How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Elizabeth Warren - The candidate with lots of big ideas

Early presidential polls and early presidential debates are rarely predictive of the eventual outcome. However, they often provide clues as to the outcome. In a recent Des Moines Register/CNN poll, Vice President Joe Biden was the front runner with 24%, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders at 16%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 15%, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 14% and Sen. Kamala Harris at 7%. No other candidate, including our own Sen. Booker, had more than 2%. The big surprise of various state and national polls has been the surge of Elizabeth Warren. She also recently came in second in polls in California, Nevada and South Carolina). Warren, the candidate with the big ideas, is getting early traction and will be helped by her solid performance in the first Presidential Debate.

Vice President Biden was at 32% in this poll in December and 27 percent in March and Warren was at 8% in December and 9% in March. Thus, this is a very strong early showing for Sen. Warren. It is important to note that in caucus states like Iowa, if no candidate in a precinct reaches the 15% support threshold (which is possible with a huge field of candidates), each individual supporter has an opportunity to switch their support to another candidate.

For this reason, the Iowa poll gave respondents the option to give three levels of support to each candidate: first choice, second choice, or “actively considering.” When all three tiers of support were added together, among those who indicated they planned to vote in person, Biden and Warren both got 61% possible support, Sanders 56% and Buttigieg and Harris each got 52%.

Recently, Elizabeth Warren was on the cover of Times (May 20th). To the right of her photo was the headline “I HAVE A PLAN FOR THAT – Democrat Elizabeth Warren is betting Americans are ready for her big ideas”. Inside was a laudatory seven-page article by Haley Sweetland Edwards that makes the case that her many complex policy proposals designed to address an array of problems from unaffordable housing, child care, health care, protecting public lands, cracking down on lobbying in Washington and forgiving the overwhelming burden of student debt, “taken as a whole, is ….a populist political revolution.”

Elizabeth Warren is running the most issued-oriented substantive presidential campaign I can remember. It is a campaign of new ideas. I agree with some of them and disagree with others, but I’m very impressed with the ambitious sweeping nature of her policy proposals.

I especially like Warren’s plan to break up big technology companies and prevent big tech mergers that undermine market competition and her plan to allocate $100 billion over 10 years to curb drug addiction and to greatly expand access to treatment. Like many of her big ideas, her opioid crisis plan would be paid for by two new taxes, a corporate tax and what she calls an “ultra-millionaire” tax.

These two new taxes are the crucial underpinning for all of her policy initiative. The first is a 7% tax on businesses’ profits that exceed $100 million in a year. The second is a 2% annual wealth tax on individuals with more than $50 million in net worth, rising to 3% annually on those with more than a $1 billion in wealth.

The wealth tax would affect the top one-tenth of the richest 1% of Americans – America’s ultra-millionaires and billionaires. Warren estimates that these taxes, on America’s 75,000 wealthiest households, would generate in excess of $3.75 trillion over a decade.

That is a tremendous amount of money that would provide the funds for a $2 trillion “green manufacturing” plan that combines industrial policy, foreign policy and federal procurement to tackle the existential threat of climate change. Warren believes that economic policy should be more oriented towards promoting domestic manufacturing and domestic export-orientated industries. She further asserts that many of today’s socioeconomic ills are a direct result of the high concentration of power and wealth that can be rectified with better and more pro-active regulatory intervention. According to a recent New York Times cover story on Warren, her “overwhelming ambition is to end America’s second Gilded Age.”

The wealth tax, which she calls an Ultra-Millionaire tax, would provide the funds required to undertake the various government social welfare, health and education programs, i.e., high-quality childcare and pre-kindergarten and forgiving student-loan debt. It is a program that Warren contends would restore the American dream to millions of American families.

Opponents of her “wealth tax” indicate that it’s very difficult to enforce as the ultra-wealthy tend to have very hard-to-value assets, i.e. real estate holdings, trusts and closely held businesses etc. It is also difficult to value these assets on an ongoing basis, e.g., the value of a large privately-held company could change almost daily. Further, critics of the wealth tax contend it will discourage the accumulation of wealth, which is thought to drive economic growth in our capitalistic system.

No doubt, if Elizabeth Warren captures the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, her capitalistic and her Native American credentials will be attacked and mocked by President Trump. I’m beginning to believe that Warren, like Nancy Pelosi, has what it takes, to weather the storm and get under his skin and expose the President as someone who is incapable from both an intellectual and temperament perspective of having a serious policy discussion on the big structural change desperately need to make America Fair Again.