Nearly one year after suspending a presidential campaign that she built on the idea of a national wealth tax, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is poised to join the Senate Committee on Finance and introduce legislation to make her stump speech a reality.
Warren pledged Tuesday that she will “press giant corporations, the wealthy, and the well-connected to finally pay their fair share in taxes” while on the committee, which oversees the Internal Revenue Service and the nation’s taxation policies.
If passed, her bill would levy a two-cent tax on every dollar of individual wealth over $50 million, with an additional tax on every dollar over $1 billion. She said in a tweet that it would be her “first order of business.”
While average Americans have had to worry about job stability, child care and health care costs if they become sick during the coronavirus pandemic, the ultra-wealthy have benefited tremendously. In the United States alone, billionaires reportedly added $1 trillion to their collective wealth since the start of the pandemic. Tech billionaire Elon Musk has tripled his net worth. Ten billionaires made enough money in the pandemic to cover the cost of coronavirus vaccinations for the entire world, with funds leftover.
Warren, a former Harvard Law professor, has long maintained that her wealth tax would make it possible to fund universal preschool education and child care, to pump money into public school districts and eliminate some student loan debt, although implementing it would present a number of practical issues.
“I look forward to being a progressive voice at the table to secure meaningful relief and lasting economic security for struggling families,” Warren said Tuesday.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will chair the finance committee, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer confirmed Tuesday.
“Our to-do list is long,” Warren continued. “We must provide immediate relief for families struggling under the weight of twin health and economic crises. We must make health care in America a human right and expand public programs like Medicaid and lower the Medicare eligibility age. And we must ensure those at the very top actually pay their fair share to keep America strong ― including a wealth tax on fortunes over $50 million to fund needed investments for working families.”
Polling during her campaign indicated popular support for reducing income inequality in the U.S. More than 60% said in July 2019 that they would support such measures.
Warren also noted that she intends to serve as “an aggressive advocate for accomplishing much of our agenda through the budget reconciliation process.”
In a Senate chamber where Democrats have the slimmest of majorities, budget reconciliation is expected to become an invaluable tool for senators seeking to pass legislation in support of President Joe Biden’s agenda. Passing a bill through budget reconciliation requires just a simple majority approval, but only a limited number of bills that affect federal spending and revenue can be passed this way ― such as former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cut bill.