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Elizabeth Warren Steps Up Campaign For Liberal Agenda

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at the National Press Club Wednesday. Warren was critical of President Obama's plan to change how U.S. multinational companies are taxed.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., may not be running for president in 2016, but she was campaigning hard Wednesday to be an agenda-setting power broker.

At 9:30 a.m., she joined the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute to release the Women's Economic Agenda, a list of 12 proposals aimed at closing the gender wage gap. It covers issues such as raising the minimum wage, providing paid family leave and increasing access to child care.

At 12:30 p.m., she went to the National Press Club to open up another front in her battle with corporate lobbyists — and with the White House.

Warren said the Obama administration is falling into line with an emerging bipartisan consensus that says Congress should "reform" the tax laws that apply to U.S. corporations' foreign income.

The White House supports a revenue-neutral plan to change the tax code to encourage companies to bring back to the U.S. offshore profits stockpiled elsewhere. And Republicans want a shift to lower corporate tax rates to encourage companies to bring home those profits.

But Warren said such plans amount to "a giant wet kiss for the tax dodgers, who have already parked $2.1 trillion overseas."

Her key point was this: "The average American household pays a federal tax rate of 17.6 percent. The average tax rate for an American corporation with fewer than 500 employees is 17.5 percent. ... But the biggest American companies are paying far, far less — in many cases, nothing at all."

She wants to substantially increase the share of tax revenues supplied by big corporations.

Her sharp criticism of President Obama's position seemed intended to pressure Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to pick a side — is Clinton with the White House or Warren?

Already, Clinton has sided against the White House on another issue: the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal that needs congressional approval. Obama is vigorously backing it, and many progressives, including Warren, are opposing it.

But Warren steered away from dwelling too much on the Democratic presidential candidates. When asked if she would accept an invitation to serve as Clinton's vice president — to create an all-female ticket — she laughed and dodged.

"I'll tell you this," she said, "if I was Hillary Clinton's running mate, it would certainly be a complete woman ticket."

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Marilyn Geewax is a contributor to NPR.
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