Microsoft founder Bill Gates criticized 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday and refused to rule out voting for President Donald Trump over her.
Speaking to New York Times financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin at a conference in New York, Gates said that he supports “super-progressive tax systems” and an estate tax. But he was still skeptical of Warren’s proposed wealth tax, saying there is a limit to what he would be willing to pay.
“I’ve [already] paid over $10 billion in taxes. I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes,” said Gates, who has also given away tens of billions through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “If I had to pay $20 billion, it’s fine. But when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.”
Gates said that “if you tax too much, you do risk” discouraging “capital formation” and “innovation” in the United States.
When Sorkin asked Gates if you would consider sitting down with the Massachusetts senator, the billionaire doubted she would want to hear from a rich person like him.
“I’m not sure how open minded she is — or that she’d even be willing to sit down with somebody who has large amounts of money,” he said.
By contrast, Gates has previous praised Trump as “open-minded” — though he has also privately taken shots at the president.
— All In with Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) May 18, 2018
Sorkin followed up by asking Gates whom he would vote for in a general election showdown between Warren and Trump.
“I’m not going to make political declarations,” Gates said. “But I do think no matter what policy somebody has in mind … whoever I decide will have the more professional approach in the current situation, probably is the thing I will weigh the most. And I hope that the more professional candidate is an electable candidate.”
Hours later, Warren responded on Twitter, saying she would be happy to meet with Gates. She promised not to tax him $100 billion as president.
I'm always happy to meet with people, even if we have different views. @BillGates, if we get the chance, I'd love to explain exactly how much you'd pay under my wealth tax. (I promise it's not $100 billion.) https://t.co/m6G20hDNaV
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 7, 2019
Warren’s left-wing populist campaign has threatened to push undecided voters on Wall Street and across the country into supporting Trump. A $59-trillion Medicare for All plan she unveiled last week increased her promised wealth tax to 6 percent on billionaires. Even sympathetic liberals have faulted the proposal as unrealistic.