Elizabeth Warren on Welfare & Poverty

Massachusetts Senator; head of CFPB


Not enough housing: build 3M units and no discrimination

Our housing problem is on the supply side, and that means the government stopped building affordable housing. I've got a plan for 3.2 million new housing units. They are for families, the poor, for seniors, for people with disabilities, for people coming back from being incarcerated. The government has subsidized housing for white people and said black people are cut out of the deal. When I built housing, it's about addressing what is wrong about government-sponsored discrimination.
Source: November Democratic primary debate in Atlanta , Nov 20, 2019

Need funding to help LGBTQ homeless youth

We know that LGBTQ youth are far more likely to end up homeless. And we know that part of that is rejection by their families.

I propose to expand our funding that is specifically targeted to LGBTQ youth who are homeless.

Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall , Oct 10, 2019

Wealth tax of two cents, to fund education and childcare

Q: Congressman Delaney, your estimated net worth is more than $65 million. That would make you subject to Senator Warren's proposed wealth tax on the assets of the richest 75,000 households. Is that fair?

DELANEY: I think wealthy Americans have to pay more. But the wealth tax will be fought in court forever. It's arguably unconstitutional.

WARREN: It's time to tax the top 0.1% of fortunes in this country. Your first $50 million, you can keep free and clear. But your 50 millionth and first dollar, you got to pitch in two cents. Two cents. What can America do with two cents? We can provide universal childcare from zero to five. We can raise the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher in this country. We can provide universal tuition-free college. We can put $50 billion into our historically black colleges and universities. It tells you how badly broken this economy is that two cents from the wealthiest in this country would let us invest in the rest of America.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (first night in Detroit) , Jul 30, 2019

Bankruptcy filers are squeezed by economy, not irresponsible

To Warren, bankruptcy filers generally aren't trying to get out of debts racked up irresponsibly. "Many people in bankruptcy were solid bill payers until something knocked their legs out from under them," she said while describing her research in 2000. "For 2/3 of these people, it was loss of a job, for 40% it was a serious medical problem and for 20% it was the economic fallout of divorce."

Warren, in her book "The Two-Income Trap", and on a blog called Warren Reports on the Middle Class, which she wrote with some collaborators, pushed [that] view. Her argument was that structural shifts in American family and economic life had made middle-class finances more fragile, leading to a spike in bankruptcies induced by job losses or medical problems. She castigated the [2005 Congressional bankruptcy] bill as exacerbating the middle-class squeeze and as being an example of a broken politics working for special interests rather than average Americans. In her book,

Source: Vox.com on Warren's "The Two Income Trap" , May 6, 2019

Build 3.2 million new affordable housing units

Housing Plan -- Warren's housing plan would provide federal funding to build 3.2 million new affordable housing units, investing "$2 billion to support borrowers with negative equity on their mortgages, predominantly in suburban and rural communities," "down payment assistance to communities historically denied mortgages by the government," plus putting "$10 billion into a new competitive grant program that communities can use to build infrastructure, parks, roads, or schools."
Source: Current Affairs magazine, 2019 article series , Apr 16, 2019

Government should subsidize new home building

I have a proposal to build about 3 million new housing units across America. We need to make a real investment in housing. In the same way that we think about health care as a basic human right, having a decent and safe place to live should be a basic human right. Independent analysis from Moody's says that we would lower rents across this country by about 10 percent -- that's across the board -- and we'd create an opportunity for more people to become buyers.
Source: CNN Town Hall on 2020 Democratic presidential primary , Mar 18, 2019

Focus on poverty, not corporate profit: raise minimum wage

Today in America, a full-time minimum-wage job will not keep a mama and a baby out of poverty. I am in this fight because I believe that is wrong. Washington once asked the question, at least on minimum wage, "What does it take to support a family, to get a little toe in the door?" Today, they ask, "What will improve the profitability of giant multinational banks?" I want a government that doesn't work for giant multinational corporations. I want one that works for little families like mine.
Source: CNN Town Hall on 2020 Democratic presidential primary , Mar 18, 2019

Address housing crisis by assisting cities & homebuyers

Warren's most intriguing plans concern housing. High rents in productive cities limit opportunity and economic growth. Warren proposes to coax cities into changing restrictive development rules for a share of a large pot of money--$10B in total--while also funding large public-housing developments. She also wants the federal government to assist first-time homebuyers in formerly segregated neighborhoods.
Source: The Economist "Wonkish Populism," on 2020 Democratic primary , Feb 9, 2019

Rental market has discrimination just like housing market

Discrimination in the rental market is widely documented. This sort of discrimination has been going on for a long time: favoring white renters while turning away black renters, for instance, is pretty much what was happening in some of President Trump's apartment buildings back in the 1970s.

The housing collapse wiped out trillions of dollars in family wealth nationwide, but the crash hit African Americans and Latinos like a tidal wave. And the hit was doubly hard because these were the families that generation after generation, had already been aggressively discriminated against in housing. Restrictive deeds, land sales contracts, redlining--American history is littered with examples of housing laws and lending strategies that were designed to deny black and Hispanic families mortgages.

For most middle-class families in America, purchasing a home is the best way to build financial security. And it worked that way, for much of the twentieth century, at least for white Americans.

Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p. 40-1 , Apr 18, 2017

Strong safety net is needed now more than ever

The modern economy can be perilous, and a strong safety net is needed now more than ever. Strengthen disability coverage, retirement coverage, and paid sick leave. And for heaven's sake, get rid of the awful banker-backed bankruptcy law, so that when things go wrong, families at least have a chance at a fresh start.
Source: The Two Income Trap, by Elizabeth Warren, p.xxii , Apr 12, 2016

Those in poverty fight for crumbs left over from the wealthy

The suggestion that we have become a country where those living in poverty fight each other for a handful of crumbs tossed off the tables of the very wealthy is fundamentally wrong. This is about our values, and our values tell us that we don't build a future by first deciding who among our most vulnerable will be left to starve.
Source: Quotable Elizabeth Warren, by Frank Marshall, p.100 , Nov 18, 2014

Nobody should work full-time and still live in poverty

Q: Are the Republicans going to take back the senate?

SEN. WARREN: Take a look at the House if you want to see what happens when Republicans take over. What are they on now, is this their fiftieth vote to repeal Obamacare? That's not how you run a country. We have real issues we need to deal with. Minimum wage, student loan debt, equal pay for equal work, a little accountability for the big financial institutions.

Q: Your fans say you're a populist, but your critics say you're just basically a socialist.

WARREN: I just don't know where they get that. You know, look at the issues. Minimum wage? I just believe nobody should work full time and live in poverty. And you know what? Most of America agrees. Student loans, I don't think the U.S. government should be making tens of billions of dollars in profits off the backs of our students, which is what the current student loan system is doing. And I think most Americans agree with me on that.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interview: 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 11, 2014

Foreclosures made recession's biggest victims

The White House and Treasury fretted over what to do. Rescuing everyone from foreclosure was impossible; it would create huge moral hazard, not to mention costing taxpayers another trillion dollars. But Elizabeth Warren's congressional oversight panel was scathing in an October report. Warren said the administration's plan didn't keep pace with the huge flow of foreclosures and did little to help the recession's biggest victims: the unemployed and those with subprime mortgages.

By the end of his first term, Obama would likely be able to say that he helped a few million Americans avoid foreclosure. Of course it wouldn't be much to brag about because millions more would be forced from their homes.

Source: The Promise: Obama Year One, by Jonathan Alter, p.319 , May 18, 2010

Other candidates on Welfare & Poverty: Elizabeth Warren on other issues:
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Don Berwick
Jay Gonzalez
Jesse Gordon
Karyn Polito
Lawrence Lessig
Martha Coakley
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Richard Tisei
Seth Moulton
Setti Warren
Steve Grossman
Tom Menino
Warren Tolman
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Page last updated: Jan 01, 2020