Elizabeth Warren on Technology
Massachusetts Senator; former head of CFPB; Dem. Presidential Challenger
Her big idea: Ms Warren's campaign sometimes seems fashioned entirely out of big ideas, with her tech-company break-up plan only being the latest.
Her biggest obstacle: [At the SXSW conference, her] hour-long interview was classic Warren--a mix of history lesson, economic theory and academic research. On the campaign stump it can be a bit clunky, but in a one-on-one format it shines. No one can talk nuts-and-bolts of policy like her. But a campaign for president is not a series of in-depth lectures.
Amazon is her Exhibit One. The popular site for shopping is increasingly becoming the maker of products. AmazonBasics offers everything from bed frames and yoga mats to jumper cables. Warren is against a single company running the marketplace and manufacturing the goods sold because, according to her, that's too much power in too few hands.
While consumers benefit from low prices, small businesses are losing. The audience broke into laughter and thunderous applause when Warren said that under her leadership, the losers would change. "The monopolist will make fewer monopoly profits. Boo hoo!"
We had long invested in infrastructure, but now we were even bolder: America was investing in ideas. The results were transformative; basic research that eventually led to the Internet, GPS, and a map of the human genome.
For me, this is the basic American contract. We all pay taxes, and in return we all benefit--sometimes immediately, sometimes down the road--and we also help build opportunity for the generations to come. I first tried to put this into words in 2011 when I was thinking about running for the Senate: "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own--nobody." My point was that everyone who succeeds gets some help from the investments we've all made. And we keep on making those investments so the next kid will get a chance, too.
America ramped up its infrastructure long before many other parts of the world, but our refusal to maintain & upgrade it is catching up with us. The overall quality of infrastructure in the US is now rated just slightly ahead of Taiwan's and far behind the quality of that in Germany & Japan.
This failure to invest in our future is incredibly shortsighted. This plan isn't pro-business. This plan is pro-stupid. More investment in basic infrastructure would transform our daily living, along with our long-term prospects.
America's middle class was built through investments in education, infrastructure, and research--and by making sure we all have a safety net. We need to strengthen those building blocks: Upgrade infrastructure--mass transit, energy, communications--to make it more attractive to build good, middle-class jobs here in America.
Even though Warren praised the Obama's administration's reforms of its surveillance apparatus earlier this year, she said they might not go far enough: "Congress must go further to protect the right to privacy, to end the NSA's dragnet surveillance of ordinary Americans, to make the intelligence community more transparent and accountable."
But I wasn't a member of Congress and he was. And the Tea Party had just helped dozens of people like him make it into public office, all loudly committed to unraveling just about everything the federal government had ever built.
For businesses, the real battle isn't whether we need the government to invest in education & infrastructure & scientific research--businesses need all those investments. There's nothing pro-business about crumbling roads and bridges or a power grid that can't keep up. There's nothing pro-business about cutting back on scientific research at a time when our businesses need innovation more than ever. There's nothing pro-business about chopping education opportunities when workers need better training. To most people, it's pretty obvious that businesses need government investments.
These are fine notions; there's a reason they've long been the mainstays of an imagined liberal revolution. But they're also the ideas that cause Congress to immediately grind to a halt and that, when packaged in nonspecific campaign-speak, are quickly drained of meaning.
Opponent's Argument for voting No (Cnet.com): Online retailers are objecting to S.743, saying it's unreasonable to expect small businesses to comply with the detailed--and sometimes conflicting--regulations of nearly 10,000 government tax collectors. S.743 caps years of lobbying by the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represent big box stores. President Obama also supports the bill.
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Sen. COLLINS. This bill rectifies a fundamental unfairness in our current system. Right now, Main Street businesses have to collect sales taxes on every transaction, but outbecause -of-state Internet sellers don't have to charge this tax, they enjoy a price advantage over the mom-and-pop businesses. This bill would allow States to collect sales taxes on Internet sales, thereby leveling the playing field with Main Street businesses. This bill does not authorize any new or higher tax, nor does it impose an Internet tax. It simply helps ensure that taxes already owed are paid.
Opponent's Argument for voting No: Sen. WYDEN: This bill takes a function that is now vested in government--State tax collection--and outsources that function to small online retailers. The proponents say it is not going to be hard for small businesses to handle this--via a lot of new computer software and the like. It is, in fact, not so simple. There are more than 5,000 taxing jurisdictions in our country. Some of them give very different treatment for products and services that are almost identical.
Excerpts from Letter to FCC chairman from 15 Senators: We write to express how deeply troubled we are that one of your first actions as FCC Chairman has been to undermine the Lifeline program and make it more difficult for low-income people to access affordable broadband. Lifeline is a critical tool for closing the digital divide--a problem you pledged to prioritize. Abruptly revoking the recognition of nine companies as Lifeline broadband providers does nothing but create a chilling effect on potential provider participation, and unfairly punish low-income consumers.
Last year, the FCC modernized the Lifeline program, rightfully refocusing its support on broadband, which helps end the cruel "homework gap" for the five million out of the 28 million households in this country with school-aged children who lack access to broadband.
By statute, the FCC has an obligation to ensure "consumers in all regions of the country, including low-income consumers" have access to "advanced telecommunications services."
Opposing argument: (Heritage Budget Book, "Cut Universal Service Subsidies"): Heritage Recommendation: Eliminate telecommunications subsidies for rural areas, phase out the schools and libraries subsidy program, and reduce spending on the Lifeline program by reducing fraud and waste. The "Lifeline" fund, while well-intended, has been plagued by fraud and abuse, as costs tripled from under $600 million in 2001 to almost $1.8 billion in the 2013 funding year.
Supporting argument: (ACLU, "Task Force Letter"): The ACLU, a co-chair of the Leadership Conference Media Task Force, joined this letter to the FCC Chairman in response to his decisions to revoke the Lifeline Broadband Provider designations for nine providers. The ACLU has long supported expansion of the Lifeline program, which provides access to phone and broadband services for lower income families.
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Joe Kennedy III
Senate races 2019-20:
AK: Sullivan(R,incumbent) vs.Gross(I)
AL: Jones(D,incumbent) vs.Sessions(R) vs.Moore(R) vs.Mooney(R) vs.
AR: Cotton(R,incumbent) vs.
AZ: McSally(R,incumbent) vs.Kelly(D)
CO: Gardner(R,incumbent) vs.Hickenlooper(D) vs.
DE: Coons(D,incumbent) vs.Scarane(D)
GA-2: Isakson(R,resigned) Loeffler(R,appointed) vs.Lieberman(D) vs.Collins(R) vs.Carter(D)
GA-6: Perdue(R,incumbent) vs.Tomlinson(D) vs.Ossoff(D) vs.Terry(D)
IA: Ernst(R,incumbent) vs.Graham(D) vs.Mauro(D) vs.Greenfield(D)
ID: Risch(R,incumbent) vs.Harris(D) vs.Jordan(D)
IL: Durbin(D,incumbent) vs.Curran(R) vs.
KS: Roberts(R,retiring) vs.
KY: McConnell(R,incumbent) vs.McGrath(D) vs.Morgan(R) vs.Cox(D) vs.Tobin(D)
LA: Cassidy(R,incumbent) vs.Pierce(D)
MA: Markey(D,incumbent) vs.
ME: Collins(R,incumbent) vs.Sweet(D) vs.Gideon(D) vs.
MI: Peters(D,incumbent) vs.James(R)
MN: Smith(D,incumbent) vs.
MS: Hyde-Smith(R,incumbent) vs.Espy(D) vs.Bohren(D)
MT: Daines(R,incumbent) vs.Collins(D) vs.Bullock(D)
NC: Tillis(R,incumbent) vs.E.Smith(D) vs.S.Smith(R) vs.Cunningham(D) vs.Tucker(R) vs.
NE: Sasse(R,incumbent) vs.Janicek(R)
NH: Shaheen(D,incumbent) vs.Martin(D) vs.Bolduc(R) vs.O'Brien(f)
NJ: Booker(D,incumbent) vs.Singh(R) vs.Meissner(R)
NM: Udall(D,retiring) vs.Clarkson(R) vs.
OK: Inhofe(R,incumbent) vs.Workman(D)
OR: Merkley(D,incumbent) vs.Romero(R)
RI: Reed(D,incumbent) vs.Waters(R)
SC: Graham(R,incumbent) vs.Tinubu(D) vs.Harrison(D)
SD: Rounds(R,incumbent) vs.Borglum(R) vs.Ahlers(D)
TN: Alexander(R,incumbent) vs.Sethi(R) vs.Mackler(D) vs.Hagerty(R)
TX: Cornyn(R,incumbent) vs.Hegar(D) vs.Hernandez(D) vs.Bell(D) vs.Ramirez(D) vs.West(D)
VA: Warner(D,incumbent) vs.
WV: Capito(R,incumbent) vs.Swearengin(D) vs.Ojeda(D)
WY: Enzi(R,incumbent) vs.Ludwig(D) vs.Lummis(R)
Senate Votes (analysis)