so you want to be president

A Guide to Elizabeth Warren’s (Many) 2020 Policy Proposals

Elizabeth Warren.
Elizabeth Warren. Photo: @ewarren/Twitter

November 2020 may still be a year and a half away, but the presidential election cycle is in full swing. What feels like approximately 400,000 Democrats are already fighting for the nomination, and cable networks have already been airing town halls with various potential candidates.

One of the many (and we do mean many) politicians to have thrown their hat into the presidential race is Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator and former Harvard Law School professor. After announcing her campaign, Warren, a policy heavyweight who has spent her career going after big banks, struggled to find her footing in the polls. Meanwhile, former vice-president Joe Biden — who hasn’t even formally announced yet — and her longtime progressive partner and rival, Senator Bernie Sanders surged ahead. But Warren has been steadily coming out with comprehensive, radical ideas, and with her student debt relief proposal, shifted the debate entirely. We can only expect more of this as the election cycle continues.

So, to help you keep track, here’s a guide to some of the other policies Warren has proposed so far.

Student-Debt Relief

Warren has rolled out a staggering policy proposal that would cancel nearly all outstanding student-loan debt. In a post on Medium, published April 22, Warren announced a new higher-education plan that would cancel up to $50,000 in student-loan debt for up to 40 million Americans. More specifically, the plan calls for canceling debt for 95 percent of Americans with student-loan debt — and wiping that debt out entirely for 75 percent of them. Warren wrote that the plan would help increase wealth for black and Latinx families and help reduce the racial wealth gap, while also providing an economic boom for the middle class.

“The time for half-measures is over,” Warren wrote. “My broad cancellation plan is a real solution to our student-debt crisis. It helps millions of families and removes a weight that’s holding back our economy.”

Higher-Education Reform

Warren also proposed universally free public higher education, so that we don’t find ourselves in another student-debt crisis. This component of her plan entails free tuition and zero fees for Americans attending two-year and four-year public colleges. The proposal also includes a component to invest an additional $100 billion in Pell Grants to assist lower-income and middle-class students, and cuts off federal funding to for-profit colleges. Furthermore, she seeks to create a $50 billion fund for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions, to require public colleges to complete annual reviews into the enrollment and graduation rates of lower-income students and students of color, and to ban public colleges form considering citizenship or criminal history in their admissions processes.

Universal Child Care

Warren also proposed a bold new plan to make high-quality child care affordable in the United States. In another Medium post, she proposed $700 billion universal child-care policy, which would require that no family spends more than 7 percent of its income on quality supervision of their minors. Her policy aims to have the government to create a network of affordable options for child care by partnering with local providers.

“In the wealthiest country on the planet, access to affordable and high-quality child care and early education should be a right, not a privilege reserved for the rich,” she wrote.

Ultra-Millionaire Tax

Part of Warren’s plan to cover the costs of the policies she’s proposed is to tax the ultra-rich in America. “The 400 richest Americans currently own more wealth than all Black households and a quarter of Latino households combined,” she wrote on her website, going on to say that the richest 130,000 families in the U.S. have almost as much wealth as the bottom 117 million combined.

Thus, she has proposed the Ultra-Millionaire Tax, which applies only to households with a net worth of $50 million or more. The tax includes paying an annual 2 percent tax on every dollar over $50 million, and a 3 percent tax on every dollar over $1 billion. This would bring in $2.75 trillion in revenue over the course of ten years.

Real Corporate Profits Tax

Warren also wants to institute a Real Corporate Profits Tax for large American companies. In a Medium post, she wrote that companies currently follow a set of different tax accounting rules than the rest of us. These are filled with so many loopholes and exceptions that sometimes major corporations (like Amazon) don’t end up paying corporate income taxes at all. And so, she wants companies that report more than $100 million in profits to pay a 7 percent tax on every dollar of profit over $100 million. The tax will apparently bring in $1 trillion over the next ten years, according to economists she cited.

Warren wrote, “The Real Corporate Profits Tax generates more than a trillion dollars in revenue, levels the playing field for small businesses, and is hard to evade.”

Making Housing More Affordable

Warren has proposed a plan to make housing more affordable, in part, through the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, which she recently reintroduced in the Senate. The bill would also allow state and local governments to eliminate zoning rules that drive up the cost of construction. Additionally, Warren states that her housing bill would create a down-payment assistance program that would help first-time homeowners of color who were discriminated against by the federal government in previously being denied the same federal housing subsidies as white families.

Protecting Public Lands

If Warren is elected to the White House, she intends to sign an executive order on her first day in office to protect public lands. The order, she has written, would place a “total moratorium” on drilling — including offshore drilling and on public lands. She also aims to reinstate the methane pollution rule, which would limit the harmful gases released into the air by oil and gas projects, and reinstitute the clean water rule that Trump repealed. She also wrote in a Medium post that she aims to have 10 percent of the overall electricity in the U.S. generated from renewable sources, and that she will re-protect national monuments that Trump had opened up to mining and rilling.

Decreasing Maternal Mortality Rates for Black Women

The U.S. has the worst maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world — and black women are disproportionately at risk. (Per the CDC, an average 12 in 100,000 white women in the U.S. die from complications in a live birth; that rate is severely higher — 40 per 100,000 — for black women). On Monday, Warren unveiled her plan to decrease maternal mortality rates for African-American women.

Her plan includes giving medical providers “bonus” funds if they lower those numbers, according to CNN. Warren said at an event in Houston, “And if they don’t, then they’re going to have money taken away from them. I want to see the hospitals see it as their responsibility to address this problem head-on and make it a first priority. The best way to do that is to use money to make it happen, because we gotta have change and we gotta have change now.”

Protecting Abortion Rights

On May 17, in response to the recent draconian abortion bans passed in states like Ohio and Alabama, Warren again took to Medium to introduce a comprehensive new policy: an act that would protect and expand abortion rights in the United States.

To do this, she proposes that Congress create federal laws to keep the rights upheld in Roe v. Wade intact – and that Congress prohibit states from interfering with a patient’s access to abortion providers by instituting medically unnecessary laws, such as mandatory waiting periods or overly onerous clinic regulations. She also wants Congress to guarantee that reproductive health coverage falls under all health coverage — starting by repealing the Hyde Act, which prevents public health funding from covering abortion care, and has long posed as an obstacle for lower income women seeking reproductive care.

Warren also wants to undo some of the damage done by the Trump administration, including ending the gag rule, which aims to prevent abortion patients from getting full and accurate information about their options, and to restore funding for Title X family planning.

This post has been updated.

A Guide to Elizabeth Warren’s (Many) 2020 Policy Proposals