Bernie Sanders: There Should Be No Billionaires

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during the National Action Network Convention in New York in April. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Even as Sen. Bernie Sanders’ progressive platform polls well among Democratic voters, consistently ranking second after Joe Biden, and even as he draws large crowds at rallies and lands 1 million donors (according to the Sanders campaign), his opponents respond with the same refrain: How is he going to pay for his plans like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal?

On Tuesday, Sanders answered, with “a tax on extreme wealth,” which CNN called “a hefty tax on the ultra-rich” which would cover many of the social welfare programs the Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont senator has proposed, including part of Medicare for All.

“I don’t think that billionaires should exist,” Sanders told The New York Times, adding that “This proposal does not eliminate billionaires, but it eliminates a lot of the wealth that billionaires have, and I think that’s exactly what we should be doing.” He was even more blunt on Twitter, writing, “there should be no billionaires.”

Fellow Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as The New York Times points out, may have come out with a wealth tax before Sanders, but “Mr. Sanders is going bigger. His wealth tax would apply to a larger number of households, impose a higher top rate and raise more money.”

Per CNN:

married couples worth more than $32 million would pay a 1% tax on their wealth above that threshold. The rate would rise to 2% on net worth between $50 million and $250 million, climbing in increments to a 8% tax on wealth above $10 billion. The tax would be levied on single filers worth more than $16 million, with the top 8% rate assessed on their wealth above $5 billion.

By contrast, Warren’s plan involves a 2% levy on wealth over $50 million, plus another 1% tax on net worth above $1 billion.

Sanders told the Times he believes if he is elected president, his plan “will reduce the outrageous and grotesque and immoral level of income and wealth inequality.” He added, “What we are trying to do is demand and implement a policy which significantly reduces income and wealth inequality in America by telling the wealthiest families in this country they cannot have so much wealth.”

Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman from the University of California at Berkeley, who helped develop both the Sanders and Warren plans, estimate that Sanders’s plan would raise $4.35 trillion over a decade, where Warren’s would raise $2.6 trillion in the same period.

As Saez told the Times, “The Sanders plan is really pitched at the idea that we don’t want billionaires and deca-billionaires to be billionaires and deca-billionaires for as long as they currently are,” adding that “It’s going to erode their fortunes much faster than the Warren wealth tax.”

To enforce the plan, Sanders wants to create a “national wealth registry,” to track the ultra-rich, increase the budget for the Internal Revenue Service and require audits for anyone subject to his proposed taxes.

Read the entire plan here.


* This article was automatically syndicated and expanded from Truthdig.


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