Microsoft founder and former CEO Bill Gates recently sounded concerned about Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, a frequent critic of the rich. Gates has said that the Massachusetts senator may not even be open to listening to what American billionaires may have to say.
In the recent New York Times DealBook Conference, the world’s second-richest man was asked about Warren, who is currently leading the pack of Democratic presidential candidates in 2020.
“I think the span of the two parties in terms of taxation has never been so broad. One party, reducing corporate tax, still supporting carried interest, taxes on capital are way, way less than labor … and now, on the other side, you have, as you say a 6% wealth tax. I have to believe something in the middle,” the billionaire-philanthropist said.
“I do think that if you tax too much, you do risk the capital formation, innovation. The US is a desirable place to do innovative companies. I do think you risk that.”
Here’s what he would do instead: make the tax on capital the same as labor, increase the estate tax, and create another tax on people who are sitting on huge wealth.
“I’ve paid over $10 billion in taxes, I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes,” he added. “If I’d had to have paid $20 billion, that’s fine. But when you say I should pay $100 billion? Okay, I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.”
“I’m Not Sure How Open-Minded She Is…”
Here’s another part of that conversation with moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin:
Sorkin: Have you ever talked to Elizabeth Warren?
Bill Gates: I have not.
Sorkin: Would you want to?
Gates: You know, I’m not sure how open-minded she is. Or that she would even be willing to sit down with somebody who has large amounts of money.
Commenting on the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee to face of Pres. Donald Trump, the Microsoft founder added: “I hope the more professional candidate is an electable candidate.”
Watch his whole interview here:
One of Warren’s signature policies is a proposed 6% wealth tax on the rich to fund the bulk of her other progressive programs offering free education, canceling student debt, universal healthcare, and more.
Warren has also proposed to break up American tech giants Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple to avoid monopoly — but Gates already spoke against her in that issue saying that the government should focus on regulating the tech industry rather than trying to make big companies smaller with no guarantee that the industry will be more competitive.
It could also make American tech companies, arguably some of the world’s most important, less competitive on the global stage as other superpowers race to dominate the tech industry.
Warren tweeted her response to Gates.
I'm always happy to meet with people, even if we have different views. @BillGates, if we get the chance, I'd love to explain exactly how much you'd pay under my wealth tax. (I promise it's not $100 billion.) https://t.co/m6G20hDNaV
I greatly respect your commitment to finding ways to address wealth inequality and poverty at home. While we may disagree about some of the ways to get there, we certainly agree we need a lot of smart people committed to finding the path forward.
Meanwhile, Warren also caught the ire of another billionaire — hedge fund founder Leon Cooperman. He criticized the Democratic candidate saying her “vilification of the rich is misguided, ignoring, among other things, the sources of their wealth and the substantial contributions to society which they already, unprompted by you, make.”
The billionaire, worth $3.2 billion according to Forbes, reportedly wrote a 5-page letter to Warren criticizing her planned wealth tax on America’s rich. Cooperman touted his own humble beginnings and philanthropy work, and argued that many billionaires are self made and work hard to provide jobs to “tax paying workers.”
He also commented that Warren’s proposals “understate how much the rich pay in taxes and overstate how much the poor pay.”
“For you to suggest that capitalism is a dirty word and that these people, as a group, are ingrates who didn’t earn their riches through strenuous effort and (in many cases) paradigm-shifting insights, and now don’t pull their weight societally indicates that you either are grossly uninformed or are knowingly warping the facts for narrow political gain,” Cooperman wrote in the letter, as reported by several media sources.
“We Need a Unifier”
In a separate instance, Cooperman called out Warren once more. While lamenting how President Trump is “dividing and polarizing Americans” he said possible Democratic opponent Elizabeth Warren is peddling “idiocy.”
“We need a unifier in that position because the country is being torn apart,” he said. “I am not in favor of this impeachment, I want the American people to decide in 2020 what the future of the country should be. I care, that’s it.”
Commenting on Trump he said the president should “change his dialogue and his treatment of people” and be “presidential.”
Meanwhile, he said Warren’s wealth tax proposal is a “bankrupt concept.”
“I feel she’s taking the country down a very wrong path. What’s she peddling is bull. Total, complete bull. That comes from someone who believes in a progressive income tax structure, who believes the rich should pay more. I have no problem with that.”
Here’s the complete video of what he said:
Cooperman added: “She and Bernie Sanders are promising things to people that are not achievable. The idea of vilifying wealthy people is so bogus. They’re appealing to the masses.”
The “Omega Advisors” CEO also noted that “the vilification of billionaires makes no sense.”
“The world is a substantially better place because of Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, David Rubenstein, Bernie Marcus, Ken Langone,” Cooperman said. “This is idiocy! It’s appealing to the lowest common denominator and basically trying to turn people’s heads around by promising a lot of free stuff.
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