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  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, speaks Wednesday at an MSNBC town hall at Bergstaff Place. (MSNBC)

Thursday, June 06, 2019 1:00 am

Warren touts her plans in town hall

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday night she wanted to have a town hall in Fort Wayne “because people in Indiana understand jobs.”

“They understand how to build an economy that doesn't just work for a thin slice at the top, but an economy that works for everyone,” Warren said at Bergstaff Place. “But people in Fort Wayne, Indiana, also understand that leaving it to a handful of giant multinational corporations to build our economy just doesn't work.

“We need this economy to work for working people,” she said during the forum arranged and broadcast nationally by cable news network MSNBC. 

The U.S. senator from Massachusetts spent parts of the next hour describing her vision for a new American economy: “green” manufacturers making products to mitigate climate change, dramatically larger public investments in research and development, free child care and education, and the forgiveness of student debt. She said she would pay for her proposals by eliminating corporate tax breaks and fossil fuel subsidies and raising taxes on the worth of the richest Americans – those she said accounted for less than one-tenth of the wealthiest 1%.

“In what universe are these going to be passed?” moderator Chris Hayes of MSNBC asked at one point, a reference to the Republican Senate.

“The bottom line is we've got to build a grass-roots movement across the country,” Warren said.

Austin Knox, the deputy trustee for Wayne Township, told Warren that General Motors is one of the biggest employers in Allen County.

“How do we make sure that that factory is not negatively impacted by your policies?” Knox asked her.

She said transforming the economy in a way that abates global warming “is a lot like ... landing on the moon.”

“What did we do? We invested in science, we innovated like crazy, and we counted on American workers,” Warren said. “We do those three things right here in America, we can not only clean up our country and clean up our planet, we can actually build a manufacturing future for the United States of America.

“What there's going to be is a lot of change, but that's how America has always flourished,” she said.

“What this plan says is American taxpayers will make the investment, because we believe in building a future. But then, you want to harvest that investment, you want to make big bucks on it – great. ... But you're going to do it by building those plants and having those jobs right here in the United States” rather than sending them overseas, Warren said.

Warren, 69, is among two-dozen announced candidates for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. Many polls have her running third in the field, behind former vice president Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Before the town hall, Knox was asked whether he supports Warren's candidacy.

“I do support her,” he said. “I'm not sure if she's who I'm going to select yet. ... But she's up there in my top five. There's so many of them on the table right now.”

Kyle Hupfer, chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, said in a statement about Warren's appearances Wednesday in Elkhart and Fort Wayne that “innovation and growth don't come from big government programs and oppressive taxes – they come from fiscal responsibility and less government. It's clear, though, that Elizabeth Warren is stuck on government being the solution to every problem, a far-left liberal ideology that doesn't jive with Hoosiers.”

Warren also spoke at Bergstaff Place about Republican efforts to restrict or outlaw abortion. 

“Understand this: Women of means will still have access to abortion,” she said, adding that the same is not true for women who are poor, cannot miss work or who are the victims of rape.

Preserving abortion rights “is about health care, about reproductive freedom, about economic freedom and about equal opportunity for all women,” Warren said to applause from the audience, which MSNBC said numbered 165 people.

Courtney Tritch, the Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District seat in the 2018 election, asked Warren to name one issue she felt so strongly about she would never compromise on it.

Warren said she would always fight to preserve Americans' health insurance. 

“Health care is a basic human right,” Warren said to cheers from the crowd.

bfrancisco@jg.net