U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks to a crowd during a rally to urge the reelection of Colo. Sen. Mark Udall to the Senate in Boulder, Colo. on Oct. 17, 2014.
Brennan Linsley/AP

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s post-election populist pitch

Bouncing back from an Election Day blowout that cost Democrats the Senate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is calling on her colleagues in Washington to focus on issues facing everyday Americans.

In an op-ed published by The Washington Post late Friday, the Massachusetts Democrat laid out her post-election proposals – end tax cuts that benefit corporations, break up giant financial institutions and ensure that people with crippling student debt can renegotiate the terms of their loans.

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“Before leaders in Congress and the president get caught up in proving they can pass some new laws, everyone should take a skeptical look at whom those new laws will serve,” Warren wrote.

President Obama and Republican leaders struck a conciliatory chord in the wake of Election Day. Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is poised to become majority leader in the next Congress, said Wednesday he could find common ground with the president on matters such as trade and tax reform. Obama, too, reached across the aisle, saying he would “enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon” with McConnell.

But Warren cautioned that the solution to government gridlock and voter frustration isn’t “a basket of quickly passed laws designed to prove Congress can do something — anything. The solution isn’t for the president to cut deals — any deals — just to show he can do business. The solution requires an honest recognition of the kind of changes needed if families are going to get a shot at building a secure future.”

For Warren, whose name is frequently mentioned as a potential progressive challenge to a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, the policy prescriptions for both Congress and the president could be seen as early moves looking ahead to 2016. It’s a populist economic drumbeat that the freshman senator has been pounding for quite some time. But after the midterm election exit polls showed that the economy was once again top of voters’ minds, Warren’s message may hit home with the American public.

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A whopping 63% of voters said they felt the U.S. economic system favored the wealthy, leaving just 32% who felt it was mostly fair, according to the NBC News national exit poll. Compare that to just two years ago when 56% of voters in the 2012 election cycle thought the wealthy were on top, and 39% said the shake was even to most Americans.

One of the many diagnoses to come out of the brutal midterm election for Democrats was that candidates on the left did not run on a strong progressive message, amid low approval ratings for President Obama. Voters did approve a number of progressive issues on the ballot on Election Day – including minimum wage hikes in a handful of red statesShould Warren try her hand at a presidential run, she could be the Democratic candidate to carry the progressive banner.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's post-election populist pitch