Government

'Feisty' Warren looks to lead on climate, education

In C.R. stop, Democrat pledges to cancel most student loan debt

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a campaign event hosted by the Linn Phoenix Club Thursday evening at CSPS in Cedar Rapids. The 2020 presidential candidate pledged to rejoin the Paris climate accord, change the rules on lobbying and cancel most student loan debt.  (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a campaign event hosted by the Linn Phoenix Club Thursday evening at CSPS in Cedar Rapids. The 2020 presidential candidate pledged to rejoin the Paris climate accord, change the rules on lobbying and cancel most student loan debt. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — On the first day of her presidency, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, she would ban any new mining or drilling on public lands and rejoin the Paris climate accord, which the United States pulled out of under the Trump administration.

“The U.S. is a leader on climate and right now we are leading in the wrong direction,” the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful said in response to an audience question. “We need to be leading to a clean Earth for our children.”

Warren, 69, a former teacher, spoke for about an hour to more than 100 people at CSPS Hall, after a stop at Raygun and grabbing a bite at NewBo City Market. She spoke not long after the apparent front runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, announced his entry in the race.

Warren, in response to reporters’ questions, said she welcomed more ideas in the race.

During the campaign event, Warren laid out her strategy for attacking corruption head on, including changing the rules of lobbying; rewriting rules of the economy to re-energize labor unions; and rewriting the rules of politics to roll back voter suppression laws and overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling on campaign financing.

She also laid out her education plan in which she would cancel student loan debt for 95 percent of young adults, establish free access to college, and expand the Pell Grant program to cover more costs to close the higher education access gap between wealthy and poor.

This and other proposals would be paid for through a 2 percent tax on fortunes above $50 million, which applies to roughly 75,000 families, she said.

“That fortune was built, in part, using employees all of us helped to educate,” she said. “That fortune was built, in part, getting your goods to market on roads and bridges all of us helped to pay for. That fortune was built, in part, protected by firefighters and police officer all of us helped to pay for.

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“So you made it big. Good for you. But put in the 2 cents so everybody else has a chance to make it in America.”

Warren’s two-day swing through Eastern Iowa is her fifth trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate.

Today, Warren is scheduled to appear at meet-and-greets in Tipton at 11:45 a.m. at the Tipton Family Restaurant and in Clinton at 3:15 p.m. at Gateway Area Community Center Gym. In the evening, she’ll be at the Scott County Democrats Red, White & Blue Dinner at RiverCenter, Mississippi Hall, Davenport.

Warren is ranked among the top tier of at least 20 Democrats vying for the presidential nomination, according to polls of Iowa Democratic voters.

Michel Stone, 77, of Cedar Rapids, who was at Warren’s event, said she liked Warren but hasn’t made up her mind on who to support. She said she wants whomever can unseat President Donald Trump and hopes a woman is on the ticket.

“She has tremendous energy, she has a plan for everything, and seems to be ready to go to work right away,” she said.

Sue Kuennen, of Cedar Rapids, and Eliot Blake, 55, of Iowa City, who are both Kirkwood Community College teachers, said they are “100 percent behind Warren.”

“I love that she is fighting for people and fighting for something, and that she is feisty,” Kuennen said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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