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Elizabeth Warren Shoots Back on GOP's 'Class Warfare' Charge

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Earlier this week, Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) complained to MSNBC's Chris Jansing that he only netted $600,000 in 2010, and just couldn't afford to pay higher taxes. Asked if his position might seem unsympathetic to workers who make $40,000 a year, Fleming responded: "Class warfare never created a job."

The congressman's invocation of class warfare was hardly accidental: In the debate over the "Buffett Rule" -- a Democratic proposal backed by the billionaire to increase taxes on the wealthy -- decrying class warfare has become a go-to response for Republican politicians. Within the past week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have all used the phrase, suggesting that the rule would unfairly target the top 1% of the country -- a group that they refer to as "the job creators."

Interestingly, Warren Buffett agrees that class warfare is a-brewing, but has long argued that the aggressors are on his side of the wealth divide. In 2006, he told Ben Stein "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."





Recently, former Obama administration official Elizabeth Warren, added her voice to Buffett's in a rebuttal of the class warfare/job creator argument, noting that "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own -- nobody." She went on to address some of the basic services that are paid for out of taxes, explaining how they help American businessmen:

"You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory -- and hire someone to protect against this -- because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless -- keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."

The clip was shot in August, back when Warren was exploring a run against Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in a bid for Teddy Kennedy's old Senate seat. For Massachusetts voters, Warren's speech suggests that the former Harvard professor and consumer advocate may have the common touch -- a key consideration in any run against the populist Brown. For the rest of the country, it provides a solid, succinct analysis of America's social contract -- and a satisfying rebuttal for the increasingly Libertarian leanings of the Republican presidential candidates.

Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

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sob4dab

why is it all about MONEY . ? warren told it like it is , thanks

September 29 2011 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Treva

600,000.00 in one year. Try living off of $40.00 - I don't feel for you

September 27 2011 at 10:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
biznesspf

Hi Hum, anybody ever figure that at least 50,000,000 people in this country live off of government handouts and they get an increase when the have another baby. Little money machines. AND this becomes a generational way of life and i am not talking about people on Social Security and Medicare. I am talking all of the various welfare programs that dispense billions and billions, even gazillions, every year to both citizens and the newly arrived illegals. That money is like a powerful magnet that encourages people to sneak into the USA and few of them ever get punished for breaking the law and most of them become habitual criminals as they learn more and more about social programs that give away more gazillions. Now for the best part...ta da, the employees in all the various social welfare programs make a very comfortable living and a great retirement. They also find as many programs for their clients as they can so they can assure themselves that their jobs are safe. Not too many decades ago there was a Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, now each is a seperate department and they eat up abou 70% of the money allocated to each department in costs and salaries. Somthing like 30% actually reachs the people who are their clients. All the employees are living the good life well the stupid middleclass just keeps paying more and more in taxes to keep this pig tough alive and well. Oink Oink.

September 25 2011 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
giogolf

In the class warfare argument, there's one important fact that's conveniently avoided: If you tax the rich 100%, we will still have a deficit. Reason: we have a spending problem. The sooner we realize this and do something reasonable about it, the sooner we will change our direction to becoming another Greece.

September 24 2011 at 7:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mmfreides

Elizabeth Warren will be the Robespierre of the American revolution.
Hopefully, she will not end up like he did.

September 24 2011 at 5:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mmfreides's comment
Andrew

If what you are calling for is a "Workers Revolution" as per Warrens inuendo then you are just as communist as she.

September 24 2011 at 6:20 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Andrew's comment
someoneole

Ho dumb can you get

September 24 2011 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Andrew

Elizibeth Warrens analogy smacks of the denial of equal protection under the law. Any one of the employees of that factory has as an option, of the upward mobility that our society represents, to start the same process that the factory owner went through to be able to build his own factory. Elizabeth seems to deny that the factory owner paid any taxes in the process of reaching the position that allowed him to risk his capital while providing those factory workers an income. The better question is; How in the world did Elizabeth aquire a professorship with such limited knowledge of the capitalist system.

September 24 2011 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Andrew

Elizibeth Warrens analogy smacks of the denial of equal protection under the law. Any one of the employees of that factory has as an option, of the upward mobility that our society represents, to start the same process that the factory owner went through to be able to build his own factory. Elizabeth seems to deny that the factory owner paid any taxes in the process of reaching the position that allowed him to risk his capital while providing those factory workers an income. The better question is; How in the world did Elizabeth aquire a professorship with such limited knowledge of the capitalist system.

September 24 2011 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
croone22

To solve problems,you have to know the causes of those problems. It is obvious that those in-charge of running this country,do not.Too many lawyers and not enough math and science majors. Literally and figuratively,we are dummying our way to oblivion. The number one problem in this nation is high energy costs which doesn't have to be. The speculation and manipulation caused by low margin requirements(around 5 to 8% ) has made a crap-shoot out of the futures market,and is taking consumer purchasing power of 1.5 trillion+/yr out of the economy. Secondly, Uncle Sam loses more than another trillion by not having short and long term capital gains at the same tax rate. And allowing capital loses to have a higher deduction from income than $3000. Thirdly.The IRS with its Tax commands and tax codes has become a dysfunctional,incompetent,and inefficient means of collecting taxes. Its existence is costing hundreds of billions in lost tax revenues by virtue of its own existence. I could go on and on,but why should I? Obama is your President who is well paid to do the job,but is intellectually challenged. And Washington is overrun with corrupt,and intellectually challenged politicians who you are also payng.. So,it should be obvious to those of sound-mind,that the problem that is causing all of our problems,is the political system of this nation that must be changed if this nation is to survive. The two party system doesn't work anymore and has become totalitarian in nature. One word of caution that I will give you for free: When TV pundits and people like Warren Buffet start telling you that the answer to our present state of financial crisis is to start raising taxes on anyone,ask them how and why.
Warren Buffet's success in the Financial world was not because he is a genius. He is a conservative pragmatist whose profile was exactly the key to financial success in the last fifty years of exponential economic growth in this country. That growth no longer exists and neither does Buffett's chances of repeating the extraordinary gains he made in the last 1/2 century. Warren also had a lot of other people's money at risk whick made it much easier for him to tolerate risk. I suggest you examine his present return on investment numbers. Whatever folks,I wish you the Grace of God to help you survive. And if you wonder if I know of any politician who has the intellectual and moral competence to save this nation,the answer is ,Yes ,I do. And his name is Mitt Romney.

September 24 2011 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Christine

Another progressive/socialist who thinks Gov has the right to take from us whatever they need. She never spent a day working...except feeding our children mush and bull from the classroom.
She wouldn't know how to create a job, just lke her dear leader. Tax and spend liberals have to be held to a minimum in any gov.

September 24 2011 at 11:36 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Christine

Another one who is highly educated like Prez Zero and has never, ever even run a lemonade stand. She has no idea how commerce works, let alone the Govt.
Gee, I hope Mass has more upstairs then this progressive loon and show her the door at the next election. They don't call it Taxachussetts for nothing!

September 24 2011 at 11:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SPQR

Everyone seems to be all over the baord here. The fact is that the middle class pays way to much and we have always known this. It has now come to a head and we can't pay ANY more because it is allmost gone. I know rich people and they have way too much and they know it too. However, that is not stopping them from taking more because all the mansions need lots of upkeep. You tell me if it is fair that if you need pills to take care of some illness that you should have to pay 100 bucks a pill just to stay alive, when it costs 10 cents to make it. Does Walgreens need mansions on every street corner in the US to sell pills and canned mushrooms? We pay for all those walgreen stores are now 3 to 4 times bigger than ever. These are necessities to keep us all alive and they know it and charge till we bleed. We are paying for all those stores everytime we get our meds. WE HAVE NOT MANY OTHER CHOICES. The insurance companies charge till we bleed. Walllstreet takes proFits until we are broke ! How can you say this is all fair and Obama is a dope for try to change it around a bit. You can't all be rich and getting richer! You are all getting poorer. Do you want to have to work till you are dead??? In any case I don't trust any of them. Greed is alive and well in the US.

September 24 2011 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to SPQR's comment
warrenbent

Of course you have other choices. One obvious one would be to take adfvantage of the opportunity by going into business selling medication at a discount to Walgreens.

According to you, this would be as easy as falling off a log. What are you waiting for?

September 24 2011 at 11:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
warrenbent

By the way of you know rich people who think they have too much, that is an extraordinary easy "problem" to solve,and one that obviously doesn't need a knuckle-dragger in the middle to srew up the simple solution. Just explain to them that there are no laws that ban them from donating their excess riches (I'd be happy to provide them my contact info to enable their contributions).

Problem solved.

September 24 2011 at 11:51 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply