Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said her opponents in the 2020 Democratic field are in the pockets of billionaires because they refuse to back the wealth tax.
"My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax, it's why does everyone else in the stage think it's more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans," Warren said during the Democratic debate Tuesday.
The Massachusetts senator has called for an "ultra-millionaire tax" that would levy a 2 to 3 percent tax on household net worth above $50 million. Warren said on Tuesday that the tax would be used to pay for many of her pricey policies, including universal childcare, universal pre-K, higher wages for teachers, free college, $50 billion for historically black colleges, and cancelation of student debt of 95 percent of debtors. Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) also has a wealth tax proposal, thus escaping Warren’s wrath.
Experts previously told the Washington Free Beacon that the wealth tax might be an unconstitutional, inefficient taxation mechanism. In fact, only 3 of 16 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development states that had a wealth tax in 1996 still have the tax in place.
Warren’s blanket denunciation of her Democratic rivals provoked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), to chime in to "give a reality check here to Elizabeth."
"I want to give a reality check here to Elizabeth because no one on this stage wants to protect the billionaire," Klobuchar said, referencing fellow Democratic contender and billionaire Tom Steyer. "Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaire. We just have different approaches. Your idea is not the only idea."
The Massachusetts senator quickly hit back, arguing that a conventional income tax will be ineffective at curbing income inequalities.
"Taxing income is not going to get you where you need to be the way taxing wealth does," Warren said. "The rich are not like you and me."
But while Warren seemed intent on drawing a line between her and "the rich," the senator is worth more than $12 million according to Forbes, making her one of the wealthiest candidates in the Democratic field.
Other candidates, such as South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D., Texas), parried Warren’s allegations. Neither candidate ruled out a wealth tax, but said the proposal will not address more fundamental economic and political problems plaguing the country.
"I think it’s part of the solution," O’Rourke said. "Sometimes I think that Sen. Warren is more focused on being punitive or pitting some part of the country against the other. Instead of lifting people up and making sure people come together around those solutions."