America’s billionaires are suddenly very, very nervous about all this “raising taxes on the wealthy” and “rectifying the most disgusting income inequality this nation has seen since right before the Great Depression” talk that’s gaining steam in the Democratic primary.
As economic justice champions Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders carve out a substantial segment of support in the Democratic 2020 primary (nearly 40% of voters between the two), the oligarch class and their lickspittles are hitting the panic button.
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is planning to jump into the Democratic primary race to try to right the ship while billionaire and MorganChase CEO Jamie Dimon whines that Warren is “vilifying successful people” (she isn’t, and he “earned” $31 million last year).
Even normally quiet billionaire Bill Gates got in on the action, indirectly bashing Warren’s proposed wealth tax and implicitly refusing to rule out voting for Trump if he was to be deprived of too much of his money. “When you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over” he complained to the New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin, knowing full well he would be left with nine billion dollars — still more money than he or generations of his descendants could ever spend.
But it was FOX News’ shameless bootlickers who had the most stunning criticisms of the Warren wealth tax. In full seriousness, FOX and Friends’ Brian Kilmeade (who has a net worth of $8 million) was aghast at the prospect that the megawealthy might have to “sell an island” in order to pay the wealth tax, since much of the oligarchy’s networth is not in liquid assets.
FOX Business correspondent Susan Li joined the team of Stepford hosts to complain about how Warren’s proposals were “stock market negative” (84% of all stocks are owned by the richest 10% of Americans) and with a straight face assured their viewers that all the hedge fund titans — meaning the very people who would have to stop hoarding their wealth and keeping it from circulating in the economy — all agree that a Warren presidency would be terrible for the stock markets while a Trump re-election would mean a 15% bump in the stock market (which, again, would largely benefit the richest 10% of Americans).
Which led to this discussion (transcript courtesy of Media Matters For America):
STEVE DOOCY: But they’ve got billions of dollars, Susan, they can afford it. That’s what she would say.
SUSAN LI: They can afford it, and yeah that’s what she would say. And, you know, they say we don’t mind paying higher taxes. You heard Bill Gates there last week saying, OK, I’m willing to pay $20 billion in taxes. That’s fine. But when it gets $100 billion — and that’s probably most of his wealth. That’s when the math and calculations change.
KILMEADE: It was pointed out to me and you know this much better. A lot of these 700 billionaires that we have aren’t liquid. So they have it in assets.
KILMEADE: So, what are we doing? I have to sell an island, in order to?
LI: Or maybe it’s offshore already.
Yeah, they might have to sell an island. If that’s what it takes to provide everyone with healthcare, rejuvenate our schools, repair our aging and long-neglected infrastructure, jump-start a green energy revolution and stem the bleeding from the outrageous holes that Republican tax cuts have blown in the federal budget, then yes, some billionaires might have to cash in their secret party islands and do their fair share.
Comments like this show just how out of touch the upper class is with the needs of ordinary Americans — and how deeply unhealthy their obsession with their ill-gotten wealth is.
It is our moral obligation to help them get over it.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.