Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) stood her ground on her plan for a wealth tax on Tuesday, saying that billionaires should be able to pitch in 2 cents “so every other kid in America has a chance to make it.”
“So, I think this is about our values as a country. Show me your tax plans, and we’ll know what your values are,” she said at the Democratic presidential debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times in Westerville, Ohio.
The candidates were asked about supporting a wealth tax on billionaires, a plan that only Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have proposed and openly advocated for. Warren’s plan would impose a 2% tax on households with net worths of more than $50 million, with an additional 1% on wealth above $1 billion.
The Massachusetts senator claims the tax plan would cover universal child care, universal pre-kindergarten, billions in funding for historically black colleges and better teacher pay. But more moderate Democrats have shied away from the proposal, fearing it wouldn’t win them the election.
“My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax,” Warren said. “It’s why does everyone else on this stage think it’s more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans?”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), a moderate Democrat, used Warren’s answer to go after the candidate, who is currently one of the party’s front-runners and surging in polls. Klobuchar has not yet reached the polling threshold to qualify for the fifth Democratic debate in November.
“I want to give a reality check to Elizabeth because no one on this stage wants to protect billionaires. Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires,” Klobuchar said, referring to billionaire businessman Tom Steyer, who made his first appearance on a debate stage Tuesday.
“We just have different approaches. Your idea is not the only idea. And when I look at this, I think about Donald Trump,” the Minnesota senator added, hinting that Warren’s approach will not help Democrats beat the president.
Warren responded by defending being more radical in her ideas and explaining that a wealth tax would yield more than an income tax.
“The rich are not like you and me,” Warren told Klobuchar. “The really, really billionaires are making money off their accumulated wealth, and it just keeps growing. We need a wealth tax in order to make investments in the next generation.
“I understand that this is hard,” Warren continued. “But I think as Democrats, we are going to succeed when we dream big and fight hard. Not when we dream small and quit before we get started.”