Building a Government That Works for Everyone

Delivered by Elizabeth Warren at St. Anselm College, 12/12/2019

Hello, St. Anselm College!

It is good to be back in New Hampshire. Our country has reached a crossroads, and in 2020, voters in New Hampshire’s First In The Nation primary will help determine where we go from here. Thanks for investing your time to get this right.

I’m very happy to be here at a university that is giving the world a front row seat to our democratic process.

Nearly forty years ago, Ronald Reagan declared that the problem with the economy was Big Government. He claimed that government hurt economic growth and limited freedom, and he was determined to weaken the government’s role in markets.

But things didn’t work out as promised. As government pulled back, the rich and powerful stepped in. A small group of wealthy elites and giant corporations gained more control over both our economy and our democracy. Meanwhile, economic growth slowed and America’s middle class got hollowed out.

Reagan had it wrong: Our problem isn’t big government; our problem is a government that’s been captured by the rich and the powerful. Government could help grow the economy, could create opportunities, could support small businesses and entrepreneurship — but instead, we have a government that works only for those at the top.

Reagan liked to talk about freedom, but real freedom isn’t living under the thumb of a handful of billionaires and giant corporations. Real freedom isn’t living deep in debt, one health scare or broken car transmission away from disaster. Real freedom isn’t watching while more and more opportunities get snatched up by the rich and powerful. Real freedom comes when a strong government enforces fair rules and when smart investments give every American the opportunity to prosper.

The key question isn’t big government versus small government — it’s who government works for.

I’m running for president to take on a corrupt system and get our economy working for everyone. I’m serious about delivering real change — and a lot of powerful people know it. Just take a look at who the Washington insiders and Wall Street executives and billionaires spend their time and money attacking on TV and in the press. They believe that I’m the biggest threat to a corrupt system that has enriched them at everyone else’s expense. And they’re right — I do have a plan to make real change.

Unlike some candidates for the Democratic nomination, I’m not counting on Republican politicians having an epiphany and suddenly supporting the kinds of tax increases on the rich or big business accountability they have opposed under Democratic presidents for a generation.

Unlike some candidates for the Democratic nomination, I’m not betting my agenda on the naive hope that if Democrats adopt Republican critiques of progressive policies or make vague calls for unity that somehow the wealthy and well-connected will stand down.

No, my plan is to use the same approach I’ve used in all my fights for working families. It’s what I did before I was even a Senator, when I had an idea for a new federal agency to rein in cheating banks and I actually got it passed into law. It’s how to make real change.

I’m building a grassroots movement of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, united in the belief that we can clean up the corruption in Washington and produce an economy with more growth, more opportunity, and more freedom.

That’s our path to beat Donald Trump in 2020. We will beat the most corrupt president in American history by campaigning on the most aggressive anti-corruption platform since Watergate. We will beat a president who has enriched himself and his rich buddies with special rules and tax giveaways by campaigning on a comprehensive plan to make the economy work not just for those at the top, but make it work for everyone.

And we’ll keep building that movement after the election, and make real change starting in January 2021.

Let’s start with some basics.

I remember the day I grew up. I was in middle school, out in Oklahoma, when my daddy had a heart attack. He was out of work. Eventually, we lost our family car and almost lost our house.

That’s why, when I became a law professor, I headed straight for the “money” courses — teaching contract law, finance, banking, bankruptcy. I wanted to make sure I understood money and how it affected families. And I figured if I could master these complex and technical areas of law, no one could question whether a young woman with two little kids belonged there.

I never nursed dreams of running for office. Instead, I spent decades studying why families go broke. I became one of the nation’s experts on bankruptcy. So nobody should be surprised that I believe in markets. I’m proud of what American businesses can create and I want them to thrive.

But markets without rules are theft. Without fair rules, the wealthy and powerful take all the gains markets produce, small businesses can’t compete, and consumers have fewer choices. Without fair rules, markets perpetuate racial discrimination. Today, our corrupt system has produced too many markets where these things are all happening.

The thin slice of folks at the top who benefit from this rigged game push policies that help themselves and push the costs off on everyone else: They gut environmental protections, they undermine unions, they slash taxes for the rich, and more. They claim it’s about supporting economic growth, and they pay for research and economic models that rely on absurd and disproven assumptions to freshen up those claims. They tag any attempt to reform the rigged system as “divisive” and “extreme” — no matter how many Americans agree with it.

This has worked great for those at the top. But after decades of following their policies, it’s clear this approach is not working for much of anyone else.

Look beyond the daily headlines about the stock market and the unemployment rate, you’ll see a grim, long-term picture of our economy.

Families are struggling. After accounting for inflation, average wages have barely budged for decades. Meanwhile, the core costs that most families face — housing, child care, education, health care — have shot through the roof. That combination has stretched family budgets past the breaking point.

Economic growth is slow. For nearly fifteen years running, annual economic growth in the United States has not topped 3%. And if we stay on this track, the Congressional Budget Office projects that economic growth will average under 2% a year over the next decade.

The underlying trends are also troubling. For more than a decade, productivity growth has been low. New business formation is sharply down. And while the unemployment rate is low now, job quality has been declining for decades.

The Black-White wealth gap has grown larger. In 2017, the Black homeownership rate was as low as it was back when housing discrimination was legal.

In the wealthiest nation on Earth, about 38 million people still live in poverty. In 2017, life expectancy in the United States dropped for the third year in a row.

But the view from the top is completely different. Rich families are doing fabulously well. Since 1995, middle-class families have seen their net worth go up by 7 percent, while net worth for the top one percent has jumped 187 percent.

The American people have done everything they can to keep up — gotten more education, taken on extra work, made careful decisions with their money. But tens of millions of people are barely treading water, and even those who are doing okay look around and worry about the future of our country.

Only about a third of Americans believe children in the United States will be better off than their parents. And they are right to worry. Young people have been hit by a devastating financial crisis, a recession, and a lifetime of stagnant wages. They are buried in debt, including a massive $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. And just to ratchet up the pressure, they are staring at the growing likelihood of catastrophic climate change.

Young people today are as hard-working as any generation, but opportunity is collapsing around them. And if they dare question the corrupt system that has put them in this giant hole, the elites responsible for this mess have the gall to call them lazy and entitled.

I say, enough. The rich and powerful have written the rules for our economy so that they suck up all the gains for themselves. It’s corruption, plain and simple — and it’s holding back growth and opportunity. This country is brimming with talent and drive, but we need to tackle three structural problems with our economy to unleash that talent:

  • First, too many big American corporations have hurt workers and our economy by focusing solely on the short-term interests of their investors.
  • Second, in market after market, competition has declined.
  • And third, stagnant incomes and rising costs have stretched family budgets past the breaking point.

Three central problems in a rigged economy — and three problems we can solve.

Part one: Let’s start with how our biggest American corporations are run.

For most of our country’s history, corporations recognized that they served not just their investors, but their workers, their customers, and their communities. But in the 1970s, a conservative economist put forward a theory that corporations should have only one purpose: Maximizing the payoff to their investors.

That idea took hold in corporate boardrooms across America — and Washington went right along.

And it made a big difference: At the beginning of the 1980s, large American corporations sent less than 50% of their total earnings to investors. Within thirty years, they sent 93% of their earnings to investors.

Trillions of dollars that could have gone to workers and to long-term development — to new factories and new product lines — instead went to short-term payoffs to investors. Trillions that could have gone to workers, instead went to investors. Wages and productivity used to grow together. As workers produced more, they got paid more. But that ended by 1980, when productivity continued to rise but wages flattened out. As corporations narrowed their focus solely to investors, American workers stopped getting the share of corporate profits that they had produced.

Today, corporate profits that used to be shared among investors, workers, and plowed back into the business have instead become a feast to be eaten by those who are already at the top. The wealthiest 10% in this country own 84% of American-held shares — and they are gobbling up corporate profits. CEOs are gorging themselves too: The average CEO went from making 42 times what the average worker made in 1980 to 278 times as much last year.

We can’t fix this broken system by only treating symptoms. We can’t fix it by talking vaguely about unions or lecturing about the value of hard work. We need big, structural change. And I’ve got a plan for that.

  • My plan requires very large American corporations to get a new federal charter that binds managers to consider the interests of workers — not just investors — in corporate decisions.
  • My plan lets employees at big American corporations elect at least 40% of their company’s Board of Directors so workers have a powerful voice in setting wages, stopping outsourcing, and investing in the business.
  • My plan limits executive compensation so that corporate leaders focus on the long-term success of the company instead of short-term moves designed to goose the company stock price and put millions in their own pockets.
  • And my plan shifts power back to workers by ending right-to-work laws and building up private and public sector unions. Unions helped build America’s middle class, and they will help rebuild America’s middle class.

And that’s just the beginning. My economic patriotism and trade plans reinforce these reforms. Instead of workers continuing to live under constant threat that their jobs will be shipped to countries that can pay workers next to nothing, my plans allow American workers to compete on a level playing field. Instead of continuing to cater to the interests of big multinational corporations that have already said they have no loyalty to America, my plans put the interests of American workers first.

Other candidates do not grapple with these fundamental issues of economics and power. Other candidates refuse to let workers elect corporate board members or to restrict executive compensation that encourages outsourcing. Other candidates refuse to challenge America’s failed approach to trade that has sent millions of jobs overseas, encouraged pollution, accelerated climate change, and put the profits of multinational corporations above the jobs and pay of American workers.

My plans attack the root causes of our dysfunctional economy by rewriting the rules. They don’t cost taxpayers a dime. My plans will produce more jobs, more growth, more investment, higher wages, and stronger American companies that can compete and win.

That’s Part 1: Changing the way big American corporations put the short-term interests of investors over the interests of workers and everyone else. Part 2: Jumpstarting competition and innovation in America.

Markets don’t work in many areas — like health care and education, for example — and better markets aren’t the solution to every problem. But in any area with a functioning market, competition is essential to create value. When companies compete by providing better products, better services, or better prices, that helps customers. It also rewards every business that out-innovates or out-works their competitors.

But too many giant corporations have figured out that they can boost their profits much more easily if they don’t have to face competition at all. And the government officials responsible for enforcing the laws on competition have fallen down on the job.

So today, in market after market, a handful of big players dominate. Four giant companies control the entire market for beef. Two companies control more than 60% of all mattresses sold in America. Two companies own more than 90% of all retail drug stores. Hospitals, agriculture, drug companies — the list goes on and on.

The corporate executives who lead these companies will tell you competition is a great idea — for other businesses, just not for their own.

Consolidation hurts our economy. Without competition, monopolists can charge whatever they want, so prices go up. Concentration also undercuts workers’ bargaining power, so wages drop. And as the biggest companies grow more powerful, entrepreneurship declines.

Giant corporations pose another problem: They can exercise more political influence, which allows them to tilt the rules in Washington more and more to protect themselves and to grow even larger. Mark Zuckerberg gets to have a private dinner with the president — small business owners don’t get that kind of access.

It’s time for a president who will enforce our antitrust laws and yes — where necessary — break up massive corporations that use their size to undermine our economy and our democracy.

Twenty years ago, antitrust prosecutions against Microsoft helped open up space for Google and Facebook to emerge. Today breaking up Big Tech companies will clear the way for another generation of innovative tech firms, and stop companies like Amazon from stealing ideas from small outfits and driving them out of business. Breaking up big banks will reduce the threat of Too Big to Fail and ensure that community banks and credit unions have a better shot to compete. Breaking up Big Ag will make sure that family farmers aren’t squeezed and have real options for purchasing and selling.

I’ve fought for rules that promote fair competition throughout my career.

That was the idea behind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Before the financial crisis, corporations could trick customers with confusing mortgages or credit cards or payday loans. I proposed a new agency that would enforce some basic rules against cheating, and fought to make it real. President Obama signed that agency into law in 2010, and since then, the agency has returned more than $12 billion to people who were cheated. The credit market has worked better both for customers and honest businesses.

That was also the idea behind my fight to bring low-cost, over-the-counter hearing aids to American families. On average, a pair of hearing aid costs nearly $5000. Medicare and most private insurance plans don’t cover hearing aids, so millions of people who need them just do without.

Why is the price so high? Because of unnecessary regulations that insulated a handful of corporations from real competition. I led the fight to eliminate these barriers and let people buy hearing aids over the counter. I got the law changed: Starting soon, Americans will be able to buy hearing aids at the local drug store for a fraction of the price — and enjoy the freedom that comes with being able to communicate with the people they love.

These kinds of changes save people money. They spur economic growth and innovation. But every time I talk about them, there’s somebody who wants to call me a socialist or a radical — just like they did any time FDR or Barack Obama or any other Democrat fought for real change.

Well, here’s a newsflash: If you defend a corrupt system, where corporate lobbyists write the rules to squeeze out competition and hurt economic growth and undercut workers, you’re not a capitalist. You’re just a cheater.

And anyone who is running for president and claims to want to help small businesses, raise wages, increase entrepreneurship, or promote economic growth and innovation, can’t just suck up to the people who are making huge profits by insulating themselves from competition. They can’t just offer a few small business tax credits or loan programs and ignore concentration. They need to tackle concentrated markets and the power of monopolists — even if it annoys some Big Tech CEOs.

My plans promote innovation too. As politicians from both parties let big corporations ship millions of jobs overseas and weaken our manufacturing base, in market after market, America has lost a lot of its capacity to innovate.

We can turn that around. A Green New Deal is a necessity to save our planet — and it’s an enormous economic opportunity. Over the next decade, there is an emerging $23 trillion global market for green technology. America could dominate that market, and we could develop and produce world-changing technology right here at home.

My Green Manufacturing and climate plans lay out concrete, realistic steps to achieve that goal through a major new federal investment in research and development. Government investments in R&D can boost innovation and growth. We should be doing way more of it.

But unlike other candidates’ plans, my plan requires that anything built using this new research funding from American taxpayers must be manufactured here in America — creating the kinds of good manufacturing jobs we’ve lost in recent decades. Independent analysis shows my Green Manufacturing plan boosts growth and creates more than a million good American jobs.

My plan is a reminder of how rigged the game has become. Giant multinational corporations want to scoop up the benefits of American taxpayer-funded research, then turn around and manufacture their products overseas. They constantly ask the government to intervene in markets to protect their interests. They want special rules and bailouts when things go bad. Then, when it comes to stepping in to help American workers, those same giant corporations are all about “free market” principles again. I’m done with that double standard.

That brings us to Part 3. Raising incomes and lowering costs for working families.

Demand is a critical driver of our economy, and weak demand acts like an anchor. When millions of families are squeezed, they have less money to buy, and that means businesses struggle to sell their goods or services. And when business can’t sell, they don’t make more investments or increase employment. Low demand drags down productivity and longer-term growth.

That’s why Donald Trump’s huge tax giveaway to big corporations had almost no effect on business investment. Corporations didn’t have market reasons to invest back in their businesses — and they didn’t. Instead, giant corporations handed most of their tax giveaways to wealthy shareholders and executives

When I am president, we will transform our economy by putting more money in the pockets of working families.

We will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, lifting pay for nearly 40 million Americans.

We will increase Social Security and disability benefits by $200 a month for 64 million Americans. That’s money people can spend on home repairs, groceries, or eating out. An independent economic analysis shows it would increase long-term growth.

We will appoint Federal Reserve Board members who believe in full employment, who recognize that inflation fears have been overblown for years, and who are willing to let wages grow.

We will also tackle family costs directly: Housing, child care, education, and health care. Think about what that means to our economy: Tens of millions of families will have more money available to spend.

My housing plan will fix the structural supply problem that drives up prices. We’ll build or rehab more than three million new homes, cut rents by 10% and create 1.5 million good new jobs. An independent economic analysis shows that my plan will grow the economy.

In most states, child care costs more than tuition at the in-state public college. My plan provides universal child care and early learning for all of our babies, age zero to five. My plan stops the exploitation of the people — disproportionately women of color — who do this work and raises wages for every childcare worker and preschool teacher in America. Independent analysis shows that my plan will grow the economy.

The cost of sending a kid to school after high school is also weighing down families. Nearly 45 million people have student loan debt, and it can stop them from getting married, buying homes, or starting businesses. My plan provides free tuition at public technical schools, two-year colleges, and four-year colleges. It increases the federal investment in high-quality apprenticeships tenfold. And cancels student loan debt for 95% of the people who have it. Experts agree that broad debt cancellation plans like mine will grow the economy.

Health care costs are also soaring. Premiums have gone up more than 20% over the last five years. Half of all American adults report not getting the care they need because of costs.

My health care plan delivers the most financial relief, to the most people, more quickly than any plan proposed by any other candidate. I will immediately act to reduce prices for critical drugs like EpiPens and Insulin, so families aren’t going broke or rationing treatment. I’ll give everyone over 50 years old the chance to join Medicare. I’ll give everyone the choice to switch from their current insurance to a Medicare for All option that would be free for 135 million Americans on day one and available to everyone else at a modest cost. We can do all that without raising taxes on middle class families one penny. And in my third year, when we vote to bring everybody into Medicare for All, we will deliver an enormous economic boost for entrepreneurs, businesses of all sizes, and the economy.

There’s another problem to attack: The opioid crisis. It’s a humanitarian crisis — and an economic problem too. Donald Trump’s Federal Reserve chair says the economic impact of the opioid crisis is “substantial,” as workers with untreated addiction leave the workforce and growth sags. I’ve already passed legislation to tackle the crisis, and advocates and experts have said that my plan for actually ending this crisis “is the only one that really grasps . . . how big the problem is.”

Housing. Child care. Education. Health care. A national health crisis. We can make change. Change that will touch the lives of millions of people. Change that will help families build some real security and help their children enjoy more opportunities. And change that will strengthen our economy.

All these plans lift up all working families, but they are also designed to address the shameful racial disparities that persist in our economy. Tackling the growing Black-White wealth gap is a moral obligation. With Jim Crow laws and legally-approved discrimination and more, government helped create the racial wealth gap, and government should help fix it. Closing the gap will also boost the economy.

My student debt cancellation plan helps close the gap, which is one reason why the NAACP supports it. My housing plan helps narrow the gap by including historic down payment assistance for residents of formerly redlined areas. My entrepreneurship plan helps close the startup capital gap between White and Black entrepreneurs and promotes Black small business.

For decades, some people — including some in our own party — have dismissed these kinds of necessary investments to build a middle class as “free stuff.”

You know who is getting free stuff? Amazon, a company that reported more than $10 billion in profits this year and is paying zero dollars in federal income taxes. Or billionaires, who can watch their stock portfolios rise by hundreds of millions of dollars and pay nothing in taxes on that wealth.

Today’s corporations pay a smaller share of federal tax revenue than they have in a generation. In relation to their wealth, the top 0.1% of Americans are projected to pay less than half of what the bottom 99% of Americans will pay in taxes this year. And pundits and politicians are outraged that my plans are too helpful to hard-working people trying to get a foothold in America’s middle class?

Middle-class families are paying more than their fair share in taxes to keep this country running. They should be able to pay the rent or the mortgage without leaving themselves flat busted. They should be able to get an education without getting drowned in debt. They should be able to go to work without child care costs eating up their entire paychecks. They should be able to get the health care they need when they’re sick without risking bankruptcy.

Hard-working people need a government on their side, and we can start by reducing the costs they lay out month after month on housing, child care, education, and health care. And here’s the best part: We can cover the costs of those plans with targeted taxes on the very wealthiest Americans and large corporations. And despite the hand-wringing and a seemingly endless parade of outraged billionaires on TV, nobody is going to go broke.

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Michael Bloomberg trying to buy the Democratic presidential nomination. But there’s no denying he built a successful company. A wealth tax on millionaires and billionaires isn’t about being punitive or denigrating success. It’s about laying the foundation for future successes. It’s about making sure the wealthy don’t pull the ladder up behind them.

And it’s about building a stronger economy with more growth. We’ve seen enough evidence that helping billionaires buy more paintings and yachts doesn’t help grow the economy. Real growth comes from putting a wealth tax of a few cents on billionaires’ paintings and yachts so we can provide universal child care, cancel student loan debt, and make other investments in hard-working people across this country.

So how do we make all this happen? Well, I’ve got a plan for that.

To turn my plans into reality, I’ll use the same inside-outside approach that great Democrats like FDR used to pass sweeping change. Right now, we’re building a grassroots movement to win on Election Day in 2020 — but after election day, nobody gets to go home. I want that movement to stay in the fight — I want to keep growing that movement — so we can push for the kinds of big, structural change this campaign is all about.

We’ll use every tool available to fight for change.

We’ll fight for comprehensive anti-corruption rules to clean up Washington.

We’ll fight for filibuster reform so that Mitch McConnell and big corporations don’t get a veto.

And we’ll stand ready to use the same special 50-vote reconciliation process Republicans used to attack Obamacare and pass their trillion-dollar tax giveaway to the rich. Only we’ll use those tools to accomplish the reverse set of policies — to raise taxes on the wealthy, to lower costs for everyone else, and to invest in green manufacturing and other industries to create good American jobs.

Wherever possible, I want to work with Congress on new laws. But I don’t overlook what’s already available. Previous Congresses have already passed a lot of laws that a president can use now to help our families — and I’ll use those laws, starting on day one.

I’m grateful to President Obama for appointing me as an Assistant to the President, where I helped set up the CFPB. Later, when I became a Senator, I used that executive experience to push our federal agencies to use their existing legal authorities to help working families — on everything from student loan debt cancellation to protecting veterans from mortgage scams. My plans lay out the actions I will take using the power of the presidency to raise wages, protect workers, fight climate change, and more.

Will I have a magic wand to enact my full agenda? Of course not. No president does. I know I will have to compromise, but that’s not where we start. We start with the work of mobilizing a movement, building real leverage, and fighting hard. I know we won’t win every fight. But I can promise that we will hit the ground running using every tool available to build a government that works for everyone.

According to a recent survey, only 17% of Americans trust their government to do the right thing at least most of the time. Huge numbers of Democrats, Republicans, and independents understand that Washington is captured by the wealthy and the well-connected.

As a candidate, Donald Trump talked a big game and promised to drain the swamp. But he broke that promise. In fact, his Presidency is the most corrupt in modern history. His administration is stacked with former lobbyists handing out favors to big corporations. Dozens of people who have worked with him are facing investigations, have pleaded guilty, or are serving jail time. And the president himself is now staring down the barrel of impeachment for abusing his power.

Americans of all political stripes are looking for a candidate who is serious about fighting Washington corruption. They know until someone is willing to do that, nothing else will get done. Demonstrating a real commitment to reform is our best general election contrast with a corrupt president. It’s how we win moderates, independents, and disaffected Republicans. And it’s how we govern successfully.

But we’re nearly a year into the Democratic primary and no other candidate has put out anything close to my sweeping plan to root out Washington corruption.

Some candidates have at least put forward campaign finance reform plans. But if you want to know about a candidate’s commitment to reform, don’t just look at what they say they will do — look at what they’re doing right now.

Most candidates haven’t disclosed the names of their bundlers or finance committees. They are spending their time in fundraisers with high-dollar donors, selling access to their time for money. Some of them have spent months blocking reporters from entering those fancy, closed-door affairs.

We know that one Democratic candidate walked into a room of wealthy donors this year to promise that “nothing would fundamentally change” if he’s president.

We know that another calls the people who raise a quarter million dollars for him his “National Investors Circle,” and he offers them regular phone calls and special access. When a candidate brags about how beholden he feels to a group of wealthy investors, our democracy is in serious trouble.

And what do the wealthiest donors want in return? Consider just one example: Ambassadorships. The president’s impeachment is centered on the shady actions of Gordon Sondland, America’s ambassador to the European Union. Mr. Sondland had one qualification for ambassador: He wrote a check for a million dollars to Donald Trump’s inauguration. It shouldn’t be hard for candidates in a Democratic primary to at least commit to not auctioning off their own ambassadorships to the highest bidder — but most of them have refused.

I don’t ask for a thousand dollar contribution in exchange for a picture. I’m closing in on 100,000 selfies for a grand total of zero dollars. I don’t do closed door fundraisers with big donors. I don’t do special call time with people who raise a quarter million dollars. I don’t sell access to my time. And I’ve said out loud and in public, where any donor can hear it, that I won’t auction off ambassadorships to the highest bidder. These are commitments that will cause some big donors to stay away, and that may be why most candidates aren’t making them.

I get it: We are all constrained by the current system. Nobody is perfect, and nobody is pure. And there’s no question that any Democrat running for president would be better than Donald Trump. I also understand the practical and political costs of pushing for real reform. But voters will not trust a candidate who won’t make a single difficult decision that might cut down on the access and influence of wealthy donors. And voters will be right.

In 2020, we can run and win on a progressive economic agenda because a progressive agenda is America’s agenda. A majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans support my wealth tax plan. A majority of Democrats, independents, and Republicans support my plan to increase Social Security benefits. A majority of Democrats, independents, and Republicans support anti-corruption reforms.

And while there are candidates in this primary who are trying mightily to convince Democratic primary voters that this kind of popular agenda will somehow make it harder to beat Donald Trump, do you know who disagrees with that conclusion? Donald Trump.

Consider just two examples from the past few days.

First, some candidates have suggested that my broad student loan debt cancellation plan, which is popular and would be a huge boon to our economy, will still somehow “alienate” people. Meanwhile, back in the real world, Trump is reportedly so worried about the appeal of this proposal that he’s sent his aides scrambling to come up with some knock-off version he can claim.

It’s the same with my wealth tax plan. Trump launched outlandish false attacks on it last week in an anti-Semitic rant, because he knows as well as I do that asking billionaires to pitch in a few cents is reasonable — and popular. And let’s be honest, he’s just one more rich guy who will go to extraordinary lengths not to have to pay taxes.

My agenda is compelling to voters because it speaks to real problems in their lives. I’ve done 179 town halls in 28 states and Puerto Rico, and whether it’s West Virginia or Alabama or Iowa or right here in New Hampshire, the people I meet want real solutions. They are looking for candidates who can make a clear case for what’s broken and how they plan to fix it.

For years, establishment insiders in both parties ignored what was happening to our economy. They ignored the growing insecurities and anxieties of working people. They called for more nibbling around the edges, for smaller and smaller solutions that failed to match the scale of our growing problems.

Every day, you see it on cable news and in the op-ed pages. The same nibbling around the edges, the same attacks on big ideas.

The choice for the Democratic Party in this primary is the same choice it faces in every primary: Will we bet on more of the same, or will we bet on change? Will we bet on small ideas, or will we bet on bold, structural change?

If we are going to build an economy that works for everyone, and if we are going to win a change election instead of once again getting run over by a change election, we must stand up to those with power and fight for the American people.

I’m running for president because I believe the American people are smart and that when we offer good plans that will deliver more financial security, more economic growth, more opportunity — more freedom — to all our people, we will win and we will make real change in this country we love so much.

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