Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren once railed against class warfare and defended the rich in an op-ed she penned way back in 2004 — a column that underscores her striking transformation over the years into a leading antagonist of the so-called “1 percent.”
The op-ed, titled “The Vital Middle,” was published on July 16, 2004, as part of a special report from The American Prospect on then-Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
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The Massachusetts Democrat, who was a Harvard Law School professor at the time, used the piece to offer advice to Kerry. Some of the viewpoints are familiar—like going after corporate welfare and pushing health insurance for all—but others seem far more moderate than Warren’s current attitude toward the wealthy.
“It is not about class warfare,” Warren wrote. “The rich are not the enemy—in fact, most of us would like to be rich.”
“Corruption and misplaced priorities are the enemy. And the poor are not the only ones who have problems, so don’t talk as if they are the only ones who deserve compassion,” she continued.
“Americans risk fracturing into disparate groups, jealously guarding whatever benefits we have gained, pursuing separate identities instead of the country’s shared identity as part of one great American middle class,” she wrote. “That makes us nervous. Lead from the middle, because a middle-focused agenda helps all Americans, including our poor and our wealthy.”
In the piece, Warren went on to share somewhat of a Republican talking point — blasting “welfare cheats,” while also maintaining her familiar stance of fighting against “corporate welfare” that favors “well-connected mega-businesses and political friends.”
“Stand for fair play–not handouts, not special interests–just plain, old-fashioned, everyone-plays-by-the-same- rules,” she wrote. “Reject welfare cheats, corporate cheats, or cheats of any other stripe. Speak to us of fundamental fairness, and we will believe again in what we can be.”
But fast-forward to the present—and Warren, who is now a leader in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, has changed her tune.
One of her core policies is a wealth tax — a 2 percent annual tax on the wealth of individuals with more than $50 million, and a 3 percent tax on the wealth of those with over $1 billion.
She said during last week’s Democratic primary debate that “taxing income is not going to get you where you need to be the way taxing wealth does,” and added that “the rich are not like you and me.”
Warren sharply criticized the wealthy at the debate, saying “the way we’re going to win is by addressing head-on what millions of Americans know in their bones, and that is that the wealthy and the well-connected have captured our democracy, and they’re making it work for themselves and leaving everyone else behind.”
Warren critics cited the 2004 op-ed as a sign of inconsistency.
“Yet more evidence of Elizabeth Warren being dishonest and disingenuous about her record? What a shock,” a Trump campaign official said.
“‘Welfare cheats’ is a Republican talking point that does violence to people–particularly communities of color–who have been failed by the corporate-dominated policies that Senator Warren apparently had an epiphany about not that long ago,” a Democratic strategist told Fox News. “We deserve a nominee who’s been committed to systematic change for their entire career.”
When she announced her 2020 candidacy, Warren also said it was time to “fight back” against the wealthy.
Her campaign has not responded to a Fox News request for comment on the 2004 piece.
Warren, meanwhile, would qualify as wealthy herself, with a reported net worth of $12 million.