Elizabeth Warren was elected to the United States Senate on November 6, 2012, by the people of Massachusetts. She is now serving as the senior United States Senator from her state. Senator Warren was a law professor for more than 30 years, including nearly 20 years as the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. The graduating class at Harvard twice recognized her with the Sacks-Freund Award for excellence in teaching. She taught courses on commercial law, contracts, and bankruptcy and wrote more than a hundred articles and ten books, including three national best-sellers, A Fighting Chance, The Two-Income Trap, and All Your Worth. National Law Journal named her one of the Most Influential Lawyers of the Decade, TIME Magazine has named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world four times, and she has been honored by the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association with the Lelia J. Robinson Award.
As senator, she sits on the following committees: Committee on Armed Services; Subcommittee on Airland: Subcommittee on Personnel; Subcommittee on Strategic Forces; Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Subcommittee on Economic Policy, Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection (ranking member); Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment; Committee on Health, Education and Labor and Pensions; Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security; and Special Committee on Aging.
Warren has called herself “a capitalist to my bones” but her economic policies are generally progressive on the political ideology scale. Warren has written extensively on a wide range of public policy issues ranging from rural economies to corporate structure. She is one of the few candidates with detailed policy positions, as well as detailed plans on how to raise funding to pay for her plans. She has participated in two of the Democratic debates for president and has qualified for the next round by meeting the requirements of garnering contributions from over 130,000 individuals, coming from 400 unique donors in 20 or more states and reaching 2% in at least four DNC-approved polls. Currently, she is one of the top 3 candidates in the national polls and Iowa polls.
1. Like Buttigieg and Harris, Warren’s economic policies stand in sharp contrast to the Republican corporate and individual tax cuts along with regulatory reform policies under the Trump administration.
2. Like Buttigieg and Harris, if Warren is elected there will be a major restructuring of significant portions of the US economy including energy and healthcare. Unlike Harris, Warren has a housing plan that addresses the undersupply of affordable housing instead of attempting to subsidize rent.
3. Unlike Buttigieg and Harris, we can expect a short-term and a long-term dramatic impact on companies and relevant sector values from her policies. From her position papers, she has clearly delineated, communicated and provided a plan for funding her policy changes to a broad spectrum of the US economy.
Warren’s website is organized into 5 sections under the “Issues” category, including:
- End Washington Corruption
- Rebuild the Middle Class
- Strengthen our Democracy
- Equal Justice Under Law
- A Foreign Policy for All
These sections provide general statements about her approach to these issues, but her policies are all outlined under the “Latest Announcements” category. Warren has a large number (30+) of plans on almost every election topic. While many may not agree with her views, it is refreshing to see a candidate write extensively on what they would do if they took office. Due to Warren’s broad policy coverage, the article will be longer than our previous two candidates.
- Rethinking Public Safety to Reduce Mass Incarceration and Strengthen Communities
- Honoring and Empowering Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples
- Protecting Our Communities from Gun Violence
- A New Farm Economy
- My Plan to Invest in Rural America
- The Coming Economic Crash — And How to Stop It
- End Wall Street’s Stranglehold On Our Economy
- A Fair and Welcoming Immigration System
- Accelerating the Transition to Clean Energy
- Valuing the Work of Women of Color
- Revitalizing Diplomacy: A 21st Century Foreign Service
- My Plan to Strengthen Our Democracy
- Ending Private Prisons and Exploitation for Profit
- Leveling the Playing Field for Entrepreneurs
- A Plan For Economic Patriotism
- My Green Manufacturing Plan for America
- No President Is Above the Law
- Congressional Action to Protect Choice
- It’s Time to Reduce Corporate Influence at the Pentagon
- National Security & Climate Change
- A Comprehensive Plan to End the Opioid Crisis
- My plan to provide comprehensive debt relief to Puerto Rico
- Addressing Maternal Mortality
- My plan to improve our military housing
- Cancellation of Student Loan Debt And Universal Free Public College
- My plan for public lands
- Plan on Real Corporate Profits Tax
- Jail Time for Corporate Executives Heading Scams
- Leveling the Playing Field for America’s Family Farmers
- It’s time to get rid of the Electoral College
- My Housing Plan for America
- Here’s how we can break up Big Tech
- My plan for Universal Child Care
- Ultra-Millionaire Tax
- Trade-On Our Terms
Economy and Jobs
Under the “Rebuild the Middle Class” subheading from the Issues page, Warren lays out her views for big, structural changes that are intended to put economic power back into the hands of the American people. She proposes to do this via letting workers elect at least 40% of a company’s board members to give them a voice in decisions about wages and outsourcing. In addition to this, Warren advocates for a new era of antitrust enforcement “so giant corporations can’t stifle competition.” Finally, she proposes an ultra-millionaire tax to pay for her programs including universal childcare; student loan debt relief; down-payments on the Green New Deal and Medicare for All; and her affordable housing plan.
With respect to jobs, she has stated that under a Warren administration she would pursue an agenda of “economic patriotism, using new and existing tools to defend and create quality American jobs and promote American industry”. As part of this she suggests that the US should be “aggressively using all of our tools to defend and create American jobs.” Second, she proposes to consolidate “existing government programs that affect job creation into a new agency with the sole responsibility to create and defend quality, sustainable American jobs.” To this end, Warren would restructure some of the government departments, promoting a unified Department of Economic Development. This Department would combine the Commerce Department with the Small Business Administration, the Patent and Trademark Office, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
As a further part of her plan to increase the number of jobs available, Warren proposes to recruit 10,000 young people and veterans to jumpstart a 21st century Civilian Conservation Corps. The intention is to create jobs for young people and veterans and have them involved in protecting and caring for public lands.
Warren would also promote a 10-fold increase in spending on apprenticeship programs and the restructuring of existing job training programs to more closely resemble the German apprenticeship model. In addition, she proposes more sectoral training programs.
On housing, she has also re-introduced the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, that “invests $500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab units that will be affordable to lower-income families”. As part of this plan she also proposes to:
- Invest half-a-billion dollars in rural housing programs;
- Invest $2.5 billion in the Indian Housing Block Grant and the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant; and
- Invest $4 billion in a new Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund to support the construction of new housing for middle-class renters in communities with severe housing supply shortages.
She also proposes to introduce down-payment assistance for home purchases for people who are “first-time homebuyers who live in a formerly redlined neighborhoods or communities that were segregated by law and are still currently low-income”. Warren would also amend the Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination based on “sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, veteran status, and the source of one’s income, like a housing voucher.”
On GSEs, she would amend Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to introduce strict new requirements on “the situations in which the agencies are allowed to sell mortgages and imposing requirements on buyers to make sure they protect distressed homeowners and the neighborhoods they live in.” Warren would also stop states from pre-empting local efforts to enact tenant protection laws. Finally, she would invest $2 billion to support homeowners who are still underwater due to the 2008 financial crisis.
With regard to education and training, she would make all public higher education, including community colleges, tuition-free and fee-free. She also plans to forgive $50,000 in student debt for every American whose family makes up to $100,000, and households that make between $100,000 and $250,000 would get a sliding portion of their debt cancelled. Cancelled debt would not be taxed as income. She previously signed on to Sanders’ College for All Act, which would waive tuition for public colleges and universities for students whose families make less than $125,000 per year.
Warren would also create a $50 billion fund for historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions. Furthermore, she would make “additional federal funding available to states that demonstrate substantial improvement in enrollment and graduation rates for lower-income students and students of color.” She would also ban for-profit colleges from receiving federal funding.
Warren would also set up a Small Business Equity Fund, intended to close the startup capital gap for entrepreneurs of color. This would have $7 billion in funding to provide grants to entrepreneurs. It would be run through states and municipalities but would have clear federal standards and accountability. The grant would be limited to “entrepreneurs who are eligible for the Small Business Administration’s existing 8(a) program and who have less than $100,000 in household wealth.”
She also proposes to take a series of executive actions upon taking office, to “boost wages for women of color and open up new pathways to … leadership positions”. She would issue an executive order that would:
- Deny contracts to companies with poor diversity track records;
- Ban companies that want federal contracts from using forced arbitration and non-compete clauses;
- Ban companies that want federal contracts from asking for past salary information and criminal histories; and
- Ensure companies with federal contracts pay their workers a minimum wage of at least $15.
Nationally, she would also raise the minimum wage to $15.
She would also issue an executive order directing recruitment dollars towards entry-level applicants from HBCUs, Tribal Colleges, and Universities. In addition, she would create paid fellowships for federal jobs for minorities and low-income applicants and would “require every federal agency to incorporate diversity as part of their core strategic plan and create support networks through a government-wide mentorship program that centers Black and Brown employees.”
For farming, she wants to create a new supply management program built upon the model of the 1930s New Deal. The purpose of this is to address low prices and overproduction. The program would guarantee a price for products at the farmers cost of production. The government would offer farmers a non-recourse loan that covers most of their costs of production — essentially, an offer to buy their products at cost if a farmer can’t get a better price from a private purchaser on the market before the end of the loan period. Farmers can either repay the loan by selling their products or they can forfeit the products they used as collateral for the loan at the end of the loan period.
Warren would address consolidation in the agricultural sector to ensure that family farmers have more choices, bigger margins, and more independence. She would appoint trustbusters to review anti-competitive mergers in the sector as well. She would also break up big agribusiness that has become vertically integrated and controls more and more of the market. All of these measures are intended to support smaller, family farms. She supports a national right-to-repair law that empowers farmers to repair their equipment without having to go to an authorized agent. She would also make the checkoff program voluntary. She would restrict foreign ownership of American agriculture companies and farmland.
Warren would also strengthen the Packers and Stockyards Act, and make sure that federal farming programs benefit independent family farmers. She also proposes to expand the “Farm-to-School” program to require “all federally-supported public institutions — including military bases and hospitals” to work with local, independent farmers to provide fresh, local food. She also proposes strengthening the Local Agriculture Market Program and increasing their funding ten-fold to invest $500 million over the next decade in food hubs, distribution centers, and points of sale for rural communities. Warren also promotes supporting Black farmers by fully funding the re-lending program enacted in the 2018 Farm Bill to expand support for farmers of color. She would also expand credit for new and diverse farmers.
For rural areas she also proposes better access to broadband and allowing municipalities to build their own broadband networks.
Warren would boost the strength of unions. In 2017 she introduced the Protecting Workers and Improving Labor Standards Act, which would repeal state right-to-work laws. She also introduced the Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act in 2018. Neither bill made it out of the committee stage.
She would propose the U.S. Territorial Relief Act to assist Puerto Rico with debt relief, including requiring an independent audit of the debt, and setting up a system where certain Puerto-Rican bondholders would be compensated when their bonds are terminated.
On individual taxes, Warren proposes an “ultra-millionaire” tax. This tax would only apply to households with a net worth over $50 million, approximately the “wealthiest 75,000 households, or the top 0.1%.” This wealth tax would be a 2% rate between $50 million and $1 billion, and a 3% rate applying over $1 billion. This rate would be lower than Spain’s wealth tax, but higher than the rates in France, Norway, and Switzerland. Warren asserts that the wealth tax would bring in approximately $2.75 trillion in revenue.
There would be zero additional tax on households with a net worth of less than $50 million. All assets would be included in the net worth calculation, including “residences, closely held businesses, assets held in trust, retirement assets, assets held by minor children, and personal property with a value of $50,000 or more.” There would also be an option to defer the payment of this tax for up to 5 years, with interest owing. As part of this plan there would also be a significant increase in the budget for IRS to pursue enforcement measures, and there would be minimum audit rate for households that are subject to this tax. There would also be a 40% “exit tax” on persons meeting the requirement for the ultra-millionaire tax who then renounce their citizenship.
Finally, she has previously proposed an expansion of the estate tax back to the levels under George W. Bush. These levels set the exclusion at $675,000 and the maximum estate tax at 55%. Today, the exclusion is $11.4 million for an individual and the top rate is 40%.
For corporate taxes, Warren proposes a new tax called the Real Corporate Profits Tax. It applies to companies who report more than $100 million in profits, and for every dollar of profit above $100 million they will pay a 7% tax.
She wants the government to crack down on technology giants and would change and update US antitrust policy. Warren proposes to designate “companies with an annual global revenue of $25 billion or more and that offer to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties” as “platform utilities.” These platform utilities would be required to deal fairly and reasonably with users and would be “prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform.” She would also appoint more regulators to deal with unfair competition practices.
She proposed legislation that would impose new regulations on the equity industry and would reinstate Glass-Steagall. She introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act in 2018, intended to redistribute money from executives and shareholders to the middle class. Companies with over $1 billion in tax receipts would be required to obtain a federal corporate charter that gives directors a duty of “creating a general public benefit” with regard to a corporation’s
stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, and the environment, and the interests of the enterprise in the long-term. Workers would also be allowed to elect 40% of the board of directors.
She wants the Federal Reserve and other relevant agencies to focus on how the value of the US dollar contributes to the trade deficit. She believes that the currency should be better managed to promote exports and domestic manufacturing. Warren would try to ensure that federally funded R&D leads to production located in the US. She would also promote R&D spending that is spread geographically around the US to ensure economic activity is funded across the entire country, not just in specific parts. Warren also calls for a bigger version of the Export-Import bank that would fund a broader range of programs, including better support for small and medium-size businesses. In addition, she would require federal dollars to be spent, wherever possible, on American-made goods and services.
Due to her background in corporate and bankruptcy law, Warren has several policies that relate specifically to restructuring bankruptcy processes. For example, she would change bankruptcy laws to give workers a better chance of getting severance pay when a company goes bankrupt, and executives at companies that go bankrupt would no longer be able to keep their bonuses. Warren also wants to try to prevent companies from going bankrupt in the first place, by eliminating corporate tax incentives for taking on debt, and by making equity firms responsible for the debt they add to companies’ balance sheets when they buy businesses.
She would also limit equity firms’ abilities to pay huge monitoring fees and dividends. Warren suggests providing pension funds with better information about their performance and effects of private equity investments, as well as “preventing private equity funds from requiring investors to waive their fiduciary obligations.”
Warren also proposes the Accountable Capitalism Act, which would include provisions “legally requiring big American corporations to focus on the long-term interests of all of their stakeholders — including workers.”
Warren would also enact the Ending Too Big To Jail Act, which would hold “executives at big banks accountable for scams by requiring them to certify that they conducted a “due diligence” inquiry and found that no illegal conduct was occurring on their watch.” This is intended to stop executives at large companies from overseeing frauds without strict accountability.
With regard to corporate defense hiring, Warren proposes that giant defense contractors should be prohibited “from hiring senior DOD officials and general and flag officers for four years after they leave the Department,” with the aim of reducing corporate influence in the Pentagon. She would also ban DOD officials from owning contractor stock, require disclosure of lobbying activities, and would limit foreign government hiring of former US national security professionals.
Energy and Environment
She would rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and would reinstate the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Warren also supports and signed on to the Green New Deal. Her commitment to the Green New Deal includes a plan called the Green Manufacturing Plan. She proposes a $2 trillion investment in researching, developing, and manufacturing clean energy technology in the US. This includes:
1. The Green Apollo Program, which would focus on clean energy R&D;
2. The Green Industrial Mobilization, which would create a federal procurement commitment to purchase American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy products for state, federal, and local use, as well as for export. There would be requirements for companies to meet before they could accept federal contracts; and
3. The Green Marshall Plan, which would create a new federal office dedicated to selling American-made clean energy technology abroad, and assistance for other countries to purchase and deploy this technology.
Warren has proposed up to $400 billion for clean energy research.
She would push for a new WTO designation called a “non-sustainable economy”, which would impose tougher penalties on countries that have systematically poor labor and environmental practices.
In 2019 she announced she would sign an executive order banning drilling, including offshore drilling, on public lands. She would also limit methane pollution and bring back clean water regulation. She also proposed a goal of providing 10% of the US overall electricity generation from renewable sources offshore or on public lands. In addition, she would fully fund public lands management agencies to promote better infrastructure and maintenance.
One of her more unique plans is that she focuses on the military as a potential site for massive carbon reductions. She proposes that the Pentagon should achieve net zero carbon emissions for all its non-combat bases and infrastructure by 2030. As part of this, Warren would invest billions of dollars into a new, ten-year research program for the military on microgrids and advanced energy storage. In addition, she would require the Pentagon to produce an annual report evaluating the climate vulnerability of every US military base at home and abroad.
As well, Warren wants to transition to a sustainable farm economy via decarbonization of the agricultural sector to help achieve the objectives of the GND to reach net-zero emissions by 2030. Her plan is to make it economically feasible for farmers to be part of the climate change solution by increasing Conservation Stewardship Program payments for sustainable farming practices from around $1 billion today to $15 billion annually and expanding the types of practices eligible for compensation. She plans on dedicating resources to a farmer-led Innovation Fund for research on decarbonizing the agriculture sector.
Warren also proposes to protect domestic green policies such as subsidies for green products and would include preferential treatment in trade agreements for environmentally sustainable energy production. As part of this, she has proposed a border carbon adjustment.
Under her Climate Risk Disclosure plan she would require public companies to disclose how climate change might affect their businesses. Her plan would also require the SEC to set up tailored regulations that, for example, would require fossil fuel companies to make even more detailed disclosures on how climate change affects them and how they affect the climate.
Warren supports Sanders’ Medicare for All bill. As such, she supports eliminating private health insurance. In 2018 she introduced legislation that would limit insurance company profits and offer financial assistance to those buying insurance on the Obamacare marketplace. She also introduced another bill that would establish a government-run pharmaceutical manufacturer, with the aim of bringing down drug prices.
She proposes “bundled” healthcare payments with the goal of reducing maternal mortality, particularly among Black mothers. She also supports the proposals put forward by Booker and Harris. She suggests that the health system should cover “key services—like prenatal and postpartum visits, hypertension and depression screenings, and doula and lactation support—based on their effectiveness, not on their reimbursement rate”.
She proposes the CARE Act to end the opioid crisis in the US, and proposes $100 billion in federal funding over the next ten years, spread out over:
- $4 billion for states, territories, and tribal governments;
- $2.7 billion for the counties and cities with highest overdose levels;
- $1.7 billion for surveillance, research, and training;
- $1.1 billion for public and nonprofit entities on the front lines;
- $500 million to expand access to naloxone.
Warren would also introduce legislation and block the FTC from future mergers between hospitals unless the merging companies can show that the newly merged entity will provide better access to care. She would also increase funding for Community Health Centers by 15% over the next 5 years and would set up a capital fund of $25 billion to support options for access to care in health professional shortage areas, such as rural areas. She would also “target half of new placements in medically-underserved areas such as rural residency programs, residency programs with Rural Training Track programs, and the Indian Health Service (IHS).”
Under her “Trade-On Our Terms” plan, Warren has released a 9-point plan as a set of preconditions for any country to negotiate with the US on a trade deal. These conditions are:
- Recognize and enforce the core of labor rights of the International Labour Organization, like collective bargaining and the elimination of child labor.
- Uphold internationally recognized human rights, as reported in the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights, including the rights of indigenous people, migrant workers, and other vulnerable groups.
- Recognize and enforce religious freedom as reported in the State Department’s Country Reports.
- Comply with minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
- Be a party to the Paris Climate agreement and have a national plan that has been independently verified to put the country on track to reduce its emissions consistent with the long-term emissions goals in that agreement.
- Eliminate all domestic fossil fuel subsidies.
- Ratify the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
- Comply with any tax treaty they have with the United States and participate in the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project to combat tax evasion and avoidance.
- Not appear on the Department of Treasury monitoring list of countries that merit attention for their currency practices.
Warren would renegotiate NAFTA. However, she has also been critical of Trump’s deal with Mexico and Canada. Warren also opposed the TPP.
Under a Warren administration, negotiators would be required to publicly disclose negotiating drafts and provide the public with an opportunity to comment. She would also require the US International Trade Commission to provide a regional analysis of the economic effects of a trade agreement. In addition, all trade agreements would be required to protect Buy American and other programs designed to protect local industry and would contain rule-of origin standards.
Food imported through trade agreements would be required to meet domestic food safety standards and enhanced border protection requirements.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has published an array of public policy positions with detailed plans to address complex and vexing issues for the United States. In this summary, we’ll cover only the major policy impacts from her plans. Like Sen. Harris, Warren’s background in law and bankruptcy frame her policy approaches from protecting consumers, to re-writing corporate governance, to creating new regulations, new executive orders and new government agencies. Her portfolio of ideas and plans cover a wide swath of the US economy and will significantly change the current economic and social structures. As she attempts to level a legal playing field for workers, the total impact of her policies is difficult to assess, as their breadth and depth is extraordinary.
Like many 2020 candidate policy plans, it becomes a question of trade-offs: does the spend match the cost/benefit? Many of Warren’s programs are targeted to disadvantaged groups versus the economy as a whole. As we consider their economic impact, we should look at how the policies will be helping these groups, versus helping all groups. Or stated another way, do policies helping specific disadvantaged groups (or improving the environment) provide a greater, positive impact, both short-term and long-term, than policies that are for the wider economy?
On the positive side, Warren’s policies on housing avoid the pitfalls of Harris’ proposal to subsidize rent and the accompanying problems this policy would incur. Instead, she focuses on the core problem: the lack of affordable housing. Investing $500 billion over ten years is a large spend and will assist in reducing the undersupply of affordable housing to lower-income families. As well, the down-payment assistance program shows promise for first-time home buyers in disadvantaged districts.
Another positive plan that she has is the creation of a Small Business Equity fund. This would assist in getting capital to entrepreneurs of color, which would aid the development and job creation in the communities the capital is distributed to and encourage more entrepreneurs. Possibly, creating a positive feedback cycle of growth and jobs. However, her $7 billion spend is small.
Her changes to farm policy are of mixed impact. First, they would benefit smaller farms at the detriment of big farms. She would make the US government a large player in the grain markets at times when prices fall below the guaranteed price. This may or may not be a role the US government manages well, and may encourage overproduction of products where prices have fallen significantly. This could then further add to the over-supply. Lastly, the right-to-repair law to allow farmers to fix their equipment without going through an authorized agent is interesting. On the surface, this appears to be a no-brainer, but may have downstream impacts on leasing that are detrimental to farmers down the road. (While I didn’t see this mentioned, I wonder if this program would be combined with a similar concept on seeds?)
Her policies on energy and the environment are also a mixed bag. The Green New Deal would create significant disruption and cost to energy production and usage in the United States with many of the proposals reliant on technology that has not yet been invented. Clearly, this is a very strong short-term negative. However, Warren attempts to address the technology and innovation problems with her Green Manufacturing plan. Her $2 trillion spend on researching, developing and manufacturing clean energy technology would have a major impact. Also, her 1-year Pentagon plan on advanced energy storage shows promise. Here, the question is the cost.
Broadly negative on trade, Warren’s policies intend to use the wide latitude US presidents have to act. In essence, she will make achieving trade deals with the US far more difficult for our trade partners via her 9-point preconditions outline. Following this, she wants to renegotiate NAFTA/USMCA to include things like labor rights, elimination of all domestic fossil fuel subsidies, and being a party to the Paris Climate Agreement. Warren is opposed to the TPP. On China, Warren’s plan for using “economic patriotism to overhaul our approach to trade” drifts close to President Trump’s approach. Under her preconditions, it would be nearly impossible to secure a trade agreement with China.
Like President Trump, Warren wants action by the Federal Reserve to address the value of the US dollar and how it contributes to the US trade deficit. She wants the Fed to manage the currency to promote exports. While the US dollar comes under the US Treasury Department, the Fed has considerable powers to change its value. The danger here is a currency war combined with a trade war. Currencies are difficult to manage in the best of times. However, telling the world you want a lower value for the US dollar can create conditions of tremendous volatility. This can also create unintended consequences such as foreign investors fleeing US investments like real estate, stocks and bonds to avoid the devaluation.
On the negative side, Warren (and all of the Democratic candidates supporting Medicare for All) would significantly change a large section of the US economy. The Green New Deal would create similar change and lead to high levels of uncertainty for businesses during the transition period. Reverting back to the Paris Climate Agreement and the Clean Power Plan would move the United States towards a cleaner, more sustainable energy structure (with all those benefits to health and environment), but at the significant cost to the energy sector and to consumers paying for energy. Any executive orders Warren issues on her energy policies would risk be unwound by the next Republican president and may be subject to court challenges.
When considering the question of how to pay for her programs, Warren proposes to make significant changes to the individual and corporate tax code. The ultra-millionaire tax and the wealth tax have similar problems. Overall, higher taxes on individuals create incentives for changing behavior that may not allow for the collection of the anticipated tax dollars. A wealth tax creates additional challenges for valuing assets at fair market values (think privately held companies and real estate). Then there is the legal question of the US government seizing private property to redistribute and the possibility that a wealth tax would be the beginning of a larger program to redistribute wealth.
On corporate taxes, she has the “Real Corporate Profits Tax” plan to deal with the issue of corporations not paying any taxes and generating profits. The issue is here is really to do with the tax code and considering the root of why these companies are not paying taxes. Is it because they are utilizing tax strategies to reduce their tax burden? Yes: this is what is required by shareholders. However, the real question is why are these tax strategies available in the first place? Ever since there has been a corporate tax in the United States, politicians have used it to enact social policy via incentives in the code. Thus, companies have done what Congress and the president have wanted by engaging in behaviors that lower their tax liability. If Warren’s plan leads to a fundamental re-write of the tax code to eliminate tax write-offs like charitable contributions or reduction in bond interest payments, then we may get to a point where tax receipts can be increased, and tax code complexity can be reduced. For now, the changes that she has proposed appear to stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the structure of the US corporate tax code and how to raise tax receipts.
Repeating what we previously concluded for Buttigieg and Harris, Warren’s policies of addressing unequal pay, providing increased access to healthcare, correcting housing inequality and dealing with important environmental issues are critical for the long-run health of an economy and society. With any intervention into business and the economy, it is a question of trade-offs: inefficiencies, higher taxes and higher costs via regulations versus better economic outcomes, better healthcare and better housing for underserved communities.
Warren has a large, detailed scope of policy changes that are a significant shift from where the current business environment stands after two years of the Trump administration. If elected, her policies represent the largest shift on policy versus Buttigieg and Harris.