An Elizabeth Warren Presidency Would Be Great for Capitalism

Warren at a New Hampshire rally in January

ELIZABETH WARREN was one of the first and most anticipated democrats to enter the race for the party’s nomination in the 2020 presidential election, although she has been looked upon with some skepticism for being too progressive in the post-2016 election era. It’s true, Warren has made a habit of going after the world’s largest corporations and financial institutions. A quick search on YouTube turns up dozens of videos of Warren taking on giants from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell to former Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf in testy hearings in the Senate. However, she is not the far-left liberal she’s often made out to be.

Warren is one of the few current democratic candidates to clarify her view on “Medicare for all,” saying instead of banning private insurance altogether, a ridiculous notion, that insurance companies need to be held accountable when they’re working against their customers, and Big Pharma needs to be regulated to prevent prescription drug price gouging: “…Changes to hold insurance companies accountable when they’re trying to cheat people, when they’re trying to scam people… We need to lower the cost of prescription drugs.” These are not radical ideas, and often are not partisan ones. President Trump has himself recently suggested requiring pharmaceutical companies to include prices in prescription drug ads. The fact that drug prices are rapidly rising means that many Americans are having to pay out of pocket, and the U.S. government is now spending an average of $1,011 per capita on prescription drugs, about twice as much as other industrial nations¹. If these costs could be minimized through increased competition and a bit of regulation, they could then be passed down as tax cuts for the middle class or government spending on infrastructure, a stimulative for the economy.

Graph: The Economist

It’s not just prescription drug prices where Warren’s policies could serve to help American capitalism. She has also made a point of breaking up big tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon, all of which have concentrated an amount of wealth comparable only to the days of the Gilded Age and Standard Oil. Disdain for capitalism on the left exists because the current economic structure in the U.S. represents more of an oligarchy than a capitalist society. The middle class is shrinking and wealth inequality is getting more disparate. In 2007, the richest 1 per cent owned more wealth than the bottom 38 per cent. Now, that number is over 90 per cent². Ask yourself which is more indicative of a successful, competitive capitalist structure: a society with a few multi-billionaires and gigantic firms worth close to $1 trillion (i.e. the current reality), or one with thousands of millionaires and hundreds of smaller market-share companies competing with each other? One of these employs more people, increases overall quality of life, lowers prices, and injects money into middle class households, among other benefits.

If enacted correctly, Warren’s policies would take steps to reach that latter option, and reinvigorate a struggling capitalist democracy. The first two issues listed on the platform section of Warren’s campaign website are ending corruption in Washington and rebuilding the middle class, two issues that Trump ran on fixing in 2016 and has in fact made worse by a few orders of magnitude. Warren has embraced a highly economy-centric campaign, something that democrats ignored in 2016 to their own peril. Now, however, it seems redundantly obvious, and is a cornerstone in all democratic presidential-hopeful’s campaigns. Currently, Warren seems to hold the clearest message and most realistic solution. Whether or not she is the most electable candidate remains to be seen after a couple of early blunders got her campaign off to a rough start. After all, for any progress to be made, one thing is clear: the current president must go.

  1. What Do You Know About Prescription Drug Costs? The Pew Charitable Trusts.
  2. Kristof, Nicholas (July 22, 2014). “An Idiot’s Guide to Inequality”. The New York Times.