Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made her University of New Hampshire (UNH) debut in the Granite State Room at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday to great fanfare. Each seat in Granite State Room was filled, with the audience surrounding its perimeter.
“I see a government in Washington that works better and better and better for a thinner and thinner and thinner slice at the top,” Warren said to The New Hampshire prior to the event regarding why she entered the 2020 presidential race. “I think 2020 is our chance to turn it around.”
Warren briefly spoke on college debt as well, a hot-button issue for UNH students. UNH is one of the most expensive public colleges for in-state students, according to New Hampshire Public Radio in Oct. 2017 with only about 9 percent of its funding coming from the State of New Hampshire, per the UNH annual budget allocation report.
Senator Warren placed importance on her College For All plan, as well as the elimination of student debt.
“My plan differs from other candidates as no other candidate has such a generous student loan debt forgiveness plan,” she said. “We would eliminate debt for over 43 million Americans, or over 95 percent.”
She had little concern about how she would pay for her plan as well.
“I would pay for my plan with a two-cent tax on wealth over $50 million dollars,” Warren said. “The idea behind it is that if you built a great fortune in American then ‘good for you.’ But you still built that in part by using workers. All of us helped pay to educate, using roads and bridges to get your goods to market, for protection with police and firefighters who we all pay the salaries for. And we are glad to make that investment.”
The wealth tax is arguably Warren’s signature issue, arguing that expanding a marginal tax rate to include wealth over $50 million would not only pay for universal college but universal preschool as well. This tax only impacts the top earners in this country, only taxing every dollar of wealth at two percent over $50 million. The plan would also enforce a one percent annual billionaire surtax, resulting in a three percent wealth tax for earners who own over $1 billion in assets.
Youth have been flocking to Warren’s campaign in droves, canvassing and mobilizing other voters to fight for her policies. Warren believes her success is in part for her “talking about the issues that will touch your life. Climate, gun safety, student loan debt, childcare, the cost of housing, help build opportunity in America not just for some, but for everybody.”
At the beginning of the event, Warren worked her way down to the Granite State Room, where she held her rally with students from the University of New Hampshire as well as members of the Durham community. She began with her own personal story, describing her dreams of becoming a public school teacher, her education and how she made it to Congress.
Warren brought the audience’s focus to policy, where she outlines numerous plans to tackle climate, income inequality and corruption — the root of each issue.
“When you see a government that works great for those with money and does not work great for those without money, that is corruption pure and simple and we need to call them out,” she said. “Whatever is the driving issue that brought you here today, whether it’s the cost of prescription drugs or health care overall. Whether it’s gun safety or public education or student loans. Whatever it is. If there is a decision to be made in Washington, it has been influenced by money.”
Warren made corruption the focus of her town hall. Much like her aggressive campaign in New Hampshire. The venue filled up rapidly and forced the Warren campaign to utilize a lottery system in order to determine questions for the Q&A.
Three individuals had the option to pose their questions. The first question was about how to “how the Russians out of our election.”
“An attack on our elections is an attack on democracy and who we are as a country,” Warren said.
Warren called for greater state investment in election infrastructure, as well as paper ballots to back up every single vote, be it at the local, state or federal level.
The second question was about the procedure for educators regarding gun safety.
“As a teaching assistant, professional development is required. However, we have not had these professional development meetings. What we have had is a required active shooter training so that I can be prepared to protect my students. As president, what would you do to prevent situations like shootings? And would you support the repeal of the filibuster in the Senate?” she said.
“We’ve got a lot of problems with gun violence. Much like how we reduce auto deaths, we have seatbelts, child safety seats, airbags, automatic braking systems. Here’s my commitment. As president of the United States, we can reduce gun violence and death from guns by about 80 percent. If we put a one week waiting period to buy a gun, you can cut deaths by suicide somewhere between seven and 11 percent.”
Warren then described her plan to achieve this commitment.
“The big things have to be done through Congress,” she said. “The answer has to be to repeal the filibuster and hold Congress accountable. Ninety percent of Americans want to see changes passed, but we can’t even get a vote in the United States Senate?”
For reference, the filibuster is a rule in the Senate where a bill can be halted and killed. With a simple majority of 51 votes, a Senator can hold a filibuster, where they debate the bill and offer procedural motions that obstruct the bill’s approval.
The final audience member to ask a question said that “some of us are happy with our health insurance plan,” and asked for the specifics of Warren’s plan for healthcare.
“About two of every three families I studied ended up in bankruptcy from their health insurance and care costs,” Warren said. “Millions are getting crushed by medical insurance costs. And we know that Medicare for All is the least expensive way to get everyone covered. So for me, that means I’m in on Medicare for All.”
Warren held the Q&A and town hall for approximately an hour, after which she met with voters individually and allowed everyone in attendance the opportunity to get a selfie.
Warren has aggressively campaigned in New Hampshire, but a recent UNH poll found Bernie Sanders leading in the Granite State at 21 percent, compared to Warren’s 18 percent. Despite her slight drop, she continues to surge in each and every poll and currently qualifies for the Nov. 20 hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post. She has currently surpassed the 165,000 individual donor threshold in over 20 states and has reached the polling threshold in each of the Democratic National Committee approved polls.