Elizabeth Warren tells Detroit her tax plans make billionaires cry

Elizabeth Warren

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke before a crowd of 2,200 in Detroit Tuesday evening, pitching a wealth tax that she says would raise money for massive changes in public education and infrastructure. (Bridge photo by Riley Beggin)

DETROIT — Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren bemoaned the wealth divide during a rally Tuesday, claiming government functions as an arm of pharmaceutical and oil companies and leaves regular people without advocates.

“If there is a decision to be made in Washington, I guarantee it has been influenced by money,” Warren told the crowd of more than 2,200 on Tuesday night at Eastern Market.

“When a government works great for those with money and it’s not working well for anyone else, that’s corruption pure and simple.”

One key policy

Speaking on Super Tuesday, one week before the Michigan primary, Warren promised to tax the wealthy to pay for massive improvements in public education, infrastructure and environmental protections. 

The main tool: A 2 percent tax on families worth more than $50 million — 2 cents on every dollar — and a 6 percent tax on those worth more than $1 billion, which she says will raise $3.75 trillion over the next decade. 

“All we’re saying is, when you make it big — I mean really big, I mean top one-tenth of 1 percent big — pitch in 2 cents so everybody else gets to make it,” she said to cheers, adding the money would pay for universal childcare, universal preschool and to raise the wages of childcare workers, among other things.

One political highlight 

America’s ultra-wealthy don’t like that plan, she said. 

“One went on TV and cried — it was so sad,” she said, referencing hedge fund manager and billionaire Leon Cooperman, who teared up on CNBC while criticizing Warren’s wealth tax.

“Another ran for president,” she quipped, a reference to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire who has spent nearly $12 million in television ads already in Michigan. 

A voter perspective 

Some supporters who attended the more than hourlong rally wore “nevertheless, she persisted” T-shirts (a reference to attempts to silence Warren in 2017 over her objections to a Trump Cabinet appointee) and pink pussyhats from the 2017 Women’s March.

Supporters lauded Warren’s detailed plans and willingness to make sweeping structural changes, from upending health insurance to forgiving student loan debt.

But above all else, they cited a need to end the Donald Trump presidency.

“There needs to be change, it can’t just be back to normalcy,” said Ben Harmon, 22, of Dearborn, who attended the rally with his mother Nancy.

“Normalcy is gone, and there’s so many problems that have come to the forefront during this presidency that they need to be addressed.”

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Kevin Grand
Wed, 03/04/2020 - 3:58am

I understand that they tried a similar "solution" in Venezuela.

How did that work out for them?

Wed, 03/04/2020 - 10:56am

Vuvuzela! Drink!

No. But seriously. You don't have a clue about the history of Venezuela beyond the State Department propaganda that gets passed off as unbiased reporting in the national press

Wed, 03/04/2020 - 1:10pm

You are right! So where is your Marxist paradise we can see again?

Kevin Grand
Wed, 03/04/2020 - 5:43pm

You are aware that Jack Ryan is make believe...right?

Wed, 03/04/2020 - 8:05am

Burnt toast. Thank goodness.

John Chastain
Wed, 03/04/2020 - 10:07am

First I object to the misleading headline “Time for Democrats to soak the rich?”. No one is remotely suggesting any changes in the tax codes that will harm wealth creation or diminish the wealthy’s already extravagant lifestyles. What we're talking about is disrupting the wealth hoarding that leaves so much of the wealth generated by the working class out of reach. Apologists for wealth acquisition, hoarding and rent seeking like to pretend even to themselves that all this wealth is “earned” by those who posses it. That’s nonsense. It’s harvested from the work & intelligence of others by those with the economic & political power to dominate and coerce less powerful members of our society. Nor is anyone suggesting turning America into some failure in authoritarianism disguised as “socialism”. Constant references to such examples is reductionist and misleading. We aren’t even talking about returning to the post WW2 tax rates when the middle class grew and some semblance of economic equality existed. We are talking about Americans who have financially benefited the most contributing to the society they benefit from. I’d be just as happy with a living wage, affordable housing, health care & education and smaller “effective” government that protects society and the world we live in but that’s denied us as well. It’s way past time for all that wealth to “trickle” down to the working class, if taxes is the method that’s fine, if a restructured capitalism that isn’t predatory and benefits all of us not just the powerful and privileged I’m okay with that too.

Kevin Grand
Wed, 03/04/2020 - 12:15pm

What the government can take from someone else, it can just as easily take from you in the future.

Wed, 03/04/2020 - 11:36pm

Individual effort and drive is important in terms of our economy and should be rewarded, but it is a dangerous myth to think that this is the bases of how the economy creates wealth.

To understand this you need to read Unjust Deserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance and Why We Should Take It Back.
by Alperovitz and Daly.

They write that wealth creation is a historical process and depends primarily on certain social activities and social institutions.

One of the wealthiest men on the planet, Warren Buffett, acknowledges that “society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I’ve earned.”

Bill Gates, Sr. agrees when he writes, “Success is a product of having been born in this country, a place where education and research are subsidized, where there is an orderly market, where the private sector reaps enormous benefits from public investment. For someone to assert that he or she has grown wealthy in America without the benefit of substantial public investment is pure hubris.”

Drawing on cutting-edge research as well as their knowledge of philosophy and economics, Alperovitz and Daly prove that up to 90 percent ‘or even more of private earnings are the result not of individual ingenuity, effort or investment, but of what they describe as the “unjust” appropriation of our collective inheritance. In other words, the cumulative or aggregate knowledge that we all inherit is key to individual achievement.

The authors demonstrate that if the market rewarded people according to their contributions it would make up only 10-20% of their income. The rich don’t work harder and are not morally justified in deservingness, or ‘deserts’ as philosophers describe it than the rest of us.

We got the commonly held viewpoint that we are entitled to own whatever wealth we create from philosopher John Locke. In his agrarian society and that of our Founding Fathers, wealth was mostly based on physical labor. In our knowledge-based society, Locke’s argument doesn’t work, since all knowledge that we receive from previous generations is a social contribution.

The individual’s role in advancing art, science, and technology again is mostly based on our common heritage, too. The authors make a historically-based case for the wave of cultural and scientific knowledge that pushes a few people to the next level, the “geniuses” who create what happens next. Some enlightening examples of this argument include:

* Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray, who both filed for a telephone patent on the same day, though they were working independently
* Gary Kindall who created the same computer operating system that Bill Gates then “perfected”
* Charles Darwin racing to complete The Origin of the Species because Alfred Russel Wallace was developing the same scientific argument.
Alperovitz and Daly put the individual contribution to the proper perspective.

They demonstrate how knowledge is shared. They note and quote widely from philosophers and economists starting with 18th century Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin though 20th century Nobel Laureate Herman Simon and Cass Sunstein, to name a few. The reader understands that there has always been this debate about what society owns and what is rightly owned by the individual. Much of the argument is based upon Classical economic thought and not on Marxist thinking. So it would be wrong to take from someone what they justly earn without their consent but the fact that much of what people claim as money earned by individual effort is in fact not the case. The process of economic growth will become stagnant if this capital is not used to continue the process that creates wealth.

So it rather the other way around. The fact that the top 10% of the population owns 77% of the wealth is a form of a thief that classical economics does not approve.

The only economic system that would support this is feudalism. They, of course, would support this by saying God and or nature has always ordained the arrangement between lords and serfs. We all know that a feudal society's economy is entirely in private and hands and the government has little to no power. We also know feudal economies are stagnant and produce little to no economic growth.

Thu, 03/05/2020 - 9:23am

Generally I find that people accuse others of being reductionist when their basic ideas don't stand up to thought and observation, but here are some questions. "Profit is theft" is your theory? So if someone made a made a billion dollars annually off a machine with no employees, would that wealth be better and more acceptable? If not who did our individual exploit? If he did have employees and paid them $200k a year, still making a billion dollar would it be acceptable then? Did the fact that he provided the opportunity for them to be "rich" somehow pay your concept of his "debt" to society? Or does he still owe more (beyond regular proportional taxes) because he just has more money than the next guy? What makes you believe that the "poor" spend much time thinking about who's flying over head in their private jet or is this mainly just an academic concern? (My experience is they don't.) If someone chooses a lifestyle (with lower income) that allows them to pursue their non-monetary interests, you are saying we need to transfer wealth from Mr. Rich over to them because value of this lifestyle didn't meet a definition of "pay" fairness or acceptability? Not to be snide but we must ask where is this society so can check it out or is a design as you go thing? (If you're going there, remember middle class Scandinavians pay huge taxes - far less progressive than ours!).

Wed, 03/04/2020 - 10:30pm

Joe Biden will lose to Trump because

Mr. Biden helped deregulated the banking industry help which led to the 2008 meltdown.

Mr. Biden made it harder for individuals to escape their credit card debts.

Mr. Biden inflated College prices through no risk student loans.

Mr. Biden protected his state of Delaware status as a corporate bankruptcy hub.

Mr. Biden help make it so corporations could place their profits in Delaware-based holding companies to avoid paying taxes in the places where they operate.

Mr. Biden helped Delaware create a loophole allowing banks to sell insurance.

Mr. Biden helped pass the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act which opened the floodgates to an era of corporate consolidation across the nation.

Mr. Biden voted for the Financial Services Modernization Act, which repealed the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law barring banks from owning securities and insurance businesses. By 2016, there were almost 5,000 fewer banks in the United States than there were two decades earlier, and the 10 largest firms controlled half of all banking assets.

Mr. Biden help predatory card it card companies get stated like MBNA who if a debtor missed a car payment to pay a credit card on time, MBNA would raise the person’s interest rate anyway, a practice known as universal default—thereby increasing the likelihood the person would miss future payments.

1980 and 1997, the number of Americans filing for personal bankruptcy jumped more than 300 percent, affecting 1.3 million households annually cause by accumulating credit card fees, hospital bills, student loans, and mortgages that were placing the squeeze on middle-class families so bankruptcy was not an escape hatch; it was a lifeline. So Mr. Biden and congressional colleagues did not want to look into efforts to curb bankruptcies by looking at how people were getting into debt. Instead, he helped his banking buddies. The credit card companies help create laws to make it harder to declare bankruptcy.

Joe Biden, in 1976, was once at the forefront of a movement against busing students to desegregate schools — even battling against Republican Sen. Ed Brooke, the only black senator at the time, over the issue — while he paid lip service to the desegregation movement.

Biden drafted the infamous 1994 crime bill, driving factors behind mass incarceration and the disproportionate imprisonment of people of color.
Mr. Biden led the charge for Democrats in their war on crime and drugs.
From 2001 through his time in the White House, is that of a senator bullish about the push to war who helped sell the Bush administration’s pitch to the American public. He elevated the administration’s concerns about Hussein in the press. In the months leading up to the vote authorizing war, he organized a series of Senate hearings, in close coordination with the White House, during which he echoed the administration’s talking points about weapons of mass destruction. He was a vice president who left an unmistakable imprint on President Barack Obama’s backing of a dictator in Iraq.

Donald Trump’s fake populism where he pretended to bash Wall Street and pretended that he would clean up corporate corruption and political corruption never happened he turn the swamp into a sewer. Donald Trump, as we all know, is a huckster and a traitor, who the Senate should have removed from office for his crime against the country and breaking his oath to the constitution.

So, Mr. Biden has not shown himself to be a traitor but he is a huckster. If Mr. Biden gets the candidacy, Mr. Trump and the Republicans will not hold back and will show Mr. Biden’s connection to the swamp that he was a part of and so he will have no chance of beating Donald Trump. The only way that the Democrats could beat him is to energize new voters, enough voters to end the political rot that has infected both parties. A choice for Mr. Biden means four more years of Donald Trump.