Warren Pitches ‘Accountable Capitalism’ to Union Voters
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts and 2020 presidential candidate, speaks at the Polk County Steak Fry in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.(Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

Warren Pitches ‘Accountable Capitalism’ to Union Voters

(Bloomberg) -- Elizabeth Warren asked union workers in Detroit on Sunday to embrace her sweeping progressive policy proposals, laying out her vision for “accountable capitalism” that has helped her rise to the top of the polls, where she now runs neck-and-neck with the longtime Democratic front-runner, Joe Biden.

“I’m tired of playing defense against the big money, I’m tired of playing defense against giant corporations that just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” Warren said at a forum hosted by the United Food and Commercial Workers, America’s largest private-sector union with 1.3 million members. “There’s a whole lot more of us than there is of them, and in a democracy that’s what ought to count.”

Warren Pitches ‘Accountable Capitalism’ to Union Voters

As she ticked off policy proposals, Warren emphasized her plans for a radical transformation of the economy -- a stance that differentiates her from Biden, who’s called for moderate, incremental changes. Warren said that’s not enough.

Corporations “have loyalty to exactly one thing, and that is their own profits,” she said. “The idea that somehow we’re going to fight back every time against these is too far. What we need is big, structural change.”

Warren has put unions at the forefront of her presidential campaign, vowing to bring in a union leader as labor secretary and promising that a union representative would be present at trade negotiations.

A strong turnout by organized labor will be key for Democrats as they seek to defeat President Donald Trump in crucial swing states in the rust belt such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. These states were supposed to ensure Hillary Clinton’s victory in 2016 but all went for Trump, at least in part thanks to support from some union members, who had traditionally been solidly aligned with the Democrats.

Warren’s Message

Warren’s message Sunday echoed some of the rhetoric deployed by Trump in 2016, when he campaigned on revamping trade deals and reviving the manufacturing sector.

Addressing questions from union members, she emphasized the need to regulate big corporations and enforce strict antitrust laws. She also presented detailed plans to address critical issues for factory workers, such as the threat to jobs from automation and technology. Under a Warren administration, she said, workers would elect 40% of the board of directors in large corporations, giving them a say in investment decisions.

“I want to see our companies be prosperous but not just so that a bunch of investors an get richer and richer,” she said, “but in a way where the workers are getting a big chunk of that prosperity as well.”

Warren’s populist message has been resonating. After a summer of campaigning across the country, she has been vying for the lead with Biden and has surged pass her rival for the progressive mantle, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

In Iowa, a CNN/Des Moines Register survey released Sept. 21 found Warren leading with 22% while Biden had 20%. A UC Berkeley poll from Sept. 25 found Warren ahead in California with 29% support from likely voters, compared with Biden’s 20%. She was statistically tied with Biden -- 27% to 25% -- in a Quinnipiac national poll released Wednesday.

Big Corporations

Warren assured workers that big corporations such as Walmart Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. would be a priority for her presidency, and she vowed to break up large companies.

“I believe in enforcing the antitrust laws, these giant corporations need to be broken up,” Warren said to applause. “They have so much power now, that right now they are the ones who call the shots in Washington,” she said, adding that “a unionized Walmart, a unionized Amazon, that is a very different company.”

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar also participated in the forum Sunday. Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg are scheduled to attend a UFCW forum in Iowa on Oct. 13.

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