A top Senate Republican on Tuesday criticized an effort by Democrats to introduce a wealth tax.
“We’re fighting every day to stop these ridiculous policies,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a member of the upper chamber’s GOP leadership, said on Fox Business’ “Mornings With Maria.”
“They’re not just radical and extreme; they’re dangerous and they are scary. What Elizabeth Warren is talking about is not just raising taxes, she’s talking about actually going out there and confiscating wealth, money that people have already earned and paid taxes on. So it’s tax raises on steroids. This is awful,” he added.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) on Monday unveiled legislation that would require American households and trusts valued at between $50 million and $1 billion to pay a 2 percent annual tax. All fortunes valued over $1 billion would be hit with a 3 percent annual tax.
The legislation would “level the playing field and narrow the racial wealth gap,” Warren’s office said.
“We need to turn to infrastructure, childcare, pre-K, college. We need to turn to the things that create investment and opportunity going forward and to do that, a wealth tax is the best way to pay for it,” Warren, a former Democrat presidential candidate, told reporters during a press briefing.
Barrasso knocked the proposal.
“You’re talking about the road to socialism,” he said. “That’s where the Democrats want to take this country.”
The tax idea hasn’t been backed by President Joe Biden. But Warren has on multiple occasions said that it would contribute to supporting his “Build Back Better” agenda.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted on Monday that Biden will, as part of the next package of legislation, ensure wealthy Americans “pay their fair share.”
“Addressing the inequities in the tax code is something he talked about as part of the Build Back Better agenda and something he remains committed to,” Psaki said during a briefing. “He has a lot of respect for Senator Warren and is aligned in the goal of making sure the ultra-wealthy and big corporations finally pay their fair share.”
Warren and the other Democrats claim the proposal is estimated to generate at least $3 trillion in revenue over 10 years, citing a Feb. 24 analysis from University of California-Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.
Other economists have figured the tax would only generate $75 billion over a decade.
Critics of the lawmakers’ proposal question whether it is permitted by the U.S. Constitution. They also say the federal government would have difficulty calculating and enforcing the tax, and that would in turn discourage investment.
Warren has defended her proposal’s constitutionality, pointing to estate taxes as precedent for wealth evaluation.
“I am completely confident that this is a constitutionally responsible way to do this,” Warren told reporters in Washington. “We have included in the package, multiple letters from scholars who are confident that there are no constitutional issues here.”