Elizabeth Warren on Technology

Massachusetts Senator; head of CFPB


Public spending on research is investing in ideas

During the postwar period, research of every kind--medical, scientific, engineering, social science--was honored and supported. Government agencies and universities brought together teams of researchers who worked on hugely ambitious projects.

We had long invested in infrastructure, but now we were even bolder: America was investing in ideas. The results were transformative; basic research that eventually led to the Internet, GPS, and a map of the human genome.

For me, this is the basic American contract. We all pay taxes, and in return we all benefit--sometimes immediately, sometimes down the road--and we also help build opportunity for the generations to come. I first tried to put this into words in 2011 when I was thinking about running for the Senate: "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own--nobody." My point was that everyone who succeeds gets some help from the investments we've all made. And we keep on making those investments so the next kid will get a chance, too.

Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p.101 , Apr 18, 2017

China spends 8.6% of GDP on infrastructure; we spend 2.5%

China is spending 8.6%of its GDP on infrastructure. Why? Because the Chinese are working hard to build a country for the global economy. And here in the US? Our infrastructure spending is stuck at 2.5% of the GDP--and it has been for years. By that measurement, America now lags behind India, most of Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. In fact, the only region of the world spending less on infrastructure than the US is South America, which comes in at about 2.4%.

America ramped up its infrastructure long before many other parts of the world, but our refusal to maintain & upgrade it is catching up with us. The overall quality of infrastructure in the US is now rated just slightly ahead of Taiwan's and far behind the quality of that in Germany & Japan.

This failure to invest in our future is incredibly shortsighted. This plan isn't pro-business. This plan is pro-stupid. More investment in basic infrastructure would transform our daily living, along with our long-term prospects.

Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p.130-1 , Apr 18, 2017

Middle class built by investing in infrastructure & research

What would it take to help strengthen the middle class? There is one overriding idea: "Together we can."

America's middle class was built through investments in education, infrastructure, and research--and by making sure we all have a safety net. We need to strengthen those building blocks: Upgrade infrastructure--mass transit, energy, communications--to make it more attractive to build good, middle-class jobs here in America.

Source: The Two Income Trap, by Elizabeth Warren, p.xxii , Apr 12, 2016

Upgrade our aging roads, mass transit, & water lines

We need to upgrade our aging roads, bridges, mass transit and water and sewage lines--the basic pieces it takes to manufacture goods and to get them to market. My brother-in-law Steve operates a Gradall out of Plymouth. He tells me that he digs up water and sewage pipes in some parts of the state that were laid in the late 1800s and now are crumbling. We could be upgrading right now--creating good jobs and investing in our future.
Source: Quotable Elizabeth Warren, by Frank Marshall, p.157 , Nov 18, 2014

End bulk collection of phone records

Warren would like to end the bulk-collection of phone records, which is authorized by Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act and set to expire June 1, 2015.

Even though Warren praised the Obama's administration's reforms of its surveillance apparatus earlier this year, she said they might not go far enough: "Congress must go further to protect the right to privacy, to end the NSA's dragnet surveillance of ordinary Americans, to make the intelligence community more transparent and accountable."

Source: Megan R. Wilson in TheHill.com weblog, "Clinton vs. Warren" , Aug 24, 2014

Would you prefer air travel without any FAA?

[When I enthused about our consumer protection agency, one Tea Party congressman said]: He didn't believe in government. Sure, I understood the basic point that government plays a limited role in a lot of people's lives and that government isn't the solution to every problem. But someday I hoped to get a chance to ask him: Would you rather fly in an airplane WITHOUT the Federal Aviation Administration checking air traffic control? Would you rather swallow a pill WITHOUT the Food and Drug Administration testing drug safety? Would you rather defend our nation WITHOUT a military and fight our fires WITHOUT our firefighters?

But I wasn't a member of Congress and he was. And the Tea Party had just helped dozens of people like him make it into public office, all loudly committed to unraveling just about everything the federal government had ever built.

Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.188 , Apr 22, 2014

Nothing pro-business about crumbling roads and bridges

The real battle isn't "pro-business vs. pro- government": the real battle is whether everyone pays or just the little guys. Giant companies hire armies of lobbyists to craft custom-made tax loopholes. And it's working: big corporations are paying an average tax of 12.6% of their profits. Less than half of the advertised 35% corporate rate. Meanwhile, middle-class families & small businesses are left to pick up the tab.

For businesses, the real battle isn't whether we need the government to invest in education & infrastructure & scientific research--businesses need all those investments. There's nothing pro-business about crumbling roads and bridges or a power grid that can't keep up. There's nothing pro-business about cutting back on scientific research at a time when our businesses need innovation more than ever. There's nothing pro-business about chopping education opportunities when workers need better training. To most people, it's pretty obvious that businesses need government investments.

Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.247-8 , Apr 22, 2014

Increase research for new industries in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is a world leader on the research that produces new products and new industries--and creates the demand for new technical jobs. Increasing our support for this kind of research helps Massachusetts and helps the country.
Source: 2012 Senate campaign website, elizabethwarren.com , Dec 10, 2011

Upgrade our aging infrastructure and invest in the future

We need to upgrade our aging roads, bridges, mass transit, and water and sewage lines--the basic pieces it takes to manufacture goods and to get them to market. My brother-in-law Steve operates a Gradall out of Plymouth. He tells me that he digs up water and sewage pipes in some parts of the state that were laid in the late 1800s and now are crumbling. We could be upgrading right now--creating good jobs and investing in our future.
Source: 2012 Senate campaign website, elizabethwarren.com , Dec 10, 2011

Push for spending on infrastructure

When pressed on what kind of formidable legislation she would actually pursue in the Senate, Warren's organization served up a snoozy list of the priorities that Democrats have been talking about for years: she will push for spending on infrastructure, education and renewable energy. She will work to strengthen labor unions and advocate for the reregulation of the big banks while easing regulations that make it difficult for small businesses and community banks to compete with giants.

These are fine notions; there's a reason they've long been the mainstays of an imagined liberal revolution. But they're also the ideas that cause Congress to immediately grind to a halt and that, when packaged in nonspecific campaign-speak, are quickly drained of meaning.

Source: By Rebecca Traister in New York Times , Nov 18, 2011

Voted YES on authorizing states to collect Internet sales taxes.

Congressional Summary: The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 authorizes each state to require all sellers with sales exceeding $1 million in the preceding calendar year to collect and remit sales and use taxes, but only if complying with the minimum simplification requirements relating to the administration of such taxes & audits.

Opponent's Argument for voting No (Cnet.com): Online retailers are objecting to S.743, saying it's unreasonable to expect small businesses to comply with the detailed--and sometimes conflicting--regulations of nearly 10,000 government tax collectors. S.743 caps years of lobbying by the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represent big box stores. President Obama also supports the bill.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Sen. COLLINS. This bill rectifies a fundamental unfairness in our current system. Right now, Main Street businesses have to collect sales taxes on every transaction, but outbecause -of-state Internet sellers don't have to charge this tax, they enjoy a price advantage over the mom-and-pop businesses. This bill would allow States to collect sales taxes on Internet sales, thereby leveling the playing field with Main Street businesses. This bill does not authorize any new or higher tax, nor does it impose an Internet tax. It simply helps ensure that taxes already owed are paid.

Opponent's Argument for voting No: Sen. WYDEN: This bill takes a function that is now vested in government--State tax collection--and outsources that function to small online retailers. The proponents say it is not going to be hard for small businesses to handle this--via a lot of new computer software and the like. It is, in fact, not so simple. There are more than 5,000 taxing jurisdictions in our country. Some of them give very different treatment for products and services that are almost identical.

Reference: Marketplace Fairness Act; Bill S.743 ; vote number 13-SV113 on May 6, 2013

Support Lifeline program for low-income broadband.

Warren signed supporting Lifeline program for low-income broadband

Excerpts from Letter to FCC chairman from 15 Senators: We write to express how deeply troubled we are that one of your first actions as FCC Chairman has been to undermine the Lifeline program and make it more difficult for low-income people to access affordable broadband. Lifeline is a critical tool for closing the digital divide--a problem you pledged to prioritize. Abruptly revoking the recognition of nine companies as Lifeline broadband providers does nothing but create a chilling effect on potential provider participation, and unfairly punish low-income consumers.

Last year, the FCC modernized the Lifeline program, rightfully refocusing its support on broadband, which helps end the cruel "homework gap" for the five million out of the 28 million households in this country with school-aged children who lack access to broadband.

By statute, the FCC has an obligation to ensure "consumers in all regions of the country, including low-income consumers" have access to "advanced telecommunications services."

Opposing argument: (Heritage Budget Book, "Cut Universal Service Subsidies"): Heritage Recommendation: Eliminate telecommunications subsidies for rural areas, phase out the schools and libraries subsidy program, and reduce spending on the Lifeline program by reducing fraud and waste. The "Lifeline" fund, while well-intended, has been plagued by fraud and abuse, as costs tripled from under $600 million in 2001 to almost $1.8 billion in the 2013 funding year.

Supporting argument: (ACLU, "Task Force Letter"): The ACLU, a co-chair of the Leadership Conference Media Task Force, joined this letter to the FCC Chairman in response to his decisions to revoke the Lifeline Broadband Provider designations for nine providers. The ACLU has long supported expansion of the Lifeline program, which provides access to phone and broadband services for lower income families.

Source: Letter on low-income broadband 17LTR-FCC on Feb 10, 2017

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Page last updated: Mar 16, 2019