Election 2020 Democrats Taxes

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during an organizing event at Curate event space in Des Moines, Iowa. Some Democratic presidential hopefuls are enthusiastically embracing plans to raise taxes on the richest Americans. Warren is floating a 2 percent tax on all assets of people with a net worth of more than $50 million, a moon-shot plan that could face legal challenges for hitting investments, homes and cars, not just income.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The last Democrat to win a presidential election, Barack Obama, ran in 2012 on a platform of raising taxes for top earners to nearly 40 percent. Now a new crop of Democratic presidential hopefuls is signaling that they want to go even further.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is floating a 2 percent tax on all assets of people with a net worth of more than $50 million — a moon-shot plan that could face legal challenges for hitting investments, homes and cars, not just income. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is pitching a steeply higher inheritance tax on large estates.

Others targeting higher income earners include California Sen. Kamala Harris, who has proposed rolling back the recent GOP tax cuts for wealthier families to pay for tax rebates for middle- and lower-income earners.

The eruption of high-end tax proposals is a shift for Democrats, who have traditionally not centered their presidential bids around tax hikes — particularly at this early stage of a campaign. It underscores the party’s march to the left and candidates’ desire to tap into the Wall Street-rattling energy of liberal voters.

“If you’re looking for a bumper sticker, ‘tax rich people’ is a pretty good bumper sticker,” said Howard Glickman of the centrist Tax Policy Center.

Beyond its messaging power, taxing the wealthy also gives Democratic contenders a way to propose paying for their sweeping progressive agendas.

Sanders put it simply last week: “We need additional revenue if we’re going to provide health care for all, rebuild our infrastructure, make public colleges and universities tuition-free.”

The rush to tax the rich has prompted criticism from others eyeing the White House — namely billionaires Michael Bloomberg, a former Republican who is considering running as a Democrat, and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is mulling an independent run for president.

Schultz says he was driven from the Democratic Party by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the rising star who’s issued her own call for a 70 percent income tax rate on people making more than $10 million. Democratic strategists worry Schultz could peel off a small but vital slice of affluent voters and help President Donald Trump get re-elected in a three-way race.

But to progressive Democratic contenders, the criticism from billionaires like Schultz proves their point.

“The billionaires are writing the rules around here. And guess what: all those rules favor the billionaires,” Warren said in an interview.

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