2020 Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren visits eastern Iowa

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren tours Eastern Iowa during the first full day of her 2020 presidential campaign, where she spoke about economic reform and lowering student loan debt.


Shivansh Ahuja

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks during a campaign rally in the IMU on Sunday, February 10, 2019.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Reporter

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren condemned President Trump’s economic policies as catering to wealthy Americans and putting the working class at a disadvantage in her Eastern Iowa stops on Sunday — her first since officially announcing her candidacy.

Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, made campaign stops in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Davenport a day after launching her presidential campaign in her home state, Massachusetts. Warren made a three-day trip to Iowa in early January after announcing her presidential-exploratory committee.

She spoke largely about minimum wage being too low and said wealthy corporations have too much power in the economy. Warren said in a speech in Cedar Rapids that Trump is “a symptom of a broken system.”

“Today, a minimum wage job in America will not keep a momma and a baby out of poverty. It will not cover the price of a two-bedroom apartment in any state in America,” Warren said.

Shivansh Ahuja
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks during a campaign rally in the IMU on Sunday, February 10, 2019.

Warren said that when she grew up, her mother worked a minimum-wage job at Sears while supporting a family of three.

Warren worked as a Harvard law professor before she was an adviser to the National Bankruptcy Review Commision, which investigated operations under the bankruptcy system. In 2008, Warren headed the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which oversees the U.S. Treasury’s actions, and in 2012 was elected to her current position as U.S. senator representing Massachusetts.

In Iowa City, Warren addressed the issue of rising tuition and student-loan debt to a crowd of students at the University of Iowa campus. In 2018, CNBC reported that more than 44 million borrowers had $1.5 trillion worth of student-loan debt collectively, and about 70 percent of students will graduate with some amount of debt.

Warren said Republicans in Washington are prioritizing wealthy Americans, and she pointed to Trump’s 2017 tax initiative that has often received criticism from Democrats as giving tax breaks to large corporations.

“It is crushing young people across the country,” Warren said. “It is crushing their dreams.”

Warren told reporters in Iowa City that serious structural changes need to be made to the economy in order to make housing affordable and to pull students out of debt.

Shivansh Ahuja
Supporters for Sen. Elizabeth Warren gather during a campaign rally in the IMU on Sunday, February 10, 2019.

“Right now, the corruption in Washington is everywhere. The place is floating in money,” Warren told reporters. “And if we don’t make structural change around them, the bottom line would still be the same. Our kids would still be drowning in $1.5 trillion of student-loan debt while a bunch of politicians sign off on a $1.5 trillion giveaway to billionaires, millionaires, and giant corporations.”

Iowa City resident Angela Lambertz, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iowa State University, said that because she’s read a book Warren wrote and follows Warren on social media, Warren has become a part of her everyday life.

“She seems reasonable and common sense and practical with her approach to problem solving, and we need more of that,” Lambertz said.

Lambertz said she is concerned about the $140,000 in student debt she accumulated during her time at ISU, and wants to see more politicians, including Warren, address the issue of rising tuition and student debt.

“My number one issue right now is student-loan debt and how to make that easy to pay off — not just disappear, but easy to pay off,” Lambertz said.

UI political-science graduate student Eric Yu said he liked what Warren had to say about strengthening teachers’ unions and lowering student debt.

“She had a very comprehensive agenda and she also had very ambitious goals out here,” Yu said. “[The] government has undermined funding on public schools and teachers’ benefits, and I think it’s important.”

Other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have campaigned in Iowa recently, including a visit from New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker on Feb. 8. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard will also visit on Monday.