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Warren: Latest jobs report shows the need for universal child care

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is working with President Biden on infrastructure, education and a number of other issues. She also just released a new book, "Persist," about her own campaign experiences and plans. It emphasizes her personal stories as a working mother. She joins Judy Woodruff to discuss Biden's policies, and the experiences that inspired the book.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    During her 14-month campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was known for her plans.

    While she didn't make it to the White House, she is now working with President Biden on infrastructure, education and a number of other issues. She also has just released a new book of campaign stories and, yes, plans. It's titled "Persist."

    And Senator Warren joins us now.

    It is very good to have you again on the "NewsHour," Senator.

    I want to ask you, to start off with, about today's jobs report, because we are hearing from some critics who say the numbers were disappointing, that we need to give — the country needs to give more of an incentive to people who aren't working by ending extended unemployment benefits.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren:

    The numbers are a reminder that we need universal childcare in this country.

    We have already seen how women have had to drop out of the workforce, have been pushed out of the workforce. And one of the principal reasons is because of childcare.

    You know, we had a childcare crisis long before the pandemic came along. But with the pandemic, a bad problem got a whole lot worse. Now, the good news is that the Rescue Plan had childcare in it. But we now need to make childcare part of our basic infrastructure.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Are you saying that President Biden's proposal on childcare is what you agree with?

  • Elizabeth Warren:

    He is in the right direction. The numbers are not high enough yet.

    He's proposed about $4.4 billion — $425 billion over 10 years. It's really going to take about $700 billion to give us universal childcare. But he understands the problem. We just need to make sure that the solution is the same size as the problem.

    You know, since we're here to talk about the book, in part, I will just make the note on this, Judy. This is where I start the book, is about how personal policy is.

    And, for me, I start it with being a mother about how I had my first teaching job, got fired because I was pregnant. I'm at home. I decide to go back to school and come within a hair's breadth of not being able to do that because I couldn't get childcare.

    I tell the personal stories, but what really gets to me is, that was four years ago. My daughter then faces the same problem. And if we don't make changes in this country, my granddaughter will face those same problems.

    It is time to treat childcare for what it is. It's basic infrastructure. We want people to go to work, we need universal childcare.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    A number of things I want to ask you about, Senator, but let me just ask you overall. Put your professor's hat on. What grade would you give President Biden for these first, what, 108 days?

  • Elizabeth Warren:

    Now, you know, Judy, that professors never give a grade until the end of the term.

    But do let me say, because I actually want to pass out some praise here, he helped us pass the most ambitious, the most progressive rescue package in American history. And he made a really important move during this that I'm not sure enough people would pay attention to.

    He said he wanted to be bipartisan. He invited the Republicans in to negotiate. When they said, nope, they wanted no part of it, he talked to the American people and he saw the support from Democrats, Republicans and independents. He said that is bipartisan.

    And all of the Democrats in the Senate linked arms, and we passed it. We got it through. That's momentous.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Senator, as I said, a number of things I want to ask you about. It Doesn't sound like you are going to give him a grade.

    But let's talk about how he plans to pay for these ambitious plans. You were known for the tax proposals you had on the wealthiest Americans. Do his plans to tax the wealthy go far enough, in your opinion?

  • Elizabeth Warren:

    Not yet.

    He's in the right direction again because he's talking about taxing the wealthy. He's got a little bit around the wealthy.

    But let me give you three ideas together, plans. If we put a wealth tax in place, 2-cent tax on fortunes above $50 million, a little bit more for billionaires, and a 7 percent tax on real corporate profits, flat, across-the-board, for these companies making more than $100 million — this catches companies like Amazon and FedEx, Nike that make millions in profits and pay nothing in taxes.

    And if we step up enforcement of current tax laws, those three changes, we would bring in $6 trillion over the next 10 years. That would be enough to pay for all of President Biden's infrastructure plans, all of his family caregiving plans, and still have a couple trillion dollars left over.

    So, we can do this. We just need to be willing to step up and get it done.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Noteworthy, you say that there is a new study out by the Penn Wharton school saying that something like — they say something like 90 percent of the president's taxes on investments could be avoided by people who are at that level.

    But I want to also ask you, Senator, about student loan forgiveness. I know you and Senator Schumer and others are urging President Biden to go along with a plan to forgive up to $50,000 in student loan debt.

    But there's a study by the Brookings Institution that says those in the lowest income quintile, the poorest, would get an average of only about $570 in student debt forgiveness, while those in the very highest quintile would get four times that much, at least. Is there a problem?

  • Elizabeth Warren:

    So, let me start by pointing out that what we are talking about is only canceling $50,000 of student loan debt, not 100 percent of student loan debt.

    The debts of the plastic surgeons and the fancy lawyers, that is not covered here. But in that $50,000, let's make clear, 40 percent of those who are carrying student loan debt have no college diploma. In other words, they're struggling to pay off student loan debt. Why? Because they tried. They tried, but then had a baby, couldn't manage three jobs and going to school.

    Somebody got sick. Transportation broke down. And they are now dealing with student loan debt on what you make as a high school graduate. Also, we have a huge Black-white wealth gap problem in this country. And the problem is exacerbated by student loan debt. African Americans have to borrow more money to go to school, more money to stay in school, and have a harder time paying it off.

    Just one stat on this. The typical white borrower, 20 years after they have borrowed student — on student loan debt, they owe 5 percent of their original amount that they borrowed. The end is in sight. The typical Black borrower owns 95 percent.

    By canceling student loan debt, we can shrink the Black-white wealth gap for people with student loan debt by 25 points. This is the single biggest thing that President Biden could do all by himself to help bring some equity and racial equality economically to this country.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, in a word, do you think he will go along with it?

  • Elizabeth Warren:

    I sure hope so.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We will leave it there, Senator Elizabeth Warren.

    The title of her new book is "Persist."

    Senator, we appreciate it. Thank you.

  • Elizabeth Warren:

    Thank you.

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