Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, has been barnstorming through Iowa, the first in the nation caucus state, often in the company of Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York. The fiery, elderly socialist seems to have found a new foil, besides President Donald Trump. According to Fox News, Bernie was all aghast at the idea of a billionaire in the presidential race.
“Tonight we say to Michael Bloomberg, ‘Sorry, you ain’t gonna buy this election,'” Sanders told a crowd in Coralville, outside Iowa City. ” … Those days are gone.”
Bloomberg, a billionaire New York publisher and former mayor of New York, has dipped his toe into the Democratic presidential race by qualifying for the Alabama primary. Political pundits have suggested that Bloomberg has concluded that former Vice President Joe Biden is not going to hold up the moderate wing of the Democratic Party. Thus, Bloomberg has concluded that he must do that job himself.
The same pundits suggest that Bloomberg’s possible entry is a gift to the far left wing of the Democratic Party. The theory is that Bloomberg and Biden will split the moderate vote, which would be to the benefit of candidates like Sanders and Sen Elizabeth Warren. D-Mass.
Sanders also noted that Bloomberg plans to avoid the early states such as Iowa and New Hampshire and concentrate on Super Tuesday to make his big splash. Political observers regard the strategy as risky. Sanders seemed to agree.
“You’re not going to get elected president by avoiding Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada,” Sanders said. “Yes, we don’t have a super PAC and I’m not worth $52 billion.”
The Des Moines Registry noted that when Sanders found out that Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos had urged Bloomberg to run, he could not keep himself from laughing. When Sanders was trying to compose himself, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez jumped in.
“Of course!” she said in an interview with the Des Moines Register. “They’ve got class solidarity. The billionaires are looking out for each other. They’re willing to transcend differences and background and even politics.
“The fact that Bill Gates seems more willing to vote for Donald Trump than anyone else tells you everything you need to know about how far they’re willing to go to protect their excess, at the cost to everyday Americans.”
Sanders, as well as Elizabeth Warren, has focused on billionaires, even self-made ones such as Bezos and Bloomberg, as, for all intents and purposes, enemies of the people. Sanders would like to impose a wealth tax on wealthy people that has several purposes, according to Vox.
The first purpose is to raise at least some of the revenue that would be needed to fund some of the more expensive items on the far left agenda, such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.
The second purpose, however, is to close to the so-called “wealth gap” by taking away the assets of billionaires, in Sanders’ case eliminate the concept of a billionaire. In Sanders’ world view, the idea that someone can have so much wealth is inherently offensive. The fact that people may have earned billions of dollars by creating goods and services that people want does not enter into it. For Sanders, that concept smacks of capitalism and is therefore invalid.
While Sanders wants to ride to the presidency on the hobby horse of class warfare, NPR notes that one problem exists with a wealth tax. They have not worked anywhere they have been tried.
“Normally progressives like to point to Europe for policy success. Not this time. The experiment with the wealth tax in Europe was a failure in many countries. France’s wealth tax contributed to the exodus of an estimated 42,000 millionaires between 2000 and 2012, among other problems. Only last year, French President Emmanuel Macron killed it.
“In 1990, twelve countries in Europe had a wealth tax. Today, there are only three: Norway, Spain, and Switzerland. According to reports by the OECD and others, there were some clear themes with the policy: it was expensive to administer, it was hard on people with lots of assets but little cash, it distorted saving and investment decisions, it pushed the rich and their money out of the taxing countries—and, perhaps worst of all, it didn’t raise much revenue.”
In other words, billionaires like Bloomberg and Bezos will simply move their money to tax shelter countries like the Cayman Islands, using accounting tricks to evade any exit tax that might be imposed. However, for right now, a wealth tax serves as a taking point for politicians like Bernie.