Chavez: Elizabeth Warren For Utah


Designed by Justin Prather for the Daily Utah Chronicle

By Paij Chavez, Opinion Writer


Although Utah is a deep red state well-known for its conservative voting record, it is now expected to have a larger voice in the nomination of future presidential candidates. Thanks to S.B. 242 – Presidential Primary Amendments, a primary election will now be held in Utah on March 3, 2020, or Super Tuesday. The bill was passed by the legislature earlier this year, designating funding to improve the disastrous voting experience from the 2016 party-run caucuses to a state-run primary. Many anticipate having the primary on Super Tuesday will increase the attention paid to Utah by Democratic candidates.

According to a Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll earlier this year, 54 percent of Utah voters “would probably or definitely not vote to re-elect the president in 2020.” If Utah voters do not want Trump elected for another term, there needs to be a consensus on more than which Democratic candidate has the best chance to beat Trump, but also who will be the strongest leader for our country.

Julian Castro and John Delaney each visited Utah earlier this year, but it is Senator Elizabeth Warren who is the best-known candidate to campaign here so far. Politico most recently reported that the ever prepared, policy-backed Warren is now polling second in popularity – behind Bernie Sanders – in the crowded field of two dozen Democratic presidential candidates.

Warren made a stop in Utah at The Depot in April, where she emphasized that this is a “perilous time for our country.” Taylor Stevens at the Salt Lake Tribune reported that “her ideas seemed to resonate with the crowd of more than a thousand people in blazing red Utah’s blue capital city.” Warren’s momentum has been building over the last few months, so much so that the Trump campaign is again eyeing her as a threat.

Although relentlessly taunted and dismissed by Trump in the past, Warren has stayed steadfast in her fight for the working class. During her visit, Warren outlined her plans for “big, systemic change.” We need strong leadership, and Elizabeth Warren truly appears the most equipped candidate for the task. Warren supports Medicare for All, the end of lobbying “as we know it,” a wealth tax, stronger unions, the repeal of Citizens United and the reform of higher education.

So many people have had to take out student loans that the US is now in the middle of a national student debt crisis. “We got into this crisis because state governments and the federal government decided that instead of treating higher education like our public school system — free and accessible to all Americans — they’d rather cut taxes for billionaires and giant corporations and offload the cost of higher education onto students and their families,” Warren said. “The student debt crisis is the direct result of this failed experiment.”

While Utah does not have the highest amount of student debt in the nation, higher education is still inaccessible to many and those able to make it work are often burdened with thousands of dollars in student loans to cover tuition, books and the cost of living. The debt may hinder future financial progress and can affect mental health.

In response to this crisis, Warren is proposing a transformational plan: cancellation of almost all student debt and universal, debt-free college. This would be paid for by implementing an “Ultra-Millionaire Tax — a 2% annual tax on the 75,000 families with $50 million or more in wealth.” She says that this tax will more than cover the cost of this plan. “For decades, we’ve allowed the wealthy to pay less while burying tens of millions of working Americans in education debt. It’s time to make different choices.”

Warren doesn’t stop there. Another of Warren’s policies that would be transformative for Utahns – especially those who are parents as well as students – is universal child care. The plan would “guarantee high-quality child care and early education for every child in America from birth to school age.” This policy aligns with Warren’s clear message and desire for financial equity in our country. She succinctly puts it, “In the wealthiest country on the planet, access to affordable and high-quality child care and early education should be a right, not a privilege reserved for the rich.”

According to Child Care Aware in 2018, there were 151,573 children under the age of six potentially needing childcare in Utah, but only 58,776 available spots. The annual cost of child care ranges from $6500 to $12,900. Warren’s plan would build on successful programs like Headstart and the universal child care program offered by the U.S. military, and makes quality, accredited child care free or affordable for most families. She said it “requires the federal government to work with local partners to fit the specific needs of the community and ensures that child care providers offer early learning services.”  

This program would alleviate stress from parents and strengthen thousands of Utah families, and millions more nationwide. The Ultra Millionaire tax would pay for this program. Warren’s team projects that this tax would generate “$2.75 trillion in new government revenue over the next ten years.” She concluded, “ That’s about four times more than the entire cost of my Universal Child Care and Early Learning plan.”

These economic reforms would certainly benefit Utahns in their education and work, but Warren also has detailed policies concerning the public lands where they play. In an earlier Medium post she wrote, “National parks have been called ‘America’s best idea’ because they embody a democratic ideal: Our most breathtaking places are protected and accessible to all, not just the wealthy or privileged.” She is strongly opposed to Trump’s rollback of protections over the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments and continued, “His move… opens up [the land] for mining and drilling, which will cause irreversible damage. These lands are part of our national fabric, sacred to tribes and beloved by American families.” Warren pledged that as president she “will use my authorities under the Antiquities Act to restore protections to both monuments and any other national monuments targeted by this administration.”

When it comes to these policies, I agree with Elizabeth Warren. The country is feeling the limitations of late-stage capitalism and many people will continue to suffer while a few profit heavily if bold changes aren’t made. Investing in Americans and removing the burden of student loans completely would allow for so much more creativity and innovation. Warren wants Utahns to have access to the education and resources that they deserve, to ensure that their children have quality care and to preserve natural beauty for their families to experience together. 

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