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Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFederal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Mass.) was forced to play defense Tuesday during an exchange in the Democratic presidential debate on her signature wealth tax plan.
Warren has floated a wealth tax of 2 percent on net worth between $50 million and $1 billion, and 3 percent on net worth over $1 billion. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices MORE (I-Vt.) has also proposed a wealth tax.
Now a leader in many polls, Warren suggested that candidates who don't support a wealth tax are prioritizing protecting billionaires — a comment that drew criticism from others on stage.
Warren said that her wealth-tax plan would raise enough revenue to finance a number of social causes, including universal child care for children up to 5 years, universal pre-K, raising wages for child care workers and teachers, and tuition-free college.
"My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax, it's why is it does everyone else on this stage think it is more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans," she said.
Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE, who earlier spoke about his plans for raising the capital gains tax rate and eliminating tax breaks, then responded, "no one is supporting billionaires."
Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHarris, CBC put weight behind activist-led National Black Voter Day Seven takeaways from California's recall election Live coverage: California voters to decide Newsom's fate MORE (D-Minn.) said she's open to a wealth tax, but also said she wants to give Warren "a reality check."
"No one on this stage wants to protect billionaires. Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires," she said, referencing fellow candidate Tom SteyerTom SteyerOvernight Energy: 'Eye of fire,' Exxon lobbyist's comments fuel renewed attacks on oil industry | Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline | More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline Six things to watch as California heads for recall election MORE. "We just have different approaches. Your idea is not the only idea."
Klobuchar added that she wants to roll back much of President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE's 2017 tax cut law.
Warren then replied that taxing income won't be as effective as taxing wealth "because the rich are not like you and me" and make their money off their accumulated wealth. She said that Democrats win when they "dream big and fight hard, not when we dream small and quit before we get started."
Klobuchar responded that just because candidates have different ideas doesn't mean they're not fighting for regular people.
Businessman Andrew YangAndrew YangAndrew Yang planning to launch third party: report Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Kings launch voting rights effort honoring John Lewis MORE criticized a wealth tax, saying such taxes make sense "in principle" but noting that other countries have repealed their wealth taxes. He said he thinks it would be a better idea to impose a value-added tax.
Former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeTexas Democrat to filibuster GOP elections bill Lawmakers must also serve as community organizers O'Rourke mum on run for Texas governor MORE (D-Texas) said that he thinks a wealth tax is "part of a solution" for income inequality but that policymakers also need to lift people up.
"Sometimes I think that Sen. Warren is more focused on being punitive or pitting some part of the country against the other," he said.
Warren replied, "I'm really shocked at the notion that anyone thinks I'm punitive."
She added that she doesn't "have a beef with billionaires" but that the wealthy should pay more in taxes so that others have a chance at success.