New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was quick to challenge Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren over her wealth tax plan, kicking off Wednesday evening’s Democratic debate with a heated exchange.
Warren began her introduction by touting her wealth-tax plan, repeating the refrain of former President Barack Obama as she suggested the wealthy who have built something incredible ought to be happy to give back some of what they had earned with the help of “workers we all helped pay to educate.”
Booker responded by suggesting that a wealth tax wasn’t the answer, although he agreed that there were solutions in the tax system. “We actually have a real problem with the tax rate, tax loopholes, tax cheats. And I don’t agree with the wealth tax the way that Elizabeth Warren puts it, but I agree we need to raise the estate tax. We need to tax capital gains as ordinary income. Real strategies will increase revenue. But here’s the challenge, we as Democrats need to fight for a just taxation system.”
Booker then turned the conversation to what needed to be done in communities across the country, arguing that more effort needs to go into encouraging entrepreneurship. “As I travel around the country we Democrats also have to talk about how to grow wealth as well,” he said. (RELATED: Meghan McCain Asks Cory Booker 5 Times About Gun Buybacks, He Wants To Talk About Other Things)
“Let me tell you what we can do with that 2 cent wealth tax,” Warren responded. “And we can provide universal child care for every baby in this country and that is transformative. We can provide universal pre-k for every 3-year-old and 4-year-old in America. We can stop exploiting the women, largely black and brown women who do this work. And we can raise the wages of every child care worker and pre-schoolteacher in America. We can put $800 billion new federal dollars into all of our public schools. We can make college tuition-free for every kid. We can put $50 billion into historically black colleges and universities. And we can cancel student loan debt for 95% of the folks who have got it. 2 cent wealth tax and we can invest in an entire generation’s future.”
“I agree with the need to do all of those things,” Booker fired back. “We’re all united in wanting to see universal preschool. And I’ll fight for that. We’re all united in wanting to fund HBCUs. But the tax we’re putting forward right now, the wealth tax I’m sorry it’s cumbersome … It’s hard to evaluate.”
“We as Democrats have got to start talking not just how we tax but grow wealth,” Booker continued. “There is worth in the inner city. There is value in our rural areas. If I am president of the United States we’re going to have a fair just taxation where millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share, but dear God we’re going to have pathways to prosperity for more Americans. We’re going to see a change in what we see right now: Small businesses, new startups are going down in this country.”