The rise of Elizabeth Warren spells bad news for the Democratic Party
Senator Elizabeth Warren has surged in the polls, achieving double digit numbers for the first time since officially announcing her bid. Indeed, Warren has solidified her position as one of the top candidates that have managed to distinguish themselves from the other two dozen candidates who are vying for the Democratic presidential nomination for 2020. The group of front runners include Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Simply put, this recent momentum from Warren spells bad news for the Democratic Party. The lawmaker from Massachusetts has centered her run around liberal big government policies that once only appealed to the left most fringes of the party. To be sure, her jump in the polls is indicative of how far left the party has moved and suggests that the party will nominate a radical candidate who is unpalatable to independents and moderates, two groups essential to beating Donald Trump in the general election.
The major components of her presidential campaign platform include expanding the reach of the federal government to tackle core inequities in American society, particularly through greater Wall Street oversight and policies to reduce income inequality by raising taxes on the wealthiest citizens. In a recent town hall, Warren touted her proposed wealth tax that she claims will allow the United States to have universal child care for kids aged five and under, universal college, and a significantly reduced loan debt burden for 95 percent of students, with almost $1 trillion left over.
While the objectives of this policy are lofty and admirable, the plan itself is impractical and will simply never work. The new wealth tax that Warren promotes as a solution to our national problems is a 2 percent tax on all wealth over $50 million among the 75,000 largest fortunes in the country. Even when one disregards the math involved in calculating such a substantial change to the tax code, dismisses the argument that tax revenue will likely fall far short even if such a plan was implemented, and assumes that the Internal Revenue Service is prepared to face the incredibly arduous task of completely changing the way it assesses taxes and wealth, Warren would also face a legal fight for this part of her plan.
In terms of the constitutionality of her plan, the Sixteenth Amendment states that the federal government can only collect taxes on the income of citizens. Attempting to collect taxes on the wealth of citizens would surely be challenged, and the case could go all the way to the Supreme Court. Regardless of the legality, the plan is radical and wide support among Democratic primary voters is telling of how far left the party has shifted.
Indeed, the plan clearly resonates. On top of surging in the polls, Warren has garnered endorsements from Representative Joe Kennedy III and former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, and has also secured a spot in the upcoming debates. Her message of higher taxes, fighting Wall Street, and implementing such radical economic and social reforms has now energized the increasingly liberal Democratic primary electorate. However, if the party were to nominate Warren or another candidate who is similarly progressive, such as Sanders, any chance of beating Trump in the general election next year would be squandered.
To be victorious in 2020, the Democratic Party must focus on pushing moderate economic policies that do not involve radical wealth taxes, on fixing the health care system without adopting extreme “Medicare for All” policies, and on compromises on immigration. To be sure, I believe in the Democratic primary process and that competing ideas and challenging the status quo is what we should do in a democracy. However, looking ahead to 2020, if the main goal of the party is to beat Trump, we must advocate for center of left policies that result in steady progress for the country, while still appealing to crucial moderates and independents.
Admittedly, the rise Warren in recent polls suggests that the Democratic Party is moving in the opposite direction towards more big government social and economic policies that will certainly turn away the majority of the general electorate. Ultimately, if Democratic primary voters moves towards supporting these policies and the candidates who advocate for them, the only thing they will end up with is four more years of Trump.
Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. He is a political consultant, Fox News contributor, and the author of “Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership.”