Former New York City mayor and Democrat presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg once described tax hikes on the poor as a “good thing,” arguing that it essentially prevents lower-income individuals from purchasing things that would be detrimental to their health.
The billionaire spoke at the International Monetary Fund’s Spring Meeting last year and spoke glowingly of raising taxes on the poor, arguing that it is a “good thing” and should have a “bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves”:
“Some people say, well, taxes are regressive. But in this case, yes they are. That’s the good thing about them because the problem is in people that don’t have a lot of money,” he said.
“And so, higher taxes should have a bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves,” he continued, explaining that people who say they do not want to tax the poor should look at it differently.
The behavioral changes the poor would be forced to make, he argued, would ultimately help them “live longer.”
“So, I listen to people saying, ‘Oh, we don’t want to tax the poor.’ Well, we want the poor to live longer so that they can get an education and enjoy life. And that’s why you do want to do exactly what a lot of people say you don’t want to do,” he said, arguing in favor of the nanny state and using sugary drinks — something he desperately tried to tackle as the mayor of New York City — as an example.
The question is do you want to pander to those people? Or do you want to get them to live longer? There’s just no question. If you raise taxes on full sugary drinks, for example, they will drink less and there’s just no question that full sugar drinks are one of the major contributors to obesity, and obesity is one of the major contributors to heart disease and cancer and a variety of other things.
So, it’s like saying, ‘I don’t want to stop using coal because coal miners will go out of work, will lose their jobs.’ We have a lot of soldiers in the United States in the U.S. Army, but we don’t want to go start a war just to give them something to do and that’s exactly what you’re saying when you say, ‘Well, let’s keep coal killing people because we don’t want coal miners to lose their jobs.’ The truth of the matter is that there aren’t very many coal miners left anyways, and we can find other things for them to do. But the comparison is: a life or a job. Or, taxes or life? Which do you want to do? Take your poison.
This is far from the first time Bloomberg has openly articulated an elitist view of the middle class and poor. He made waves in 2012 after rolling out his plans for a ban on sugary beverages above 16 ounces in the city under the guise of preventing obesity.
“Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’” Bloomberg said at the time.
“New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something,” he added. “I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do.”
Nevertheless, a federal court killed Bloomberg’s nanny state plan in 2014, determining that the New York City Board of Health, “in adopting the ‘Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule,’ exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority.”
Bloomberg’s campaign website touts his experience as the mayor of New York City, which became “a pioneer in the fight against poverty” under his leadership, it claims. While details on his plans to reduce poverty nationwide are minimal, his campaign highlights his previous efforts to reduce the “tax burden” for working families in New York City.
“Mike reduced the tax burden for New York City’s working families through a Child Care Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit initiative,” his campaign website states.
It does not, however, address his previous remarks on hiking taxes on the poor for what he once considered their own good.