1/30/2019 10:05:00 AM Bloomberg and Schultz slam Warren on proposed tax hike for top earners
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren seized on criticism Tuesday from two potential presidential rivals who are billionaires to highlight her proposal to raise taxes on top earners.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasted the Massachusetts Democrat’s “ultra-millionaire tax” as “probably unconstitutional.” During a two-day visit to the early voting state of New Hampshire, Bloomberg said “we shouldn’t be embarrassed by our system” and warned against a slide toward Venezuela’s imploding socialist economy. His comments followed a jab from former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who called Warren’s plan “ridiculous” in an NPR interview.
In an interview Tuesday, Warren said the tax is necessary and dismissed the criticism from Bloomberg and Schultz, who are both considering using their wealth to fund a presidential campaign.
“Another billionaire who thinks that billionaires shouldn’t pay more in taxes,” she told The Associated Press. “No surprises — but that’s also not how we’re going to build a future for this country.”
Warren formed a presidential exploratory committee last month. She unveiled a proposal last week that would add a 2 percent tax to U.S. households with net worth greater than $50 million, increasing it to 3 percent for net worth greater than $1 billion. Economists advising Warren project the new levy would hit less than the top 0.1 percent of households and that it would raise $2.75 trillion over 10 years.
It comes as the early days of the Democratic primary are dominated by a debate over the risks of staking out positions that opponents could brand as too liberal. Bloomberg, who is eyeing a White House run as a Democrat, has urged caution on policies related to taxes and health care. Schultz, who said this past weekend he’s considering running for president as an independent, is also seeking to appeal to moderate voters.
Conservatives have lambasted Warren’s idea as a violation of constitutional prohibitions on “direct” property taxes that are not applied proportionally to specific states, a criticism that Bloomberg echoed on Tuesday even as he allowed room to debate the current state of income tax rates.
“People earn money to pay their taxes, and then they don’t expect the government to come back and take some of it away,” he told reporters. “I think you can question whether or not we have the right tax rates.”