Warren in the cross-hairs — where she wants to be
Pummeling from plutocrats welcome news for Wall Street nemesis
FIRST HOWARD SCHULTZ called her tax-the-rich plan “ridiculous” in an NPR interview Tuesday morning. Michael Bloomberg piled on later in the day in New Hampshire, saying it would set the country on the road toward the chaos of Venezuela.
For Elizabeth Warren, who famously claimed to have laid the intellectual foundation for the Occupy Wall Street movement, sweeter words could not have been spoken. The Massachusetts senator has made her bones by positioning herself as the watchdog ready to take on the millionaires and billionaires who write all the rules. Having two billionaire would-be competitors for the White House come after her, then, is just the sort of attention Warren wants.
“Billionaires like Howard Schultz & Michael Bloomberg want to keep a rigged system in place that benefits only them and their buddies,” she tweeted yesterday. “And they plan to spend gobs of cash to try and buy the Presidency to keep it that way. Not on my watch.”
Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, is floating the idea of an independent run for president, a prospect that has liberals choking on their lattes: Such a dividing of the anti-Trump vote, goes the reasoning, would be the surest way to ensure Trump’s reelection. Bloomberg, a one-time Republican and independent, subscribes to that thinking and says he would only enter the 2020 race running as Democrat.
Herald columnist Michael Graham finds plenty to ridicule in Warren’s selective demonizing of the plutocratic crowd by teeing up conservative moguls, a class war that he says always leaves out naming people like John Kerry, Oprah, or impeachment-crazed billionaire Tom Steyer.
Warren has said her proposed 2 percent tax on the wealth of those with $50 million in assets and 3 percent on those with $1 billion or more is aimed at those at the “tippy-top” and would bring in $2.75 trillion over 10 years. In defining those who sit in the farthest reaches of the 1 percent, she borrows directly from the latest progressive sensation, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who told “60 Minutes” her proposal for a 70 percent marginal tax rate would be aimed at the “tippy tops.”
No one really thinks Warren’s tax proposal or that floated by the freshman New York congresswoman are about to get enacted. Ditto for Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal.” But as Shadi Hamid argues in The Atlantic, that’s not necessarily the point.
“It is altogether possible that Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t think that a 70 percent marginal tax rate is realistic in our lifetime—she might not even think it’s the best option from a narrow, technocratic perspective of economic performance—but it doesn’t need to be,” he writes.
What it is doing, he says, is putting talk of tax rates on the agenda and giving the conversation a left-leaning framework. Warren is attempting to do the same.As hard as it is to read too much into early horse race polls, Warren’s world is no doubt taking stock of yesterday’s Washington Post-ABC News poll showing her with just 2 percent support among Democratic voters, with five potential rivals ahead of her, and similarly discouraging poll numbers on the leanings of likely Iowa caucus-goers.
The fusillade from Schultz and Bloomberg only elevates her visibility. In a sign of the craziness of jockeying for position in primary field that could see more than a dozen competitors, the attacks are probably the best news she’ll get all week.