Elizabeth Warren pushes Amazon breakup, backs away from socialism at SXSW

AUSTIN, Texas -- Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren distanced herself from fellow presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Saturday, stating that she is not a socialist and that she supports the free market model while also doubling down on her plan to break up big tech companies like Amazon.

Warren clarified her economic views during a wide-ranging discussion at the South By Southwest tech conference in Austin, Texas. The 2020 presidential candidate declined to comment on specific differences between her own policies and those of Sanders, but said "I am not" when asked if she was a Democratic socialist.

“All I can tell you is what I believe – there’s an enormous amount to be gained from markets. Markets create opportunities. … but markets have to have rules. They have to have a cop on the beat,” Warren told an energetic crowd at the Austin City Limits’ Moody Theater.

Warren also ramped up criticism of the tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Google while speaking in front of an Austin crowd containing at least a few of their employees. Hours earlier, she unveiled a proposal to curb the power of tech companies through various means, including the reversal of what she called “anti-competitive” mergers such as Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp and Amazon’s purchase of grocery chain Whole Foods. Warren also called for Amazon and Google’s various businesses – in the latter’s case, its search engine and ad platform -- to operate as separate entities.

The 2020 Democratic candidate likened Amazon’s business practices to a game of baseball, asserting that the e-commerce platform “sucks out an incredible amount of information about every buyer and seller,” and then uses that data to gain an unfair advantage when selling its own products through “Amazon Basics."

“You can be an umpire – a platform – or you can own teams,” Warren said.  “But you can’t be an umpire and own one of the teams that’s in the game.”

Warren added her plan would level the playing field between tech giants and smaller businesses.


“My view is, break those things apart and we will have a much more competitive, robust market in America,” she said.