Election 2020
Portrait of Elizabeth Warren
Portrait of Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

Democratic candidate

Warren has emerged as a force in the race for the White House, promising to wield her policy chops to restructure American democracy for the middle class — “I’ve got a plan for that,” has become her unofficial slogan. Warren, 70, is in her second term in the Senate and rose to national prominence by taking on bankers and large corporations. She entered politics in 2011 after working as a law professor and consumer advocate and providing the intellectual basis for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal watchdog agency formed in 2010. “Corruption has put our planet at risk. Corruption has broken our economy. And corruption is breaking our democracy,” Warren said in September at a rally in New York City attended by about 20,000 people.

Warren has run as a liberal candidate, proposing a wealth tax that she says would pay for many of her plans and embracing ideas from the left, including Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-all proposal. Her popularity has surged this fall, putting her in second place or the lead in many polls. Warren’s biggest controversy in the 2020 race came early in the cycle, when she took a DNA test to try to prove claims of Native American heritage. She later apologized after receiving significant backlash.

In depth

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Watch The political journey of Elizabeth Warren Start in Massachusetts.

Alice Li and Lee Powell | Aug. 26, 2019 | 9:01 minutes

Climate change

Warren released a comprehensive climate change plan in September with inspiration from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who focused on rigorous action to combat climate change. Her plan echoes Inslee’s call to move toward 100 percent clean energy over a 10-year period, placing a $3 trillion price tag on the issue. Warren’s latest climate action blueprint is only one component of her multifaceted approach to fighting climate change. She also has outlined a Green Manufacturing land use plan, a Green Apollo research plan and a green military plan. She says reversing Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and corporations would cover $1 trillion of the plan. “Nothing less than a national mobilization will be required to defeat climate change,” Warren wrote in a Medium post announcing the climate plan.

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Education

Warren, a former Harvard law professor who spent a year teaching K-12 special education, has made universal free public college tuition and canceling student loan debt for 42 million Americans bedrocks of her campaign. She has also blasted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and promised that she would choose an educator for that post. Although Warren was the first Democratic candidate to release a policy addressing the costs of higher education for those still paying for it, she is notably quiet on K-12 education. She has yet to release a plan, and her history on the issue sends mixed messages about what public education would look like under a Warren presidency. In the past, she expressed support for charter schools and co-sponsored an amendment upholding standardized test scores as accountability checks, but she has since changed her positions on both of those issues — saying she would ban for-profit charter schools and criticizing “high-stakes testing.”

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Foreign policy

The senator frames the United States’ foreign involvement as an opportunity to defend democracy and question the role of capitalism in exacerbating inequalities worldwide. “Every decision the government makes should be grounded in the recognition that actions that undermine working families in this country ultimately erode American strength in the world,” she wrote in an op-ed in Foreign Affairs in February. Generally cautious about military force, Warren favors ending U.S. involvement in Yemen and opposes military intervention in Syria and Iraq. Her vision for U.S. activity abroad falls in line with a new “progressive foreign policy” that focuses on the distribution of wealth worldwide and the implications of autocratic leadership.

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Government

On an issue that has split Democratic presidential candidates, Warren came out against the electoral college. “I believe we need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and makes sure that vote gets counted,” she said at a CNN town hall event in March at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss. Warren also has called for an end to the Senate filibuster and used the importance of passing a firearm background check bill to explain the significance of the 60-vote threshold. In terms of the Supreme Court, Warren is admittedly still figuring out her position. She has said that “all options are on the table,” including term limits and adding justices. She also has called for a national commission to study reparations for slavery.

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Health care

Warren has adopted Sanders’s Medicare-for-all proposal, which would provide all U.S. residents with a government-funded health-care program and eliminate private health insurance. Under pressure to explain the sources of funding for the ambitious proposal, Warren has skirted questions about whether taxes would increase for the middle class. She says that any increase would be more than offset by a reduction in overall costs in premiums, deductibles and medication prices. Warren’s proposal also involves an aggressive plan to target the opioid crisis by allocating $100 billion toward addiction treatment, among other policies.

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Immigration

Warren says she would make crossing the U.S. border without papers a civil offense as opposed to a criminal one. Her plan calls for an increase in financial aid to Central America and for the elimination of private detention facilities in the United States. In 2018, she spoke in favor of replacing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but this year she said the agency needs to be “reorganized significantly.”

Like all other Democratic presidential candidates with comprehensive immigration policies, Warren has called to reverse the controversial tenets of President Trump’s border policy. The senator wants to work with Congress on reinstating and expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program but says she would consider using presidential powers if necessary. “I’ll work with Congress to pass broad-reaching reform, but I’m also prepared to move forward with executive action if Congress refuses to act,” Warren wrote in a Medium post announcing her plan.

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