Back in 2016, when people talked about a potential presidential run by Senator Elizabeth Warren, my response was to recognize that she had a strong message on economics and the challenges faced by the middle class. Beyond that, however, she didn’t have much expertise in other areas that would be critical for a presidential candidate to address. It appears as though she was aware of those limits. She’s spent a lot of time since then shoring up her resume in preparation for her announcement Monday morning that she would form an exploratory committee to run for president.
One of the most glaring omissions from Warren’s resume was her lack of experience with foreign policy, so her first move was to gain a seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. That eventually led to a speech on December 3rd at American University where she laid out her vision on foreign policy.
What was most striking about Warren’s speech was that it focused on taking the issue she is most known for—the role of corporate American in creating income inequality—and expanded it to a global concern. She also talked about things like the nuclear threat, but failed to address the fact that Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement to thwart Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. She also talked about climate change, but never pledged to re-engage the country with the Paris Climate Accord.
On the issue of climate change, last September Warren authored a bill that was endorsed by several other Democratic senators.
On Friday, the possible 2020 presidential hopeful proposed the Climate Risk Disclosure Act. The legislation would compel companies to disclose a wide variety of climate-related information, such as greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel investments, and how things like rising sea levels and increased temperatures might affect their operations. If a publicly traded company is going to get hit hard by climate change and knows it, Warren thinks the public has a right to know.
When it comes to health care, Warren has signed on to support Sen. Bernie Sanders’ single-payer proposal. But she also offered her own legislation to strengthen Obamacare, which was entirely focused on implementing additional regulations on insurance companies.
What we can see on all of these issues is that Elizabeth Warren’s tendency is to identify the ways that corporate America is contributing to the challenges we face and then propose legislation to further regulate their behavior. To the extent that you agree with her assessment, she is adept at crafting detailed proposals to address a variety of concerns.
Annie Linskey noted that another way Warren has been working to shore up her resume is by courting black voters and their leaders, knowing that any path to the Democratic nomination will require their support. As part of that effort, Warren recently gave a commencement speech at Morgan State University. While addressing this country’s history of racism, she focused on the economic plight graduating students will face. The student newspaper summed up her message as, “hard work matters, but the rules matter too.”
I don’t know if Warren has come up with a campaign slogan, but that does a good job of capturing the heart of what she will offer during the Democratic primary. Warren wants to change the rules for corporate America as the entity she holds responsible for the problems we face.
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