On Saturday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) officially announced that she is running for president in 2020. Warren’s declaration comes more than four weeks after the formation of her presidential “exploratory committee.”
During her speech in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Warren stated that the “system” has been “rigged by the wealthy and the well-connected,” and that “the man in the White House is not the cause of what is broken,” but “the latest and most extreme symptom of what’s gone wrong in America.”
Here are seven key quotes from Warren’s speech, which focused heavily on wealth inequality:
So, once he’s gone, we can’t pretend that none of this ever happened. It won’t be enough to just undo the terrible acts of this administration. We can’t afford just to tinker around the edges — a tax credit here, a regulation there — our fight is for big, structural change.
I’ve spent most of my life studying what happened to families like mine, families caught in the squeeze, families that go broke. And what I found was that year after year, the path to economic security had gotten tougher and rockier for working families, and even tougher and even rockier for people of color.
Over the years, America’s middle class has been deliberately hollowed out, and families of color have been systematically discriminated against and denied their chance to build some security. Now, it started very quietly. The richest and most powerful people in America, they were rich — I mean really rich – but they wanted to be even richer and they didn’t care who got hurt. So, every year, bit by bit, they lobbied Washington and paid off politicians to tilt the system just a little more in their direction. And year by year, bit by bit, more of the wealth and opportunity went to the people at the very top. And that is how today, in the richest country in the history of the world, tens of millions of a people are struggling to get by.
“Middle Class Squeeze”
Since the early 1970s, adjusted for inflation, wages in America have barely budged, but the cost of housing has gone up nearly two-thirds, the cost of college has nearly tripled, and 40% of Americans couldn’t find $400 to cover an emergency. That is millions of hard working people in this country whose lives would be turned upside down if the transmission fell out of the car or somebody got sick and missed a week at work. The middle class squeeze is real and millions of families can barely breathe. It is not right.
Take home ownership — the number one way that middle class families build wealth in our country. Back in 1960, it was legal to discriminate against families of color, and the gap between white homeownership and black homeownership rates was 27 percentage points. That’s a lot. Over time, we changed the law to prohibit that kind of discrimination and the gap began to close. But today, the home ownership gap between black and white families is 30 percentage points — bigger than it was back in 1960 when housing discrimination was actually legal. Race matters, and we need to say so.
And we can’t be blind to the fact that the rules in our country have been rigged against other people for a long time — women, LGBTQ Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, immigrants, people with disabilities — and we need to call it out.
New Generation v the “Rich and Powerful”
In the 1940s, 90% of all kids were destined to do better than their parents. By the 1980s, the odds had slipped to 50/50. And now, we could be the first generation in American history where more kids do worse than their parents.
And meanwhile, the rich and powerful seem to break the rules and pay no price. No matter what they do, they grow richer and more powerful. Bailouts for bankers that cheat, tax cuts for companies that scam, subsidies for corporations that pollute — that’s what a rigged system looks like. Too little accountability for the rich; too little opportunity for everyone else.
You can watch Sen. Warren’s entire speech here:
Warren enters a rapidly growing field of Democratic presidential candidates that includes Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), and businessman Andrew Yang.
Additionally, there are rumblings that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will announce a bid for the nomination shortly. Other potential Democratic candidates include former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, and current mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg.