Watch or Listen: 2020 Forum - Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren

Oct 30, 2019

Our New Hampshire Primary 2020 Candidate Forum series continues with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, before a live audience. Listen or watch the interview below to get her views on the economy, taxes, foreign policy, climate change, and more. 

Warren has said the American middle class is "under attack." She has proposed taxing the wealthiest Americans to help pay for universal childcare, student loan debt relief, and an investment in housing that she says would bring rents down by 10% across the country.

Air Date: Wed., Oct. 30, 2019. 

LISTEN: (Scroll down for a transcript of the forum)

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(Note: This transcript was machine edited and contains errors.)

 

Laura Knoy:
From New Hampshire Public Radio, I'm Laura Knoy and this is The Exchange. Today, we continue our series of presidential primary 2020 candidate forms. This hour, we're talking with Democratic Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. She's with us before a live audience in NHPR's Studio D.

Laura Knoy:
Our questions today will include some of the many we received from listeners, so thank you for your contributions. Also, I'm joined by NHPR reporter, Casey McDermott. She and I will both be asking questions. And Senator Warren, welcome. Thank you for being here. Thank you. I'm delighted to be here. So you call yourself a capitalist to your bones. How do you reconcile that, Senator? Warm with your plans to expand government, raise taxes, increase government regulation? As you know, if you're the nominee, many Republicans will say you're more socialist than capitalism.

Senator Warren:
Nonsense. You know, capitalism requires rules. Markets require rules. Without rules, capitalism is theft. So for me, it's about making sure we have a set of rules so that you really get competition so that nobody gets cheated so that everybody has an opportunity. Those are the functions of government is to help keep the system working in a way that opens up more opportunity for small businesses, opens up opportunity for individuals, opens up opportunities so we can have that competition and create all kinds of new things. That's what I believe in.

Laura Knoy:
Setting aside the regulatory aspects of your proposal. Let's talk about the taxes. Senator Warren, I'd love for you to explain to me to pay for ideas like free tuition at State College, Universal childcare and others, you would create a new wealth tax of 2 percent on those with wealth of $50 million in up and three percent on those with wealth of a billion dollars and up. How is this different, Senator Warren, from just raising income taxes on wealthy people?

Senator Warren:
Well, because it's about accumulated wealth. And understand this. We have a few, relatively speaking, great fortunes in this country. About one tenth of one percent of folks in this country have a fortune above $50 billion. And, you know, something changes when you get a fortune that big. That fortune has its own money managers. That fortune has its own PR. It has its own administrators said don't tax advisers. And what's happening is those fortunes are growing and growing and growing. And so what I propose is to say, look, we've been doing a wealth tax forever. Anybody in this room. Own a home? Or grow up in a house, right, that somebody owned? Yeah, you've been paying a wealth tax all those years. They just called it a property tax. What I'm proposing is for the top one tenth of one percent, that is for folks who have more than 50 million in assets that their property tax include not just the real estate, which is no longer the biggest asset, but that it also includes the stock portfolio, the diamonds, the Rembrandt and the yacht. You know that you you get all of the property and ask for, too, since your first 50 million is free and clear, but you're 50 million. And first dollar, you've got to pitch in two cents and two cents for every dollar.

Laura Knoy:
So it's kind of like a property tax on, as you said, the yachts and the Rembrandts and the diamonds.

Senator Warren:
And understand this about it. There's a reason behind it. You know, look, you built a great fortune in America. Good for you. You had a great idea. You rode it all the way. You worked late at night. You built a great fortune. That's great. But I guarantee if you built that 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 help pay to build. You built it, at least in part, protected by police and firefighters all of us help pay the salaries for. And we're glad to do it. We're Americans. We believe in making these investments together. All we're saying is if you make it big. I mean, really big. I mean, super duper one tenth of 1 percent big pitch in two cents. So everybody else gets a chance to make it in this country.

Laura Knoy:
As you know, Senator Warren, European countries have been getting rid of these wealth taxes. Two decades ago, twelve nations had them. Today, just 3 do. Problems included difficulty assessing the value of assets, people moving assets, an exodus of wealthy individuals and their money from certain countries and so on and so forth. And in the end, these taxes didn't raise as much revenue as hoped. How confident are you that all the money you anticipate will be available?

Senator Warren:
Well, I'm really confident in the amount of money that we think this will generate because we can learn from doing it badly. So, for example, the wealth tax in several countries went way too deep into the population. This one is about the top one tenth of 1 percent. And that has a couple of implications. It means you don't have a lot of middle class families struggling around with it. It also means you can concentrate your enforcement on just 70,000 fortunes, which is actually not that many. The second part is some countries made the mistake of saying wealth held here in country. Well, guess what? Really rich people do. They put the yacht somewhere else, right? They move the cash somewhere else. Nope. This one says wherever held. And here's the part that's changed in the world over the last more than a decade. And that is we've been signing more and more treaties with other countries that say you tell us what assets are held by Americans in your country. And we'll tell you what assets are held by the Swiss or the Spaniards in our country so that we have a lot better tracking of big assets around the world. Third part of this Reuven Avi-Yonah, terrific tax expert,I think at the University of Michigan, did an analysis of this is and he says look, a big chunk of the wealth held by those at the very top, it's in the stock market. We already know where it is. With real estate, We've already got the records. With fine paintings, they've been tracked. In other words, we know where a big chunk of this stuff is already and built right into the plan is super duper enforcement. No more. You know, you assign two IRS agents to try to keep up with the whole thing. Nope. We put it right into the cost is that you've got IRS agents to track this stuff down to keep track of it over time. And even on top of all of that, we assumed a cheat rate in it. So I know I know cynic that we are, right, on doing this, but the whole idea is to have real confidence that the kind of money we're talking about producing really will be there. And I've talked to the tax experts who've been doing this stuff for a long time. I'm confident.

Laura Knoy:
So you think that you could do it better than the failed experience of a lot of these European countries?

Senator Warren:
I think we can learn from it. We can look at it and say, you know what? That was a bad way to do it. We're gonna do it a better way than that.

Laura Knoy:
I want to ask you, Senator Warren, about some of the parameters of your spending proposals. And there are a lot and we could take all day on that, but, and Casey is going to ask you about health care, we'll set that aside, student debt cancellation caught my attention. I have got a child on the way into college and one in college now. Would there be any limits on how much debt cancellation Senator Warren or what type of college or what type of debt? Or is it just everybody gets their debt cancelled no matter who are what or where?

Senator Warren:
So my proposal is that student loan debt would be canceled up to $50,000 per individual. So for a couple, that might be $100,000, obviously, if that's what they had. It's limited on income. So if you've got more than $250,000 in income, you don't get any cancellation. This is for people who have less income than that. It covers all student loans. So the typical federally insured student loans, the parent plus loans. If you have a private student loan, you're permitted to convert it to a public student loan and then do the student loan forgiveness so that we get the maximum relief. Now, one of the things I should explain about, because I think it's important, is in looking through the data on who has student loans and what the impact of this would be. Among those it would affect the most are people who did a year of college, who did two years of college and then were just overwhelmed by the costs, who couldn't manage it, who couldn't see a degree program that was working for them. And so they've ended up in the worst of both worlds. That is, they don't have the college diploma to try to put them into the next income category. But they've got all of this student loan debt and student loan debt that is multiplying out for them.

Laura Knoy:
What incentive would colleges have to reduce costs if everybody's debt was paid off?

Senator Warren:
So a lot of pieces here. A second part on the same two cents because we're paying for this out of the two cent wealth tax is to provide tuition-free technical school two your college and four year college. But there are some strings on this, and that is about colleges keeping costs under control. So the federal government picks up the tuition part that goes to the students. But in return, the college has both gotta do or the state has to do maintenance of effort, that is putting that same money into UNH and the other state schools. And the college has to keep those costs under control because they can't just ratchet up tuition around it. So in effect, think of it this way. Let's reverse what you just asked me. Think of it as with the two cents, we're going to invest in our babies. We're going to invest in our public schools. And I hope we'll talk about all that. And we're going to invest in post-high school education, but we're also going to deal with the hangover debt from student loans for people who've gone to school in the last 10 years for some fifteen for some twenty. Two other things I should say about the student loan debt just because you were asking about the numbers. One is the student loan debt number is designed to help reduce the black white wealth gap. So it turns out that African-American students are more likely to have to borrow money to go to school. They borrow more money while they're in school and they have a harder time paying it off when they get out of school. There's new data out from the Education Department that shows, hang on to your hats on this one, twenty years out that about 94 percent of whites have paid off their debts, that about 4 percent of African-Americans have paid off their debts. This is becoming a long hangover tale that once again helps expand the black-white wealth gap where we are now rather than contract it. We put the numbers where we will actually shrink the black-white wealth gap by about 24 points.

Laura Knoy:
I want to ask you one more question, then turn it over to Casey. What role would cutting government play in helping to pay for all the proposals that you talk about? Is there any type of spending that you would cut? Senator Warren?

Senator Warren:
Oh, there are places I would cut spending, for example, over in the Department of Defense... But this is not about cutting. What this is about is about the two cent wealth tax, asking the richest people in this country, the people who have built up fortunes. The people who, quite frankly, may not even be producing a lot of income that they get taxed on his income tax, but who have these great fortunes that are continuing to grow? Just asking to pitch in two cents out of those great fortunes to fund an investment in universal child care, universal pre-K, raising the wages of every child care worker and preschool teacher, eight hundred billion dollars into our public schools, universal College, $50 billion into historically black colleges and universities, and canceling student loan debt for 95 percent of the folks who've got it..

Casey McDermott:
So we're now going to talk about health care. So just a few days ago, I was out talking to voters and I was talking to a man who lives here in Concord. He said he voted for President Trump in 2016, but he's keeping his options open. He's looking for someone potentially new. And he likes some of what you've said about Medicare For All he said, healthcare's a big thing for him.

Senator Warren:
That's a good start.

Casey McDermott:
But he said, quote, She still hasn't come out and said where this money is going to come from. So where's the money going to come from?

Senator Warren:
So I'm working on the plan on that. And it's going to be out soon. And it'll talk about two things, both how much Medicare For All will cost and how we can pay for it. So it's hard. It's something I've been working on for a long time, but I'll have a plan on it soon.

Casey McDermott:
So we've got another question actually from a listener who asked it maybe a little bit more directly. William asked, Will my taxes go up under Medicare For All?

Senator Warren:
Let me put it this way. I have spent a big part of my life studying why families go broke. And one of the principal reasons is the cost of health care. Back when I was studying it, about two out of every three families filed for bankruptcy did so following a serious medical problem. And here's the thing. About two out of three of them had health insurance at the onset of the illness or accident. In other words, people who have health insurance are still not covered, but the costs brought them down. So here's how I think of this. We know that Medicare For All is the cheapest way to provide health care coverage for everyone. So we can pay for this. We will see most likely rich people's costs go up, corporations costs go up, but the costs to middle class families will go down. I will not sign any legislation into law for which costs for middle class families do not go down. I've spent my life fighting for families who are on the edge of going broke and we need to change that in this country. And one part of that is we've got to reduce the costs of health care.

Casey McDermott:
Do you have a sense of when we might expect to see the plan?

Senator Warren:
Soon.

Casey McDermott:
So we'll stay tuned on that. Your colleague, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, told CNBC recently that he does not think that now is the time for him to come out with his own plan on how to cover the costs for Medicare For All. He says that the bigger priority is focusing on making sure that America understands how much they're already paying for health care. I just wonder what you make of that rationale.

Senator Warren:
Bernie and I have been friends forever, and Bernie is out there talking about how he wants to be president and what his vision is. And I'm here today talking with you about how I'm running for president and what I'm going to put forward. You know, we just each run our own campaigns regardless of what kind of money is involved.

Casey McDermott:
Medicare For All would likely result in a pretty significant kind of shift in how our healthcare system is structured. And even supporters of that approach within the health policy world have said that that likely would mean lost jobs in some form. An economist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told Kaiser Health News earlier this year that that could result in about 2 million jobs lost. He said those would be mostly administrative positions and insurers, doctors offices. And he said that politicians who want to move toward that system, Medicare For All, have to think about what a quote, just transition, a fair transition, would look like. What would that look like for you?

Senator Warren:
So I agree. I think this is part of the cost issue and should be part of a cost plan, although do recognize on this what we're talking about. And that is in effect, how much of our health care dollars have not gone to health care, how many of those dollars have been pulled out in other directions? You don't think about the for profit insurance system that lies right at the middle right now of our health care delivery system, that that system May 23 billion dollars in profits last year. And that's after all of the executive salaries, all of the administrative people, all the fancy glass office buildings they built. And how did they make those profits?

Senator Warren:
Think about it. It's how much they took in in premiums and then turned around and said no. And every time they said no, they made another dollar of profits. That's just not a sustainable health care system.

Laura Knoy:
Coming up, more with Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. We'll talk about foreign policy, climate change, education and much more. You're listening to The Exchange on New Hampshire Public Radio.

Laura Knoy:
This is The Exchange, I'm Laura Knoy. Today, it's the latest in our primary 2020 candidate forums. We're talking with Democrat and Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and NHPR's Casey McDermott is also with me. And Casey, I know you had one more health care question for Senator Warren.

Senator Warren:
We do. And your website, your campaign speeches, go into detail on a number of health policy areas, but not as much when it comes to mental health, which is a big issue here locally and across the country. You do say we have to prioritize affordable, high quality mental health services. You say your Behavioral Health Coverage Transparency Act would hold insurers accountable for providing adequate benefits. But here in New Hampshire and a lot of other parts of the country, the problem isn't just insurance. It's finding someone who can provide that treatment. Just to put it into further perspective, according to our local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, just yesterday, there were 42 adults and five kids waiting in e.r.'s across New Hampshire because they didn't have access to the kind of treatment they need. What would you do about that?

Senator Warren:
So let me make a pitch here for Medicare For All, and that is that it's about universal coverage. And when I talk about universal coverage, it's not simply that every human being gets covered here. It's they also get covered for the full range of health care services. And that means both mental and physical health. You know, it's long been the law that they're supposed to be parity in terms of coverage between mental health and physical health. But that simply hasn't happened. The whole idea behind Medicare For All is if providers know that everyone who comes in and everyone who needs it will be fully covered and fully paid for, then more people can move in.

Senator Warren:
More people can open clinics and know that they can make them work economically. I worry a lot about where we are right now with mental health coverage, obviously for adults. I also worry about it for children. And so a part of what I think about is the intersection between making sure we have mental health coverage in our health care plans, but also that we're getting the right kind of access in our education plans.

Senator Warren:
The schools are called on to deal with children, to try to help children sometimes who have very serious problems and they need real help to be able to do that. So I think when we're talking about building out, I talk about the wealth tax and the importance of putting more money into our public schools. We didn't get to talk about that as much, but eight hundred billion dollars into our public schools, letting more of our schools be community schools, wraparound services with our schools. Think about how transformative it would be if families didn't have to worry about health care coverage and those who are providing those services knew they'd be covered. And at the same time, our public schools had more federal dollars put into them as well. And we're definitely going to be able to help take care of our kids.

Laura Knoy:
I wanted to switch now, Senator Warren, to foreign policy after the death of the Islamic State leader in a raid by U.S. forces. I'm sure you were watching that. The Pentagon says there may be more operations targeting other ISIS leaders. And defense leaders tell us there are still many thousands of ISIS forces in the region. What would a Warren administration's broad overall policy be toward ISIS and other potential terrorist groups?

Senator Warren:
Look, I have confidence in our intelligence community and our special forces to locate terrorists and to continue to take them out when necessary. We should be working with our allies to do that. The United States is not the only country interested in beating back the impact of terrorism. What I don't believe is that we should continue to fight endless wars that don't help us here. You know, we're now in our 18th year in Afghanistan. I was on the ground in Afghanistan with Senator McCain and what I think was his last overseas trip a couple of years ago. I talked with Afghan leaders. I talked with our own military leaders. I talked with civilians. And here we were at that point, sixteen years in. And what was happening, we we weren't winning a war.

Senator Warren:
We had our forces, combined with the Afghan government's forces, controlled less than 60 percent of the land. The opium trade had expanded along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan was a mess. The government was not supported by the people. There was widespread corruption. You said you'd pull U.S. forces out of Afghanistan. Combat forces, combat forces. Here's the thing. Our military is the best on Earth. All three of my brothers served in the military. They will do anything we ask them to do. But we should not be asking them to solve problems that can't be solved militarily. So for that, we need more diplomatic, more economic, more intelligence, and we need to work with our allies, not turn our backs on them. So what's the difference between pulling out of Afghanistan but keeping forces in Syria, working with the Kurds? Because that was consequences. I'm what Congress forces out above. We combat forces are not helping. We don't have a mission that we're taking forward. Look, keep in mind that when, for example, we took out Osama bin Laden, it was in Pakistan, a place where we had no forces of any kind. We used intelligence and we used special operations. And we were able to pinpoint where he was and execute on a mission to take him out. We need to use our intelligence. We will need to use our special forces. But that is not the same as waging an endless war. So more focused, targeted and focused on the threats that appear. That's right.

Laura Knoy:
Regarding military involvement and its impact, here's a question from a listener, Wayne Shorter, who asks. As a Vietnam veteran, I am wondering how your views on veterans services have been influenced by knowing the experience of your brothers and you just referenced your brothers.

Senator Warren:
That's right. So as Wayne may be has heard me say before. My oldest brother, Don Reed, spent about five and a half years off and on in combat in Vietnam. My second brother John was stationed overseas for over a year. My third brother, David, trained as a combat medic. And you better believe when I talk to my brothers, as I do on a regular basis, I get an earful about the V.A. and the need to make changes. Part of it is we need to make sure there are adequate resources. You know, I visit V.A. hospitals that were built more than half a century ago. Hallways that are too narrow to get the equipment down. Operating rooms that are too small to hold. The kind of high tech equipment that's available today to keep people alive during delicate surgery. We need better facilities. We also need to make sure there are adequate both physical health and mental health resources for our vets. But that takes commitment from the federal government. It takes acknowledging that the costs of war are more than just sending over tanks. That the costs of war are the long term costs of honoring our promises to our vets. This one for me is personal. I will make sure we have the money in this.

Laura Knoy:
We have been folding in questions from our listeners throughout this series of primary 2020 candidate interviews. So thank you again, Wayne, for contributing. One more foreign policy question, Senator Warren, and then I will turn it back to Casey. Since President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear agreement, Iran has taken several major steps away from the original deal, has made some threatening gestures in the region. If you were president, what would your broad approach be toward Iran?

Senator Warren:
Well, I would go back to negotiating a deal with Iran. I think it was incredibly foolish of the president to withdraw from that deal. I cannot see how it has improved anything. Iran has become more belligerent. Iran has moved closer to the development of a nuclear weapon that has created more instability in the region. I would have stuck with the deal to begin with. Now, what we've got to do, we we will be where we will be. Come January of 2021. But I think it is important to work with our allies. That's how we got the Iran deal to begin with. We got our allies to all agree we're going to put economic pressure on Iran. That's how we got them to the negotiating table. We got a good deal negotiated with Iran.

Senator Warren:
And then to not only to pull out of the deal, as as President Trump did, but to do it in defiance of all of our allies who had worked with us and who had said the deal is a return to the table. Basically, it gives you that palatable fare and strengthen the hands of the folks in Iran who wanted. Try to build a more stable country who want to be a force for stability in the region. Instead of strengthening the hand of the extremists in Iran, which is what Donald Trump has done.

Laura Knoy:
Let me turn back to you, Casey.

Casey McDermott:
Sure. So this is an issue that kind of bridges both foreign and domestic policy voting in elections. The former special counsel...

Senator Warren:
...now there was a time you would have said a question about voting in elections was entirely domestic. Think about it. And think about what it means that we now think of this as a national security issue and a foreign policy issue.

Casey McDermott:
So on that note, your election reform plan addresses this in some way. You say the federal government will manage the cybersecurity aspects of elections and to develop additional security procedures for election administration and end to end handling of ballots. But some cybersecurity experts say that the decentralization of U.S. elections, in other words, that they're run at the local and state level is actually a strength. So how would you balance that?

Senator Warren:
Look, I believe in getting the best advice you can and the best technical advice. But I have to say, anyone who wants to defend the current system. Man, I am just not there. There are current systems that are running on outmoded cyber protection, that are running on outmoded systems. And the fact that there are 50 of them doesn't help us a lot, because what we know is the Russians and others have the patience to go to all 50 of them and try to attack them. And without the kind of expertise and resources for the expertise that we can provide at the federal level, that means the states are individually vulnerable. There'll be some states that'll spend enough money to protect themselves. But what about the ones that don't? And when will we discover when it's way too late?

Casey McDermott:
So how do you guard against a situation where perhaps all states are using the same kind of back end systems for their, you know, voting elections, other kind of infrastructure, and someone figures out how to get into that and then it's game over.

Senator Warren:
Except it's not game over. Let me just do the other part of that. And that is for me the importance of truly the vote with paper balance. I'm all for electronically counting them because it moves faster. I get it. But there has to be a way to be able to go back and say if there's a problem, how do we know how the people of New Hampshire voted? And that's what a paper ballot does for you. Last I heard, there is no cyber expert on earth who can actually invade a paper ballot. So so I think that's what we have to do.

Casey McDermott:
So on on a similar note, you've proposed more uniform federal standards around ballot access, perhaps mandating automatic voter registration for one. But, you know, some local election officials, including here in New Hampshire, are wary of federal official coming in and telling them how to run their elections. How do you deal with that?

Senator Warren:
Well, you offer best practices and you offer to pay for it. You put money on the table and show them the best way to do it and then count on the good folks of New Hampshire to elbow their officials until they get it done. I just think that's what's crucial. Look, I don't want a federal government that comes in and says there's only one way to do anything. There are a lot of different ways to do things. I respect that. When we get a chance to talk, for example, about the education plan, it's very much about how it should be done locally. The same is true in health care. You know, I'm I believe in Medicare For All, which is about where you send the bill. But how you actually do the treatment is between the patient and the doctor or the patient and the nurse or the patient and the therapist in the case of voting. Let's put the best practices out there. Let's offer to pay for it so it's not going to cost anything. And then if there are variations that are appropriate to New Hampshire for reasons that are specific here, that's what New Hampshire should decide.

Casey McDermott:
So you've also been critical of some recent changes to New Hampshire election laws, including a new residency law that may have some implications for voting. Your top New Hampshire campaign staffer just recently filed an affidavit in a lawsuit that's seeking to overturn that new law. Should say that there's a hearing in federal court today on that same law. Why take that step of getting involved in this kind of case in a state where you're on the ballot?

Senator Warren:
Well, for two reasons. The first is a point of principle. I believe that every American citizen is entitled to vote and to get that vote counted. And I think that's where we should start. That is the bedrock of democracy. And every effort to try to keep American citizen. From voting raises my suspicions, but the second part is that we simply offered evidence of what we're encountering when our folks are out on the ground. And, you know, you put it very diplomatically, might have some effect on you. It's designed to keep college students from voting. Come on. Can't we just be blunt about that?

Casey McDermott:
That's actually been something that's been difficult for us to get the state to acknowledge so that whether they acknowledge it or not, we're there to say.

Senator Warren:
College students keep coming up to us and saying, I'd like to be engaged in his campaign. I really want to be able to vote in the primary. Can I? I don't know the rules. What are the rules? Am I in? Am I out? Do I have to go register somewhere else? Do I register here? If I register my car? Is that what will make the difference? What does it take? So we're here to say two things. Principle. Everybody ought to be able to vote. But the second part is to say we have evidence that it's causing a great deal of confusion. And when you've got confusion, you suppress voting. And I just don't believe in suppressing voting. Everybody votes. We counted up and counted accurately. That's what democracy's about. That's how it should work.

Laura Knoy:
Senator Warren, I when asked about climate change. And Democrats did a very long event on climate change. So I won't get into all the details here because we could spend many hours on it. But I did look at your climate change proposal. There's a long, long list of ideas, too, that I'd like to specifically ask you about. One is a carbon tax, Senator Warren. Is that part of your climate plan?

Senator Warren:
Sure. I'm open to this, although I want to be clear. It's just not going to be enough. I don't think that's if we'd done that 25 years ago. We'd be in a very different position today. I think what are going to be the real drivers of of attacking climate change are going to be about having regulation in some key industries and about things like a green manufacturing plan, which I'm glad to talk about.

Laura Knoy:
Well, and the other piece that I want to ask about in again is just a quick question. Does your decarbonisation plan include nuclear power?

Senator Warren:
So we're going to probably have to rely on existing nuclear power to produce electricity with out putting more carbon into the Air Force some years into the future. But I don't support building new nuclear plants in all cases. We're gonna have to follow the science and where it takes us. I believe in science. That's why one of my principal plans is to double down and double down again and double down again on the investment in research and development in basic science that takes us across the spectrum of not just green energy, but how we clean up the water, how we clean up the earth desalinisation, because there's actually an opportunity here. Think of it this way we could go to zero carbon emissions as a country by 2030, 2035. That will be hard work, but we could do it. And I totally support it.

Senator Warren:
But if we do, it's only 20 percent of the problem. We have to think about the entire world and how we bring down carbon emissions, not just here in America, but all around the globe.

Laura Knoy:
Coming up, more of our conversation with Democratic presidential candidate, Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. We'll talk about education, campaign finance and a lot more. Stay with us. You're listening to The Exchange on New Hampshire Public Radio.

Laura Knoy:
This is The Exchange, I'm Laura Knoy. Today, our series of primary 2020 candidate forums continues with Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. NHPR's Casey McDermott is also with me asking questions. Senator Warren,just before the break, we were talking about climate change. We could talk about this for many hours, but we did receive a question from a listener who really, I thought, asked a great question. And we've been asking all the candidates about this. Her name is Carissa. And she says, What specific steps have you taken in your campaign to ensure that your campaign's environmental impact is as limited as possible? Now, yesterday, excuse me, Monday, Tom Steyer told us that he's only flying commercial. And he said that means a lot of time waiting in airports for me and my staff. But there's a huge carbon footprint of a private jet. So that's the sacrifice he said he was willing to make. How about you?

Senator Warren:
So I mostly been flying commercial. But we've been trying to look at other ways that we can reduce our carbon footprint. And it's everything from the kind of car we drive and down to do we purchase offsets? Can we make that work as a way to try to reduce the footprint?

Senator Warren:
You know, one of the things that's been so interesting to me in the whole area of climate has been the good ideas that have come from lots of different campaigns. One, I just want to get a pitch in here for is when Governor Inslee was running. He talked about the importance of regulating three industries that by 2020, eight no new buildings, no new houses that have any carbon footprint, zero carbon footprint on new building by 2030, all newly built cars and trucks, zero carbon footprint. And by 2035, all electric production. Zero carbon footprint. We do those three things. We cut carbon emissions in our country by 70 percent.

Senator Warren:
Think about that. Three things. 70 percent reduction. Now we still got to work on the other 30 percent. That's not the old buildings. We have got to work on the 30 percent. But think about how the willingness to step up and use some regulation in this area could make a huge difference. So I've been working with Governor Inslee on that. That's part of now my plan. But it's part of saying when you can find good ideas, especially on climate change, let's pick them up, because this is not going to be one thing or another thing. It's going to be an all of the above. Go ahead, Casey.

Casey McDermott:
Sure. So we're going to turn back to education, which I know you good to previously, and specifically education funding, which is just a perennial issue in New Hampshire. We've been engaged in court battles, legislative debates over it for decades. According to VOX, you are aiming to turn federal money into a carrot to get states to invest more of their own money. States that adopt progressive funding formulas and keep their promises for allocating that money consistently would get additional Title 1 money under your plan. But as we mentioned, you know, that's been tough to get New Hampshire officials to buy into you. How would you deal with a situation if New Hampshire would not step up the additional funding that would be necessary? What would that mean for New Hampshire students?

Senator Warren:
So let me describe this slightly differently. No one is going to lose any funding under this plan. But from that two cent wealth tax that we talked about back at the top of the hour. We've got about 800 billion dollars that we can put directly into our public schools. What I propose is quadrupling the funding that goes into Title 1 schools, schools that are teaching low income children.

Senator Warren:
It's important in designing something like this that you have a strong maintenance of effort and that states are continuing to pay their fair share because you sure don't want a situation where you put in federal money. The state takes out its money and the kids are no better off. The idea here is to be able to expand, but there's nothing that takes away money from New Hampshire and there's nothing that requires New Hampshire to do its school funding in any particular way.

Senator Warren:
That's for the folks of New Hampshire to figure out what I'm doing with this plan is putting money on the table for them. If they do maintenance of effort, if they're trying to put in something to help those kids, then we're going to make sure they get help. There are two other parts on funding that I want to make sure you know about. And the second one is, for the first time in history to fully fund IDSA idea, which means full funding for children with disabilities so that they get the education that they need to reach their full. Tanjil and the third is a hundred billion dollars in excellence grants. That works out roughly to about a million dollars for each public school system. I'm sorry for each public school offer systems, each public school. And it's for that school to spend the money the way they want to spend it, the way they think will provide. Excellent. So up north, it might be that they need a couple of new school buses and some school bus drivers and that would help them on the transportation in somewhere else. It might be that it's time to bring in more counselors or that they want to be able to expand their music and arts program as they see it, as they see fit. It's so back to this notion of the federal government shouldn't be telling people how to do it. It's about being a good partner when our local schools are doing their best.

Laura Knoy:
Senator Warren, speaking of money, I wanted to ask you about some of your own fundraising. You say you're 100 percent grassroots funded in this presidential campaign. Most of the money coming from donors giving 200 or less, according The Washington Post, though. You also tapped millions of dollars for this presidential race with money left over from your U.S. Senate race, which included cash from those high dollar donors that you sometimes criticize. Why is it okay to use those moneys to get this presidential bid off the ground and then swear off that kind of money for the rest of the campaign?

Senator Warren:
Look, when I was up for re-election in twenty eighteen, I raised $20 million through grass roots donations and I then gave away or directly raised about eleven million dollars for other Democrats around the country. I gave contributions to every single Democratic Party. I knew the least, believed that I could run my campaign without spending a whole lot of money on radio and TV. Instead, going out and doing a lot of town halls was how I ran. And so I had the money leftover. And I told you that a Tandja heart about the source. So it's not a change of harmonies and understanding. Look, this is a presidential primary. We are Democrats running against Democrats. We have an opportunity to build a grassroots movement, to build a campaign, not by sucking up to corporate executives and high dollar donors, but to build it person by person across this country. We should use this opportunity when it's just Democrats against Democrats to build that grassroots movement. I'll tell you why. Because come November 2020, when you've built the grassroots movement, that's gonna be our comparative advantage. Yes. Running for president in America is nothing more than going out and sucking up as much money as you can and then running a bunch of TV ads and doing some photo ops. Then democracy is going to keep working better and better and better for the richer and richer and richer folks in this country and leaving everyone else behind. I think the primary is our chance to fix about the primary itself.

Laura Knoy:
And as you know, Senator Warren, Democrats are desperate to get President Trump out of office. If you're the nominee, what's your message to those Democrats who worry that you're putting yourself at a disadvantage with self-imposed fundraising restrictions? No big money, no corporate money, no PACs. They're worried that you won't be able to compete.

Senator Warren:
I don't think this is a disadvantage. People have contributed five and ten dollars to my campaign. And Bernie Sanders and I were the two top fundraisers by a huge amount in the latest quarter. And that's the way we funded this campaign. I think people are sick of an America and sick of campaigns that are bought and paid for by billionaires and by corporate executives and by lobbyists who are just in a transactional business trying to make sure that they're gonna get what they want. On the other side of the election, people invest in my campaign, whether it's $5 or $25. And I should add, whether they volunteer an hour or volunteer every Tuesday morning. It's volunteers that are the heart and soul of this campaign. Democracy is broken in America. Democracy is broken. People understand this.

Senator Warren:
Democracy is working for the rich and not working for much of anyone else. If we can't run a Democratic primary with out the high dollar fundraisers every single election I gathered. But the point is that if you don't live and build it now, you won't be there. Now, look, I'm not asking Democrats across this country to unilaterally disarm. I'm not asking state parties to disarm. I'll help them raise money. I think that's great. But the way we ought to run our presidential primary and then create the strength that the way we ought to run for president is we ought to do it as a truly democratic movement. Enough people pitching in their $5 and volunteering an hour that we not only win in the process, we actually repair our democracy.

Laura Knoy:
Go ahead, Casey.

Casey McDermott:
Sure. So we asked listeners what they wanted us to ask presidential candidates. And one of the most common themes was how you're going to find common ground when things seem to be so divisive both in and outside of government. So a listener, Megan from Charlestown, asked, how do you plan to work with the other party when both parties seem unwilling to listen to or work with each other to be effective?

Senator Warren:
Show I do work with the other side. I've got more than a dozen bills pass at the law and they've been bipartisan. And that's just been since Donald Trump has been elected president. I got a huge one that I'm really excited about. It's going to reduce the cost of hearing aids by permitting over-the-counter sales and did it entirely in a bipartisan manner and signed into law by President Trump. I know how to work with the other side, but I think of this as a much deeper question. You know, I mentioned my three brothers back in Oklahoma. One is a Democrat. Yeah. Do the math. But the thing is, there are things we disagree on. And I get that and we try to disagree respectfully. And sometimes we even raise our voices.

Senator Warren:
But at the end of the day, our values are very much the same. You know, none of my brothers or I want to see anybody go broke because somebody in the family got sick. None of my brothers or I want to see a child not get the best possible education because that kid lives in the wrong zip code.

Senator Warren:
None of us want to see an America where we can't hold our heads up overseas, where we're seen as the country that turns our backs on our allies and cuts and runs instead of supporting the people who fought alongside us.

Senator Warren:
When we talk about those core principles about who we want to be as a country and the kind of investment we want to make in the future, a future that doesn't just work for the rich, but a future that works for everyone. I think there is a lot of common ground. I'm somebody who's who's who has a basic moral guiding principle. There's value in each and every human being. We find that value. We work together. We build a future.

Casey McDermott:
So following up on that same theme, you know, both here in New Hampshire and also nationally, if you're following the coverage of conversation with voters. A lot of the things that come up when people talk about your campaign as people like you. Some Democrats might like you, but they worry about whether you could be, you know, at a disadvantage during a general election campaign because of the attack ads that Republicans might run, because of the perception that you're too left wing, your coastal elite. The list goes on. How do you respond to those concerns from people within your own party that you may not be able to survive a general election?

Senator Warren:
You know, I I think of it this way. I think of it as two parts. First, the question is about Donald Trump. He'll be out there every day saying ugly things. Can we just be clear? That won't just be about me. It'll be about whoever our nominee is who ever threatens this man. Did we just see yesterday where he attacked someone who had served our country honorably? And why does Donald Trump attack him and question his loyalty? Because he threatened Donald Trump. He threatens Donald Trump's security. He threatens Donald Trump's personal interests. So he's gonna do this no matter what. Here's what I also believe. The Trump show is growing old. People are just getting tired of this. They're just worn out. And I think folks are ready to change the channel. And so when we change the channel, it can't just be more about Donald Trump. He doesn't get to control every story, every narrative. We got to be there with our ideas about what we can do about the kind of America that we can build our ideas for. What? Broken. And what we're going to do to fix it and how we're going to build a grassroots movement to get it.

Laura Knoy:
I think, Senator Warren, what we're trying to get at is many Democrats here in New Hampshire not talking about Donald Trump right now, but many Democrats that we talked to. Again, as Casey said, they like the way you campaign. They like your energy. They like some of your ideas. But they do worry that your tax and spending policies will be unpalatable for the general election. They you know, they talk to us all the time. They say we like Elizabeth Warren, but we wish she would moderated a little bit to make herself more palatable. That's what I hear from people.

Senator Warren:
Well, all I can say is, so what do I say to those who say wealth tax is not only supported by a majority of Democrats and a majority of independents, a majority of Republicans support the two cent wealth tax? Look, the idea that this country is working great for the rich and the powerful and not for anybody else working great for giant drug companies, but not for people who are trying to get a prescription filled work and great for oil companies that want to drill everywhere, but not for the rest of us who see climate change bearing down upon us. It's not just Democrats who see that. It's Democrats and Republicans who see it. I think trying to define things in terms of the old left. Right. Sure. That's what some of the Republicans want to do. That's what Donald Trump'll do. If he thinks that'll work. If he thinks anybody still listening.

Senator Warren:
But the key is to think of the world in terms of how people are living it. People who are trying to get a prescription filled, people who see the high cost of housing, people who are getting crushed by medical bills and student loans. In 2020, we got a chance to change that.

Laura Knoy:
Senator Warren is a lot more we could have talked about. Here's the last easy question for you. How many hours of sleep to get a night?

Senator Warren:
Oh, I got a good seven to eight, sometimes eight. Now I sleep. I do my exercise and I sleep. I'm taking care of myself because I'm going to be in this fight all the way.

Laura Knoy:
Well, thank you, Senator Warren, for being here. Thanks also to my colleague, Casey McDermott. And also thanks to our audience for joining us. Thank you for coming out this morning. This is The Exchange on New Hampshire Public Radio.