Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is a longtime academic who spent years teaching bankruptcy law before entering politics. She helped launch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in 2011 and served as its first Special Advisor.
Warren is a progressive who opposes Trump’s immigration policies and plans to vote against the USMCA. She called for impeachment after the release of the Mueller report.
Warren announced her bid for the presidency in February and immediately distinguished herself from the other candidates by presenting fully-fledged policy proposals on housing and anti-corruption.
Whereas most candidates attract votes by presenting broad ideas (and filling in the details later), Warren has released specific plans to:
- Ban lobbying by former Congressmen
- Overhaul campaign finance laws
- Fund Medicare for All
- Tighten regulations on tech companies
- Decriminalize marijuana
- Outlaw private prisons
- Reduce student debt and make technical colleges tuition-free
Another key issue with Warren’s untraditional campaign is her reliance on academia.
Warren’s proposals, which are littered with references to obscure academic texts, read more like essays than legislation. Her policy team is comprised of intellectuals who all have degrees from Harvard or Yale.
Leading the team is Jon Donenberg, who served as Warren’s policy adviser during her senate campaign and was hired on as legislative director when she was elected in 2013. Before that, Donenberg worked for Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).
“The job of the policy shop is to help [Warren] fill in the details around these proposals, to present data, and to talk through the costs and benefits of various approaches,” says Donenberg, who has degrees from the University of Illinois and from Yale.
Also advising Warren (but outside her paid staff) is Vanderbilt Professor Ganesh Sitaraman, who worked for Warren during her senate campaign and has degrees from Harvard and from Emmanuel college in Cambridge.
Handling national security for Warren is Sasha Baker, who worked in the Obama Administration as Deputy Chief of Staff at the Department of Defense. In this role, she helped open a Defense Innovation Unit in Massachusetts and created a special board dedicated to bringing tech from Silicon Valley and Cambridge into government. Baker has degrees from Harvard and Dartmouth.
Handling financial issues for Warren is Bharat Ramamurti, her longtime legislative aide who assisted the Senate investigation of Wells Fargo in 2016 and has worked on bipartisan efforts to broker a deal on housing reforms for mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
In 2017, Warren encouraged Ramamurti to run for a vacant SEC position despite the fact that his wife is a defense lawyer practicing before the SEC and the CFPB. Ramamurti has degrees from Harvard and Yale.
Warren’s team has an impressive resume that lacks one key ingredient: business experience. Neither Warren nor any member of her team has experience running a business – and what is the US economy if not one giant business?
Some critics have compared Warren’s academic campaign to that of Hillary Clinton, whose thorough policy proposals failed to draw the support Trump attracted through sheer rhetoric.
“Democrats brought a stack of fact sheets to a gunfight,” says Austan Goolsbee, an economic adviser who worked for Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. “It does give me a little heartburn when there’s so much policy detail this early in the campaign.”
Editor’s note: Nobody in Warren’s campaign, including Warren, has ever had to meet a payroll, generate a profit or efficiency manage employees. The whole team lacks real world experience, they are the epitome of “ivory tower,” a recipe for disaster.