BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Sen. Elizabeth Warren was a bit rambunctious Monday afternoon at a sandwich shop in Fort Madison.
The 70-year-old 2020 presidential candidate had a lot to say about money and how it’s shaping politics to about 50 people and then throngs of local and national media at a stump stop at Sub Arena Sandwich Shop.
Warren touted her ideas for a wealth tax, getting money out of politics, corporate accountability, and Medicare for All.
The two term senator from Massachusetts said it’s time the really, really wealthy pitch in to secure Americans’ future.
“I think it’s time for a wealth tax in America. This would be a tax on the great fortunes in America. $50 million or above,” Warren said.
“In other words your first $50 million is free and clear, but your 50 millionth and one dollar-you gotta pitch in two cents and two cents on every dollar after that up to a billion, then you gotta pitch in another penny.”
She said for the top 1/10th of 1%, property tax should not just include the real estate, but “the diamonds, the Rembrandt, and the yacht”.
She said the extremely wealthy in America built a great fortune and are entitled to their wealth, but that wealth was built in part with workers that everyone helped educate. It was built on products that were moved on roads and bridges everyone paid to build, and used protections provided by police and firefighters everyone pays for.
“All we’re asking is that if you make it big, I mean really big, top 1/10th of 1% big, pitch in two cents so everybody else has a chance to make it in America. That’s the basic idea.”
She said with that program, the country would be able to afford universal childcare and preK for every three- and four-year-old in America. She said with the program she would also increase the wages of child care workers.
She said the public K-12 system could see an additional $800 billion, in addition to Title 1 schools, which focus on schools with low income student bodies, and disability education programs.
Warren said the money could also help with other educational investment and cancel student loan debt for 43 million Americans.
“Forty-three million Americans who would leave a town like this, don’t have to say after graduating that they have to move to Los Angeles or New York where salaries are higher to pay back student loans,” she said.
“We can say just take 2%, don’t go up quite so fast, and invest it in an entire generation of Americans. That’s how we build a future in this country.”
Warren said the current culture in Washington is “hollowing out” the middle class.
“Why is that people who work every bit as hard as my mom and dad did two generations ago, find the path today so much rockier and steeper?” she asked.
“The answer is about our government in Washington and who government works for.”
She said the government works great for giant drug companies, but doesn’t work for people trying to get a prescription filled. And it works great for people investing in private prisons and detention centers, but not for people whose lives are being taken apart by those facilities.
She said government works great for people with money, but doesn’t work as well for everybody else.
“That’s corruption pure and simple and we need to call it out for what it is,” she said.
“When people’s ears are filled with money, they can’t hear,” she said.
Warren said the influence of money, the armies of lobbyists and PR firms, and all the ways billionaires have figured to invest in Washington has corrupted the system.
She said whatever issue brought voters out to hear her speak has been influenced by money.
“Money….money….money. But the door has opened just a crack. We’ve got a chance to to turn this around. We’ve got a chance to make this a country that doesn’t just work for those at the top. We’ve got a chance to make this a country that works for everyone and that’s why I’m in this fight.”
Warren said she supports Medicare for All because it’s full health care coverage and that means physical and mental health. She said in Iowa mental health facilities aren’t there because the resources aren’t there.
“I’ve talked to people all across Iowa and the facilities just aren’t there because there’s not enough coverage and resources to go into it,” she said.
“No one’s gonna build the beds and open the places and put services together if they can’t pay for it. They won’t survive over time.”
She said Medicare for All is needed so everyone has a chance to get the full health care treatment they need.
Warren says it’s also time to eliminate the filibuster in government.
“You better believe that if Mitch McConnell thought it was to his advantage to do it, he would roll back the filibuster.”
She said the filibuster gives oil companies a veto over what is done on climate control, and it gives the pharmaceutical companies a veto on prescription pricing, just to name a few.
Warren said she would also support a move to hold CEOs personally responsible and liable for any damage their products do to consumers, including marketing products like opioids to drug users.