Warren: The system is 'rigged'

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) believes the system is still “rigged,” nearly one year after she joined Congress.

Warren is expected to tell the National Consumer Law Center Thursday that, after a year as a lawmaker, she believes “as strongly as ever that the system is rigged for powerful interests and against working families.”

While blasting corporate interests, lobbyists and campaign finance matters, Warren primarily will set her sights on an overly complicated and opaque system, which she says benefits the powerful at the expense of the middle class.

Warren, who got her foothold in Washington as the president’s pick to build up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) before running for office, contended that complex rules and fine print trip up regular people, while companies with their “army of lawyers” can lay those traps.

Bolstering her case for a strong CFPB, Warren pointed to the widespread support other, older regulatory agencies enjoy, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration. While the CFPB isn’t perfect, Warren said its consumer backers need to stand strong to defend it from special interests.

“This new agency matters, and it is already starting to make a real difference,” she said.

Beyond consumer protection, Warren also blasted efforts to stifle gun control, and corporate influence on elections. Calling gun violence an “epidemic,” Warren contended that the National Rifle Association and other gun industry groups have worked to tamp down any research on gun violence, keeping the public in the dark.

She noted that the National Institutes of Health spent just $100,000 of its $5.6 billion budget on firearm injury prevention, compared to $21 million on headaches.

“If as many people were dying of a mysterious disease as innocent bystanders are dying from firearms, a cure would be our top priority and we’d still be talking about it,” she said.

And after the Citizens United ruling, Warren said the campaign system became more opaque, as a host of the wealthy could influence elections with hundreds of millions of dollars and “keep the American people in the dark.”

She urged the group to continue fighting for clearer rules for all Americans.

“Reform isn’t easy, but when we succeed — when we increase transparency and fight for fairness — we get safer, and we get stronger,” she said. “I know there will be many battles ahead, and I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder once again.”