While most billionaires and establishment elites have thoughtfully rejected (or avoided discussion of) Elizabeth Warren's (and Bernie Sanders' for that matter) plans to unleash a wealth tax on the richest Americans, there appears to be a new champion in the virtue-signalling arena.
Billionaire Michael Novogratz, former Goldman Sachs partner and founder of crypto-fund Galaxy Investment Partners, told his fellow rich elites to 'stop worrying so much about Elizabeth Warren'.
“You’re not victims, you’re the richest people in the world,”
“How in God’s name do you feel like a victim?”
In an interview at a benefit for Hudson River Park Friends, of which he’s chairman, Novogratz added that
“Ninety-seven percent of the people I know in my world are really, really fearful of her,”
“They don’t like her, they’re worried about her, they think she’s anti-rich,”
“It’s a little carried away.”
As Bloomberg reports, Warren has been gaining momentum in a huge field of candidates for the Democratic nomination, with plans for a wealth tax and tougher regulation.
And, looking down from his billionaire perch, Novogratz believes plans to take from the rich to give to those who are struggling make sense.
“The way the country is functioning today, the bottom 60% aren’t doing well,” said Novogratz, who has supported Democrats in the past.
“She’s speaking to that group. She wants to redistribute. Bernie’s a socialist, Elizabeth says she’s a capitalist, she just wants to redistribute more. And I think we’re going to have more redistribution.”
But Novogratz did have some words of advice for the Massachussetts Senator:
“The first seven things out of her mouth were divisive and anti-rich,” he said.
“And I called and I was like, ‘Dude, you can’t heal the country by telling them all rich people cheated. LeBron James didn’t cheat. He was just really good at basketball. Maybe the markets don’t work the way they should, that’s a fair argument, but don’t say they cheated.’ So I got really angry about that.”
However, criticism has been heaped on a Washington Post op-ed by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman purporting to show that for the first time in U.S. history billionaires paid a lower tax rate than the working class.
Adapted from Emmanuel Saez, 2019, "Taxation of Financial Capital: Is the Wealth Tax the Solution?; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Former Treasury Secretary and head of the National Economic Council, Larry Summers, disagrees with Novogratz:
"I do not think a focus on wealth inequality as a basis for being concerned about a more just society is terribly well designed."
Additionally, Summers slammed the economists behind Warren's plan, noting that he believed Saez and Zucman had overestimated "by a third" the amount of wealth held by American billionaires and that he doubted the tax would deliver "even half of their wealth figure."
Having heard such comments as "billionaires shouldn't exist," Warren claimed, during Tuesday’s Democratic candidates’ debate, “look, I don’t have a beef with billionaires,” in response from criticism by former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke that she was pitting the country against itself.
“All I’m saying is, ‘You make it to the top, the top 0.1 percent, then pitch in two cents so every other kid in America has a chance to make it.’”
Of course, this wealth tax comes on top of massively increased income taxes for the richest too...
Finally, back to Novogratz, who concludes that, while he will not whine about Warren's wealth tax, he’d rather have a more centrist Democrat as the candidate, but hasn’t yet found someone he thinks can win, even though he likes Pete Buttigieg.