OPINION: Calling out anyone wavering on taxing billionaires



In last week’s Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren took on the seemingly perennial CNN Democratic debate question concerning taxing the wealthiest members in our society. It’s an important question because it goes to the heart of our country’s problems of income inequality, and our government’s dwindling support of social programs.

Warren’s angle has been to try to express the very fundamental problem in how we don’t tax the wealthy of our country, and in so doing, end up promoting more and more hoarding of resources and wealth.

“I think this is about our values as a country,” Warren said. “Understand this, if we put a two-cent tax on their 50 millionth and first dollar, and on every dollar after that, we would have enough money to provide universal child care for every baby in this country age zero to five, universal pre-k for every child, raise the wages for every child and preschool worker in America, put $50 billion into historically black colleges and universities…”

At this point CNN attempted to cut Warren off, but Warren wasn’t going to be attacked for pointing out how ridiculous attacking the concept of taxing the rich is.

“No, let me finish, please,” Warren said. “… And cancel student loan debt for 95 percent of the people who have it. My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax, it’s why does everyone else on the stage think it’s more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation?”

Sen. Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke, in part because they are a bit more conservative than Sens. Warren and Sanders, and also possibly in the hopes of getting some ink by presenting opposition to the top primary candidate, decided to attack Warren on the wealth tax as being punitive.

In Beto’s case he even made it sound like Sen. Warren, in talking about taxing the top one percent, was attacking the middle class.
Sen. Warren shamed O’Rourke and Klobuchar very pleasantly, by reminding them of how people make money.

“So I’m really shocked at the notion that anyone thinks I’m punitive,” Warren said. “Look, I don’t have a beef with billionaires. My problem is you made a fortune in America, you had a great idea, you got out there and worked for it. Good for you. But you built that fortune in America, I guarantee you built it in part using workers all of us help pay to educate. You built it in part getting your goods to markets on roads and bridges all of us helped maintain and pay for. You built it with the help of police and fire fighters all of us help pay for. You make it to the top, the top 1/10 of 1%, pitch in two cents so every other kid in America has a chance to make it. That’s what this is about.”

That is the point of our taxes. We make a deal, all together, to pay into the pot, and make things better across the board. We use it for defense, for safety, for health, for infrastructure.

There is no debate here. If you believe that letting the richest people in our country keep more and more of their money and that will somehow trickle down and lift up the rest of us, I would like to sell you a bridge. Unfortunately some rich guy bought it already and I don’t even have enough money to pay the tolls anymore.

(Walter Einenkel is the Trending News editor for the Daily Kos.)


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