O’Rourke suggests using tax code to transfer wealth from rich whites to African-Americans

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Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke suggested Thursday using the tax code to address income inequity by transferring wealth from rich white residents to African-Americans.

During a campaign event at the Salem, N.H., home of James Smith, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, about 100 attendees gathered to see and listen to the former congressman from Texas congressman, the Washington Examiner reported.

One person asked O’Rourke how he would use the tax code to help minorities. He first responded by detailing the difficulties African-Americans have faced in trying to build wealth in the face of what he said was institutional discrimination.

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"What if in the tax code we did a better job of breaking down that accumulated wealth, of taxing it so it is not producing the greatest income and wealth inequality that we’ve seen in our lifetimes, unseen since the Gilded Age of the 19th century?" O'Rourke said after noting the wealth gap between black and white America. "What if we decided that we would use the proceeds to invest in people, in education?”

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O'Rourke's position is not unique among Democratic presidential hopefuls. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has proposed a 2 percent tax on people who earn over $50 million and a tax of 3 percent on assets worth over $3 billion, according to the news site.

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Critics have chided O'Rourke and accused him of benefitting from male and white privilege.

New York Times reporter Lisa Lerer criticized the way the former lawmaker has managed his campaign.

“Imagine, they say, if Beto were Betsy,” Lerer wrote in her March 11 column. “What would the reception have been if a female candidate left her three small children home and spent several weeks traveling the country, posting stream-of-consciousness diary entries? Or if she chose to forgo a Senate race that would provide a greater opportunity for victory?”

At the New Hampshire gathering, one woman asked O'Rourke how he, "as a privileged, white man, kind of, lead the racial healing that we need and withstand the rise of white supremacy," according to the Examiner.

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"I can choose to do this as a white man, to involve myself in this conversation. I can just as easily choose to back out of it," O'Rourke said.

"All I can tell you is I'm doing everything I can to listen to those who are experiencing this, to call it out as boldly and as plainly as I can," he continued. "My commitment to you is to continue to do that, to acknowledge my privilege and the experience that is far different from others who are here right now."

A Quinnipiac University National Poll released April 30 found O'Rourke has support from 5 percent of Democratic voters.