Billionaire Michael Bloomberg Says Elizabeth Warren's Wealth Tax 'Just Doesn't Work'

Michael Bloomberg has said Senator Elizabeth Warren's plan for a wealth tax "just doesn't work," adding that the policy should not be pursued just "to be mean."

The billionaire appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert while other 2020 candidates in the Democratic race, including Warren, took part in a CNN debate in Iowa.

"The wealth tax just doesn't work. It's been tried elsewhere," Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, told Colbert on Tuesday night.

"We have to raise taxes on the wealthy, that's the way you fix income inequality. And that's where we get money to do the things that we need to do that keeps this country safe and to keep the economy going.

"But you don't just go and do it for the heck of it because you want to be mean. You do it because you need the money're going to spend it wisely."

Newsweek has asked the Warren campaign for comment by email and will update this article if one is provided.

Warren's campaign is proposing what it calls an "Ultra-Millionaires Tax" on the wealthiest 0.1 percent of American households, which amounts to around 75,000 households.

Under her plan, households with a net worth of more than $50 million would pay a 2 percent tax on every dollar over that threshold.

Households with a net worth over $1 billion would pay 6 percent on every dollar over that threshold.

The campaign claims the tax would raise $3.75 trillion in revenue over a decade, though this estimate is disputed.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania calculated that Warren's wealth tax would raise between $2.3 trillion and $2.7 trillion over ten years.

Moreover, the Wharton study found that, depending on how the tax revenue is spent, Warren's wealth tax may shrink the U.S. economy by between 0.9 percent and 2.1 percent by 2050.

But polling suggests a wealth tax is popular with voters.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published last week, 64 percent of the 4,441 respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that "the very rich should contribute an extra share of their total wealth each year to support public programs."

Broken down by party affiliation, a majority of Republicans, at 53 percent, also agreed with the sentiment. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats supported the statement, too.

Bloomberg, a media and financial data mogul, has a net worth of $59.5 billion, according to Forbes.

The 78-year-old is self-funding his own campaign, one of the reasons he did not reach the threshold to take part in the latest CNN debate, which required a minimum of 225,000 unique donors.

"I have only one: Me," Bloomberg told Colbert, saying that he does not take money from anyone.

"Look, I'm spending my money to get rid of Donald Trump. Somebody complained and I said, 'Do you want me to spend more or less?' They said: 'Spend more!' Of course, it was my money they were spending," Bloomberg said.

The RealClearPolitics national polling average has Bloomberg in fifth place in 2020 race on 6.2 percent, well behind front-running former vice president Joe Biden in first on 27.2 percent.

Mike Bloomberg
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg gives the thumbs up as he embarks on his bus after speaking to supporters at the Viva Villa restaurant in San Antonio, Texas on January 11, 2020. MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP/Getty