Election 2020: Elizabeth Warren draws a crowd in Bow

  • Democratic presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks at a house party in Bow on Saturday. Paul Steinhauser / For the Monitor

Published: 7/27/2019 9:01:28 PM

For Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s at-times halting delivery before two House committees last week was not the disaster some in her party have made it out to be. It was a validation.

“He said nothing in that hearing (that) undercut or contradicted any part of his report,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in an interview with the Monitor on Saturday. “In fact, at various points he strengthened it.”

And that means one thing to Warren, one of the few to claim to have read Mueller’s 400-page report in full: impeachment.

“I don’t say this with any joy,” said Warren, the first candidate to call for impeachment after the report’s release in April. “I get why the people talk about the politics of it but some things are bigger than politics. And that’s our constitutional responsibility.”

Warren, a second-term U.S. senator from Massachusetts, was speaking in Bow on Saturday, minutes before taking the stage at a 400-person backyard “house party” on another swing through the Granite State for the rising progressive candidate. These days, with a raft of policy proposals in tow, Warren’s stump speech is well-rehearsed. But even in the sweltering of late July, interest remained high.

Warren now has a proposal to fully fund four-year college and community college across the country. She’s released a plan to eliminate student debt for 95% of graduates. She has a plan to provide childcare for children from infancy to kindergarten. And on Saturday, she trumpeted a plan with Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland to pour $100 billion into the opioid crisis– while also throwing her support behind a more modest $63 billion plan from New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

That plan comes at a bleak time; New Hampshire’s opioid overdose deaths have surged this year – on pace to potentially upset a recent decline.

“The reason we’re watching the numbers continue to go up is because right now as a country we’re not putting the resources in,” Warren said. “An estimated 195 people will die today from an overdose. That’s like a plane crash. And it’ll happen again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day and the next day.

“And it’s not that we don’t know what to do to treat people. It’s that right now no one is willing to spend the kind of money, put the kind of resources in to attack this problem head on.”

Warren says she is. Anchoring much of her policy platform is one pivotal idea: a 2% wealth tax on Americans with assets over $50 million – roughly 75,000 households in total. It’s the lynchpin tying together her universal childcare, student debt relief, tuition-free college and opioid crisis plans, to name a few.

“Every proposal that I’ve put forward, I have also put with it a funding stream, and I keep track of it,” she said.

Getting through that main tax hike as president could be a heavy lift, especially with prospects for a Democratic flip of the Senate uncertain at best. But Warren claimed that the idea behind the catch-all mechanism has broad appeal.

“The two cent wealth tax on the top one tenth of one percent is very popular,” she said. “Not just among Democrats and independents, but a majority of Republicans believe that that’s what we should be doing.”

That support, Warren argued, could help eventually move the ideas forward in Congress – even despite a sprawling tax cut imposed by Republicans in 2017 that moved the tax code in the opposite direction.

“What you’re really asking me is do I think democracy can work in America?” she said in the interview. “If most Americans believe we should do a wealth tax, then that gives us a pretty good starting point to get this done regardless of who’s in charge.”

For a progressive candidate with unabashedly expansive ideas, bipartisanship might seem more than a little elusive. Warren has staked her campaign on transformative proposals, drawing cheers at talk of restructuring the economy and “securing our democracy.” Even as progressives swoon, Republican messaging groups have blasted her as “extreme.”

It’s a dynamic that prompted one audience member on Saturday to pose a question: How might the senator – and Democrats more broadly – appeal to Trump voters amid a divisive re-election fight?

Warren pointed to her time campaigning in red areas of the country. And she argued that where President Trump attracted the economically dispossessed through a strategy of blame, she could do the same with government-centered policy.

“It’s time to fight back on exactly that front – to get out there and talk about what’s broken in America,” she said.

Not all were as concerned. Chris Roehrer, a Hopkinton resident, said he valued principled stances over appeals to middle.

“The Democratic party has got to start learning to recapture its soul, and not worry about what do we think will gather voters,” said Roehrer, who leans toward Warren. “That’s important, but we also have to know what it is we stand for.”

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