In a Sunday article arguing that Sen. Elizabeth Warren was “nerding out” to try and differentiate herself from an already-crowded 2020 Democratic field, The New York Times’ Astead W. Herndon said that the senator’s “passion for policy minutiae has become her way of standing out in an increasingly crowded Democratic field.”
And no issue has come to represent that better than what the Massachusetts senator has become fond of referring to as an “ultra-millionaire tax.”
Put simply, it’s an annual 2 percent tax on households with accumulated wealth of $50 million and 3 percent on households worth more than $1 billion. It’s not just conservatives that think that’s a bad idea; no less than the editorial board of The Washington Post noted that it was possibly an unconstitutional expansion of the federal government’s taxation powers and “would create a huge incentive for tax avoidance among a segment of society well able to afford accountants and lawyers,” among other problems.
(It’s worth noting that the typically liberal WaPo happens to be owned by the Amazon mega-billionaire Jeff Bezos, but that’s probably just a coincidence.)
So, when Warren’s “passion for policy minutiae” didn’t end with a policy that paid enough attention to the minutiae, how could she differentiate herself?
Straight-up demagogy, of course. And who better to demagogue than Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder?
Because clearly Sen. Warren doesn’t have any history with, say, Native American associations or anything. Nothing to that effect. This could only end well.
Snyder, you may have heard, just bought himself a $100 million yacht. It also has an Imax theater, something that The Washington Post couldn’t help putting in its headline. (The editorial board may have reservations about the “ultra-millionaire tax,” but it’s still the WaPo.) Warren retweeted it as a justification for her proposed tax.
“This billionaire NFL owner just paid $100M for a ‘superyacht’ with its own iMax theater,” she wrote in a Saturday tweet. “I’m pretty sure he can pay my new #UltraMillionaireTax to help the millions of yacht-less Americans struggling with student loan debt.”
It didn’t take long for a lot of blue-checkmark Twitterdom to respond to the policy implications.
Why are you not voluntarily paying your 70% “fair share” on your $3.7M to $10M net worth? It does not require a law to do.
— Michael Johns (@michaeljohns) January 27, 2019
imagine thinking someone else’s hard earned money should be yours because you’re jealous https://t.co/knkc6Me0yM
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) January 26, 2019
I’m pretty sure it’s none of your damn business which businesses a tax compliant person chooses to empower with his purchases https://t.co/A3PnmXYlhy
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 27, 2019
But then, of course, there were those who pointed out the real mistake here: who Warren had gone after and her utter lack of self-awareness in the matter.
— Harry Khachatrian (@Harry1T6) January 26, 2019
He’s the owner of the Redskins. Sit this one out #pocahontas.
You know about 1/1024th as much about money management as him.
— Andrew Follett (@AndrewCFollett) January 26, 2019
You’re only jealous because he owns the Redskins https://t.co/fvyDO9UI0b
— Jake Bequette (@JakeBequette91) January 26, 2019
Some without checkmarks pointed out equally salient points: Namely, student loan debt and other financial problems could be solved if two of the fields Warren has been in, government and academia, were more responsible with money.
Or, we could have legislators like yourself stop wasting the tax dollars you already collect…
— Brian M Alvey (@BrianMAlvey) January 28, 2019
Why don’t you address the causes of student loan debt instead—- the commercialization of higher ed, the lack of parental savings, and government take over of the student loan program… you would have better results than taking money from job creators.
— Rodney Talbot (@rodneytalbot) January 28, 2019
Well, they certainly have points. However, the primary thing about this is the optics of it.
Far from “nerding out,” this is a blatant appeal to emotion: “Rich person has yacht. You have student loan debt. Rich person with yacht will pay for student loan debt if you elect me.”
But yet again, there’s the same pratfall. There are no shortage of articles from The Washington Post, New York Times, The New Yorker, Vox and any number of sundry liberal publications that take rich folks to task over their purported excesses.
Sen. Warren has to choose one about the owner of the Washington Redskins? Was there no one around who could have vetted this tweet? Has she not learned from experience? Was there no “teachable moment” in that whole DNA debacle?
If Sen. Warren cannot help but to bring voters back to what’s unquestionably her worst moment — and a moment which has been dragged out unnecessarily over more than half a decade at this point, it must be noted — how does she have a realistic path to 2020?
From experience, I can’t see this not happening with unfortunate frequency. There’s no amount of “nerding out” or “passion for policy minutiae” that’s going to overcome Warren shooting herself in the foot over and over again.
With an arrow, of course.
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