Andy Puzder: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is no more a capitalist than she is a Native American

Unlike Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. – one of her competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination – Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., rejects the “socialist” label, insisting that she’s a “capitalist to the bone.”

However, Warren’s economic policies bespeak a socialist’s ambition to empower government and the elites who control it, rather than an understanding of capitalism’s potential to create opportunity and reward individual achievement.

On the campaign trail, Warren’s favorite phrase is “I’ve got a plan for that.” Unfortunately, this “capitalist to the bone” means that for every problem we face, she’s got a plan to expand and empower government.

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For example, Warren advocates removing private enterprise from the health care sector, which represents about 20 percent of our economy. A supporter of "Medicare-for-all," she was one of only two candidates in the recent Democratic presidential debates who raised her hand in support of totally eliminating private health insurance. The other was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

It’s hard to argue with the notion that, as a nation, we should work to reduce costs and increase the quality of health care. But a capitalist would understand that the only thing that has ever reduced costs and increased quality is competition – and that competition is the first thing to die whenever the government takes control.

Only a socialist could believe that increasing government control in any economic sector would cause prices to decline or quality to improve.

Warren also supports – and even co-sponsored – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s, D-N.Y., Green New Deal (GND). The GND proposes extensive government control over the energy, transportation and construction sectors, allowing government elites to dictate business goals, discouraging innovation and investment while restricting what consumers would have the option to purchase.

As a justification for this massive act of government empowerment, the GND primarily offers “climate change,” which it blames for “economic injustice” disproportionally affecting “communities of color,” “the poor,” “low-income workers,” “women,” “people with disabilities,” and “youth," among others.

A capitalist might note that, over the past two years, each of these groups has experienced an unemployment rate at or near historic lows with wage growth accelerating at rates not seen in a decade and at a faster pace for low wage workers. All this is due to a reduction in taxes and government regulation, plus a focus on domestic energy production.

A capitalist might also acknowledge that thanks to private sector innovation, we have an abundance of clean-burning natural gas that has allowed the U.S. to reduce its carbon emissions more than any other nation.

Of course, tax increases are a cornerstone to Warren’s economic policies. She wants to repeal the Republican tax cuts that have been so vital to the current economic boom.

While declining to say what the top individual tax rate should be, she has refused to rule out 50 percent. For corporations, she would eliminate the current 21 percent rate and restore the growth-killing rate of 35 percent, which was the highest and least competitive rate among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s member nations.

But increasing existing tax rates isn’t enough for the “capitalist to the bone” Warren. “Let’s start with a wealth tax in America", she declared in homage to class warfare during the first Democratic presidential debate. And what a tax it would be.

According to Warren’s campaign website, this annual tax on wealthy Americans would cover “all household assets held anywhere in the world” including “residences, closely-held businesses, assets held in trust, retirement assets, assets held by minor children, and personal property with a value of $50,000 or more.”

Of course, Warren proposes redistributing the additional revenue she believes her increased taxes would produce through a myriad of new government benefits, which would put the government in charge of housing, child care, and education while making “down payments” on a Green New Deal and "Medicare-for-All.”

Let’s be honest, Warren’s attempt to identify as a “capitalist to the bone” is simply absurd. Her campaign mantra is little more than an updated version of the repeatedly disproven claim that socialism is necessary to protect the oppressed masses from capitalist greed.

From the former Soviet Union to modern-day Venezuela, this myth has turned potentially productive nations into totalitarian disasters populated by oppressed and starving masses.

While Warren does not call for direct government ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, as is the case with traditional socialism, she advocates state control over these economic building blocks through laws, regulations, taxation, redistribution and a massive federal bureaucracy. It’s a distinction without a difference.

Traditional socialism’s primary fault was that it empowered government over individuals, eliminating the incentive for individuals to be productive. Absent that incentive, economic growth in socialist countries inevitably declines and their economies either collapse or their citizens live in abject poverty under the authoritarian control of government elites.

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Would substituting Warren’s pervasive government control for government ownership avoid traditional socialism’s pitfalls? Clearly, it would not. Warren’s brand of socialism would virtually eliminate the incentive for entrepreneurs, innovators and the leaders of private-sector firms to succeed, just like traditional socialism – and nothing like capitalism.

In her DNA, Warren is no more a capitalist than she is a Native American.

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