ELKHART — Nathan Burton, a Warsaw man who volunteered for Bernie Sanders’ presidential run three years ago, stood in line to see U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren Wednesday morning at the RV/MH Hall of Fame’s Northern Indiana Event Center.
The 29-year-old man said his political allegiances had changed with the upcoming 2020 presidential campaign.
“I think Warren’s a better candidate, actually,” Burton said. “Her plans are more thought through and she’s better on her feet.”
Warren’s emphasis on policy — a point pundits have picked up on in recent weeks — was apparent during an hour-long rally that included questions from the audience and media before she made herself available for an organized selfie photo session, accommodating a long line of fans afterward.
The 69-year old woman who helped establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, struck a populist tone in her speech, attacking corporate greed and government corruption while not once mentioning President Donald Trump or any of her nearly two dozen Democrat opponents vying for the Democratic nomination.
“When you’ve got a government that works great for those who’ve got money and not so much for anyone else, that’s corruption pure and simple and we need to call it out,” Warren said, amid a standing ovation.
Warren spent much of her speech calling for major “structural changes” to end corruption and change the economic balances to help a large share of Americans.
She wants to change laws to make it easier to join unions and establish a wealth tax that would apply to the top one-tenth of 1 percent of wage earners.
Specifically, she wants to take two cents on every dollar over 50 million in earnings.
Warren told the crowd that 99 percent of workers pay 7.2 percent in taxes while the top earners pay 3.2 percent
“If you make it to the very, tippy, tippy top, and have one of the great fortunes, pitch in two cents so that everybody else has a chance to make it,” she said.
She bristled at the notion that a wealth tax would “soak the rich.”
“They can darn well afford two cents,” she said. “I am tired of freeloader billionaires.”
She repeatedly made the point that the nation needs to do more to level the playing field.
“You want to know a country’s values?” Warren asked. “Look at the budgets. Do you think it’s more important that the bazillionaires hang on to their two cents or more important that we invest in our kids and invest in our future?”
Warren would use those revenues to pay for universal childcare, universal pre-k services, cover the cost of tuition for technical schools and four-year colleges and wipe out student loan debt for almost all students.
She also called for a Constitutional amendment to protect the right to vote amid growing complaints of voter suppression laws and gerrymandering. She also advocates overturning Citizens United, a ruling that gives corporations a strong voice in campaign finance.
She has authored an anti-corruption plan that she says would “end lobbying as we know it,” block the “revolving door” between Wall Street and Washington and make everyone who runs for federal office put their tax returns online.
She railed against climate change, calling it a catastrophe bearing down on the entire world. She said she wants to dramatically increase funding for research by tenfold and limit the funding to companies that build related products in the United States.
Warren said she wants the United States to take the lead in research and innovation to fight climate change. She said she wants to pay for much of that by taking away subsidies from oil and gas companies and demand corporations “pay their fair share.”
“We now face a climate crisis and our science, our innovation and our American workers are going to let us attack that head-on and save our planet,” Warren said.
After her stop in Elkhart, Warren was headed to Fort Wayne where she was scheduled to be the featured guest in a town hall broadcast on MSNBC.