On Substantive Doubts about Elizabeth Warren: Part I

Although impressions abound about Impeachment initiatives against President Trump, this week’s Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate has shifted my reflection more immediately to the candidacy of U.S. MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren, which pundits tell us is surging. All that read these pages are aware that I have serious handicapping reservations about Sen. Warren’s prospects in a general election contest against President Trump; I fear that the President will be able to engender sufficient alarm about her among his wavering 2016 supporters that, taken together with Ms. Warren’s relatively tepid support in the African American community, will enable him to duplicate his narrow 2016 Electoral College victory. Enough has been said here about that; but as Ms. Warren has reportedly begun edging past former Vice President Joe Biden, substantive factors about her are giving me perhaps even greater pause. Notwithstanding what follows: if Sen. Warren secures the Democratic presidential nomination and is running against Mr. Trump, she can rest assured of my vote; she doesn’t appear prone to the President’s character failings or likely to perpetuate his destructive malfeasance. Further, if she is running against a President Mike Pence, she will receive my vote; she has demonstrated strong will and independence throughout her career while Mr. Pence has exhausted my Thesaurus over the last couple of years as I’ve looked for ever-more blog-appropriate synonyms for the word, “sycophant.”

That said, I have deep reservations about her ability to successfully execute the presidency. The very introduction to the Senator’s campaign home page provides hints for my concerns:

“Elizabeth has a lot of plans, but they’re really one simple plan: We need to tackle the corruption in Washington that makes our government work for the wealthy and well-connected, but kicks dirt on everyone else, and put economic and political power back in the hands of the people [My underscore].”

Foreign Policy. I consider the highest responsibility of the President of the United States to safeguard us against foreign enemies. The President must conduct a foreign policy that reassures our allies and checks the unwarranted advances of our adversaries. These are perilous times – made more so by Mr. Trump’s boorishness, ignorance, and incompetence; the horrific tragedy unfolding in Syria as this is typed screams for a steady and knowledgeable steward for U.S. foreign relations. Even so, there is not a word about foreign relations in Ms. Warren’s introductory declaration. She appears to look at our international relations through her domestic prism, stating on her foreign policy page (consisting essentially of progressive slogans) that Washington’s foreign policy serves the “wealthy and well-connected” and calling for an end to “the stranglehold of defense contractors on our military policy.” She pledges to bring our troops home, but displays no understanding of the difficulties of achieving such a withdrawal without regional cataclysm and potential consequent risk to American and allied lives. Her pledge in the second debate not to use our nuclear arsenal in a first strike capacity amounts, in my view, to presidential malpractice. She cries for cuts in “our bloated defense budget,” and calls for a greater reliance on diplomacy; but although we need to ensure that our defense dollars are spent wisely, such railing is somewhat akin to Mr. Trump’s complaints about what he claims are insufficient alliance contributions by our NATO partners. She seems oblivious to the fact that Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran are investing heavily in military and cyber capabilities and that these and other adversaries are responsive to diplomacy backed by strength, not by moral outrage or a “Pretty Please.”

Fiscal Responsibility. Interestingly, while calling our defense budget “unsustainable” (which it probably is; that’s why we need to nurture – not destroy — worldwide alliances to maintain an international balance supporting our interests), Sen. Warren is advocating for (1) a trillion-plus dollar federal expenditure to support free public college and student loan debt forgiveness and (2) what will amount to tens of trillions more for Medicare-for-All. While I support adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act, our current budget realities make these sweeping initiatives as fiscally unsustainable as the Republicans’ chronic obsession with tax cuts. I went into law because I couldn’t do numbers, but it’s clear even to me that we do not have enough rich people and big corporations that we can tax enough to support these programs.

Practicality. “Elizabeth has a lot of plans …” She sure does. Even if Democrats gain control of both Houses of Congress – an outcome that few pundits predict, and one made even less likely if Ms. Warren is the Democratic candidate – she won’t command sufficient support in Congress for the progressive agenda she is proposing; many Americans (including me, and the Democrats representing swing states and districts that are desirous of keeping their seats) will be looking to Congress to check her most progressive impulses. Democrats will appear extreme, out of touch, and inept in the same manner as Republicans did in 2017-18, when they controlled both houses and despite years of haranguing still weren’t able (thankfully) to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

In an effort to keep these posts to at least a somewhat manageable length, what remains of this note will appear in Part II.

2 thoughts on “On Substantive Doubts about Elizabeth Warren: Part I

  1. You seem to disparage the fact that Ms Warren has a lot of plans. Like that is a bad thing. Rare has it been that any successful endeavor started without a plan of action. Foreign policy/Defense spending… Dwight Eisenhower, WW II Allied Supreme Commander, warned of the acceleration towards a military industrial complex in his Presidential farewell address….and it has happened beyond his worst nightmare. Retired admirals and generals hired for big $$$ influencing still active colleagues, senators whoring to defense contractors for campaign funds and projects for their states…often useless programs (ie tanks) which do nothing for our defense. High dollar expenditures don’t guarantee a successful defense, targeted calculated expenditures do. Fiscal responsibility…Ms Warren has published work in neoclassical economic theory and has been on several Senate committees concentrating on economic issues. She is hardly an economic neophyte. It’s amazing how the US government always has the money for mindless military spending or another round of corporate tax cuts, but never for health care or any type of control for an industry that makes billions on the sick and dying. Joe Biden is a status quo guy, pandering to the African American vote (reparations) with little else except his hatred of Donald Trump. Odd how his kid was on the board of a Chinese company because???? His PhD in International Finance? No. His experience as a General Manager of a Fortune 500 company? No. Because his old man was running for US President (and I do mean old man in every sense of the word)…..


    1. LOL. Thank you, my friend. I think plans are fine; I think achievement is the goal. More on Sen. Warren’s potential presidential interactions with Mitch McConnell tomorrow. While it’s been amply demonstrated that we waste billions in defense spending, I would suggest that the tone of her website’s discussion seems designed to whip the military to give progressives red meat. As for tax cuts — although there are still economists that defend Reagan’s, W’s and Trump’s tax cuts in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, it seems irrefutable to me that the latter two reduced revenues while pursuing ill-conceived goals — W’s war and Trump’s provision of sugar to an economy that didn’t need it (I somewhat absolve Reagan because at the time he tried it, we had not yet seen that such cuts won’t pay for themselves — his cut was what provided the evidence). While I absolutely favor federal negotiation with drug companies on drug prices, I would submit that our excesses in tax cuts, defense spending, and other pork barreling are insufficient excuse for further profligacy that we can’t afford — which is what I consider Medicare-for-all, free college, and blanket student loan debt forgiveness extravagances. Thanks for the note — it’s always helpful to have one’s consciousness adjusted!


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