Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Town Hall event for her presidential campaign, at the Shrine Expo Hall, Los Angeles, California, on August 21st 2019

By Julianna Wingate

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren held town hall style event this week as her campaign swung through Los Angeles.

People quickly filled the bottom and mezzanine levels of the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles on Wednesday, August 22, to hear Warren speak.

Fernando Vargas cited Warren’s, “progressive agenda,” as his draw to the town hall.

Others, listed Warren’s “obvious passion” and were eager to hear more policy details.

Joshua Christ, a 28 year old professor at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, said his top issues were universal healthcare and eliminating student loan debt. He said Warren was “absolutely” his candidate and said he’s concerned with  “making sure America is better off tomorrow than today and that we have leaders who fulfill that.”

Andrea Rifelli, 72 year old clinical social worker and Warren volunteer, said she wants a sensible federal gun policy, and “this patchwork of state policies is useless.” Rifelli’s other top issue was income inequality.

“I think it drives every other issue, the problems with education, and with climate management, and everything is influenced by the inequality,” she said.

Michael Castenda, 25, wanted to hear more about policy plans that cater to minorities and marginalized groups that aren’t necessarily being represented.

Warren shared personal anecdotes about her struggle growing up in Oklahoma, mentioning that the minimum wage used to put food on the table when she was growing up, but that today’s minimum wage will not keep a mother and her child out of poverty.

Warren went on to propose “big structural change,” saying that she is going to attack corruption head on.  Namely, she pledges herself to “ending lobbying as we know it, Locking the revolving door between Wall St. and Washington, and pushing back against corporations.”

Warren identified the Koch brothers as being particularly harmful and prone to negligence and practicing bad faith in their investments. Warren explained that in the early 1990’s scientists were publishing studies revealing the planet was in danger from climate change.

“[The Koch Brothers] could have invested in clean energy technologies, but instead bought politicians and ‘experts’ who denied climate change.”

She spelled out her two percent wealth tax plan saying any person whose equity exceeds $50 million must “pitch in” two cents for every dollar earned after that.

“I guarantee you [your fortune] was built at least in part with hard working employees … at least in part with the goods and services you transported using tax-payer funded roads and bridges,” she said.

Chants of “two cents” grew as Warren explained how the wealth tax will “invest in a whole generation.” She claimed it could fund Universal Child Care, Universal Pre-K and raise the wages of childcare workers. She also mentioned tuition free college and canceling student loan debt.

Shifting from tax reform, Warren explained her plans to “protect Democracy” after her election. She promised to advocate for a constitutional amendment protecting every citizens right to vote.  “We need to repeal every single racist voter suppression law,” she said.

Warren went on to advocate for getting rid of political gerrymandering and overturning Citizens United, a landmark U.S Supreme Court case that ruled corporate political spending is protected speech under the 1st amendment.

Taking questions from raffle winners in the crowd, Warren addressed what she would do to guarantee that transgender and nonbinary people have adequate healthcare protections. She responded that the United States government must hold accountable those who swear to protect citizen’s rights.

Warren went on to say “universal health care is a basic human right.”

This story was published as part of a partnership between the SMC Corsair student newspaper and the Santa Monica Daily Press.

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