WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren found herself the favored target of her White House rivals during Tuesday’s presidential debate, with moderate Democrats repeatedly arguing she is too liberal to beat Republican President Donald Trump in next year’s election.
Warren’s recent ascent in opinion polls has put her at the top of the 19-candidate field along with Joe Biden, the former vice president, in the race for the party’s 2020 nomination.
Biden, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, led the charge against Warren on the debate stage in Ohio. They criticized her for being evasive on how to pay for Medicare for All and her other “pipe-dream” proposals.
Afterward, Warren spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said the Massachusetts lawmaker “took heat” as the result of her momentum but stayed focused on her plans. “That’s how Elizabeth will win the nomination, beat Donald Trump and make big, structural change,” Orthman said.
Here are some of the policies on healthcare, wealth and other topics that are among the bevy of proposals Warren has released since beginning her presidential campaign:
Warren has praised former Democratic President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, for extending health insurance coverage to millions of Americans, but says that “it’s time for the next step.”
Warren supports a Medicare for All bill in the U.S. Senate written by progressive ally and fellow presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. But while Sanders conceded in Tuesday’s debate that it was “appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up” in order to extend the government health insurance program that now covers individuals 65 and older, Warren repeatedly answered questions about taxes by saying that such a plan would result in lower overall costs for American families.
Warren, who is known for her detailed policy plans, has not specifically laid out how she would finance a Medicare for All program. Her demurrals about taxes have prompted questions about whether she is still weighing options to pay for such a healthcare system and have provided openings for her moderate rivals to attack her ideas as unrealistic.
Most of the Democrats vying for the party’s White House nomination have a plan to ensure wealthy Americans pay higher tax rates. Warren has proposed an “ultra-millionaire tax” on the top 0.1% of wealthiest households that would act as the funding mechanism for many of her policies, including universal childcare, universal pre-kindergarten and free public college tuition.
Warren’s tax on wealth, not just income, would apply to households with a net worth of $50 million or more. Those households would pay a 2% tax on every dollar of net worth beyond $50 million and a 3% tax on every dollar of net worth beyond $1 billion. The tax would affect just 75,000 U.S. households but generate $2.75 trillion over a decade, according to independent estimates.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang said at Tuesday’s debate that implementing such a tax would be impractical. Klobuchar suggested Warren needed a “reality check.” Former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke suggested it was “punitive.”
“I’m really shocked at the notion that anyone thinks I’m punitive,” said Warren.
Warren, who says many Americans have lost faith in government and calls Trump’s administration the most corrupt in U.S. history, has offered a host of proposals to eliminate the influence of big money in Washington.
She has suggested creating conflict-of-interest laws that would require the president and vice president to put their businesses in a blind trust to be sold, require the disclosure of their tax returns, and ban all government officials - including those at the White House - from trading individual stocks while in office.
In an effort to close the “revolving door” between lobbyists and government, Warren also would restrict lobbyists from taking government jobs and institute a lifetime ban on former presidents, vice presidents, members of Congress, federal judges and Cabinet heads from becoming lobbyists.
Warren has sworn off hosting big-ticket fundraisers for her presidential campaign and does not accept support from a type of well-funded political action committee known as a Super PAC. She rejects large contributions from executives in the fossil-fuel industry, big pharmaceutical companies, large tech companies, big banks, private equity firms and hedge funds.
Warren has said if elected, she would make it illegal for corporate PACs to contribute to federal candidates, ban lobbyists from donating to or fundraising for candidates and strengthen limits on contributions that can be given to a single candidate.
Warren wants to break up big tech companies like Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon.com Inc, which she says hold outsized influence and stifle competition. Her proposal involves reversing anti-competitive mergers and restricting platforms from owning a marketplace while also participating in that marketplace.
Warren, who previously put a billboard up in Silicon Valley calling for the breakup of big tech, has most recently gone toe to toe with Facebook over its policy of exempting politicians’ ads from fact-checking, which she said was helping Trump “mislead the American people.” This month, leaked audio of an internal Q&A meeting in July revealed Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg telling staff that Facebook would fight back if Warren, as president, tried to disband the company - and would win. He said the situation would “suck,” prompting Warren to fire off a retort on social media.
“What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy,” she tweeted.
Warren, like most of her White House rivals, has sought to distance her immigration policy from that of Trump, whom she frequently criticizes on matters such as border security.
Warren has said she would decriminalize migration by immediately issuing guidance to federal prosecutors that they not pursue cases related to administrative immigration violations. She would also separate immigration and law enforcement agencies into separate entities, and reshape the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “from top to bottom.”
She would eliminate privately owned immigration detention facilities and only detain those who are a flight risk. Warren would create an immigration court system independent from the U.S. Department of Justice and raise the number of refugees allowed into the country. She has said she would work with Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation that would create a path to citizenship.
Warren believes the criminal justice system is too punitive, locks up too many people and is stacked against the poor and disadvantaged, as well as minorities.
She has called for social services that help young people stay out of prison, including decriminalizing truancy and relying on counselors and teachers rather than police officers in schools.
Warren vows to repeal the 1994 crime bill, saying the United States has criminalized too many behaviors. She thinks judges should be given more discretion in sentencing and that mandatory minimum sentences should be eliminated for both major and minor crimes.
Warren would legalize marijuana at the federal level and erase past related convictions. Like several other Democrats, she would eliminate the differences in sentencing for powder versus crack cocaine, as crack cocaine offenses have traditionally garnered longer sentences and been more likely to affect poor and minority defendants.
She would eliminate the cash bail system, under which defendants who can afford bail do not have to remain in jail pending their trials.
Warren has outlined $3 trillion in federal investments for combating climate change that built on a plan offered by Jay Inslee, the Washington state governor who anchored his campaign on climate but dropped out of the White House race in August.
Warren also has woven climate into other plans, blending it with industrial policy, investing in green research, exports and manufacturing, and creating a federal procurement program for American-made renewable or emission-free energy for federal and state use and export.
Some of Warren’s climate-related proposals would be funded by reversing 2017 Republican tax cuts that largely benefit businesses and the wealthy. Warren’s plan seeks 100% zero emissions for most new vehicles by 2030 and 100% zero emissions in electricity generation by 2035.
Reporting by Amanda Becker in Washington; Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein, Elizabeth Culliford, Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici; Edited by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney