Elizabeth Warren on Being 1%, Scott Brown, Occupy – FULL INTERVIEW

Elizabeth Warren on Being 1%, Scott Brown, Occupy – FULL INTERVIEW

August 14, 2019 54 By Bertrand Dibbert


David Pakman: Elizabeth Warren is running
for Massachusetts Senate hopefully to replace Scott Brown. It’s great to see you, great
to have you in our studio. I think a good place to start would be looking at the last
race, which Scott Brown won. And not to rehash old campaigns, but I think people were so
confused about Martha Coakley’s loss that without an understanding about what exactly
happened there, it may be hard to run a successful campaign. So when you look back at that, I mean, what’s
your thought about what went wrong? Was it the wrong candidate, the wrong strategy? Was
Scott Brown simply more appealing to voters? How do you see it? Elizabeth Warren: Well, you have to remember,
it was a very, very short general election. You know, all of the time was consumed in
the primary, while Democrats were positioning themselves against each other, lots of talk,
and then just a very short sprint in the general election. So Scott Brown in many ways just kind of appeared
out of nowhere. You know, it’s not like he had been a star in the state Senate, you know,
a real voice around Massachusetts, it was all entirely new. And so I think the single biggest thing you
can say about it is it was a huge surprise. And that’s not going to happen this time. David: But who was surprised? Warren: I think everyone was surprised. I
mean, I think that’s the whole point. It was that he kind of burst onto the scene, and
my sense is, I certainly wasn’t part of it, but my sense is that others in the Democratic
Party were just really surprised by this. And kind of at the time, they knew they had
a really hard challenge. Yeah, time was running out, so… David: So the– you think that Martha Coakley
didn’t have enough time to put together a winning strategy, per se? I mean, I’m trying
to kind of… Warren: I’m going to describe it… no, no,
I’m describing it differently. Look, let me say it this way. David: Yeah. Warren: I go into this race knowing I’m running
against an incumbent, knowing I’m running against somebody who started out with a $10
million war chest when I didn’t have a penny, knowing that it’s someone who has virtually
100% recognition in the state, and is generally regarded, you know, most people think he’s
a, you know, he has fairly high positive ratings. None of those three things were true in the
last election, and so knowing that that’s who you’re running against from the very first
day and that it’s going to be a campaign that’s a full year long, that’s just a very different
campaign from the last time. David: It’s interesting you mention he has
high positives, because a lot of people that we talk to who did not vote for Scott Brown
and in theory don’t agree particularly with his social policy can’t really point out anything
that, since being elected, they disagree with that he has done. Maybe it’s because they’re
not paying as close attention as they were during the campaign, maybe it’s because he
hasn’t done anything that they find particularly offensive; what that he has done since becoming
Senator of Massachusetts do you find that you would have done differently or that you
really disagree with? What has he done wrong? Warren: Well, I will describe it this way:
for me, it’s a real question of whose side you stand on. Scott Brown has been named one
of Wall Street’s favorite senators by “Forbes” Magazine. When it came up last fall, we had
a quarter of a million people here in the Commonwealth who were unemployed, and Scott
Brown voted against the first jobs bill, which would have supported about 22,000 jobs here
in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A week later, there was a bill to prevent layoffs
of teachers, firefighters, and police officers here in the Commonwealth. Scott Brown and
every other Republican voted no. And then a week after that, there was a bill that would’ve
supported jobs in transportation, about 11,000 jobs here in the Commonwealth, mostly in a
construction industry. Scott Brown voted no. So there are three jobs bills in a row in
which he didn’t vote with the families here in the Commonwealth. And I want to say, he
didn’t vote with the small businesses in the Commonwealth who would’ve liked to have seen
those paychecks spent in their small businesses. Instead, every one of those would’ve meant
a very small increase in taxes on people paying– making a million dollars or more, and for
him, that was enough to kill it, even if it would’ve put people to work. So I think that’s which side you stand on.
We can pick more examples of that. You know, the whole Financial Reform Bill, I was out
there pushing, working for a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, very much as an outsider;
Scott Brown was taking Wall Street money ultimately to shift the costs of implementing financial
reform away from the largest financial institutions over to the taxpayer. So I think that’s going
to be the kind of thing that’s going to separate the two of us all the way through this race. David: What we’re kind of starting to dance
around here a little is income disparity and fair taxation. We saw the Occupy movement
kind of inform this idea of income disparity to the extent that even Eric Cantor, a Republican,
mentioned income disparity in a way that wasn’t laughing it off completely, which is a big
step on the Republican side, at least. I didn’t agree with how he proposed to solve it, but
he at least mentioned it in a real way. Do you think that this idea of 1%… the 1%
and the 99%, is that productive for electing progressive or Democratic politicians in the
longrun? Do you worry about corporations or kind of a more, an establishment kind of taking
hold of this Occupy movement? I mean, where do you see that? Warren: So, you know, let’s face it, Wall
Street has already said quite openly they’re willing to spend any amount of money to make
sure I don’t become the next senator from Massachusetts, you know, they want to have
a lot to do with this race. Karl Rove’s already been in and tried to dump a bunch of negative
advertising. So I think Wall Street’s going to be very, you know, at least try to be well-represented
in this race. We may have ways to hold them out, I don’t know if that’ll work. But at the end of the day, here’s how I frame
it, just to explain how I look at this: I look at this as the United States, the country,
we make a lot of investments in a lot of different places. So for example, we put billions of
dollars in subsidies into the oil industry. When we decide that big, profitable companies
can pay zero in taxes, we’re making an investment, a subsidy into that company. And that’s what
the Republicans, that’s what Scott Brown has supported. I think we shouldn’t be doing that. I’m not
for hurting them, I’m just, they ought to be on a level playing field, where we ought
to be making our investments is in our future and education and infrastructure and renewable
power and research. Those are the things that help us build a future. And over the longrun,
that’s what helps people have bright futures. That’s how the next kid makes it big, and
the kid after that, and the kid after that. And that’s how it is that we have widespread
prosperity in this country. David: Yeah. Warren: So that’s how I frame this. David: We… a lot of emails came in when
we said we would be talking to you, and a lot of them are related to income and income
disparity. Warren: Sure. David: And there was a clip that was pointed
out to me, when you were on the Lawrence O’Donnell show, where you mentioned there are wealthy
people, but I’m not one of them. And to a lot of people, that was very concerning, because
I’m sure you would admit, you are in the 1% also, right? Warren: Oh, yes. David: I mean, there’s no question about that.
Do you understand the frustration sometimes from voters when they say well, the difference
betwen Mitt Romney with a $250 million net worth and Elizabeth Warren, around $14-and-a-half
million net worth… Warren: Not the right number, but OK. David: OK, well, what… is there a right
number? Warren: So let me just do this: the clip was
not the whole sentence, and this was just, you know, I’m going to claim grammatical error.
I had the modifier in the wrong place. What I was talking about is people who have big
portfolios and they have lots and lots of different stocks, so they own lots of stock
in Microsoft and they own lots of stock in Bank of America and they own lots of stock
in Citibank, and what we were talking about is what ought to happen with those folks in
terms of being able to trade their stocks. And what I was trying to say is there are
a lot of wealthy people, now let’s… the whole clip, who have big and varied stock
portoflios who might need to put those in a blind trust. I’m not somebody like that,
because I don’t have a lot of stocks and a lot of actively traded stocks, but that’s
what the clip is about. David: So do you agree that it can be sometimes
hard to imagine for someone who makes $26,000 a year, when they see someone who earns, whethe
it’s $700,000 in a year or $7 million in a year, how can they really represent my interests,
right? And maybe John Kerry, I think, maybe was successful in keeping very wealthy, personally,
but in translating to voters how he still understands what they need, right, theaverage
kind of person. What do you think of that? Warren: Well, so here’s how I see this. You
know, I grew up in a family that was hanging onto its place in the middle class pretty
much by its fingernails. And I got to live the American Dream. I have done well, and
I am very grateful for every handhold that was given to me on the way up, for public
education, for a world in which America was really investing in kids like me. I’m the
daughter of a guy who sold fencing and ended up as a maintenance man, and I got to end
up as a fancy professor at Harvard Law School. For me, it’s about the American Dream. And
what I worry about now is that the opportunities that were available to me are shrinking for
the next generation of kids and the generation after that. I want to see us make the investments
in America that makes America again a place of expanding opportunity, so the next kid
who grows up like I grew up will really have a chance to make it, and the kid after that,
and the kid after that. I want everybody to have a shot at living the American Dream. David: I know you have to go soon. I want
to get to a few audience questions that were sent in. Warren: Sure. David: Some of these should be pretty straightforward.
Edward: “Will you try to get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act?” Warren: Oh, high on my list. I’ve got to tell
you, just so you understand this, the Defense of Marriage Act is when the United States
government goes out of its way to say across the board, we let the states determine how
they feel about marriage, and then federal law just, you know, tax law and inheritance
and so on will just depend on that. And the Defense of Marriage Act affirmatively
says we are going to discriminate against some of our citizens. I think that is profoundly
wrong. And yes, I would be… I would be honored to have the opportunity to lead the charge. David: Xander wants to know, “Houston Rockets
versus Boston Celtics. Where do you stand now?” I know that that’s a paramount issue. Warren: I know. I’ve lived in Boston now,
though, for 20 years, and, you know, I’m married to a man who bleeds green, so the Celts are
the team. David: OK, well, we’ve got… I have so many
more, maybe next time. Elizabeth Warren, really great to see you today, and thanks for coming
in. Warren: It’s so nice to see you. Thank you. David: Great, thank you. Warren: Take care. Transcript provided by Subscriptorium Multimedia
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