Elizabeth Warren, the outspoken Democratic senator from Massachusetts, is doing the rounds while promoting her new book This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class.
Her latest stop was Friday night’s edition of Real Time, where Sen. Warren sat down for a surprisingly tough interview with a big admirer of hers, Bill Maher.
After receiving one of the show’s loudest ovations in recent memory, Warren went into her usual shtick about how “people all over the country are energized right now,” and how Reagan era deregulation and tax cuts for America’s wealthiest set the stage for an economy that saw those outside of the top 10 percent get left behind. “1980 to 2016, GDP keeps going right on up…. and how did the 90 percent do? They get zero percent of the new income growth. Nearly 100 percent of new income growth in this country goes to the top 10 percent,” said Warren. “That’s why I wrote this book, it’s because we got to get in there and fight back. And that’s what this book is about. We’ve got to take back this country.”
“Well, let me fight back a little,” replied Maher, noting that in the years between 1980 and 2016, we had two terms of Barack Obama, and two terms of Bill Clinton. “Don’t the Democrats bear some responsibility for that?” he asked.
Warren seemed to acquiesce a bit, saying “absolutely” before nothing that it “worked both ways,” citing how former President Nixon created some positive government programs, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
“You know, I never thought that this President is making Nixon actually look [good],” joked Warren, before getting cut off by Maher.
But Maher didn’t stop there, seemingly intent on getting Sen. Warren to admit that there is a real problem when it comes to the Democratic Party’s messaging. He mentioned the hastily arranged 1-page tax plan that the Trump administration unveiled this week, saying, “I mean, I’ve seen Republican tax plans like this, but not quite as brazen—because this one doesn’t even pretend. It’s just about: wouldn’t it be great if rich people didn’t pay taxes? But he’s going to go to a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, tomorrow and tell his fans all about this, about how his kids are not going to have to pay taxes because they got rid of the estate tax, but they’re still with him, they’re not with you. Explain to me what that disconnection is?”
“Actually, I’m going to push back,” said Warren.
“Well, his fans are not with you,” Maher interrupted.
“Hold on,” Warren replied.
“They don’t like you, Pocahontas,” cracked Maher, parroting President Trump’s racist name for the senator—prompting Warren to deliver a pained, annoyed look, while not dignifying the joke with a response.
“When you talk about what’s really the basic pieces of a progressive agenda—raising the minimum wage, expanding social security, reducing the cost of college so that people don’t get crushed by student loan debt, more not less regulation of financial institutions, progressive taxation, or making those at the top pay their fair share—Americans, by about two-to-one, are with us on that. The progressive agenda is America’s agenda. We cannot forget that,” explained Warren.
“I know, but this is the disconnect I’m talking about,” shot back Maher. “They’re with you on the issues, but they vote for him. So what is that problem?”
“I think Donald Trump tapped into a real anger in America. People are angry, and let’s face it: they are right to be angry,” said Warren, later admitting, “The first step is: our side has to acknowledge the anger, and has to say, yeah, people are angry and they have a right to be angry.”