Hillary Clinton slams Bernie Sanders's and Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax plans as 'incredibly disruptive' and 'unworkable'

Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton speaks at a New York Times conference on November 6.Michael Cohen/Getty Images

  • Hillary Clinton called the wealth tax proposed by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren "unworkable" and said it would be "incredibly disruptive" if enforced.
  • "I don't see other examples anywhere else in the world where it has actually worked over a long period of time," Clinton said of the progressive plans.
  • However, Clinton said she's "all in favor" of reinstating the estate tax, which Republican lawmakers all but eliminated in their 2017 tax reform bill.
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Hillary Clinton called the wealth taxes proposed by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren "unworkable" and said it would be "incredibly disruptive" if enforced.

Warren has proposed a 2% "ultra-millionaire tax" on Americans who have more than $50 million in wealth, and 3% tax on those worth over $1 billion. Sanders supports a similar but more radical version that begins with a 1% tax on wealth over $32 million.

"I just don't understand how that could work, and I don't see other examples anywhere else in the world where it has actually worked over a long period of time," Clinton said at The New York Times DealBook conference on Wednesday.

Clinton argued that it would both be difficult to fairly evaluate the worth of Americans' assets and that it would force many people to sell their assets in order to pay the tax imposed on them.

"If you were going to do a wealth tax and it was on assets ... how you would value it is, I think, complicated to start with. But assume you can get some system of evaluation, people would literally have to sell assets to pay the tax on the assets that they owned before the wealth tax was levied," she went on. "That would be incredibly disruptive, so I think there are other ways to raise the revenues."

However, Clinton said she's "all in favor" of reinstating the estate tax, which Republican lawmakers all but eliminated in their 2017 tax reform bill. Fewer than 2,000 Americans will pay an estate tax this year.

Both Warren and Sanders support an estate tax in addition to their wealth taxes.

Over the last year, prominent voices on the left have pushed tax hikes on the wealthy and demanded that billionaires and corporations stay out of politics. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has made headlines by arguing that it's "immoral" for billionaires to exist in a society with widespread poverty. The freshman congresswoman last year endorsed raising marginal tax rates on those who make over $10 million.

The proposals have ignited a heated conversation over taxation and inequality that will likely keep economic populism at the center of the 2020 Democratic primary.
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