The spot, which will air on CNBC on Thursday, directly targets four prominent billionaires who have been critical of the Democratic presidential candidate’s plan to impose an annual two-cent tax on net worth over $50 million (and a 6% tax on assets over $1 billion). Clips show a frustrated Leon Cooperman, a hedge fund manager worth an estimated $3.2 billion; Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade; former Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein; and entrepreneur Peter Thiel.
“Here’s the deal: You built a great fortune? Good for you. I guarantee you built it at least in part using workers all of us helped pay to educate. Getting your goods to market on roads and bridges all of us paid to build,” Warren says in the minute-long ad. “All we’re saying is when you make it big, pitch in two cents so everybody else gets a chance.”
Warren has made the wealth tax a core component of her candidacy to unseat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, saying the measure would help pay for about $20.5 trillion in new federal spending to change the American health care system. The senator has also said the tax would help fund many of her ambitious plans, including universal child care and prekindergarten, as well as tackle student loan debt and bankroll universal higher education.
Her campaign also released an online calculator last week to show how much billionaires would pay under the proposal (which includes a link to show how much former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire mulling his own presidential bid, would pay).
The ad has not gone over well with some of those featured in the spot. Cooperman unleashed his ire in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, saying Warren represented “the worst in politicians” for trying to “demonize wealthy people because there are more poor people than wealthy people.”
“She’s disgraceful,” he told CNBC. “She doesn’t know who the f**k she’s tweeting. I gave away more in the year than she has in her whole f**king lifetime.”
Many billionaires have also taken to the airwaves in recent weeks to voice their displeasure with Warren’s plan, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates (“I’m not sure how open-minded she is,” he said) and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon (“You shouldn’t vilify people who’ve worked hard to accomplish things,” he said in a recent interview).
The plan would, in fact, dramatically redistribute wealth across America. Because it’s an annual tax, those with the biggest coffers would see their wealth reduced over time, and newly minted billionaires would have trouble creating massive fortunes to hand down for generations, according to an analysis by The New York Times.
Warren’s campaign took another shot at the billionaire class later in the day, releasing a “Billionaire Tears” mug for a mere $25.
“Savor a warm, slightly salty beverage of your choice in this union-made mug as you contemplate all the good a wealth tax could do: universal childcare, student debt cancellation, universal free college, and more,” a description of the mug says.