Senator Elizabeth Warren is making headlines for a speech some are saying is not only a take-down of Rep. Paul Ryan’s views on poverty and unemployment but a lesson in the kind of visionary approach that Democrats would be wise to emulate.
The Massachusetts Democrat made the remarks as the keynote speaker at the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor’s Humphrey-Mondale Dinner on March 29th, a fundraising event for the party of Paul Wellstone.
Warren took apart the Rep. Paul Ryan’s maligned statements regarding “men not working” in our “inner cities,” and his corporate- and Wall Street-friendly vision.
“Congressman Ryan attacked unemployment insurance, saying it is, and I’m quoting here, ‘a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency.’ I am really serious. I want you to think about that.”
“If our neighbors and friends who are laid off when a company moves overseas, or the recession shuts them down, Paul Ryan thinks that a little help to try to help keep the mortgage paid and to put food on the table will cause them to kick back and live large, with no plans to work again,” she said.
“Paul Ryan looks around, sees three unemployed workers for every job opening in America, and blames the people who can’t find a job. In 2008, this economy crashed, wiping out millions of jobs.”
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“Paul Ryan says, ‘Don’t blame Wall Street — the guys who made billions of dollars cheating American families. Don’t blame decades of deregulation that took the cops off the beat while the big banks looted the American economy. Don’t blame the Republican Secretary of the Treasury and the Republican president who set in motion a no-strings-attached bailout for the biggest banks.’ Nope.” “Paul Ryan says keep the monies flowing to the powerful corporations, keep their huge tax breaks, keep the special deals for the too-big-to-fail banks and put the blame on hardworking, play-by-the-rules Americans who lost their jobs.”
“Let me tell you, that may be Paul Ryan’s vision of how America works, but that is not our vision of this great country,” she said.
The Nation‘s John Nichols writes that Warren’s speech “school[ed] Democrats with regard to what they should expect from a presidential contender.” He adds, “Democrats can’t just talk about inequality. . . They have to challenge the assumptions of those who argue for the failed strategies of the past.”
“Whether or not Elizabeth Warren ever runs for the presidency, she is teaching her party a great deal about how to take the events of a moment and weave them into a narrative that addresses the fundamental challenges facing the country,” Nichols writes.
Watch part of her speech below in the video uploaded by ElizabethForMA: