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Warren Echoes Sanders’ Take On Class Divide

Jacquelyn Martin
This Nov. 14, 2013 file photo shows Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington. Warren said in Essex on June 20 that the Democratic caucus is continuing to push for policies that benefit the middle class.

Vermont Democrats gathered Friday evening for the state party’s largest annual fundraiser, where Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren decried the Republican Party for favoring the rich over low- and middle-income Americans.

Warren, a first-term Democrat, was the guest speaker at the party’s 15th annual David W. Curtis Leader Awards dinner at the Champlain Valley Exposition. One of the more progressive members of the Democratic caucus, Warren has been outspoken on economic and banking issues and has been encouraged by some to run for president.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont’s senior senator, introduced Warren by noting she has become a household name for her consumer protection efforts on behalf of the American people. Warren headed the congressional oversight panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and was the driving force behind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Warren, who has said she is not running for president, delivered a message to Vermonters similar to one that the state’s own independent Sen. Bernard Sanders has been saying for years.

She railed against a Washington that works for the rich and powerful, and a Congress that can no longer work together to meet the needs of Americans. She promised that Democrats will fight for the middle class.

“Battles are uphill, and they are getting harder every day,” she said. “For decades, Congress usually came together to make these basic investments happen, to help build a future for this country. But those days have vanished. Today, Washington doesn’t work for regular families.”

"Today, Washington doesn't work for regular families." - Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Warren said the Democratic caucus is continuing to push for policies that benefit the middle class but has faced continuous opposition.

“Democrats are defending the values that we’ve protected for decades … while Republicans have gone to extremes to tilt the playing field to the rich and powerful,” she said.

Warren defeated Republican Sen. Scott Brown in 2012, who had won the seat after the death of longtime Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy. Brown is now running for the Senate in New Hampshire.

Vermont Democrats were rallied by the state’s elected Democrats before Warren’s speech. Gov. Peter Shumlin, touting the state’s 3.3 percent unemployment rate, said party members were gearing up for the fall election and another two years of governing.

“We’re not squandering the opportunity,” he said. “There’s a direct connection between what we believe and the jobs that are being created.”

Rep. Peter Welch drew strong applause when he declared that the United States was “not going to have the American military solve an Iraqi political problem.”

Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats, reiterated Welch’s point. “Your congressional delegation voted against the first war, and we’re gonna vote against any other war in Iraq,” Sanders said.

Warren also attended an event Friday afternoon in Burlington to promote her book, A Fighting Chance.

Party spokesman Ben Sarle said about 900 tickets were sold for Friday evening’s event. It was expected to raise more than $100,000.

Neal is a a reporter for the Vermont Press Bureau. He also files reports for Vermont Public Radio.
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