On Monday’s “The Colbert Report,’ Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made an appearance to tout her latest book, “A Fighting Chance.” In that appearance, she explained her view of why the middle class had collapsed, which she tied to the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
Partial transcript as follows:
WARREN: I grew up in an America that was investing in kids. It was investing in public universities. It had a higher minimum wage. It was an America that said every kid would get a fighting chance. And that’s how we built America’s great middle class. Then starting in about the 1980s, we turned in a different direction.
COLBERT: you mean when Reagan came in and it was morning in America. The direction toward greatness, pride.
WARREN: Yes, that is the right time, when this happened.
COLBERT: So we are all on the same page so far.
WARREN: That’s right. And what happened is that he had a couple of ideas. The first one was that they would fire the cops. Not the ones on Main Street but the ones on Wall Street.
COLBERT: The ones who were shackling creativity, and ingenuity in our financial institutions.
WARREN: And making sure the biggest financial institutions actually followed the law. Those were the cops they got rid of.
COLBERT: The law – that’s a vague term, law. Your — one man’s law is another person’s regulations. And regulation is bad. Regulation stifles business and stifles entrepreneurship.
WARREN: No, no. no. See if we don’t have happens is exactly what happened then. And that is the big financial institutions made billions of dollars by cheating people on credit cards, mortgages.
COLBERT: What do you mean cheating people on credit cards? You sign up for a credit card, you use the credit card and then you have to pay your bills. Is that too complicated for Harvard?
COLBERT: So you just accused Reagan of supporting cheating people. Those were your words.
WARREN: Let’s be clear about this. It was supporting having the regulators look the other way while the biggest financial institutions did every trick and every trap possible in credit cards, in mortgages, in checking account rules. And they made billions of dollars doing it. And at the same time they loaded up on risk. And what ultimately happened by 2008 was that they broke the economy. They got bailed out by the taxpayers. They continued to break the law in foreclosing on people’s mortgages.
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