Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – the self-proclaimed Democratic socialist whose standing in the 2020 primary has become threatened by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s surge in the Democratic primary with progressive voters – is seeking to cut into the support of his rival by dismissing her as a “capitalist.”
“There are differences between Elizabeth and myself,” Sanders said during an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “Elizabeth I think, as you know, has said that she is a capitalist through her bones. I’m not.”
The comments come amid a rise in socialism in the Democratic Party, as candidates become more willing to openly embrace socialism over capitalism. It also follows polling showing that Democrats now view socialism more positively than they do capitalism.
Last year, when asked if she was a capitalist, Warren reportedly said, "I am a capitalist to my bones."
Sanders explained he is not a capitalist because he "will not tolerate for one second the kind of greed and corruption and income and wealth inequality and so much suffering that is going on in this country today, which is unnecessary.”
A Gallup poll this year found that 43 percent of Americans think socialism would be a good thing for the United States, while 51 percent say it would be a bad thing. Gallup noted that in 1942, a Roper/Fortune survey that found 40 percent of Americans described socialism as a bad thing while only 25 percent called it a good thing.
The polling is fresh evidence that attitudes toward socialism are changing, amid the popularity in the Democratic Party of Democratic socialists like Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who pushes policies like “Medicare-for-all” and the Green New Deal.
Meanwhile, two economists at the University of California, Berkeley, claim that billionaires could face a 97.5 percent average effective tax rate under Sanders' plan, which would easily thump other Democrats running for president in 2020.
Emmanuel Saez, one of the professors, told Bloomberg that “with the wealth tax, you get directly at the stock instead of hitting the flow of income, making it a much more powerful de-concentration tool than income taxes." The report pointed out that Sanders has said that the number of billionaires in the U.S. would be cut in half within 15 years under the plan.
The plan unveiled by Sanders seeks a 1 percent levy on households worth more than $32 million and proposes tax rates that would increase for wealthier people, up to 8 percent for fortunes in excess of $10 billion.
Sanders vowed to go further than Warren and generate more than $4 trillion over the next decade, substantially reducing billionaires’ fortunes. Billionaires would face a 62 percent average effective tax rate under Warren.
Sanders’ plan goes further because it starts on fortunes worth less, kicking in at $32 million. Warren also proposes increasing the wealth tax up to 3 percent on any net worth of more than $1 billion, while Sanders’ tax rates don’t top out until 8 percent for the richest households.
The Massachusetts senator has topped Sanders in recent polls of Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire that show her running about even with the longtime front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, in those states.
Fox News' Edmund DeMarche and the Associated Press contributed to this report.