Speaking at the liberal Center for American Progress on Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren put a fresh spin on her brand of Democratic economic populism.
She said the government does not work for "real people" anymore, and that the sort of trickle-down economics implemented by Republicans in the 1980s—and the deregulation and tax cuts it entailed—helped lead to economic stagnation.
Warren also used her speech to reframe an economic debate catalyzed by President Obama in 2012 when he said, in a riff off of Warren, "You didn't build that." Conservative angst was galvanized yet again last month, when Hillary Clinton said, "Don't let anybody tell you that, you know, it's corporations and businesses that create jobs."
It's an argument Warren clearly still subscribes to: Private industry is important, but it wouldn't be successful without the state's ability to provide public goods, like infrastructure. In her CAP speech, Warren reframed the "you didn't build that" comment to make it less accusatory and more matter-of-fact.
"We didn't know who would have the next great business idea," Warren said, "but we were pretty darn sure they were going to need electricity."
Warren said infrastructure is about creating an environment for more good jobs, and pointed out that China invests 9 percent of its GDP in infrastructure, compared to the United States's 2.4 percent.