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Warren Warns of Economic Trouble Without 'Bold Structural Change'

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren drew a stark ideological contrast between herself and political rivals on Thursday in a speech on her economic plans at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Warren’s visit came a day after a WBUR poll showed her losing ground in New Hampshire to former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, whose health care and economic proposals Warren said would not accomplish the structural change she says is needed to rebuild the middle class.

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Citing statistics on slow economic growth and lagging productivity, Warren warned voters that the United State’s economy is in trouble.

“Families are struggling. After accounting for inflation, average wages have barely budged for decades,” she said. “Meanwhile, the core costs that most families face - housing, child care, education, health care - have shot through the roof.”

Thomas Petrowski, a 38 year-old voter who attended the event, said those costs were making it hard for him and his wife to put any of their paycheck towards savings.

“I’ve been told my whole life the economy’s great and the economy’s doing really doing well,” he said. “Then you take a look at it and you’re like: ‘It’s really not.’ If it’s doing well, I wouldn’t be having the issues I’m having. My friends wouldn’t be going into bankruptcy in their 30’s.”

Credit Sarah Gibson for NHPR
Thomas Petrowski joins Senator Elizabeth Warren for a selfie after her speech at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Warren promised that her arsenal of plans, which range from boosting green manufacturing to forgiving student loan debt to breaking up big tech, “will produce more jobs, more growth, more investment, higher wages, and stronger American companies that can compete and win.”

Though she didn’t name her opponents in the Democratic primary field, Warren took aim at Biden and Buttigeig’s reliance on big-money donors to fund their campaigns. Warren has pledged not to take contributions from federal lobbyists or PACs and has refused to take contributions higher than $200 from certain industries.

“Voters will not trust a candidate who won’t make a single difficult decision that might cut down on the access and influence of wealthy donors. And voters will be right,” she said. 

A communications advisor from the Buttigieg campaign issued a statement soon after the speech.

“Senator Warren's idea of how to defeat Donald Trump is to tell people who don’t support her that they are unwelcome in the fight and that those who disagree with her belong in the other party," it read. "We need to move beyond the politics and divisiveness that is tearing this country apart and holding us back.”

In her speech, Warren defended herself against claims by primary opponents and Republicans that her plans are too extreme to win widespread support, arguing that her proposals would save middle class families money.

She added, “If you defend a corrupt system where corporate lobbyists write the rules to squeeze out competition and hurt economic growth and undercut workers, you’re not a capitalist. You’re just a cheater.”

Click here for NHPR's Primary Tracker to find out where and when the candidates are appearing in New Hampshire.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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