Elizabeth Warren on Corporations
Massachusetts Senator; head of CFPB
Break up big tech platforms like Amazon & Google
You can run the platform, that is, you can be the umpire in the baseball game and you can run an honest platform, or you can be a player, that is, you can have a business or you can have a team in the game,
but you don't get to be the umpire and have a team in the game. If we break off the platform from the parts that are competing, what you'll see in America is a platform that works really well.
It's a very profitable business, but you'll see a lot more competition where little businesses have a chance to get going, where when you've got a good idea you can build that good idea into something,
where there's really a chance for everybody to get in and compete. So that's the reason I want to see the two of them broken apart.
Source: CNN Town Hall 2020: 5 candidates back-to-back
, Apr 22, 2019
End "integrated" farming favoring corporations over farmers
Warren declared, "It all starts with attacking consolidation in the agriculture sector head on." Meat giants like Tyson and Smithfield are "vertically integrated"--meaning they both slaughter livestock and tightly control the process for raising
them. "My administration will bring vertical integration cases to break up integrated agribusinesses," she wrote. She added that "contract chicken farming has already squeezed farmers to the breaking point. To stop the spread of that practice,
I believe we should prohibit abusive contract farming in the livestock sector."
Bernie Sanders added that "when we are in the White House, we are going to strengthen antitrust laws that defend farmers from the corporate middlemen
that stand between the food grower and the consumer, and have now become so big and powerful that they can squeeze farmers for everything they're worth."
Source: Mother Jones magazine on 2020 Democratic primary
, Mar 30, 2019
Use anti-trust to break up anti-competitive businesses
Q: Do you apply monopoly rules to big tech companies?
A: You want to run a platform, that's fine. You don't get to run a whole bunch of the businesses as well. You want to run a business, that's fine. You don't get to run the platform. Think of it
this way: It's like in baseball. You can be the umpire or you can own one of the teams, but you don't get to be the umpire and own the teams.
Q: If you had your way, Facebook would have to sell off Instagram? Amazon would have to sell off Whole Foods?
A: All those little businesses that they're running, competing businesses. Yep.
Q: Who is the federal government to tell these companies they have to do that?
A: There's anti-trust law. It's been around for more than a hundred years.
And the federal government has done this many times, for example, broke up Standard Oil, broke up the great monopolies of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. And the reason for that is so that we can keep a competitive economy.
Source: CBS Face the Nation 2019 on 2020 Presidential hopefuls
, Mar 10, 2019
Companies can be umpires or team-owners, but cannot be both
Fresh off her call to break up Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple, Elizabeth Warren packed the lion's den at the "Conversations on America's Future" weekend collab between SXSW and The Texas Tribune. The interviewer urged the employees of those
companies to stand up so she could see them. "And then the drone will come and take your pictures," Warren quipped.
"My view on this is that it's like baseball. You can be an umpire, or own a team, but not both," she said of her approach to tech
trust-busting. "So you can work for the platform, or for one of the teams, and you'll then compete with everyone else on the platform, and it'll be a lot more fun to work there." While much snorting and eye-rolling has accompanied Warren's nascent tech
industrial policy--which would, to use a cogent local example, prevent Amazon from integrating its marketplace with Whole Foods--the senator may have indeed well-read the room by positioning herself as a friend of entrepreneurs and startup funders.
Source: Mike Clark-Madison, Texas Tribune on 2019 SXSW conference
, Mar 10, 2019
Breaking up big internet companies is doable and necessary
Small businesses would have a fair shot to sell their products on Amazon without the fear of Amazon pushing them out of business. Google couldn't smother competitors by demoting their products on Google Search. Facebook would face real pressure from
Instagram and WhatsApp to improve the user experience and protect our privacy. Tech entrepreneurs would have a fighting chance to compete against the tech giants.
Source: Blog posting on Medium.com by Elizabeth Warren
, Mar 8, 2019
Breakup online monopolies; wealth shouldn't be concentrated
During her time onstage Warren discussed her proposal to break up big, powerful tech companies like Facebook,
Google, and Amazon. "The monopolist will make fewer monopoly profits--boo hoo," she said of those who stand to lose money from her plan.
Source: Mother Jones mag.: 2019 SXSW for 2020 presidential hopefuls
, Mar 1, 2019
Proposes new federal limits for corporations
Warren would impose four changes to corporate governance. First, limit short-term stock selling by corporate executives and directors. Second, require corporations to obtain the consent of 75 percent of board members and shareholders for any political
spending. Third require corporate boards "to consider the interests of all major corporate stakeholders--not only shareholders--in company decisions." Finally, "Employees would elect at least 40 percent of directors."
Source: Jacobin Magazine on 2018 Massachusetts Senate race
, Sep 6, 2018
Wants workers to choose 40% of corporate boards
The Accountable Capitalism Act would require the largest corporations to allow workers to choose 40 percent of their board seats. The proposal is meant to provide an antidote to short-term thinking in the biggest businesses--and to short-circuit the
ease with which CEOs make decisions that enrich themselves at the expense of workers and the underlying health of their firm. A similar system exists in Germany, and it goes by the name "codetermination."
Source: The Atlantic, "Capitalism," on 2020 presidential hopefuls
, Aug 28, 2018
Trickle-down economics overturns FDR-defined system
Reagan swept into office under the banner of free-market economics. Reagan's approach was unmistakably aimed at helping giant businesses and their top executives, but its advocates promised working people that all those benefits going to big corporations
would "trickle down" to them as well. The economic plan was as simple--and as sweeping--as the plan Franklin Roosevelt had put in place nearly half a century earlier during the Great Depression. But Reagan's plan turned Roosevelt's on its head.
When Roosevelt said we could do better, he reined in the big banks and giant corporations in ways that had never been done before. Government became a more active participant in keeping markets honest. Over time, we built economic stability and
growth. In the 1980s, Reagan turned that around. He declared that government was the enemy and began unraveling the regulatory net, and he led the country down a path that ultimately resulted in the greatest economic crash since the Great Depression.
Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p. 78&92
, Apr 18, 2017
Trickle-down is a lie, and has been a lie for 37 years
Trickle-down economics promised that if the rich got richer everyone else would benefit. But study after study showed that tax cuts did not boost the economy.
Trickle-down is a lie. But 37 years after Reagan's election, it's the lie that won't die.
Donald Trump has clearly embraced Reagan's voodoo economics. Trump clearly believes that he can ignore all the analysis that showed that trickle-down economics was pure fiction. Why? Because Trump knows in his golden gut that once the tax cuts kick in,
the economy will grow so fast that the new tax revenues will more than make up for the money lost from tax cuts. There it is, the same old trickle-down lie.
I'd laugh, except this is deadly serious. If we don't put a stop to this nonsense, trickle-down
economics will eventually wipe out our middle class. It will complete the job of turning America into a country that works for a narrow slice of economic royalty at the top while the peasants live on the crumbs carelessly tossed off the banquet table
Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p.147-8
, Apr 18, 2017
2008: Should have broken up bailed-out banks
In the aftermath of the great crash of 2008, the biggest banks--the ones that got bailed out by the U.S. taxpayers, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America--should have been broken up.
They posed so much risk that if even one of them failed again, either they would need another bailout or they would risk bringing down the entire economy.
It was wildly reckless to let these banks get even bigger by adding $10 trillion of risk to their balance sheets, especially since taxpayers would be shouldering that risk. But that's exactly what this new provision did.
Think about it: just a few years after a major crash, bank lobbyists wrote a provision that blasted a hole in a crucial financial regulation. Then the banks muscled it through Congress.
Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p.158-9
, Apr 18, 2017
I share the frustration of Occupy Wall Street
I understand the frustration, I share their frustration with what's going on, that right now Washington is wired to work well for those on
Wall Street who can hire lobbyists and lawyers and it doesn't work very well for the rest of us.
Source: Quotable Elizabeth Warren, by Frank Marshall, p. 69
, Nov 18, 2014
In 1980s, cops were taken off the beat in financial services
Q: In your earlier book, "The Two Income Trap," you praised first lady Hillary Clinton for her opposition to this bankruptcy bill pushed by the big banks, but go on to talk about how she, as New York senator, seemed she could not afford that principled
WARREN: I've made it clear--I've been working on for the last 25 years--that I'm worried a lot about power in the financial services industry. And I'm worried about the fact that basically starting in the '80s, you know, the cops were taken
off the beat in financial services, these guys were allowed to just paint a bull's eye on the backsides of American families. They loaded up on risk. They crashed the economy. They got bailed out. And what bothers me now is they still strut around
Washington. They block regulations that they don't want. They roll over agencies whenever they can.
Q: Did they roll over Hillary Clinton?
WARREN: Well, they break the law, and still don't end up being held accountable for it, and going to jail.
Source: ABC This Week 2014 series of 2016 presidential hopefuls
, Apr 27, 2014
Banks are larger now than when "Too Big To Fail" in 2008
[By 2008] everyone had grown to hate "Too Big To Fail"--except for the bankers who benefited. A no-strings-attached bailout created a Too Big to Fail monster, and I was pretty sure we'd be paying for that mistake for a long time.
In fact, the price of
Too Big to Fail is still weighing on our economy. Concentration in the banking industry was one of the principle problems cited at the time TARP [the bank bailout] was passed, and yet, the largest financial institutions are now 30%
LARGER than they were before the financial crisis and the 5 biggest banks now hold more than half of all banking assets in the US. This is based on our calculation of assets for the top 4 banks, which grew from a combined $6 trillion to $7.8 trillion
between 2007 and 2013. Similarly, one report in 2012 showed that the top 5 banks are about twice as large as they had been a decade earlier relative to the economy.
Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.110&301
, Apr 22, 2014
2010 Time cover story: The sheriff of Wall Street
In 2010, Time magazine was writing a story on "the new sheriffs of Wall Street," and they wanted to interview me. The "hook" was that the 3 people they planned to feature were all women: Sheila Blair, FDIC chair; Mary Schapiro, SEC chair; and me.
of us knew what this photo shoot was really about: it was an opportunity to deliver a message to a lot of people about why Wall Street needed to be held to a higher standard of accountability. And what I suspect each of us felt that the cover story
raised a question we'd all thought about, even if we didn't dwell on it: Given that women were so conspicuously absent from the ranks of top executives in high finance, how was it that 3 women had ended up in leadership positions when it came time for
the badly needed cleanup?
So what is it about finance that makes women so scarce in the corner offices? And why indeed were 3 women now the sheriffs of Wall Street? I do have a thought about why I had ended up in this position: I was an outsider.
Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.122-3
, Apr 22, 2014
My gaffe: Created intellectual foundation for Occupy Wall St
[In 2011], Wall Street was going full throttle and Occupy Boston was making headlines, so I spent time talking about Wall Street--the lack of accountability, the need for change.
I was surprised when a "Daily Beast" headline blared, "Warren Takes
Credit for Occupy Wall Street." Why on earth would I have said that? When asked about the activists involved in Occupy Wall Street, I'd said that I understood their frustration but I had no connection to the protests.
[But I checked my] recording of
the interview: the sentence was there. Incredibly, I'd said: "I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they [Occupy Wall Street] do." I was trying to say that I'd worked on these issues for a long time and felt really angry about what the
banks had done to families. But the quote didn't come out that way at all.
I was deeply embarrassed. My words sounded so puffy and self-important, and they made it seem as if I were trying to take credit for a protest I wasn't even a part of.
Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.219-20
, Apr 22, 2014
Corporations are not people; but system is rigged for them
I talked about Mitt Romney's famous statement that "corporations are people":
"No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matter
because we don't run this country for corporations, we run it for people.
"People feel the system is rigged against them. And here's the painful part. They're right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies.
Wall Street CEOs--the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs--still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.
"Middle class families, people who run small businesses and struggle
to meet payroll, people who worry about having enough money to make it to the end of the month. These folks don't resent that someone else makes more money. We're Americans. We celebrate success. We just don't want the game to be rigged."
Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.256
, Apr 22, 2014
FactCheck: negotiated insurance deal for asbestos victims
[In addressing people who had developed lung cancer from working with asbestos,] the solution was to create a trust and to fund it with all the money from the businesses and their insurance companies who would be held responsible. The trust system had
been effective for many years, but it was challenged. We won that case in the Supreme Court.
After I left the case, a lower court held that the insurance company didn't need to pay as much money as it had offered, and the case was again appealed.
Factcheck.org stated: "Warren's version of the case has been publicly backed by several attorneys representing the asbestos victims, as well as leaders of an asbestos workers' union. `[Brown is flat out misrepresenting the facts,' Francis C. Boudrow,
business manager for the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Union, Local No. 6 told the "Boston Globe." `It's offensive to all these people who've lost lives' to asbestos-related illness, he said."
Source: FactCheck in A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.334
, Apr 22, 2014
FactCheck: Insurers should pay victims, plus future immunity
Brown charged Warren for her work for Travelers Insurance in a case involving asbestos victims. Brown said Warren helped the company deny payment to asbestos poisoning victims. Brown's facts were largely true, but the impression he left was somewhat
misleading. Brown said, "She helped Travelers deny benefits for asbestos poisoning, made over $250,000 in an effort to protect big corporations."
The Globe's conclusion after an extensive examination: Warren was paid $212,000 by Travelers from 2008 to
2010. Warren helped Travelers win a case that gave the company immunity from most asbestos lawsuits, and a $500 million trust fund has not been paid out because of a court order that Travelers won after Warren's work on the case ended.
But at the time,
most asbestos victims were actually on Warren's side of the issue. She was fighting, she says, to unlock the $500 million trust, which Travelers said at the time it was willing to pay out in order to gain immunity and settle all the outstanding claims.
Source: Boston Globe 2012 FactCheck on Mass. Senate Debate
, Sep 21, 2012
People feel like the system is rigged, because it is
People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here's the painful part: they're right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street
CEOs--the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs--still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.
Anyone here have a problem with that? Well I do.
Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech
, Sep 5, 2012
Government regulation makes capitalism work
We started to take children out of factories and put them in schools. We began to give meaning to the word consumer protection by making food and
medicine safe, and we gave the little guys a better chance to compete by preventing the big guys from rigging the markets. We turned adversity into progress because that's what we do.
No, corporations are not people. People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They cry, they dance.
They live, they love, and they die, and that matters. That matters because we do not run this country for corporations. We run it for people.
Source: Speech at 2012 Democratic National Convention
, Sep 5, 2012
Rebuild the middle class instead of CEO tax breaks
Now is the time to rebuild America's middle class. Instead of giving tax breaks to the already-rich and already-powerful, to the corporations and
CEOs who have already made it, it's time America recognized the working people and small businesses who are still trying to build a future.
Source: 2012 Senate campaign website, elizabethwarren.com
, Dec 10, 2011
Same rules for trillion-dollar institutions as rest of us
Today, Warren says, one "vision of how America works is that it's an even game, that anybody can get started--just roll those dice; that booms and busts will come and millions of people will lose their homes, millions more will lose their jobs,
and trillions of dollars in savings retirement accounts will be wiped out. The question is, Do we have a different vision of what we can do?
This agency is out here in a sense to try to hold accountable a financial-services industry that ran wild, that brought our economy to the edge of collapse," she said. "There's been such a sense that
there's one set of rules for trillion-dollar financial institutions and a different set for all the rest of us. It's so pervasive that it's not even hidden."
Source: By Suzanna Andrews in Vanity Fair, "Woman Who Knew Too Much"
, Nov 1, 2011
Bankruptcies result from mishaps, not from gaming the system
As a professor at the University of Houston Warren started researching how bankruptcy law was going to be reshaped in a federal legal overhaul that same year.
She set out to prove what the business community was, at that point, incensed about: people gaming the system, irresponsibly running up debts and then discharging them in court.
The reality she found, however, traveling from one courthouse to the next, was altogether different from the one she'd expected, and far more complex: the filings came
overwhelmingly from working people who had suffered mishaps and bad luck--illnesses, deaths of family members and spouses, divorces, and economic downdrafts that often swallowed communities whole.
Source: Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind, p. 78
, Sep 20, 2011
Plenty of people look out for billion dollar corporations
There are plenty of people in Washington looking out for the billion dollar corporations. My life's work has been fighting for middle class families, taking on big banks, and putting forward new ideas.
We need a 21st century manufacturing base and
expanded service capacity. We need a set of workable rules that don't tangle up those trying to create something new. We need to be able to invent things, make things, and sell things to the rest of the world. We did that once, and we can do it again.
Source: 2012 Senate campaign website, www.elizabethwarren.com
, Sep 15, 2011
Small businesses need a level playing field
A level playing field: Our self-employed and small businesses, and the community banks that fund them, are drowning in complicated regulations. Long, complex rules create loopholes that the big companies can take advantage of, but they
leave little guys out in the cold. We need rules that are written with small businesses in mind. We need straightforward rules that any small business can deal with, like the short and streamlined mortgage form the consumer agency is putting into law.
Source: 2012 Senate campaign website, www.elizabethwarren.com
, Sep 15, 2011
New regulatory regime to protect financial consumers
Just as the Consumer Product Safety Commission protects buyers of goods and supports a competitive market, we need the same for consumers of financial products--a new regulatory regime,
and even a new regulatory body, to protect consumers who use credit cards, home mortgages, car loans, and a host of other products.
Source: Salon.com, "Wall Street Run Amok", by Conrad Capto
, Oct 25, 2010
Scourge of the banking industry, on behalf of consumers
Obama knew Warren had become the scourge of the baking industry for her efforts on behalf of consumers. When they met at a Cambridge fund-raiser during his 2004 Senate campaign, his first words to her were "Predatory lending!" He had learned of
Warren's work when legislating on behalf of credit card users in the Illinois State Senate.
A crackdown on credit cards was one of the president's early and almost entirely unnoticed victories.
In May he signed sweeping legislation that limited fees, required disclosure of rate hikes before they were imposed, and ended the industry's practice of preying on college student before they were 21.
But Congress erred badly in not making it effective immediately, which meant that Americans saw unconscionably higher interest rates on their credit card until 2010.
Source: The Promise: Obama Year One, by Jonathan Alter, p.196
, May 18, 2010
Businesses aren't guilty over bankruptcy; neither should you
Think like a businessperson. Do you imagine the CEO of United Airlines and the president of K-Mart were wracked with guilt when their companies filed for bankruptcy? We doubt it. They did what they thought best for their
shareholders and customers, and if that meant some creditors ended up with the short end of the stick, then so be it. They saw it simply as a matter of business. When you family's welfare is at stake, so should you.
Source: The Two Income Trap, by Elizabeth Warren, p. 171
, Oct 15, 2007
Apply consumer protection rules to banks
It is impossible to buy a toaster that has a one-in-five chance of bursting into flames and burning down your house. But it is possible to refinance an existing home with a mortgage that has the same one-in-five chance of putting the family
out on the street--and the mortgage won't even carry a disclosure of that fact to the homeowner. Similarly, it's impossible to change the price on a toaster once it has been purchased.
But long after the papers have been signed, it is possible to triple the price of the credit used to finance the purchase of that appliance, even if the customer meets all the credit terms, in full and on time.
Why are consumers safe when they purchase tangible consumer products with cash, but when they sign up for routine financial products like mortgages and credit cards they are left at the mercy of their creditors?
Source: Elizabeth Warren in Democracy Journal, "Unsafe at Any Rate"
, Jul 2, 2007
Restrict corporate use of consumer mandatory arbitration.
Warren signed restricting corporate use of consumer mandatory arbitration
Excerpts from Letter from 35 Senators to the CFPB: We write to commend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for its proposed rule to limit the use of mandatory, pre-dispute ("forced") arbitration clauses in consumer financial product and service contracts. Every day, Americans across the country are forced to sign away their constitutional right to access the courts as a condition of purchasing common products and services like credit cards, checking accounts, and private student loans. Binding arbitration is a privatized justice system that studies show consistently produces results that favor large corporations and offers no meaningful appeals process. As a result, consumers are left without redress, and companies are unaccountable for their unscrupulous behavior.
Opposing freedom argument: (Cato Institute, "ATLA monopoly," May 2002): The trial lawyers new goal is to tighten their monopoly grip on the court system, and prevent the rest
of us from choosing a more efficient means of resolving our disputes. Arbitration is simply private court. Lawyers with a vested interest in a monopoly court system are trying to stop the arbitration business from developing. But there's nothing forced or mandatory about it. Contracts are the result of choice. People should be free to choose for themselves what contracts to make and what rights to give up.
Opposing economic argument: (Heritage Foundation, "The Unfair Attack on Arbitration," July 17, 2013): Any study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should examine whether a limit on arbitration would:
Source: Letter to CFPB Director 17LTR-CFPB on Aug 4, 2016
- Drive up the costs of consumer products;
- Decrease the ability of consumers or businesses to pursue claims, particularly low-value claims;
- Increase the volume of frivolous litigation filed just to obtain settlements; and
- Decrease the availability of consumer products.
Page last updated: Jun 04, 2019