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Op-Ed by Tom Steyer: Tom Steyer to Michael Bloomberg: Back a wealth tax or drop out of 2020 presidential race

November 25, 2019

Trump-GOP corporate giveaways and tax cuts for the rich are an affront to hard-working Americans. People like me and Bloomberg should back a wealth tax.

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By Tom Steyer, Opinion contributor

Michael Bloomberg is now an official candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

When news broke about his intentions a couple of weeks ago, I immediately challenged him to support a wealth tax. I've been calling for a wealth tax long before I was running for president. The reason is simple: Our democracy is broken, because corporate interests have bought the government.

Unchecked corporate power has run roughshod over the American people, buying influence in the halls of government and pushing narrow interests at the expense of workers' rights, our health and our environment. Pharmaceutical and insurance companies, not doctors or medical science, now control patients' treatment. Coal and oil executives, not the American people, dictate how much dirty air we breathe and unclean water we drink. Wall Street insiders, not our own labor, determine whether we retire in dignity.

Support a wealth tax or drop out

There was a time in our country when the profits of American corporations didn't outweigh the success of a robust, thriving middle class. But now, corporations have deepened and exploited political division by coordinating donations, spreading misinformation, and systematically putting profits over people.

Republican policies enacted over the last four-plus decades have resulted in the continual disenfranchisement and suffering of working people. Our self-interested and self-absorbed president has followed suit. Donald Trump's corporate giveaways and tax cuts for the rich are an affront to the hardest working Americans.

That's why I'm challenging Michael Bloomberg to support a wealth tax — or drop out of the race.

The American people, and the Democratic Party, literally can't afford to have a Democratic nominee who disregards this essential component of balancing the scales of inequality and unequal opportunity. The Democratic nominee must recognize that truth, and commit to leveling the playing field by taxing the wealthy to pay their fair share.

In order to support progressive policies that achieve universal health care, a Green New Deal, accessible quality education, clean air and water and a living wage, the Democratic nominee in 2020 must back asking the wealthy to pay more. Which is why I proposed a 1% annual wealth tax on the top 0.1 percent of American families ahead of other candidates in this race.

Wealth tax is central to progress

People like Michael Bloomberg and I, who've reaped the rewards of our economic system, have a responsibility — an obligation — to address wealth inequality through ensuring equal opportunity and supporting working families. And while we've both signed the Giving Pledge, to give half our wealth away in our lifetimes to good causes, it's important we all acknowledge that a wealth tax is central to any progressive path forward.

To fix our broken democracy, we also need deep structural change to restore political power directly to the people. That's why, unlike any other candidate in the race, I'm calling for term limits for members of Congress — because Congress was never meant to be a lifetime appointment. I'm also calling for a national referendum process, so people can bypass a Congress that's too often stalled and corporate influenced, and actually pass laws directly.

If Michael Bloomberg decides to support a wealth tax, I welcome him to this race. If not, it's very clear that he should not be the Democratic nominee. Our nominee and our president needs to walk the walk. Our actions have to match our words. This election, the stakes are too high for anything less.

Tom Steyer, Op-Ed by Tom Steyer: Tom Steyer to Michael Bloomberg: Back a wealth tax or drop out of 2020 presidential race Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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