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Millionaire Bernie Sanders: ‘Billionaires Should Not Exist’

By  Ashe Schow
Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during the Democratic Presidential Committee (DNC) summer meeting on August 23, 2019 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said “billionaires should not exist” as he released his latest tax proposal Tuesday, which would apply additional taxes on Americans based on their net worth.

CNBC reported that Sanders’ plan was designed to be more aggressive than his 2020 primary opponent Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA). Sanders’ plan would create additional rates for married couples with a high net worth. Here are the rates, from CNBC:

  • A 1% tax on net worth above $32 million
  • A 2% tax on net worth of $50 million to $250 million
  • A 3% tax on net worth of $250 million to $500 million
  • A 4% tax on net worth of $500 million to $1 billion
  • A 5% tax on net worth of $1 billion to $2.5 billion
  • A 6% tax on net worth of $2.5 billion to $5 billion
  • A 7% tax on net worth of $5 billion to $10 billion
  • An 8% tax on net worth above $10 billion
  • All of those brackets would be cut in half for single filers

Warren’s plan, by comparison, would levy a 2% annual tax on net worth exceeding $50 million and a 3% tax on net worth over $1 billion, CNBC reported.

Sanders’ campaign expects the new taxes to raise $4.35 trillion in the next 10 years, which the candidate claimed would cover the cost of his “Medicare for All” plan, affordable housing plan, and universal childcare. He also expected the tax would cut billionaires’ wealth in half over the next 15 years.

Medicare for All alone would cost $32 trillion over the next 10 years, meaning Sanders wealth grab wouldn’t even come close to covering the cost of just one of his expensive proposals.

Even cutting billionaires’ wealth in half isn’t enough to cover Sanders’ government expansion. He has repeatedly admitted that taxes would have to go up on the middle class in order to cover the costs.

Still, Sanders, a self-described socialist who has a net worth of $2.5 million and owns three houses, stated on Twitter that “Billionaires should not exist.”

“There should be no billionaires,” Sanders wrote in another tweet. “We are going to tax their extreme wealth and invest in working people.”

Sanders’ attitudes toward the wealthy have shifted over time. In 2015, he decried the suggestion of giving “tax breaks to millionaires.” In 2016, he asked if Americans were “comfortable to see a huge increase in millionaires and billionaires but have more people living in poverty than ever?” He added that he was not. Sanders tweeted the same question in 2017 but did not include the part about him not being okay with the disconnect.

Sanders became a millionaire in 2016 thanks to book sales and has an estimated net worth of $2.5 million. Now in 2019, he appears to be more negative toward billionaires than millionaires.

Opponents to taxes levied only against those of a specific wealth suggest such a tax is unconstitutional because it is discriminatory. The American Bar Association, however, has argued it would not be unconstitutional. That certainly doesn’t mean such a tax could and would be challenged, potentially making its way to the Supreme Court.

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