During her presidential campaign, Elizabeth Warren argued that a bold and progressive agenda was the surest way to defeat Donald Trump – and to help Americans in need. She argued that “if the Democrats played it safe, then the Democrats would lose.”

“We win when we have enough ideas to solve the big problems in people’s lives and fight for them,” she said at a campaign event in New Hampshire over the years. one year.

Time and time again she warned against the kind of moderate vision offered by Joe Biden. But now, with Biden in the White House, Warren is embracing the new president as a progressive ally.

“President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have presented the most progressive agenda in modern history,” Warren recently told WBUR.

Much like she did when she ran for president last year, Warren still pushes a number of progressive policies – from wealth tax to student debt cancellation to a salary. minimum of $ 15. The difference now is that the senator from Massachusetts has an ally in the White House.

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren addresses her supporters at a campaign event in Iowa in 2020 (Jesse Costa / WBUR)

While Warren shares a number of political goals with Biden, she is also ready to use her progressive influence to try to push the new president further to the left. An example: his proposal wealth tax. Warren’s plan would impose a 2% tax on individual wealth over $ 50 million and 3% on wealth over $ 1 billion. The proposal was at the center of Warren’s presidential campaign, and now that she sits on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, she plans to present a bill to make it the law.

“The idea behind this is just to bring in money to invest in our future,” Warren told WBUR, adding that the estate tax of the super-rich would help pay for everything from universal child care to the free public university to the cancellation of student loan debt. More moderate Democrats, including Larry summers, who headed the National Economic Council under Barack Obama, called the proposal impractical and possibly unconstitutional. Summers called the tax “confiscatory,” arguing it would only encourage billionaires to hide their assets.

“Pointing the finger at billionaires and saying that we should take their money away from them may sound good, but it is an ineffective political strategy,” Summers said.

Warren is quick to dismiss such criticism: “Go with the program here, Larry,” she said with a chuckle to WBUR. “What’s your best idea? Look, there are many, many economists who disagree with Larry on this. . ‘ “

But Biden also didn’t pass a wealth tax. While he ran on a promise to dramatically raise taxes for the wealthiest Americans, he wouldn’t tax the accumulated wealth like Warren would.

Another issue that Warren and Biden aren’t completely aligned with is how to approach the student loan debt crisis. Some 45 million Americans must, on average, over $ 37,000, what Warren calls a “crushing burden.” She is pushing to allow Americans to write off up to $ 50,000 in student loan debt.

“These are people who cannot leave their parents’ house,” she said. “These are the people who cannot buy their own homes … These are the people who cannot start small businesses because they [have to] make that monthly nut on their student loan payment. “

Tackling this particular issue is a top priority for progressives, including Massachusetts MP Ayanna Pressley, who recently spoke about his own experience with student loan debt, which hits black and brown students particularly hard.

“Like so many of these students, I also defaulted on these loans,” Pressley said during a press conference organized by the American Federation of Teachers. “Black and brown students are five times more likely to default on these loans than our white counterparts.”

Biden’s student loan cancellation plan is less ambitious than Warren’s; the president wants to write off up to $ 10,000 in student debt and make public colleges and universities free. But during a recent CNN town hall, a member of the public urged the president to accept “at least” a minimum of $ 50,000. “When are you going to get there?” She asked to know.

“I won’t make it,” Biden replied. “It depends on whether you are going to a private university or a public university.”

Biden is sympathetic to the cause, but argues that debt relief should be focused more on people who really need it – as opposed to “people who went to Harvard, Yale, and Penn.” But Warren pushes back and says his more ambitious plan would help tackle racial inequality.

“There isn’t a single act the President could take alone to close this racial wealth gap that would impact as big as the cancellation of $ 50,000 in student loan debt,” Warren told WBUR.

“I want to see President Biden [and] Vice President Harris to continue to meet the moment. And I’ll always push them to do more, and I’ll encourage them when they do. “

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Warren’s stature as a respected political expert on the left means she can push back Biden, even if she remains his ally. That doesn’t mean she’ll always get what she wants, but Jeff Hauser of the Revolving Door Project, a progressive group that scrutinizes executive appointments, says she has the president’s ear. Hauser points out that a number of people with strong ties in Warren already work in the Treasury Department and the Executive branch – which adds to his considerable influence with the President.

“I think Biden respects her both as someone who has academic skills and a significant record of political achievement,” Hauser said. “And I think her presidential campaign made her a national force to be reckoned with.”

Warren told WBUR she sees her role as both an ally and a critic of the president – as he tackles a pandemic, an economic crisis and a historic racial calculus.

“I want to see President Biden [and] Vice President Harris to continue meeting the moment, ”she said.“ And I’ll always push them hard to do more, and I’ll cheer them on when they do. “

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