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Beto O’Rourke: Tax wealthy whites to transfer money to disadvantaged blacks
by Emily Larsen | May 10, 2019 05:06 PM
SALEM, N.H. — Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke suggested using the tax system to transfer wealth from rich, white people to African Americans, but he was forced to explain why he, as a white man, is able to help minority communities.
At a campaign house party in the backyard of former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Smith on Thursday, one of the about 100 attendees asked O'Rourke how he would use the tax code to address issues of equity and fairness.
“One very obvious opportunity — but it will be insufficient. When we look at the fact that there’s 10 times the wealth today in white America than there is in black America, and that families have been able to successfully pass on that wealth over time," O'Rourke responded.
“We know from our history of redlining and excluding African Americans from the ability to build wealth through home purchases, that opportunity does not exist for much of the country," O'Rourke said. "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? What if we decided that we would use the proceeds to invest in people, in education?”
O'Rourke noted that when he tried to start a business in El Paso, Texas, and couldn't get a loan, his father took out a $20,000 personal loan against the value of his home so O'Rourke could start the business.
He is not the only Democratic presidential candidate to suggest taxing wealth. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., proposed a 2% tax on wealth over $50 million and 3% on assets worth $3 billion.
Another attendee, 38-year-old Yscaira Jimenez, who was carrying her infant daughter, asked O'Rourke whether he could, "as a privileged, white man, kind of, lead the racial healing that we need and withstand the rise of white supremacy."
The former Texas congressman paused before giving his answer. He said that many conditions around hate and supremacy preceded President Trump and that it needs to stop.
"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 added. "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."
Jimenez, who lives in Boston and runs a company that connects underrepresented communities to the job market, told the Washington Examiner that O'Rourke answered the question as well as he could.
"I like that he is a student of history, he knows that this country was built off of slavery, and we need to address that at a systemic level," Jimenez said. But she noted that she wanted to hear more of his policy ideas to address those issues as his campaign matures. She is still deciding whom she supports in the crowded Democratic presidential primary field and is hoping to attend more candidate events.
A Monmouth University poll released this week found that O'Rourke had 2% support among New Hampshire Democratic primary voters.
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
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