Elizabeth Warren Says Even With Wealth Tax, System Will Remain 'Tilted' to Favor Richest

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, said on Tuesday that even with her Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act, the economic system would still be "tilted" in favor of America's wealthiest.

The progressive senator introduced the wealth tax proposal on Monday. Under the plan, a version of which she put forward during her unsuccessful presidential campaign, the nation's wealthiest would be taxed at 2 percent on their net worth above $50 million and at 3 percent on a net worth above $1 billion. Co-sponsoring the bill in the House of Representatives are Democrat Pramila Jayapal of Washington, chair of the Progressive Caucus, and Brendan Boyle, a moderate Democrat from Pennsylvania.

"Here's the thing, it helps level the playing field just a little bit," Warren told CNBC's Squawk Box on Tuesday morning. "Right now, the 99 percent of America—that's everybody who doesn't have wealth of $50 million or more—they paid last year about 7.2 percent of their total wealth in taxes."

Senator Elizabeth Warren
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) holds a news conference to announce legislation that would tax the net worth of America's wealthiest individuals at the U.S. Capitol on March 1 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

"The top tenth of 1 percent, people who would be covered by the wealth tax, they paid about 3.2 percent—less than half. You put a 2 cent wealth tax on them and the playing field is at least a little more level. It's still tilted in favor of the giant millionaires and the billionaires. So this is about just trying to level it out so everybody in America gets a chance," the senator said.

Warren said that her proposal builds on what has previously been done in European nations and improves on their policies. "We learned from some of the mistakes they made in Europe. This version of the wealth tax covers all of your property," she said.

The senator has pushed a slew of other economic policies aimed at addressing growing economic inequality. Warren has led the charge to pressure President Joe Biden to forgive at least $50,000 in student debt for borrowers, advocated strongly for labor rights and higher wages and bills to address corporate abuse. Although Biden has pushed for some progressive reforms, he has expressed opposition to some as well.

Thus far, Biden has not backed the wealth tax idea or $50,000 in student loans forgiveness. The president has previously said he will increase taxes on high income earners—not levy a tax on their net worth, and expressed support for some form of student loan forgiveness up to $10,000.

Warren's wealth tax proposal comes as America's wealthiest have seen massive economic gains over the past year, while millions of Americans lost their jobs and struggled economically during the pandemic. Estimates have shown that just 660 billionaires in the U.S. saw their combined wealth grow by about $1.3 trillion during the COVID-19 crisis.

We can generate $3 trillion to invest in Covid relief, education, infrastructure, clean energy, and so much more — and all it will take is making the ultra-wealthy finally pay their fair share.

It’s time to #TaxTheRich. pic.twitter.com/s4cqEDwIPp

— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) March 2, 2021

Although Warren's wealth tax is not widely backed by lawmakers in Congress, polls have shown that the proposal enjoys bipartisan support across the nation.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in early 2020 showed that nearly two-thirds of Americans strongly or somewhat agreed that "the very rich should contribute an extra share of their total wealth each year to support public programs." That included 77 percent of Democrats and a slim majority (53 percent) of Republicans. A similar poll conducted last February by The Hill-HarrisX found that more than two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans believed billionaires should face a wealth tax. Although that survey showed 88 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents backed the idea, just under half (47 percent) agreed.

Jayapal tweeted about the legislative proposal on Tuesday, saying it would "generate $3 trillion to invest in Covid relief, education, infrastructure, clean energy, and so much more." The Congresswoman added: "And all it will take is making the ultra-wealthy finally pay their fair share."

Newsweek reached out to Warren's office for further comment.