Tags: childcare | corporate | farmland | responsibility

One Big Obstacle to Warren's Big Ideas

democratic presidential candidate sen elizabeth warren speaks to residents in iowa

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks to local residents during a meet and greet, Sunday, May 26, 2019, in Ottumwa, Iowa.(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

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Thursday, 13 June 2019 01:36 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Elizabeth Warren, now experiencing a boomlet in early primary states, has a lot of far-reaching policy proposals — and those proposals have a lot of admirers.

They’ve given her "momentum," reports Michael Scherer in The Washington Post.

In The New Yorker, John Cassidy writes that "the ambition and level of detail in Warren’s plans have put her at an advantage." Warren’s ideas have even won some praise on Fox News.

Tucker Carlson said that sometimes "she sounds like Donald Trump at his best," which was meant to be a compliment.

But the more big ideas someone has, the more likely it is that some of them are very bad ones. It is a potential that Sen. Warren has realized.

And some of her ideas are downright demagogic.

Her childcare proposal would have the federal government cover all childcare costs for households making less than twice the poverty line — roughly $50,000 for a family of four.

It would also pay out enough to cap everyone else’s costs at 7 percent of income.

Child care is more expensive than that almost everywhere, so the plan would be expensive.

Presumably the federal government would try to limit costs through regulation rather than help the most affluent families in America send their children to the luxury spa version of child care. In that case, though, the plan would amount to more of a federal takeover of the field than advertised.

Perhaps Warren has not thought that through; or perhaps she is not being upfront about it, because Americans have justified doubts about how well the government would run child care.

Meanwhile, families where one parent stays home to care for children — the arrangement three-fifths of Americans say is best for children — would get nothing from Warren’s plan.

Then there’s Warren’s proposal to cancel student debt and make public universities free. The harder current young graduates have worked to pay off their debts, the more this proposal would make them suckers, as it would wipe out current loans but not reimburse them for debt already paid off.

It would also be a large upward transfer of wealth: One estimate has the top 40 percent of borrowing households getting two-thirds of the benefits. "Populism" can be a sweet deal for affluent families, it turns out.

The Corporate Executive Responsibility Act, a Warren bill, would lower the standard for criminal liability. Executives of large companies could be thrown in jail for mere "negligence" — even, that is, if they didn’t realize their companies were doing anything potentially illegal.

That change would, as she says, make it impossible for corporate wrongdoers to "escape the threat of prosecution so long as no one can prove exactly what they knew." By design, though, it would also make it possible to prosecute people who hadn’t knowingly done wrong.

Warren wants to ban foreigners from buying farmland, complaining that "Foreign companies and countries like China and Saudi Arabia already own 25 million acres of American farmland."

Her ultimate source for that figure is a Department of Agriculture report about land holdings as of 2011.

She makes it sound ominous, but it turns out that Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and the U.K. are "countries like China and Saudi Arabia," accounting for more than 16 million acres of that total. Portugal alone owned six times as much farmland as the Saudis. (A more recent iteration of the report tells the same basic story.)

From Bill Clinton’s administration onward, voters have been much more likely to punish than to reward presidents for pushing ahead with bold ideas. In practice, they seem to understand something about the limited ability of government officials to change the world for the better, and the risks of their trying — something that Sen. Warren and her fans don’t.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg View columnist. He is a senior editor of National Review and the author of "The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life." To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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RameshPonnuru
From Bill Clinton’s administration onward, voters have been much more likely to punish than to reward presidents for pushing ahead with bold ideas. In practice, they seem to understand something about the limited ability of government officials to change the world.
childcare, corporate, farmland, responsibility
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2019-36-13
Thursday, 13 June 2019 01:36 PM
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