their contracts for employment or for services. These clauses mean that if
something goes wrong, individuals agree to never file a lawsuit in federal
court against the company — and instead are diverted into a private dispute
system. These provisions are often tucked in the fine print of contracts
that workers or consumers sign, and many people don’t even know that they have
signed one until they have been harmed and need our courts to help them get
justice. These provisions shouldn’t be enforceable, but the conservative
majority in the Supreme Court decided that because there was no law explicitly
against them, they could be freely enforced. So let’s pass that law. My plan
categorically bans forced arbitration clauses from blocking lawsuits related to
employment, consumer protection, antitrust, and civil rights.
Ban mandatory class action waivers. When workers or consumers
are wronged by a company, they should be able to band together and seek
justice. Taking on a big corporation’s army of lawyers takes enormous sums of
money and legal expertise. But class action waivers tucked into consumer and
employment contracts prevent individuals from suing together.
That makes it virtually impossible to pursue a lawsuit, and gives companies unlimited
license to rip you off without any consequences. These anti-worker and
anti-consumer provisions shouldn’t be enforceable, but because of a Supreme Court decision written by Justice Gorsuch, they’re
alive and well. That’s why my plan would restore the fundamental right of
workers and consumers to join together when they are wronged by banning these
provisions in employment, consumer protection, antitrust, and civil rights
Restore fair pleading standards. When you file a
lawsuit, one of the first steps of the legal process is called “discovery.”
That’s when you’re supposed to ask questions and gather facts about your case,
but a pair of recent Supreme Court decisions upended decades of pleading standards, making it difficult
to file a case without already having many of these facts. These widely
criticized cases deprive plaintiffs of their day in court, and allow
powerful defendants to successfully dismiss cases before they even begin. My
plan would undo this damage by restoring fair pleading standards so that every
person who has been harmed gets their day in court.
Holding Bad Actors Accountable
reforms I’ve outlined will go a long way toward cleaning up Washington. But we
also need strong enforcement mechanisms and broad transparency requirements to
make sure we can hold bad actors accountable.
Let’s start with real penalties for violating the rules.
Washington, corrupt actors should face penalties when they break the law — not
return to business as usual.
how my plan would fix this:
Establish a new U.S. Office of Public Integrity and strengthen
ethics enforcement. The new office will investigate ethics complaints from the
public, impose civil and administrative penalties on violators, and refer
egregious violations to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.
Expand and strengthen the independent Office of Congressional
plan ensures this office has the proper authorities and resources to conduct
investigations, refer civil and criminal violations to the appropriate
authorities, and recommend disciplinary action to the House and Senate Ethics
Expand the definition of “official act” in bribery statutes to
criminalize the sale of government access. When a politician
accepts gifts in exchange for government favors, that’s bribery — but thanks to
a wrong-headed Supreme Court decision in United States v. McDonnell,
our laws don’t fully recognize it. My plan plugs that tractor-sized loophole
and ensures that corrupt politicians who accept bribes can be prosecuted. It
also clarifies that a stream of benefits — rather than a single act — qualifies
as an unlawful benefit paid in exchange for a bribe.
Clarify the definition of “in-kind contributions” to ensure that
no future candidate can receive political assistance from foreign countries or
solicit large hush money payments without facing legal consequences. Politicians and
advisors like Donald Trump Jr. have reportedly tried to receive help from
foreign countries, even though it is illegal for foreign individuals to provide
in-kind contributions to campaigns. And Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to spend $130,000 to cover
up an affair so it would not come to light before the 2016 election, despite
laws preventing him from soliciting large in-kind contributions. Although a
federal judge accepted Cohen’s guilty plea, Trump’s lawyers and defenders continued to insist that what Cohen did — and what
Trump solicited — was not a crime. My plan settles this debate and clarifies
that the rules governing in-kind contributions also apply to intangible
benefits, such as dirt on political opponents, and in-kind financial contributions,
like the payment of hush money, when those contributions are made at least in
part — even if not exclusively — for campaign purposes.
Deter Corruption Through Broad New Government Transparency
government is supposed to work for the people, then the people should be given
enough information to judge how well their government is working for them. Too
many government records are kept behind lock and key, making it impossible for
the public to hold their government accountable. Significant legal actions that
have implications for public health and safety can be kept secret. And the
actions of federal contractors — the companies often tasked with the
implementation of government policies and programs, like Trump’s family
separation policy — are almost completely concealed from public view, thanks to
an assortment of exemptions and loopholes.
how my plan would shine a light on government activity:
Prohibit courts from sealing records involving major public
health and safety issues. When people were killed by ignition defects in
Chevrolet vehicles, General Motors settled the cases on the condition that all
documents related to the defects would be sealed from public view. It wasn’t an isolated
incident. Big corporations routinely use secret settlements to keep defective
products on the market so they can continue to rake in profits. That must stop.
My plan bans courts from sealing records in cases involving public health and
safety, with rare exceptions, so that corporations cannot conceal these
dangerous conditions from the American people.
Impose strict transparency standards for federal courts and
remove barriers to accessing electronic judicial records. My plan requires
federal appellate courts to livestream audio of their proceedings, share case assignment
data in bulk, and make all electronic case records — which currently must be
purchased from the government — more easily accessible and free of charge.
Strengthen federal open records laws to close loopholes and
exemptions that hide corporate influence, and increase transparency in
Congress, federal agencies, and nonprofits that aim to influence policy. The American people
have a right to know whether their elected leaders are acting in the public’s
best interest — and who is trying to influence them. Under my plan,
Congressional committees, government agencies, and federal contractors would be
required to publicly release key information so that the American people — and
the American press — can hold the federal government accountable.