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Elizabeth Warren's midterm takeaway: Dems ‘called out corporate greed' — and won

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday weighed in on the Democrats' performance during midterm elections, contending their messages on corporate profits likely persuaded some Americans not to vote Republican.

After weeks of predictions of a "red wave," her party is set to hold the Senate and will face a much narrower than expected minority in the House of Representatives.

In a speech Wednesday before a post-election gathering of progressive activists in Washington, Warren said her main takeaway from the results is that Democrats need to fight and deliver even more over the next two years ahead of her party’s possible rematch with Donald Trump in 2024.

Voters “rewarded Democrats who said plainly that they would fight to beat back giant corporations that are driving up inflation,” she said, pointing specifically to Senator-elect John Fetterman in Pennsylvania.

"He embraced populist economic policies, he called out corporate greed,” Warren said on Wednesday.

PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 22: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a rally for Oregon gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek on October 22, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. Kotek was joined by Warren and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to energize potential voters in a hotly contested gubernatorial race where Republican Candidate Christine Drazan has drawn within striking distance of victory. Oregon has not elected a republican Governor since 1982. (Photo by Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during a rally for Oregon ahead of election day. She crisscrossed the country in support of progressive candidates. (Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images)

In exit polls last week, nearly 80% of respondents said inflation had caused them at least moderate hardship. While Republicans have largely blamed inflation on President Joe Biden, many Democrats insisted that corporate greed was an important factor in driving up prices. The message from Democrats resonated with voters more than many predicted, Warren said.

During her speech, Warren pointed to a May poll from one of the organizers of Wednesday's event finding 60% of voters agreed that corporations were taking advantage of the pandemic to grow profits.

The week before Election Day, Biden said he'd support a windfall profits tax on oil companies — which have made record profits in 2022. The tax faces long odds of passing in Congress, but Warren clearly aims to keep talking about what she calls corporate price gouging all the way into 2024. After all, she said Wednesday, it was 2022's winners who “called out price-gouging, from Big Oil to grocery chains.”

'There is a big difference between landing a plane and crashing it'

The speech Wednesday, delivered at a gathering called EconCon Presents, also offered a preview of how progressives will approach economic fights over the next two years.

On the debt ceiling fight to come, Warren called for Congress to eliminate the debt limit entirely before Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in January.

“We face the possibility of an extremist Republican House majority intent on creating economic chaos so they can usher Donald Trump back into office,” she said.

Republicans will undoubtedly deny that charge but they have promised to use the debt ceiling as leverage to force a conversation about spending priorities. As Kevin Brady, the outgoing ranking member of the House Ways and Means committee, put it last week, “I do expect a conversation about how America and how Congress addresses our financial footing for the long term.”

Warren also praised Biden for being a more progressive president than many expected. “Instead of surrounding himself with an economic team [beholden to big banks and corporations], Joe Biden picked advisers and regulators who understood that the goal of his Administration was to deliver for working families,” she said.

That section of Wednesday’s speech echoed remarks on NBC on Sunday when Warren said the better than expected midterm showing partly “belongs to Joe Biden.”

U.S. President Joe Biden interacts with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and other elected officials after arriving at T.F. Green International Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, U.S. July 20, 2022. Picture taken July 20, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President Joe Biden talks with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and other elected officials during a visit to Rhode Island in July. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Warren also further amplified her rhetoric against the Federal Reserve. Like a growing number of Democrats, she is calling for the Fed to stop raising interest rates given signs inflation is slowing.

Warren has previously called Fed Chair Jerome Powell a “dangerous man” and in Wednesday’s speech added: “Of course the Fed has a role to play in getting inflation under control, but there is a big difference between landing a plane and crashing a plane.”

This post has been updated

Ben Werschkul is a Washington correspondent for Yahoo Finance.

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