U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke about trickle-down economics and also offered her thoughts on some of the Republican presidential candidates Monday to about 1,300 Democrats at the party’s largest fundraiser of the year.
A special legislative session prevented Democratic lawmakers from attending the dinner at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, but it was still the biggest turnout the party has had since 2006 when then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama headlined the Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey dinner.
Warren, who was introduced by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of New Haven, was described as someone who speaks truth to power.
“She is not afraid of anyone or anything,” DeLauro said of Warren.
Warren talked about the history of trickle-down economics and why it doesn’t work. She said giving tax cuts to the richest Americans required the government to cut its investment in education, infrastructure, and basic research, all of which built the middle class.
“For more than 30 years, starting with Ronald Reagan, the Republican leadership has attacked wages. They attack Social Security. They attack unions. They attack education. They attack science,” Warren said. “They attack all the pieces that make America’s great middle class.”
She said trickle-down economics is nothing more than cover for “helping the rich and powerful, get richer and more powerful.”
Between 1935 and 1980, Warren said, 90 percent of Americans saw income growth. What happened to the 90 percent between 1985 and 2012?
“Zero,” Warren said, referring to income growth.
She said all the growth in income from the Reagan years forward has gone to the top 10 percent.
“Instead of working for all Americans, this country is only working for those at the top,” Warren said. “That’s not the American dream. That’s the American nightmare.”
As far as the Republican presidential candidates were concerned, Warren had some choice words for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
“Jeb Bush, if you believe the next president’s job is to privatize Social Security, then I believe it is our job to make sure you aren’t president,” Warren said to a cheering crowd.
She said Cruz is running on a platform of repealing Obamacare and implementing a flat tax.
“Ted Cruz, if you believe the next president’s job is to cut taxes for billionaires and then say there’s no money for healthcare for our families, then I believe it is our job to make sure you aren’t president,” Warren said.
The mostly union crowd was excited to hear what she had to say about the Walker. She said that after this week’s Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, Walker vowed to fight on saying “no one wants to live in a country where the government coerces people to act in opposition to their conscience.”
“Well Scott Walker, if you believe the next president’s job is to encourage bigotry and to treat some families better than others, then I believe it is our job to make sure you aren’t president,” Warren said to loud cheers.
She said you can whine about Republicans “or you can fight back.” She said that when Democrats make it clear what they believe in, America is ready “to stand with us.”
She said it’s not just about politics.
“It’s about values. It’s about who we are and what kind of country we are going to build,” Warren, the Senator from Massachusetts, said.
Democratic officials would not reveal how much money the party raised at the dinner this year. Tickets were priced from $185 to $3,000.
Last year’s dinner brought in more than $210,000.