Warren in the cross-hairs — where she wants to be

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.

The Medford native and former New York City mayor would immediately carve out a business-oriented centrist lane far from the populist pitches coming from Warren, Bernie Sanders, and others contemplating a Democratic run.

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.

–MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

The House debate on its rules could be lively, with progressive dissenters filing amendments, Republican Rep. Shawn Dooley pushing to allow legislative aides to unionize, and leadership making the rules gender neutral. (CommonWealth)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Sam Tyler, the longtime head of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a business-funded watchdog group, is retiring after 46 years at the organization. (Boston Globe)

With six proposals for retail marijuana shops on the table, the Board of Selectmen in Mashpee postponed a review of the applicants, and instead directed the town manager to come up with a process to evaluate the applications. The six applicants have approval from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

US Rep. Richard Neal takes over as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee after 26 years on the panel. (Berkshire Eagle)

ELECTIONS

Five candidates will be on the ballot in Fall River’s March 12 mayoral race after filing certified nomination papers with the Board of Elections. Mayor Jasiel Correia II is one of the candidates. One ballot question is whether Correia, who is facing 13 counts of federal wire and tax fraud charges, should be recalled or should not be recalled. (The Herald News)

MassLive runs down legislative campaign spending last year and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, despite facing no challenger, spent the most.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Town councilors in Weymouth are considering granting a property tax break to developer Nick Delegas of GND Realty Trust for a long-stalled project at Weymouth Landing. (Patriot Ledger)

Boston’s Kenmore Square would get a major remake under a developer’s plan for a nearly 300-foot tower there. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

The Rivers School, a private prep school in Weston, closed down for the day after receiving an online threat. (MetroWest Daily News)

Harvard Graduate School of Education student Abel McDaniels says it’s time for the state to invest in community schools. (CommonWealth)

Maryann Perry, the outgoing Marblehead superintendent of schools, claims her upcoming retirement – announced at a meeting Tuesday where she said she is “not a bully, criminal, or a liar” – had nothing to do with the district’s troubling financial situation. The school district used nearly $600,000 from the current year’s budget to pay last year’s expenses, a decision that contributed to the district’s current $731,000 deficit. (Salem News)

The Bridgewater School Building Committee votes 11-1 to knock down an existing building and construct a new school. (Brockton Enterprise)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Seniors, trying to avoid falling off of a health care cliff, seek relief on Beacon Hill. (CommonWealth)

David Torchiana’s abrupt retirement announcement as CEO of Partners HealthCare was prompted by growing tensions with other leaders in the organization over his push for more integration of the mammoth system. (Boston Globe)

ARTS/CULTURE

Journalists John Christie and Naomi Schalit went through the stomach-churning experience of attending an auction of Nazi memorabilia near their home in Gloucester. Christie was thrown out for questioning the morality of the sale, as he recounts for WBUR.

Jacqueline Steiner, coauthor of “Charlie on the MTA,” which was written as a campaign theme for a leftist Boston mayoral candidate in 1949, died in Connecticut at age 94. (Boston Globe)

“The Roaring Crowdfund,” a new podcast from Berklee Online hosted by Pat Healy, will investigate the new economics of the music industry, which causes unsigned artists like Dutch ReBelle to handle a lot of different responsibilities such as raising money for an album and delivering merchandise. (WBUR)

TRANSPORTATION

The Dorchester Reporter gets a mix of opinions when it surveys riders of the Mattapan trolley line about MBTA plans to replace the vehicles from the 1940s with modern Green Line vehicles. Rep. Dan Cullinane, perhaps the most ardent supporter of the trolleys, says he’s on board with the T’s decision.

Teamsters working for Greater Lynn Senior Services say they will go on strike if they don’t receive the same wage levels being offered by the two other firms providing rides for the MBTA’s paratransit service. (Daily Item)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Electric cars and better insulated houses are the big things that can help drive Boston’s new carbon-reduction plan, says a Globe editorial. One recommendation in the report, a $5 congestion pricing charge for driving into downtown Boston, is getting a cool reception from some leaders. (Boston Herald)

CASINOS

Two casino experts weigh in on the implications of this week fine (amount yet to be determined) levied by Nevada authorities against Wynn Resorts related to sexual misconduct by its founder, Steve Wynn, saying they expect Massachusetts gambling regulators to end up letting the company retain its license for an Everett casino, perhaps with some conditions attached or a fine. (Boston Herald)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Fred Clay, who won release in 2017 after spending 38 years in prison for first-degree murder, secured a $1 million wrongful conviction settlement on Tuesday from the state. It was the largest allowed under state law. WGBH News covered Clay’s adjustment to his new freedom in a series that ran last year, and Sen. Patricia Jehlen said the attention around the hardships Clay faced then convinced her to draft a bill providing more help to those released for wrongful convictions. (WGBH News)

In mid-December, an 11-year-old Haverhill girl died at the Lawrence apartment of the uncle,  Miguel Rivera, who was babysitting her. Authorities later found fentanyl in her system. On Tuesday, Rivera was charged with rape of a child, and a police report details how another child said that Rivera would provide a red pill to ingest at bedtime when he babysat.

The twisted saga of John Donovan Sr., who was once a successful MIT professor, has taken another turn as he now qualifies for a public defender to represent him against accusations that he tried to swindle almost $5 million from his late son’s widow. In 2005, Donovan shot himself in the leg and falsely claimed his son had ordered a hit on him. (Salem News)

Over the course of two years, jails in Bristol, Franklin, Plymouth and Suffolk counties brought in $40 million for the state by locking up people for Immigration and Customs Enforcement at rates of between $90 and $98 per day per detainee. It’s unclear whether the program nets a profit. (WBUR News)

MEDIA

More than 80 percent of the staff at WBUR have signed a petition seeking union recognition from the NPR affiliate, according to organizers of the drive. (Boston Globe) WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz wants the group of journalists to work with station management before affiliating with SAG-AFTRA. (WBUR News)