Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer on Thursday called on fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg to join him in supporting a wealth tax if Bloomberg enters the race.
“If you’re Mike Bloomberg or me, people who have been incredibly lucky and incredibly fortunate, you should be for a wealth tax if you want to have bona fides in terms of addressing inequality,” Steyer said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”
Bloomberg, a former New York mayor, is considering entering the Democratic presidential primary. He would be the richest candidate by far, as his $52.8 billion net worth would eclipse that of Steyer, who is the current wealthiest candidate with a net worth of $1.6 billion.
Bloomberg did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Steyer’s remarks.
Steyer’s support for a wealth tax on America’s top 1% of earners runs contrary to many of his billionaire peers, who have slammed proposals from the Democratic field as being a punitive redistribution of wealth.
He said his support for the tax comes from meeting people all over the country on the campaign trail, many of whom were unable to afford medicine and suffered from cut wages.
“People are talking about this is a redistribution of wealth,” Steyer said. “I’ve got news: The last 40 years was a redistribution of wealth in the United States in an incredibly inequitable but silent fashion.”
“This is not a redistribution, this is a response to a redistribution.”
Steyer is a member of The Giving Pledge, a philanthropic campaign organized by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett that encourages wealthy people to donate their income to charitable causes when they die.
“We are going to rise together. We are going to succeed together,” Steyer told CNBC’s David Faber. “I don’t want to be part of a class that succeeds if everybody else isn’t succeeding.”
“That doesn’t sound like success to me. That doesn’t feel like America.”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has made a wealth tax of “two cents” on America’s richest earners a central part of her campaign, has publicly sparred with billionaires such as Omega Advisors CEO Leon Cooperman, who claimed that Warren’s tax policy was vilifying billionaires and “‘s—–g on’ on the American Dream.”
Warren’s campaign announced an ad buy on CNBC to air Thursday that took aim at billionaires including Cooperman, former CEO of TD Ameritrade Joe Ricketts, former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel. The ad begins with Warren telling a campaign rally: “It is time for a wealth tax,” before outlining how the revenue from the tax would pay for many of her policy proposals, including universal child care and free college.