Bloomberg says he should pay more taxes but opposes wealth levy

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg pledged to support “taxing wealthy people like me” but dismissed a wealth levy tried in other countries and supported by rivals including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders because “it just doesn’t work.”

Campaigning in Phoenix on the second day of the rollout of his campaign, Bloomberg didn’t offer a tax plan, but said one would be forthcoming.

He said cutting the corporate rate in the 2017 Republican tax overhaul was necessary for competitive reasons but the measure’s reductions for the wealthiest Americans were “uncalled for.” He said he raised taxes in New York City when he was mayor to help pay for municipal services and survived politically.

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Democratic presidential candidate and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg

“I raised taxes, and it turned out very well,” Bloomberg said. “In the end, people weren’t happy about a tax increase, but two years later, I did get re-elected by a large amount.”

Bloomberg, who announced his presidential bid on Sunday, chose Arizona for his second in-person stop after kicking off his campaign Monday in Virginia. Arizona is a general election battleground state that Democrats hope will help them defeat President Donald Trump in November, and where Bloomberg is already working to contest the president with a digital ad campaign and registering voters.

The former New York mayor filed his paperwork at the Arizona secretary of state’s office to appear on the state’s March 17 presidential primary ballot and had a private lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix with community leaders before speaking to reporters.

Bloomberg repeated his opposition to Medicare for All, championed by Warren and Sanders, saying it would take away private insurance and “destroy” the U.S. hospital system. He added that the answer is to “tweak” Obamacare and improve it.

He again conceded that his support for “stop-and-frisk” policing, which critics said targeted African American and Latino New Yorkers, was a mistake. It was meant to reduce the murder rate but “we sort of got carried away and did a lot more than we should have,” Bloomberg said. He apologized for the policy during a Nov. 17 appearance at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn.

Earlier last Tuesday, Bloomberg’s campaign spokesman, Marc La Vorgna, said the candidate would be releasing his tax returns but wouldn’t say when or how many years of records would be made public.

Last Monday, Warren said that while she has already released 11 years of tax returns from 2008 through 2018, she had no plans to release records covering her work as a law professor and bankruptcy lawyer before she entered public service in 2008.

Trump has refused to disclose his tax returns, drawing criticism from the Democratic contenders. Sanders has released 10 years of tax returns. Former Vice President Joe Biden has released 21 years of tax returns. Pete Buttigieg has released his tax returns back to 2007, when he worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Co.

Mark Niquette
Bloomberg News