Feb 17, 2020
Elizabeth Warren Nevada Town Hall Campaign Transcript – February 17, 2020
Elizabeth Warren held a town hall in Henderson, Nevada on February 17, 2020 to prepare for the Nevada Democratic Caucuses. Read the full transcript of her campaign event right here.
Elizabeth Warren: (00:03)
Hello, Henderson! Can we just hear it one more time for Brandon and the incredible work that he’s been doing [inaudible 00:00:24]? And also just a big shout out to the moms who demand action who have changed Nevada, stand up, and are going to change America. I also want to say a very special thank you to Lisa who started us on welcoming everyone. It is our one year anniversary. Where are you, Lisa? There she is. Lisa and I were first together here in Nevada when I came here exactly a year ago today to start this fight in Nevada. I want to thank you all for being here today. You can tell I’m a little husky. I’m shaking off a cold and I’m going to try to do my best to save my voice. So if it’s okay with everybody, I thought what I’d do is I’m just going to tell you a story that I haven’t told for a long time now. I’ve told it a while back, but haven’t told it for awhile. About why I’m in this fight. So you know a little bit about my heart and you know a little bit about my commitment. And then we’ll take some questions and then when we get to the most important part and that is the selfies. I’ll stay for them, anybody that wants to take selfies.
Elizabeth Warren: (01:50)
So I was born and raised in Oklahoma. Yeah, okies. You bet. You’ve got to watch out for Okie women. You do. I have three much older brothers. I was the baby in the family. My mother always just called me the surprise. My three older brothers are all retired now. They’re back in Oklahoma. My three older brothers went off and joined the military. When we were growing up, our daddy had a lot of different jobs. He sold paint, he sold fencing, he sold carpet, he sold housewares. And when I was in middle school, my three brothers were gone by then. Everybody had headed out then. And it was just my mom and my dad and me. And my daddy had a heart attack and for awhile we thought we were going to lose him. Some of you know what that’s like as a kid, it’s really scary. Folks from church brought covered dishes. Everybody spoke in hushed tones. But daddy made it through and came home but he couldn’t go back to work.
Elizabeth Warren: (03:09)
And so it was day after day of daddy sat in the back yard. And it just got worse and worse at home. We lost our family station wagon. At nights, my mother would come in to kiss me goodnight. She’d always give me this very bright smile. And then she’d turn and close the door and I’d hear her start to cry because she never wanted to cry in front of me. This is when I learned words like mortgage and foreclosure, hard words.
Elizabeth Warren: (03:53)
And then there was the day I walked in to my folks’ bedroom and laid out on the bed was the dress. Now some of you in this room will know the dress. It’s the one that only comes out for weddings, funerals, and graduations. You know this dress. And it was the first thing I saw when I walked in the room, that the dress was laid out on the bed. And then I saw my mother down at the foot of the bed and she was pacing. She had her slip on and her stockings and she was pacing and had her head down and she kept saying over and over, “We will not lose this house. We will not lose this house. We will not lose this house.” She was 50 years old, she had never worked outside the home, and she was terrified. And finally, she looked up and she saw me standing on the doorway. I’m just a kid. And she didn’t say anything. She looked at me and she looked at that dress and she looked back at me and she walked over, picked it up, wrestled it on, put on her high heels, and walked to the Sears Roebuck where she got a minimum wage job answering phones, a minimum wage job that saved our house and it saved our family.
Elizabeth Warren: (05:35)
And I always think of that as the lesson I learned from my mother, that no matter how hard it is and no matter how frightened you may be, when it comes down to it, you reach down deep, you find what you have to find, you pull it up and you take care of the people you love. That’s what we do.
Elizabeth Warren: (05:58)
It was years later that I came to understand that wasn’t just what my mother taught me, it’s what millions of people do across this country every single day. That no matter how hard it is, no matter how scared they are, they reach down deep, they find what they have to find, they pull it up and they take care of the people they love. But it was only years after that that I came to understand that story is a story about government. Because when I was a girl, a minimum wage job in America would support a family of three. It would pay the mortgage, it would cover the utilities, and it would put groceries on the table. Today, a minimum wage job in America, full time minimum wage job, will not keep a mama and a baby out of poverty. That is wrong and that is why I am in this fight.
Elizabeth Warren: (07:14)
And that difference is not a difference of accident, it is not a difference of surprise, it is a deliberate difference based on who government works for. Because when I was girl, the question asked in Washington when setting the minimum wage is what does it take a family of three to survive in America? What does it take a family of three to get a foothold in America’s middle class? What does it take a family of three to have something solid that they can build on? Today, the question asked in our government in Washington is where do we set the minimum wage to maximize the profits of giant multinational corporations? Well, I don’t want a government that works for giant multinational corporations. I want one that works for our families. And there it is, the whole story of why I am in this fight.
Elizabeth Warren: (08:13)
I want a government that works not just for the wealthy, not just for the big corporations, not just for the NRA. I want a government that works for us. And that’s why I’m here and that’s what I’m going to keep fighting for. You bet! That’s what we’re going to do. So let’s do some questions. Let’s do some questions. And we’ll get to talk, I hope, about a lot of plans and whatever else people want to ask about and talk about. Hi!
Hi, my name’s Scott.
Elizabeth Warren: (08:48)
My question will be on the wealth tax.
Elizabeth Warren: (08:50)
You bet! I’m ready.
There are some Republicans that aren’t too happy with it.
Elizabeth Warren: (08:56)
Yeah. How do you think you’ll get both Republicans and Democrats on board when you’re elected President?
Elizabeth Warren: (09:01)
Okay, so I love this question. I love the way you ended it. Let’s make sure everybody’s up to speed. It is time for a wealth tax in America. Now, let me just explain it to anybody who hasn’t already heard about it. The basic idea is a two cent tax on the great fortunes in this country. So your first 50 million is free and clear. I see, yeah, exactly, going … This woman is not unreasonable. But on your 50 millionth and first dollar, you’ve got to pitch in 2 cents. And 2 cents on every dollar after that. You hit a billion, you got to pitch in a couple of pennies more. That’s the basic idea. Anybody in here own a home or grow up in a family that owned a home? Yeah, you all paid wealth tax. You still are. It’s just called a property tax. And the only difference here is I’m saying that for the billionaires and the millionaires, the property tax shouldn’t just include the real estate. It should also include the stock portfolio, the diamonds, the Rembrandt, and the yacht. They can afford it.
Elizabeth Warren: (10:13)
Now as Scott rightly says, there are some people who don’t like this. Actually, let’s be more specific. There are some billionaires who don’t like this. Some have gone on TV and cried. Others have run for President. Maybe they thought it was cheaper than a wealth tax. But their basic argument is, “Look, I had a great idea, I followed it through, I worked hard.” And I say, “Good for you. You did and that’s great. Good for you. You’re a success, that’s great. But understand this. You built a great fortune here in America. You built it, at least in part, using workers all of us help pay to educate. You built it, at least in part, getting your goods to market on roads and bridges all of us helped pay to build. You built it, at least in part, protected by police and firefighters all of us help pay the salaries for.”
Elizabeth Warren: (11:32)
And here’s the thing. We’re glad to do it. We’re Americans, we want to invest in the things that help create opportunity. All we’re saying is when you make it big, I mean, really big, I mean top one 10th of 1% big, pitch in two cents so everybody else gets a chance to make it. Because what can we do with two cents? It’s enough to help us restructure this economy. Two cents, two cents from the top folks. Let me just tell you quick what we can do. We can do, oh and I see one, universal child care for every baby in this country age zero to five. Universal pre-k for every three year old and four year old in America. And we can stop exploiting the people, largely black and brown women who do this work. We can raise the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher in America. We can do all of that for our babies. Plus, we can put $800 billion of new money into our public schools, K through 12.
Elizabeth Warren: (13:00)
Quadruple funding for Title 1 Schools. Let’s get everybody a chance. And coming from a former special education teacher, you’ll appreciate this. We can fully fund IDEA, every child with a disability will have the full educational opportunity they deserve. So we can do all of that for K-12. Plus, we can provide tuition free technical school to your college, for your college, for everybody who wants an education. We’re in a good place for that. We can help level the playing field and put $50 billion of new money into our historically black colleges and universities. And I’m not through yet. We can do all of that for two cents plus we can cancel student loan debt for 43 million Americans. So preach, I like that.
Elizabeth Warren: (14:09)
So Scott says, “How are you going to get this done?” So here’s the interesting thing, Scott. Democrats like this. Independents like this. And here comes best part. A majority of Republicans like this. Yeah. So here’s my plan is to say, in a democracy when there were what? 406 billionaires, that’s it? Okay. That they are not the ones who should be calling the shots on what passes in Congress. That just because you can make big campaign contributions and hire lots of lobbyists that your voice shouldn’t be any louder than anyone else’s in a democracy.
Elizabeth Warren: (15:05)
So my plan is, first, I want to pass my anti-corruption bill. Right? To reduce the influence of money in Washington. And then we’re going to do this one together. I’m going to lead from the White House. I’m going to ask all of you to keep pushing from the outside. We’re going to make this Congress responsive to the American people. We’re going to get a wealth tax. Thank you! You bet. We’re going to do it, Scott. I think a billionaire just turned out my lights. Oh, there we go. Yes, nevertheless, I persist. Yes. Okay. Who else have we got? Oh, can I pitch my universal childcare proposal? Okay.
I’m Brett. This is Margo.
Elizabeth Warren: (15:58)
Hi, Brett. Hi, Margo. Margo’s ready.
She’s ready. Margo’s dad and I are both attorneys, so we’re lucky to be professionals, but it also means that we’re drowning in student loan debt.
Elizabeth Warren: (16:09)
With the high cost of childcare and student loan payments and housing and healthcare and everything else that goes in, although we’re fortunate, it’s so hard to save for our future. Why have your plans eliminated any sort of relief for student loans or childcare above a certain income?
Elizabeth Warren: (16:33)
So it doesn’t. Childcare is going to be there for everybody. There’s a little bit of a payment for families that have high incomes, but it’s a very modest payment. And on student loans, it’s complete cancellation up to a certain income level, quarter of a million dollars of income. Because that kind of looks like you might be able to manage the student loan payments. But also opening up other avenues for people who truly are drowning in student loan debt. For example, changing the bankruptcy laws are important. So I want to make, though, a quick pitch off your question because I think this is important. About let me just pick childcare. We have a problem in America. We got a lot of problems, but I want to focus on one and that is trickle down economics has been a complete disaster for this country.
Elizabeth Warren: (17:22)
It has hollowed out America’s middle class. It has crushed working families and it has kicked dirt in the faces of the poor. We need an economy that grows from the ground up. Trickle down was always about help the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful. Give the rich more tax cuts and cut regulations. That’s how they get richer and more powerful. And that’s how income keeps moving up. New income created in this country keeps moving up to the top. So think about the wealth tax in just childcare, just that one. A two cent tax on the great fortunes, think about the great fortunes. They already have their own money managers, their own PR firms, their own everything, right? Accountants, everything. They’re already growing. At what? 6%, 8%, 10% a year. Ask them just 2% off that and we invest in childcare.
Elizabeth Warren: (18:29)
Now, why should that matter if you don’t have children or if you don’t have grandchildren or if you don’t even like children? It should matter because of the effect on the economy. Putting that money back in your pocket is money that you get to spend with local businesses. It’s money you get to spend buying more pizzas. It’s money you get to spend buying cars. It’s money you get to spend saving up for a home. It’s money that helps grow the economy. It’s money that helps create demand. It’s money that helps support business right here in Henderson. We need an economy that is not a trickle down. We need an economy that’s grassroots up. And that’s what the wealth tax and that’s what universal childcare is about. So we can do this. You bet. Hi.
Hi, Senator. This is the last question.
Elizabeth Warren: (19:31)
My name is Rhonda.
Elizabeth Warren: (19:35)
Mother of two.
Elizabeth Warren: (19:36)
Yes, me too.
In regards to economic equality, I know we have a Family Medical Leave Act, but so many companies are not paying for family leave. And as a mother of two children, I had to go on family leave and because of illness issues I’ve had to do it. But it’s a huge burden on my family and other families when you’re not earning pay while you’re on family medical leave. What’s your view or position on that?
Elizabeth Warren: (20:06)
So I got a plan for that. Paid family leave and it’s both for taking care of babies and kids, it’s also for when you get sick, and it’s also for taking care of elderly family members when they need help. So all the way. If I can, though, I want to say a quick question about the plan. It’s a great plan. And I can say that because the origin of the plan is not mine. It’s Kirsten Gillibrand’s. And it’s a part of what I have tried to do in my campaign from the beginning is to say this is not a competition in the sense of my plans are good and everybody else’s plans are bad. It’s to say, “Listen, let’s take good plans wherever they come from.” And when Kirsten left the race, I called her the next day and said first that I was sorry and second, how would she feel if I brought her paid family leave plan, which is a really good plan, in with my plans and give her full credit for it and lift it up? And she said, “Let’s do it.” Kamala Harris said the same thing on a terrific plan on protecting women’s reproductive freedom. Same thing with Jay Inslee on climate plans that I’ve brought in. And my good friend Julian Castro both on immigration and on pre-K.
Elizabeth Warren: (21:54)
This is how we build a democratic party and a coalition that works for all of us. It’s to bring in the good ideas, to respect the good ideas, to bring in people. I now have people from all of those campaigns and more who are part of our staff, who are part of our volunteers, who are a part of this energy that we’re going to need as Democrats because we got a job in November and that is beat Donald Trump. We’re going to do this together. Thank you. Great. Thank you, Rhonda.
Elizabeth Warren: (22:36)
So I just want to thank all of you for being here. I want to say, as we close this out, we’ve now had three years of Donald Trump. And I know. But people, a lot of people around this country are afraid. They are afraid for their families. They’re afraid for their neighbors. They’re afraid for children locked in cages at our border. They’re afraid for children in lock downs in our public schools. They’re afraid for women. They’re afraid for people of color. They’re afraid for LGBTQ people, for trans people, all of whose rights are up for grabs in this Supreme Court. They are afraid for our nation and they are afraid for our planet. And the danger on all of these is real.
Elizabeth Warren: (23:31)
So this is the question that comes to you, Nevada. What do you do when people are afraid, when the danger is real? Do we back up? Do we cower? Do we get timid? Or do we fight back? Me, I’m fighting back. I’m in this race to fight back. You bet. Yes. Fighting back is an act of patriotism. We fought back against a king to build this country. We fought back against the scourge of slavery to save this union. We fought back against a great depression to rebuild this economy. We fought back against the spread of fascism to protect our democracy. America is at it’s best when it sees a big problem and we fight back. This is no time for small ideas. This is no time to nibble around the edges of big problems. This is the time to see these problems and to provide the big structural change we need to build a better America.
Elizabeth Warren: (25:01)
So I just want to tell all of you, you probably have figured this out, I am not running a campaign that has been designed by a bunch of consultants. I am not running a campaign with proposals that are carefully designed not to offend big donors. I passed that stop sign a long time ago. I am running a campaign based on a lifetime of fighting for working families. I am running a campaign from the heart because I believe in you. And like Brandon said, I believe in the America we can build together, an America where every person has value, an America where every child is worth investing in, an America where in our democracy, people, not money, is the most important part. I believe in that America.
Elizabeth Warren: (26:24)
And if you believe in that America and you believe that that America is worth fighting for, then all I’m asking you is get in this fight. Vote for me. Go to elizabethwarren.com and volunteer an hour to do phones, knock on doors, talk to people in front of you in line at the grocery store, pumping gas next to you. But get in this fight because understand this, 2020 is the moment in history that we have been called to, the moment that will determine, not the next four years, not the next eight years, but generations to come. 2020 is our moment to choose hope over fear, our moment to show courage, our moment to dream big, fight hard, and win.