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Sen. Elizabeth Warren believes that U.S. trade policies "have not been written to enrich Americans."
In an interview with CNBC's Jim Cramer, the Massachusetts Democrat criticized trade deals that prioritize the interest of corporations, and also shared details about a new bill she introduced on Wednesday called the Accountable Capitalism Act.
Warren pointed to the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, which allows companies to sue foreign governments over regulations that the company deems discriminatory, as an example of the ways trade policies give corporations special privileges.
Under an ISDS suit, "either the country changes its law or makes a big payment. No going through a court system," Warren said. "That's just saying, in effect, trade deals are written for the guys who run these big multinationals, not for the American people." Warren also said that clauses on workers' rights and environmental protections in trade deals are difficult to enforce in practice.
"Does it bother you that you're basically on the same side as someone who's the chief trade advisor to the president?" asked Cramer, referring to National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro who has been an outspoken critic of trade deals he believes take advantage of the United States. Both Navarro and Warner opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Donald Trump withdrew from last January. Warren did not deny that their views are similar, but emphasized that she is "on the side of the American people."
On the topic of her new bill, Warren told the "Mad Money" host that it aims to "get a little accountability into the system" and create "CEOs and top executives who are incentivized not just to think in the next quarter, but to think longer arc." The Accountable Capitalism Act would mandate that any corporation with over $1 billion in revenue obtain a federal corporate charter, which would require them to consider the interests of all major stakeholders in company decisions. Stakeholders include traditional shareholders, but also employees, customers and communities where the company does business.
Under the bill, employees would elect at least 40 percent of the board of directors, and at least 75 percent of directors and shareholders would need to approve any political spending by the company.
Executives would also be prohibited to sell their company's shares within five years of receiving them or within three years of a stock buyback. Warren criticized buybacks as "nothing more than a sugar high for those companies in the short term" that enriches executives but not employees.
Warren stressed that her bill "doesn't cost the American tax payer a single penny."
When asked by the "Mad Money" host if she is considering a presidential run in 2020, Warren did not give a response and instead called attention to November's congressional election, where she is running for her second term as a Massachusetts senator.