Senator Elizabeth Warren is blitzing the 2020 Democratic primary field with a series of ambitious policy proposals covering everything from student loans to the use of federal lands.
Her proposals have become a signature part of her campaign, solidifying her reputation as a policy wonk and spurring a new campaign slogan: “I have a plan for that.”
Here’s a look at what Warren has said she would do if elected president.
Unions and labor
Warren would expand existing labor law protections to include previously exempted groups, make it harder for companies to classify employees as independent contractors, repeal the federal law that allows states to enact “right to work” laws that limit union funding, and give new power to the National Labor Relations Board.
She also would seek to boost pay by raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and making millions more workers eligible for overtime.
She pledged that any nominee for the Supreme Court must be a “demonstrated advocate for workers,” and would ban the permanent replacement of workers who go on strike and make it easier for workers to organize boycotts, in addition to curbing employer lockouts.
Warren says her plan to fight corruption in government is at the core of her presidential campaign. It would ban lobbyists from many fund-raising activities and serving as political campaign bundlers, tighten limits on politicians accepting gifts or payment for government actions, and bar senior officials and members of Congress from serving on nonprofit boards.
The plan would prohibit federal judges from avoiding misconduct investigations by leaving their posts, prevent courts from sealing settlements in public health and safety cases, and ban class action waivers for all cases involving employment, consumer protection, antitrust and civil rights. Warren would also close a loophole that currently allows judges to avoid misconduct investigations if they are elevated to the Supreme Court or retire.
As part of the plan, Warren released a proposal to re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment, which once provided Congress with analysis of complex scientific and technology issues. Warren said the move would allow Congress to make decisions about technical subjects without relying on lobbyists.
Warren would also impose a steep tax lobbying expenditures over $500,000.
Warren’s wealth tax would target the richest families in America: The annual tax would target 2 percent of all assets of more than $50 million, and 3 percent of assets of more than $1 billion. This would raise an estimated $2.75 trillion over 10 years from what Warren refers to as the “tippy top” — 0.1 percent of American families, according to an analysis by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman at the University of California at Berkeley.
A separate corporate tax would affect Amazon and the nation’s other most profitable companies. The plan would place a 7 percent levy on profits beyond $100 million, resolving what she called a disparity between the profits that corporations report to their shareholders and what those same corporations tell the IRS. The tax would affect about 1,200 corporations and raise approximately $1 trillion over 10 years, Warren said.
Warren wants to wipe out massive amounts of student debt: Her plan would cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for every person with a household income under $100,000. For those with higher incomes, she proposes canceling less in a series of steps. For example, a person with an income of $130,000 would get $40,000 in debt canceled. The plan offers no relief to households that earn more than $250,000. She also wants to implement free undergraduate tuition and fees at all public two- and four-year colleges and create a fund of at least $50 billion to help historically black colleges and universities, and other institutions that serve minority students specifically.
She said she’d pay for it with her “ultra-millionaire” tax on accumulated wealth.
Warren’s universal child-care plan would aim to ease the burden faced by working families trying to find quality day care for their preschool-age children. It would create a network of child-care providers and scale up the federal Head Start program, which offers early learning services to low-income families. Families earning less than 200 percent of the poverty line would have access to free child care, while those earning more would pay on a sliding scale topping out at 7 percent of a family’s income. Warren said her “ultra-millionaire” tax would pay for the plan.
In March, Warren reintroduced ambitious legislation to create millions of new affordable housing units and help tackle ongoing housing segregation and the yawning wealth gap between white and black Americans. The bill would boost federal funding to build more than 3 million affordable housing units for low- and middle-income families and create a $10 billion grant program that would give money to communities who overhaul zoning rules that currently prevent affordable housing construction. To address past discrimination in federal housing policy, Warren’s bill would provide down-payment assistance to first-time homebuyers living in areas that had been redlined or officially segregated before such practices became illegal.
An outside analysis found the plan would not add to the federal deficit because of changes to the estate tax.
Warren called for a ban on new fossil fuel leases on federally controlled land, proposed reversing the Trump administration’s cuts to national monuments, and said entry to all national parks should be free.
Warren announced in April that she supports drastically changing the Senate by eliminating its legendary filibuster to give her party a better chance of implementing its ambitious agenda. The change would mean a 60-vote supermajority would no longer be necessary to advance most bills.
Warren in March called for breaking up some of the biggest farming corporations ‘‘so that they not only do not have that kind of economic power, so that they’re wiping out competition, so they’re taking all the profits for themselves . . . but also so that they don’t have that kind of political power.’’
The concept of reparations takes different forms depending on the school of thought, but generally, it involves some sort of monetary compensation for the forced enslavement of Africans in the United States prior to emancipation. The issue has divided the 2020 primary field, and Warren has not explicitly endorsed the idea. Rather, Warren says she is in favor of creating a commission to study the issue and make a report to Congress. She expanded on her thinking during a CNN town hall.
Warren supports dismantling the Electoral College, the system that allocates votes to presidential candidates based on the size of the state’s congressional delegation. The Electoral College system has elected a president who did not win the popular vote on five separate occasions, including President Trump in 2016. Eliminating the Electoral College would most likely require a constitutional amendment.
Big Tech breakup
Warren would target major technology companies like Amazon and Google by strengthening existing regulations, and using the antimonopoly laws that once reined in Microsoft. For example, Warren’s plan would prevent Amazon from promoting its own products to the detriment of competitors on its platform.
Warren’s opioid plan is a revival of a bill she championed in the US Senate and is modeled on a landmark 1990 law passed in response to the AIDS epidemic that sent federal funding to areas hardest hit by the crisis. As part of Warren’s plan, Massachusetts would see about $56.6 million annually in state grants, plus another $63.5 million in local grants targeting the counties hardest hit by the opioid crisis.
As part of legislation she reintroduced in the Senate, Warren argued the island of Puerto Rico should be allowed to erase its debt like other US cities, if certain criteria are met. Her plan would also allow some holders of Puerto Rican debt, such as island residents and pensioners, to be compensated for any losses incurred as a result of any discharge.
In a sweeping proposal, Warren made a broad argument that the federal government should intervene in private industry to protect American jobs, and she outlined a number of ways to accomplish this: She called for more active management of the US dollar, using federal research dollars to create domestic jobs, increasing export promotion, and restructuring worker training. And she proposed transforming the Commerce Department and other agencies into the Department of Economic Development.
Warren’s green energy plan, released the same day as her “economic patriotism” proposal, has three prongs: $400 billion in funding for clean energy research, a $1.5 trillion commitment from the federal government to purchase domestic clean energy products, and a $100 billion “Green Marshall Plan” that would help other countries purchase clean energy technology from the United States. Warren cited an analysis from Moody’s Analytics that said her plan would be paid for with a tax she wants to levy on corporate profits, and by ending federal oil and gas subsidies and closing some corporate tax loopholes.
Roe v. Wade
Warren called on Congress to pass a law guaranteeing abortion access outlined in the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and threw her support behind an existing bill that would block so-called TRAP laws, which place a host of restrictions on abortion services in an effort to limit access.
Warren’s plan for the Department of Defense would target what she calls the “revolving door” of former officials who return to lobby for lucrative Defense Department contracts on behalf of companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The plan would impose a four-year ban on “giant” contractors hiring senior defense officials or former defense employees who managed their contract.
Warren is proposing a $7 billion fund to help minority entrepreneurs start small businesses through grants, rather than loans. The fund would be limited to entrepreneurs with less than $100,000 in household wealth. She also said she’d require the federal government to seek out more diverse asset managers for pension funds.
Warren wants Congress to standardize elections for federal office, with uniformly designed ballots and brand new voting machines in every polling place nationwide, combined with a “Fort Knox”-like security system to prevent tampering. The system would be run by a new federal Secure Democracy Administration. Automatic and same-day voter registration would be mandated nationwide, and Warren’s proposal would make it more difficult to purge voters from the rolls. Election Day would become a federal holiday with expanded polling hours, and voters could cast ballots a minimum of 15 days before an election.
Warren, who said the Defense Department is 40 times the size of the State Department, called for doubling the number of diplomats working in the foreign service with an eye toward more diverse recruitment, opening new offices in areas that do not have a US presence, and enhancing diplomats’ professional development with training programs.
Racial wage disparities
Warren said she’d use an executive order to mandate a $15 minimum wage among federal contractors and ban employment practices that she argues “tilt the playing field against women of color,” such as asking a job applicant for her prior salary or requiring new hires to sign employment agreements that restrict their rights if they leave the company or make a complaint.
Warren also said she’d require federal contractors to disclose information on their employees’ pay and job title, along with demographic data, and stop working with companies with large disparities.
Warren’s sweeping plan to reshape the nation’s immigration system would significantly expand opportunities for migrants and refugees to come to the United States while taking steps to protect them and provide a path to citizenship for undocumented people already here.
Countering Trump policies, she would establish a federal task force to investigate claims of abuse against immigrant detainees, eliminate expedited removal proceedings that deny migrants full legal hearings, and create a national corps of public defenders to provide counsel for immigrants fighting deportation.
Warren pledged to expand community alternatives to detention and to issue guidance to federal agencies to ensure detention is only used for people who pose a risk of not appearing in immigration court or are deemed a danger to the public.
Wall Street regulation
With her regulatory plans targeting big banks, Warren escalated her long battle with Wall Street, calling for new rules to curtail the private equity industry by making firms responsible for the debts and other obligations of the companies they purchase, and changing tax rates and loopholes that aid them. Accusing the industry of “legalized looting,” Warren castigated private equity firms for lining their pockets even when the companies they purchase fail, connecting the issue to the growth of corporate profits and the stagnation of wages in the American economy.
Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed a sweeping overhaul of American trade policy that would put labor and human rights, along with consumer and environmental protections, ahead of the needs of big corporations. The proposals from the Democratic presidential candidate would set preconditions for future deals but also apply to existing ones, effectively requiring the renegotiation of major trade agreements.
The extensive plan includes changes to every facet of the complex trade agreements that govern how goods are exchanged between the US and other countries: From negotiation to ratification by Congress to enforcement. The reforms broadly aim to tip the scales of power within the agreement in favor of labor and the environment.
Warren proposed a multifaceted approach to improving conditions for Americans living in rural areas, which have faced inequities in health care and Internet access, and have been hit hard by the opioid crisis and trade wars.
In perhaps the most significant change, Warren would replace a long-established farm subsidy system with one that allows the government to buy products in the form of a loan until farmers are able to secure better prices from private purchasers. The government would store the products in reserves, and would release the supply in and out of the market to stabilize consumer prices and farmers’ incomes.
On health care, Warren would require the Federal Trade Commission to curb hospital mergers that leave less populated areas of the country without access to hospital care. To improve access in currently underserved areas, Warren wants to increase funding for community health centers.
To increase Internet access in rural communities that private companies have passed over, Warren wants to allow municipalities to build their own publicly-funded networks, and also create a program that offers grants to nonprofits looking to expand broadband access.
Warren outlined a series of gun control measures with an ambitious goal of slashing rates of gun deaths by 80 percent, including firearms licensing and an assault weapons ban. Warren would also implement universal background checks, and significantly hike taxes on gun manufacturers — to as high as 50 percent on ammunition. She would set a nationwide one-week waiting period to buy guns, and cap the number of guns that can be purchased per month at one. Her legislation would also raise the minimum age to buy any type of gun to 21 and strengthen meaures to combat so-called straw purchases involving a person buying a gun on behalf of someone who is prohibited from buying it.
Warren’s plan endorses “red flag” laws that allow guns to be seized from individuals deemed dangerous to themselves or others. She also proposed extending restrictions of firearms sales to those convicted of hate crimes, stalking, or who have restraining orders.
Native American issues
Senator Elizabeth Warren denounced the federal government’s treatment of Native Americans and offered a suite of proposals to improve the lives of indigenous people, a plan that won praise for its ambition but risked reviving a fraught subject for her presidential campaign.
Warren called for the federal government to do more to honor its treaties with tribal nations, safeguard tribal lands, and improve funding for programs that provide Native Americans with health care, education, housing, and other critical services.
Senator Elizabeth Warren is proposing a host of new initiatives in a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s criminal justice system, outlining changes that would affect policies ranging from school disclipline to sentencing guidelines to the use of force by police.
Similar to her approach on voting rights, Warren’s plan relies on the use of federal money as leverage to encourage local law enforcement and local prosecutors to adopt many of her changes, which include decriminalizing truancy, ending “stop-and-frisk,” repealing the 1994 crime bill, ending solitary confinement, boost public defender funding, and relying on advice from a more diverse pool of voices, including the formerly incarcerated.
Warren released a plan to address climate change by transitioning the nation to 100 percent clean energy in a decade, pledging to adopt a key goal of former Democratic presidential campaign rival Jay Inslee and calling on the rest of the primary field to do the same.
Warren is proposing to pay for the plan — which would cost $1 trillion over 10 years — with revenue generated by reversing President Trump’s tax cuts, enacted by Congress in 2017, for large corporations and wealthy individuals.
Warren’s administration would eliminate coal-fired power plants within a decade and require utilities to move to 100 percent carbon-neutral electricity generation by 2030. Warren wrote she’d ensure protections for coal miners “by funding health care and pensions.” By 2035, Warren would aim to achieve an electric grid that is “all-clean, renewable, and zero-emission.”
Warren’s proposal would increase benefits by $200 a month for Social Security recipients and extend the program’s solvency by two decades through increased contribution requirements on the top two percent of earners.
Warren proposed to pay for the plan by boosting the Social Security contributions — effectively a tax increase — of those making more than $250,000 a year. She cited an analysis from Moody’s Analytics that found the benefits hike would lift 4.9 million seniors out of poverty immediately.Laura Krantz, Jess Bidgood, and Jazmine Ulloa of the Globe staff contributed. Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.