Elizabeth Warren Quotes
1. There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea – God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
2. We lose eight children and teenagers to gun violence every day. If a mysterious virus suddenly started killing eight of our children every day, America would mobilize teams of doctors and public health officials. We would move heaven and earth until we found a way to protect our children. But not with gun violence.
3. Balancing your money is the key to having enough.
4. When you have no real power, go public — really public. The public is where the real power is.
5. Today the game is rigged—rigged to work for those who have money and power. Big corporations hire armies of lobbyists to get billion-dollar loopholes into the tax system and persuade their friends in Congress to support laws that keep the playing field tilted in their favor. Meanwhile, hardworking families are told that they’ll just have to live with smaller dreams for their children.
6. Everybody in this room knows the basic rule: if you don’t have a seat at the table, you are probably on the menu.
7. I believe that it’s this optimism about the future that sets us apart as a people, this optimism that makes America an exceptional nation. We built this country by striking out on new adventures and propelling ourselves forward on a path we named progress. Along the way, we learned that when we invest in one another, when we build schools and roads and research labs, we build a better future—a better future for ourselves and our children and our grandchildren. Equality. Opportunity. The pursuit of happiness. An America that builds something better for the next kid and the kid after that and the kid after that. No one is asking for a handout. All we want is a country where everyone pays a fair share, a country where we build opportunities for all of us; a country where everyone plays by the same rules and everyone is held accountable. And we have begun to fight for it. I believe in us. I believe in what we can do together, in what we will do together. All we need is a fighting chance.
8. For capitalism to work, we all need one another.
9. The next time you drive into a Walmart parking lot, pause for a second to note that this Walmart—like the more than five thousand other Walmarts across the country—costs taxpayers about $1 million in direct subsidies to the employees who don’t earn enough money to pay for an apartment, buy food, or get even the most basic health care for their children. In total, Walmart benefits from more than $7 billion in subsidies each year from taxpayers like you. Those “low, low prices” are made possible by low, low wages—and by the taxes you pay to keep those workers alive on their low, low pay. As I said earlier, I don’t think that anyone who works full-time should live in poverty. I also don’t think that bazillion-dollar companies like Walmart ought to funnel profits to shareholders while paying such low wages that taxpayers must pick up the ticket for their employees’ food, shelter, and medical care. I listen to right-wing loudmouths sound off about what an outrage welfare is and I think, “Yeah, it stinks that Walmart has been sucking up so much government assistance for so long.” But somehow I suspect that these guys aren’t talking about Walmart the Welfare Queen. Walmart isn’t alone. Every year, employers like retailers and fast-food outlets pay wages that are so low that the rest of America ponies up a collective $153 billion to subsidize their workers. That’s $153 billion every year. Anyone want to guess what we could do with that mountain of money? We could make every public college tuition-free and pay for preschool for every child—and still have tens of billions left over. We could almost double the amount we spend on services for veterans, such as disability, long-term care, and ending homelessness. We could double all federal research and development—everything: medical, scientific, engineering, climate science, behavioral health, chemistry, brain mapping, drug addiction, even defense research. Or we could more than double federal spending on transportation and water infrastructure—roads, bridges, airports, mass transit, dams and levees, water treatment plants, safe new water pipes. Yeah, the point I’m making is blindingly obvious. America could do a lot with the money taxpayers spend to keep afloat people who are working full-time but whose employers don’t pay a living wage. Of course, giant corporations know they have a sweet deal—and they plan to keep it, thank you very much. They have deployed armies of lobbyists and lawyers to fight off any efforts to give workers a chance to organize or fight for a higher wage. Giant corporations have used their mouthpiece, the national Chamber of Commerce, to oppose any increase in the minimum wage, calling it a “distraction” and a “cynical effort” to increase union membership. Lobbyists grow rich making sure that people like Gina don’t get paid more. The
10. This crisis didn’t have to happen. America had a boom-and-bust cycle from the 1790s to the 1930s, with a financial panic every ten to fifteen years. But we figured out how to fix it. Coming out of the Great Depression, the country put tough rules in place that gave us fifty years without a financial crisis. But in the 1980s, we started pulling the threads out of the regulatory fabric, and we found ourselves back in the boom-and-bust cycle. When this crisis is over, there will be a once-in-a-generation chance to rewrite the rules. What we set in place will determine whether our country continues down this path toward a boom-and-bust economy or whether we reestablish an economy with more stability that gives ordinary folks a chance at real prosperity.
11. The bankers might not have said it in so many words, but gradually their strategy emerged: Target families who were already in a little trouble, lend them more money, get them entangled in high fees and astronomical interest rates, and then block the doors to the bankruptcy exit if they really got in over their heads.
12. Getting straight with your money is as complicated as a trip to the grocery store:
You need a comparison shop, add and subtract, stick with a plan, and ask questions- nothing more.
13. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there—good for you. “But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers that the rest of us paid to educate…Part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
14. The single best predictor that a family would go bankrupt was if they had a child.
15. Otis, on the other hand, didn’t miss home a bit. He had always hated the stairs in our house in Massachusetts. He was now five years old and very large for a golden retriever. I thought he was fat, but Bruce insisted he was just “big-boned”. Either way, climbing the steep stairs at home was a challenge. Whenever Bruce and I went upstairs, Otis would sit near the bottom step, carefully calculating whether we would be on the second floor long enough to make it worthwhile to heave himself up the stairs. And on the way down the stairs, Otis was like a fully loaded eighteen-wheeler barreling down a steep hill. We just got out of his way. But in the new Washington apartment building, Otis had an elevator. As far as he was concerned, life was sweet.
16. I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People—powerful people—listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders. I
17. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
18. By late 2008, one out of every five mortgage holders owed more than their homes were worth. The banks called in the loans, and the foreclosure notices piled up.
19. The way I see it, no one in this country should work full-time and still live in poverty—period.
20. He didn’t seem to understand yet was that I didn’t really care about the ways of Washington.
21. These families need you.” I said it quietly, and the silence stretched some more. I tried to steady my breathing. He paused again, then gave a deep sigh and said, “All right. I’ll do it. I’ll do what I can.
22. The best available apples-to-apples comparison of inflation-adjusted earnings shows what the typical fully employed man earned back in the 1970s and what that same fully employed man earns today. The picture isn’t pretty. As the GDP has doubled and almost doubled again, as corporations have piled up record profits, as the country has gotten wealthier, and as the number of billionaires has exploded, the average man working full-time today earns about what the average man earned back in 1970. Nearly half a century has gone by, and the guy right in the middle of the pack is making about what his granddad did. The second punch that’s landed on families is expenses. If costs had stayed the same over the past few decades, families would be okay—or, at least, they would be in about the same position as they were thirty-five years ago. Not advancing but not falling behind, either. But that didn’t happen. Total costs are up, way up. True, families have cut back on some kinds of expenses. Today, the average family spends less on food (including eating out), less on clothing, less on appliances, and less on furniture than a comparable family did back in 1971. In other words, families have been pretty careful about their day-to-day spending, but it hasn’t saved them. The problem is that the other expenses—the big, fixed expenses—have shot through the roof and blown apart the family budget. Adjusted for inflation, families today spend more on transportation, more on housing, and more on health insurance. And for all those families with small children and no one at home during the day, the cost of childcare has doubled, doubled again, and doubled once more. Families have pinched pennies on groceries and clothing, but these big, recurring expenses have blown them right over a financial cliff.
23. Enforcement isn’t about big government or small government. It’s about whether government works and who it works for.
24. It’s a story about what’s worth fighting for, and how sometimes, even when we fight against very powerful opponents, we can win.
25. In 2016, into this tangle of worry and anger, came a showman who made big promises. A man who swore he would drain the swamp, then surrounded himself with the lobbyists and billionaires who run the swamp and feed off government favors. A man who talked the talk of populism but offered the very worst of trickle-down economics. A man who said he knew how the corrupt system worked because he had worked it for himself many times. A man who vowed to make America great again and followed up with attacks on immigrants, minorities, and women. A man who was always on the hunt for his next big con.
26. she feels lucky to have a job, but she is pretty blunt about what it is like to work at Walmart: she hates it. She’s worked at the local Walmart for nine years now, spending long hours on her feet waiting on customers and wrestling heavy merchandise around the store. But that’s not the part that galls her. Last year, management told the employees that they would get a significant raise. While driving to work or sorting laundry, Gina thought about how she could spend that extra money. Do some repairs around the house. Or set aside a few dollars in case of an emergency. Or help her sons, because “that’s what moms do.” And just before drifting off to sleep, she’d think about how she hadn’t had any new clothes in years. Maybe, just maybe. For weeks, she smiled at the notion. She thought about how Walmart was finally going to show some sign of respect for the work she and her coworkers did. She rolled the phrase over in her mind: “significant raise.” She imagined what that might mean. Maybe $2.00 more an hour? Or $2.50? That could add up to $80 a week, even $100. The thought was delicious. Then the day arrived when she received the letter informing her of the raise: 21 cents an hour. A whopping 21 cents. For a grand total of $1.68 a day, $8.40 a week. Gina described holding the letter and looking at it and feeling like it was “a spit in the face.” As she talked about the minuscule raise, her voice filled with anger. Anger, tinged with fear. Walmart could dump all over her, but she knew she would take it. She still needed this job. They could treat her like dirt, and she would still have to show up. And that’s exactly what they did. In 2015, Walmart made $14.69 billion in profits, and Walmart’s investors pocketed $10.4 billion from dividends and share repurchases—and Gina got 21 cents an hour more. This isn’t a story of shared sacrifice. It’s not a story about a company that is struggling to keep its doors open in tough times. This isn’t a small business that can’t afford generous raises. Just the opposite: this is a fabulously wealthy company making big bucks off the Ginas of the world. There are seven members of the Walton family, Walmart’s major shareholders, on the Forbes list of the country’s four hundred richest people, and together these seven Waltons have as much wealth as about 130 million other Americans. Seven people—not enough to fill the lineup of a softball team—and they have more money than 40 percent of our nation’s population put together. Walmart routinely squeezes its workers, not because it has to, but because it can. The idea that when the company does well, the employees do well, too, clearly doesn’t apply to giants like this one. Walmart is the largest employer in the country. More than a million and a half Americans are working to make this corporation among the most profitable in the world. Meanwhile, Gina points out that at her store, “almost all the young people are on food stamps.” And it’s not just her store. Across the country, Walmart pays such low wages that many of its employees rely on food stamps, rent assistance, Medicaid, and a mix of other government benefits, just to stay out of poverty. The
27. Never be so faithful to your plan that you are unwilling to consider the unexpected. Never be so faithful to your plan that you are unwilling to entertain the improbable opportunity that comes looking for you. And never be so faithful to your plan that when you hit a bump in the road — or when the bumps hit you – you don’t have the fortitude, grace and resiliency to rethink and regroup… Plans or no plans, keep a little space in your heart for the improbable. You won’t regret it.
28. the Founding Fathers had called for bankruptcy protection in the Constitution itself, and surely even the banking lobby wouldn’t pick a fight with them.
29. We got a room full of people here, who weren’t given anything. We got a room full of people here who had to fight for what they believe in. We have a room full of people here, who had to reach down deep, and no matter how hard it was, no matter how scary it looked, they found what they needed to find and they brought it up and they took care of the people they love,” Warren said, lifting her hand from a downward-pointed forefinger summoning the depths of one’s soul to the clenched fist of resolve. “They fought the fights they believe in—that’s how they got into these seats today.
30. This crisis didn’t have to happen. America had a boom-and-bust cycle from the 1790s to the 1930s, with a financial panic every ten to fifteen years. But we figured out how to fix it. Coming out of the Great Depression, the country put tough rules in place that gave us fifty years without a financial crisis. But in the 1980s, we started pulling the threads out of the regulatory fabric, and we found ourselves back in the boom-and-bust cycle. When this crisis is over, there will be a once-in-a-generation chance to rewrite the rules. What we set in place will determine whether our country continues down this path toward a boom-and-bust economy or whether we reestablish an economy with more stability that gives ordinary folks a chance at real prosperity. Done.
31. I also learned an essential truth: When you have no real power, go public—really public. The public is where the real power is.
32. They barely have time to fend off calls from angry creditors, let alone write letters to Congress. And most are profoundly, desperately ashamed of their situation. For many, the decision to file for bankruptcy proves to be the darkest secret of their entire lives. Politically speaking, they are almost invisible. And yet these families were up against what was already one of the best-organized, best-funded lobbies in America. (It would get even better organized and better funded in the years to come.)
33. America’s middle class is under attack. Worse, it’s not under attack by some unstoppable force of nature. It’s in trouble because the game is deliberately rigged.
34. In effect, two men – excuse me, two billionaires – turned a United States senator 180 degrees merely by threatening to spend big money. And they did it so brazenly that Senator Moran had to publicly humiliate himself to satisfy the brothers’ demand….
My sympathy level for anyone who gives in to this kind of pressure is exactly zero. If my job ever depends on pleasing a couple of billionaires, I’ll quit.
35. the rich and powerful are always taken care of. This corruption is turning government into a tool of those who have already gathered wealth and influence. This corruption is hollowing out America’s middle class and tearing down our democracy. In
36. This one-two punch—flat incomes and rising expenses—has hit the middle class squarely in the gut. Beginning
37. Everything we stand for can be expressed in terms of how we spend our money.
38. There were a million things we needed to figure out—and the congressman thought the most important thing we needed to do was slice up the operating budget so each political party was assured its “fair share”? Welcome to Washington. Once
39. But now, in a new century and a different time, that great middle class is on the ropes. All across the country, people are worried—worried and angry. They are angry because they bust their tails and their income barely budges. Angry because their budget is stretched to the breaking point by housing and health care. Angry because the cost of sending their kid to day care or college is out of sight. People are angry because trade deals seem to be building jobs and opportunities for workers in other parts of the world, while leaving abandoned factories here at home. Angry because young people are getting destroyed by student loans, working people are deep in debt, and seniors can’t make their Social Security checks cover their basic living expenses. Angry because we can’t even count on the fundamentals—roads, bridges, safe water, reliable power—from our government. Angry because we’re afraid that our children’s chances for a better life won’t be as good as our own. People are angry, and they are right to be angry. Because this hard-won, ruggedly built, infinitely precious democracy of ours has been hijacked. Today
40. More than 70 percent of the American people believe that students should have a chance at a debt-free education. • Nearly three-quarters of Americans support expanding Social Security. • Two-thirds of all Americans support raising the federal minimum wage. • Three-quarters of Americans want the federal government to increase spending on infrastructure.
41. The tale of America coming out of the Great Depression and not only surviving but actually transforming itself into an economic giant is the stuff of legend. But the part that gives me goose bumps is what we did with all that wealth: over several generations, our country built the greatest middle class the world had ever known. We built it ourselves, using our own hard work and the tools of government to open up more opportunities for millions of people. We used it all—tax policy, investments in public education, new infrastructure, support for research, rules that protected consumers and investors, antitrust laws—to promote and expand our middle class. The spectacular, shoot-off-the-fireworks fact is that we succeeded.
42. The bankruptcy wars changed me forever. Even before this grinding battle, I had begun to understand the terrible squeeze on the middle class. But it was this fight that showed me how badly the playing field was tilted and taught me that the squeeze wasn’t accidental.
43. America’s middle class was under attack.
44. America’s middle class was under attack. The nation’s broad prosperity had been forged by people like my parents—people who knew hardship and conflict and who kept on fighting, determined to pass on something better to their children. But the strength of the middle class was not unlimited. I felt as though I were looking at a once sturdy house that was crumbling: the windows were broken and the roof was caving in. It wasn’t a happy story. Instead, the book was an alarm, a warning that our country was headed in a terrible direction.
45. Medical problems, job losses, and family breakups had laid these families low. Most had hung on and tried to repay long past any reasonable chance of doing so. As I saw it, the families in bankruptcy were mostly good people caught in a bad situation
46. Of course, not every kid has the same risk of becoming a victim. A large number of those gun deaths occur in poor neighborhoods.
47. What kind of people are we? What are our shared values? Many congressional Republicans think it’s fine to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to giant oil companies and corporations that park their money overseas, even as medical research budgets are hit by another round of cuts and care centers have long waiting lists. But those spending choices don’t reflect the values of the American people.
48. The commuter college I went to in 1970 now charges tuition of $ 10,312 a year for in-state students—and that’s cheaper than most state schools. (Just so we’re all on the same page: my $ 50 tuition from 1970 works out to about $ 300 in 2016 dollars.)
49. my first target would be the obscene amounts of money the federal government was making on student loans.
50. Families are going broke because they buy too much stuff!
51. This shouldn’t be a my-party-your-party exercise. We should work together with one nonpartisan staff. The
52. Rich Cordray did. Rich was fearless, and he led by example. Among other things, he investigated Capital One for misleading customers about the costs of “free” add-ons to their credit cards—“free” services that actually cost customers a total of $140 million. (He ultimately forced Capital One to send the hidden fees back to every customer—and not one customer had to file papers or ask for a refund because the checks came automatically in the mail. Rich and his team also hit up the company to pay an additional $25 million fine.
53. The banking industry bought everything; they even bought their own facts. The industry commissioned three different studies, each of which was touted as “independent.” Each explained the urgent need to change the law—exactly the way the banking industry wanted it changed. One particularly damaging result of these bogus studies was a claim that bankruptcy cost every hardworking, bill-paying American family a $550 “hidden tax.” The number was entirely made up, fabricated out of thin air, but the press reported it as “fact” for years.
54. I loved my mother. I wanted her to smile, to believe that I was doing the right thing. But that wasn’t going to happen. So I ducked my head and kept on going.
55. When you have no real power, go public—really public. The public is where the real power is. Those
56. The America of opportunity is under assault. We once ran this country to benefit hardworking people who didn’t have much, to grow a middle class, to create opportunities for our kids. We once held up the ideal that poor kids would get the same chances in life as everyone else. We once believed that opportunity was not a zero-sum game; more for me didn’t have to mean less for you. We once believed that the greatest country on earth could bend our future toward more opportunity for more of our people.
57. Nearly one in four Americans can’t pay their bills on time. • Nearly half of Americans would not be able to cover an unexpected expense of $400. • A lower proportion of Americans own their homes than at any time in the past half century—63.5 percent. • The typical man working full-time earns less today than his counterpart did in 1972. • Nearly one-third of the country’s adult population—76 million Americans—describe themselves as either “struggling to get by” or “just getting by.” The
58. What happened is an economic boa constrictor that is squeezing working families so hard they can’t breathe. Gina
59. We see men and women who work as hard as they possibly can and still fall behind a little more every month. We see lives that look nothing like those lived by billionaires in eighteen-thousand-square-foot condos, because these people don’t live in some fairy tale—they live in today’s reality
60. Think tanks support so-called experts who will offer an opinion on anything—if the price is right. The result is that the rich and powerful flourish, while everyone else is left further and further behind. The cumulative impact of decades of these decisions has been to hollow out America’s middle class and to leave us, as a nation, weakened. The game is rigged. It is deliberately, persistently, and aggressively rigged to help the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful.