COUNCIL BLUFFS — Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is staking her spot in the Democratic presidential primary as the candidate who “has a plan for that.”
And she indeed has a host of plans on just about everything, plans that in total would dramatically shift the U.S. economy, here in the Midlands and across the country.
Warren, who was in Council Bluffs on Wednesday, told The World-Herald in an interview that big changes mean big benefits for everyday people living in Nebraska and Iowa.
“There’s a fundamental question about how you build an economy that works for everyone,” she said. “I believe we build the strongest economy when we build it from the bottom up.”
For example: She is one of the candidates promoting a “Medicare for All” health care system. Under such a system, health care would be paid for by the government rather than private insurance plans.
Beyond the dramatic difference in how health care is paid for, it would most likely mean a major shift for workers in Omaha and other cities in which insurance companies are major employers.
So what would happen to all those Omahans whose work for a health insurance company that would no longer be needed under Medicare for All?
Warren said some of them would instead work for the Medicare system, doing similar work for another entity.
But she argued that her plans would give those workers more opportunity and create an economy that works better for them.
“(Those plans put) money in the pockets of people right here in Omaha, right here in Council Bluffs, right here in every small town throughout the region,” she said. “The child care plan, for example, is money that goes straight down to the community. It helps working families, it helps mamas go back to school to finish their education.”
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Warren is one of more than 20 Democrats vying to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
She’s among the leaders in the polls, though in such a crowded field, that means drawing 10% to 20% support.
Her competition in the “economic progressive lane” is fellow Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is staking out a more moderate position, hoping to convince voters that he’s more likely to defeat Trump.
Warren spoke to about 1,100 people in the Bluffs, touting her new rural economic plan, which addresses issues like accessible rural broadband, hospital mergers and investing in research for sustainable farm practices.
As a centerpiece of her plan, rather than paying subsidies, Warren would have the government in essence buy crops at cost if the farmer can’t find a buyer at a higher price.
She said during the interview that ethanol is an “important part” of her plan for farmers and that she would limit the Trump administration practice of allowing oil companies to get exemptions from the federal mandate to blend ethanol into fuel.
Another dramatic economic shift she’s proposed is in trade — she is strongly critical of Trump’s tariffs.
“Trump’s tariff-by-tweet (approach) has been a punch in the face to American farmers,” she said.
But Warren doesn’t want to go back to the trade policies of previous administrations. Instead, she proposes a new system prioritizing favorable trade deals for countries that have favorable policies on things like human rights and climate change.
To Nebraska and Iowa farmers who rely on international markets to sell their beef, soy and other crops, Warren said she expects that they would still have those markets.
“We need a stable trade policy, negotiated with farmers at the table, so that those markets stay open to our sellers and we’re not caught in this chaotic back-and-forth trade war,” she said.
At the Bluffs rally, Warren received a warm reception with her talk of raising taxes on the wealthy and combating corruption in politics.
“We’ve got to have big, structural change,” she said.