Who is Kamala Harris and what is her economic thinking?

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris, whose full name is Kamala Devi Harris, (born October 20, 1964 in Oakland, California, USA), is an American politician who was elected to the US Senate by the Democratic Party in 2016 and began her first term representing California on that body the following year. She was the first Indian-American woman to serve as a United States Senator, as well as the second African-American woman. Harris previously served as California State Attorney General (2011-17).


her father, who was Jamaican, taught at Stanford University, and her mother, the daughter of an Indian diplomat, was a cancer researcher. Her younger sister, Maya, later became a public policy advocate. After studying political science and economics (BA, 1986) at Howard University, Kamala received a law degree (1989) from Hastings College.

Kamala Harris’s political career

He later served as an Assistant District Attorney (1990-1998) in Oakland, earning a reputation for toughness while prosecuting gang violence, drug trafficking, and sexual abuse cases. Harris rose through the ranks and became district attorney in 2004. In 2010, she was narrowly elected California attorney general, winning by a margin of less than 1 percent, thus becoming the first woman and first African-American to hold The charge. Upon taking office the following year, she demonstrated political independence, for example refusing pressure from the Obama administration to settle a nationwide lawsuit against mortgage lenders for unfair practices. Instead, lobbied for the California state cases and in 2012 won a sentence five times that originally offered. Her refusal to defend Proposition 8 (2008), which banned same-sex marriage in the state, helped get the ban overturned in 2013. Harris’s book Smart On Crime (2009) co-written with Joan O’C. Hamilton was considered a model for successfully addressing the problem of criminal recidivism.

In 2012, Harris delivered a memorable speech at the Democratic National Convention, raising her national profile. Two years later she married attorney, Douglas Emhoff. Widely considered a rising star within the party, she was recruited to run for the United States Senate seat held by retiring Barbara Boxer. In early 2015, Harris declared her candidacy and, on the campaign trail, called for immigration and criminal justice reform, increases in the minimum wage, and protection of women’s reproductive rights. She easily won the 2016 election.

After taking office as a senator in January 2017, Harris began serving on both the Intelligence Select Committee and the Judiciary Committee, among other assignments. She became known for her prosecutorial style of cross-examining witnesses during hearings, drawing criticism — and occasionally heckles — from Republican senators. In June 2017, she drew particular attention to her questioning of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who testified before the intelligence committee about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election; he earlier he had asked him to resign. Harris’s memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey was published in January 2019.

In the race for the presidency

Shortly thereafter, Harris announced that she was seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. From the start she was seen as a top contender, drawing particular attention when, during a primary debate, she had a controversial exchange with fellow candidate Joe Biden. about his opposition to school buses in the 1970s and 1980s, among other issues related to race. Although Harris’s support initially increased, by September 2019 his campaign was in serious trouble and by December he dropped out of the race. She continued to maintain a high profile, notably becoming a prominent advocate for social justice reform following the May 2020 death of George Floyd, a black man who had been in police custody. Her efforts silenced some who had criticized her tenure as attorney general, alleging that she had failed to investigate charges of police misconduct, including questionable shootings. Others, however, felt that her acceptance of the reform was a political maneuver to capitalize on the growing public popularity of social change.In August 2020, Biden chose Kamala Harris, making her the first black woman to appear on a major party’s national ticket.

Political positions of Kamala Harris in economic matters

Consumer Protection – Fraud, Waste and Abuse

As California Attorney General, Harris has stood out for the defense of consumers and the general public, especially in the face of the serious economic consequences that the 2008 financial crisis had on the state.

In 2011, Harris announced the creation of the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force in the wake of the 2010 foreclosure crisis in the United States. That same year, Harris obtained two of the largest recoveries in California False Claims Act history: $241 million from Quest Diagnostics and later $323 million from SCAN’s health care network, over the overpayments. state Medi-Cal and federal Medicare.

In 2012, Harris leveraged California’s economic clout to win better terms in the National Mortgage Settlement against the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Bank. Mortgage companies were accused of illegally foreclosing on homeowners. After rejecting an initial offer of $2 to $4 billion in relief for Californians, Harris pulled out of negotiations. The offer was eventually increased to $18.4 billion in debt relief and $2 billion in other financial assistance for California homeowners.

In 2013, Harris worked with Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg 2013 to introduce the Homeowners Bill of Rights, considered one of the nation’s strongest protections against aggressive foreclosure tactics. The Homeowner’s Bill of Rights prohibited the practices of “dual tracking” (processing a foreclosure modification and foreclosure at the same time) and autosignature and provided homeowners with a single point of contact at their lender.Harris achieved multiple nine-figure settlements for California homeowners under the bill, primarily for auto-signature and two-way abuses, as well as prosecution cases where loan processors failed to promptly credit loan payments. mortgage miscalculated interest rates, and charged borrowers improper fees. Harris obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, including $268 million from Ocwen Financial Corporation, $470 million from HSBC, and $550 million from SunTrust Banks.

From 2013 to 2015, Harris sought financial recovery of California Teachers and Public Employees Pensions, CalPERS, and CalSTRS against several financial giants for misrepresentation in the sale of mortgage-backed securities. He secured multiple nine-figure recoveries for state pensions, recovering about $193 million from Citigroup, $210 million from S&P, $300 million from JP Morgan Chase and more than 500 million from Bank of America.

In 2013, Harris refused to authorize a civil complaint drafted by state investigators that accused OneWest Bank, owned by an investment group headed by future US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (then a private citizen), of “widespread violation » of California foreclosure laws.

During the 2016 election, Harris was the only Democratic Senate candidate to receive a donation from Mnuchin but voted against his confirmation as Treasury Secretary in February 2017. In 2019, the Harris campaign stated that the decision not to pursue prosecution hinged on the state’s inability to subpoena OneWest. Her press secretary said, “There was no question OneWest engaged in predatory lending, and Senator Harris believes they should be punished. Unfortunately, the law was on their side and they were protected from state subpoenas because they are a federal bank.”

In 2014, Harris forced leasing retailer Aaron’s, Inc.to reimburse $28.4 million to California customers and pay $3.4 million in civil penalties to resolve allegations that it violated California’s Karnette Rent and Purchase Act by improperly charging late fees, overcharging customers who canceled their contracts early, as well as for omitting important contract disclosures. Aaron’s also violated California state privacy laws by allowing its franchised stores to install spyware on rented computers, allowing franchisees to remotely monitor keystrokes, capture screenshots, and even activate the webcam. . According to an industry report from the National Consumer Law Center,

In 2015, Kamala Harris obtained a $1.2 billion judgment against the for-profit post-secondary education company Corinthian Colleges. for false advertising and deceptive marketing targeting vulnerable low-income students and misrepresenting job placement rates to students, investors, and accrediting agencies. The Court ordered Corinthian to pay $820 million in restitution and another $350 million in civil penalties. That same year, Harris also secured a $60 million settlement with JP Morgan Chase to resolve illegal debt collection allegations regarding credit card customers, with the bank also agreeing to change practices that violated protection laws. to the California consumer by charging incorrect amounts, misselling credit card debt, and running a debt collection factory that “automatically signed” court documents without first reviewing the files while rushing to get judgments and wage garnishments. As part of the settlement, the bank was required to stop trying to collect on more than 528,000 customer accounts.

In 2015, Kamala Harris opened an investigation by the Office of Taxpayer Advocates, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison regarding the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. California state investigators searched the home of California utility regulator Michael Peevey, finding handwritten notes purporting to show that he had met with an Edison executive in Poland, where the two had negotiated terms of the deal. of San Onofre, leaving San Diego taxpayers with a $3.3 billion Bill to pay for the plant’s closure. The investigation was closed in the middle of Harris’ 2016 run for her US Senate seat.

Privacy rights

In February 2012, Kamala Harris announced an agreement with Apple, Amazon, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Research in Motion to require apps sold in their stores to display prominent privacy policies that inform users of what private information they shared. . and with whom. Facebook later joined the deal. That summer, Harris announced the creation of a Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit to enforce laws related to cyber privacy, identity theft and data breaches. Later that same year,

In 2015, Kamala Harris struck two deals with Comcast, one totaling $33 million for allegations that posted online the names, phone numbers and addresses of tens of thousands of customers who had paid for unlisted Voice over Internet Protocol (“VOIP”) phone service and another $26 million Settlement to resolve allegations that it discarded paper records without first omitting or redacting private customer information. Harris also reached a settlement with Houzz over allegations that the company recorded phone calls without notifying customers or employees. The Houzz company was forced to pay $175,000, destroy the recorded calls and hire a privacy officer, the first time such a provision has been included in a settlement with the California Department of Justice.

Fiscal policy according to Kamala Harris

One of the most important aspects of the economic policy of any government is fiscal policy, that is, the way in which the government receives and spends its taxpayers’ money. Against this aspect, Kamala Harris has shown herself on the side of progressive positions of a neo-Keynesian nature.

As a candidate for President of the United States and later for President, Kamala Harris has proposed several changes to the tax code, including:

  • Increase the top marginal income tax rate by the top 1 percent (up to 39.6 percent from 37 percent)
  • Implement a 4 percent “income-based premium” on households earning more than $100,000 a year to pay for their version of “Medicare for All”
  • Create a new refundable tax credit (the LIFT Act) that would be available to low- and middle-income taxpayers, designed to increase after-tax income to address rising cost of living.
  • Raise capital gains tax rates to the same rates as ordinary income, though it’s unclear whether Harris would do so on just a subset of taxpayers.
  • Increase the corporate income tax rate of 21 percent, established in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), to 35 percent
  • Expand the estate tax to cover higher teacher compensation
  • Impose a financial transactions tax (FTT) on stock transactions at 0.2 percent, bond transactions at 0.1 percent, and derivatives transactions at 0.002 percent.

Many of the points in Harris’ plans in 2020 lacked details. However, there are some shared political ideas between the plans put forward as part of the Biden and Harris presidential bid program. Among them, both candidates included:

  • Increase the top income tax rate of the top 1% of earners from 37% to 39.6%.
  • Increase in the corporate income tax rate
  • Tax capital gains and dividends at ordinary income tax rates
  • Increased refundable tax credits for individuals
  • Harris has suggested the need for a carbon fee. Biden also responded favorably to the idea in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

There are also notable differences between each candidate’s proposals:

  • Biden’s plan would raise the corporate income tax rate to 28 percent from Harris’s 35 percent.
  • Biden would only apply ordinary income tax rates to capital gains for those taxpayers with incomes above $1 million a year. It’s unclear whether Harris proposed applying ordinary income rates to all capital gains, regardless of taxpayers’ income.
  • Biden has proposed removing the income cap on Social Security taxes and doubling the Low Tax Intangible Global Income (GILTI) taxes. More information is needed on Harris’ position.
  • Unlike the Harris plan, the Biden campaign does not include an income premium to pay for any version of the “Medicare for All” program. In fact, the Biden campaign criticized Harris during the primaries over the issue, arguing that Harris’ plan represented “a refusal to come clean with middle-class America” ​​and would result in tax increases for millions of families.
  • Harris has proposed a new refundable tax credit for low- and middle-income people. Biden’s plan primarily expands current credits already enacted (e.g. Earned Income Tax Credit, New Markets Tax Credit, Renewable Energy Credits, etc.) in addition to offering new credits, primarily on the business side (e.g. , a tax credit for manufacturing communities, and small business workforce savings plan credits).
  • Harris has proposed a financial transaction tax (FTT) on certain Wall-Street trades, including stocks, bonds and derivatives. Biden has been silent on whether he supports a transaction tax.


The political positions of Kamala Harris in economic matters can easily be considered within a framework of progressive thought. Her defense of consumers and ordinary citizens in the processes that took place after the financial crisis of 2008 makes her stand out as a figure that looks more to the left and towards the protection of collective interests when it comes to related dilemmas. with the institutional powers and the banking power.

His interest in raising taxes on large corporations and big capital is also part of this perspective and shows us that he is clearly aware of the processes that generate widespread inequality in the United States and how this inequality is seriously affecting economic growth. with extensive market failures. In this sense, Harris is committed to interventionist policies that are aimed at actively resolving market failures. Likewise, he positions himself against a neoliberal vision that privileges the minimum state and the greatest possible freedom for companies. These factors make Kamala become a figure despised by the most conservative wing of the Republican party and also that she is viewed with suspicion by the most moderate Democrats,

In this context, Harris is a faithful representative of the neo-Keynesian economic thought that developed after the economic crisis of 2008, and thus finds herself on the side of economic thinkers such as Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Thomas Piketty, who have long claimed greater state intervention in the economy to correct the failures of capitalism, and thus achieve greater growth opportunities for all citizens in a more equal scenario.

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