US Senator, former Harvard law professor: Who is Elizabeth Warren?

·7-min read
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Elizabeth Warren is the US senator for Massachusetts and is one of the Democratic candidates to be the next US president alongside Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Michael Bloomberg and Mike Pence.

Warren was appointed by former US President Barack Obama as Assistant to the President and also served as an advisor on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which protected consumers from accidentally signing up for risky loans.

But before her political career, the 70-year-old taught law at various universities, including Harvard, for 30 years, and authored five books and co-authored six.

Why is Elizabeth Warren running for president?

Warren announced that she was running for president in February last year to fight for the working class, hold corporations accountable, and make healthcare more accessible to the low- and middle-class.

These are causes she has consistently championed even before she became a US senator.

Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive change Campaign Committee, which endorses Warren, said that she has a history of living up to her politics and standing up to major banking and pharmaceutical institutions.

“She doesn’t stop fighting and she doesn’t stop fighting for regular people. Voters know that and I think they will respond to that,” Green said.

For Warren, the fight for the working class is personal.

“Understand, my mama worked hard,” Warren said.

“She was scared, she pulled herself up, and she worked hard. But a mama today can work just as hard as my mama did and not be able to take care of herself and her baby. And that’s because of rules set in a distant place.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Get Out the Caucus Rally at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Get Out the Caucus Rally at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

What are Elizabeth Warren’s policies?

Warren is perhaps best-known for her ‘wealth tax’ policy, which would see the richest 0.1 per cent of Americans pay an annual 2 per cent tax on every dollar on assets over US $50 million, and a 6 per cent tax on every dollar over $1 billion.

She claims this would claw back US$.75 trillion over a decade for Americans.

“The richest 130,000 families in America now hold nearly as much wealth as the bottom 117 million families combined,” her campaign website reads.

This would balance out the “slanted tax code” and adjust the US tax system that “asks the rich to pay a lot less than everyone else”.

The US senator is also refusing political donations from wealthy donors to fund her campaign.

Warren would eliminate tuition and fees at every public college and university, and wipe student debt loan for 95 per cent of borrowers.

Making healthcare accessible is another one of her priorities.

While she has backed Bernie Sanders’ ‘Medicare for All’ plan, she has released details about how she would finance her own version. She would cut defence spending, impose new taxes on big companies and crackdown on tax evasion to raise US$20.5 trillion.

Warren is a signatory to the Green New Deal, which aims to transition the US to 100 per cent renewable and clean energy in a decade as well as create millions of new jobs and expand the social safety net.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in front of an American flag at a campaign rally at West High School on February 01, 2020 in Iowa City.
FEBRUARY 01: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a campaign rally in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

She has also said she would break up the big tech companies’ stronghold on the market, including Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple, and force these tech giants to roll back some of their acquisitions, like Facebook’s deals for WhatsApp and Instagram.

Warren also plans to ensure access to abortion services, and supports public funding for abortions and guaranteeing coverage in healthcare insurance plans.

Is Elizabeth Warren Native American?

The US senator attracted controversy over claims of Native American ancestry. Questions about her heritage first began in 2012, when some Republicans dug out references to Warren as Native American in Harvard’s daily student-run newspaper, the Harvard Crimson.

She also had her ethnicity changed on official documents from ‘white’ to ‘Native American’ while she was teaching at Harvard University’s Law School and the University of Pennsylvania to help boost diversity numbers among faculty staff, Vox reported.

Trump has been dogging Warren about her ancestry, nicknaming her ‘Pocahontas’, and said in July 2018 that he would donate US $1 million to charity if she took a DNA test.

So she did – and the test results showed that while the “vast majority” of her ancestry was European, it also “strongly suggest” she had Native American heritage from six to 10 generations ago.

So Warren reminded Trump to make good on his promise.

But Trump denied ever making the pledge...

...And here’s video footage of him making it.

However, the DNA test sparked further backlash from Native Americans and tribal leaders, who argued that being a Native American has more to do with cultural kinship and tribal sovereignty than blood, according to the New York Times.

In August last year, speaking at a presidential forum on Native American issues, Warren apologised for making her claims to Native American ancestry.

“Like anyone who’s being honest with themselves, I know that I have made mistakes,” she said.

“I am sorry for harm I have caused. I have listened and I have learned a lot, and I am grateful for the many conversations that we’ve had together.”

“It is a great honor to be able to partner with Indian Country, and that’s what I’ve tried to do as a senator, and that’s what I promise I will do as president of the United States of America.”

Will Elizabeth Warren win the 2020 US presidential election?

CNN has reported that the first set of results from Iowa’s caucuses showed Pete Buttigieg was in the lead. Of the 71 per cent of precincts reporting results, Buttigieg had 26.8 per cent of state delegate equivalents, closely followed by Sanders at 25.2 per cent, though Sanders holds a slight lead by popular vote. Warren held 18.4 per cent and Biden had 15.4 per cent.

Among all the presidential candidate frontrunners, Warren is notable as being the only woman. And she has a message for girls: they too belong in politics.

What does she say to young girls that want to run for office? “That’s what girls do.”

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