Sounding ever the presidential contender, liberal firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren outlined a sweeping Democratic agenda Wednesday that included raising the minimum wage, breaking up Wall Street banks and raising taxes on big business to help shore up entitlement programs and pay for infrastructure projects.
“We know that democracy doesn’t work when congressmen and regulators bow down to Wall Street’s political power — and that means it’s time to break up the Wall Street banks and remind politicians that they don’t work for the big banks, they work for us,” Mrs. Warren said in her keynote speech to the AFL-CIO’s “Summit on Raising Wages.”
The Massachusetts Democrat blamed Republican policies and candidates from both parties who are beholden to Wall Street with “rigging” the system to benefit the wealthy over middle-class Americans.
Mrs. Warren’s proposals echoed much of the Democratic Party’s agenda for confronting the new Republican-controlled Congress, including an emphasis on investments in spending on infrastructure projects and education.
Playing to the crowd, Mrs. Warren called for advancing the union movement and stronger enforcement of labor laws. She also advocated for “trade policies and tax codes that will strengthen our economy, raise our living standards, and create American jobs — and we will never give up on those three words: Made in America.”
The speech offered plenty of the anti-Wall Street rhetoric on which Mrs. Warren has built her political career and which has made her a darling of the far left.
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“For more than 30 years, too many politicians in Washington have made deliberate choices that favored those with money and power. And the consequence is that instead of an economy that works well for everyone, America now has an economy that works well for about 10 percent of the people,” she told the union activists.
“It wasn’t always this way, and it doesn’t have to be this way,” she continued. “We can make new choices — different choices — choices that put working people first, choices that aim toward a better future for our children, choices that reflect our deepest values as Americans.”
Mrs. Warren’s soaring oratory continues to give her supporters incentive to push her to run for president.
Several liberal groups, including MoveOn.Org, have launched an aggressive campaign to draft Mrs. Warren to run for president in 2016 as a liberal alternative to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who remains the undisputed front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Mrs. Warren has insisted that she isn’t running, but she has not definitely ruled it out.
“This is personal for me,” Mrs. Warren said as she wrapped up her address by relating her story of rising from working-class beginning to the U.S. Senate.
“My mother was 50 years old, a stay-at-home mom. My daddy had a heart attack, and it turned our little family upside down. The bills piled up. We lost the family station wagon, and we nearly lost our home,” she said, explaining how her mother had to get a minimum-wage job at Sears to keep the family afloat.
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“That minimum-wage job saved our home — and saved our family,” recalled Mrs. Warren. “I made it through a commuter college that cost $50 a semester and I ended up in the United States Senate. Sure, I worked hard, but I grew up in an America that invested in kids like me, an America that built opportunities for kids to compete in a changing world, an America where a janitor’s kid could become a United States senator.
“I believe in that America,” she said, describing an America that “ensures that all hardworking men and women earn good wages. An America that once again grows a strong, vibrant middle class.
“I believe in that America, and I will fight for that America! And if we fight — side by side — I know we will build that America again,” she said.