Four takeaways from Tom Steyer's CNN town hall

Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer emphatically explained his support for a wealth tax and why Michael Bloomberg would also need to if he were to run for president.

Posted: Nov 11, 2019 7:00 AM
Updated: Nov 11, 2019 7:00 AM

Businessman Tom Steyer began his Sunday CNN night town hall in Iowa by challenging fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who appears poised to join the Democratic presidential primary, to support a wealth tax.

Steyer also promised immediate action to combat the climate crisis, promising to invoke "emergency powers" on the first day of his presidency as a means of tackling the issue.

But the longtime Democratic donor and impeachment advocate also cast himself as a moderate in opposition to the progressive frontrunners, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, with his support for a public health insurance option, suggesting it would be less disruptive to implement than the sweeping "Medicare for All" plan the two progressive senators support.

Here are four takeaways from Steyer's town hall:

Steyer puts Bloomberg on the spot

Steyer took early aim at Bloomberg, saying the former New York City mayor should either get on board with a wealth tax or think twice about pursuing the Democratic nomination.

"Unless Mr. Bloomberg is willing to accept a wealth tax, I don't believe he can be an appropriate nominee for the Democratic Party," Steyer, who supports the policy, said early on in the evening.

He also pledged to "undo" all of the tax cuts given to the wealthiest Americans and corporations over the past four decades.

"The distribution of wealth across society is an absolute scandal," he said.

Bloomberg on Friday filed to run in Alabama's Democratic presidential primary in 2020, in the clearest sign to date that the former mayor is seriously considering following through with something he has been weighing for weeks.

Steyer: Judge me by how I handled scandals

In South Carolina, a Steyer adviser resigned after being outed for accessing volunteer data compiled by Sen. Kamala Harris' campaign.

In Iowa, a Steyer adviser resigned after being accused of offering money in exchange for endorsements.

But on Sunday night, Steyer argued that his reaction to those scandals -- and not critics' suggestion of a culture of impropriety -- is what voters should focus on.

"Unauthorized things happen (in campaigns) and the question is what you're going to do about them," he said. "In both those cases, we did exactly what I think is appropriate. We went in, we figured out what happened, we took action."

By immediately acting to secure resignations from the individuals accused, Steyer said, his campaign was actually demonstrating a unique strength.

"That's exactly what you look for in an organization -- that you have rules that are enforced by the organization when something that is not proper occurs," Steyer said.

"You deal with it with the highest possible integrity, you actually walk the walk of doing the right thing, and then you move on."

Steyer breaks with progressive leaders on health care

"Medicare for All" is not for Tom Steyer.

The billionaire businessman said he would prefer to build on the current system, as it exists under the Affordable Care Act, and push for a public option, or a government-backed insurance plan.

The issue, he argued, was one of choice.

"I happen to be one of the people who believes in a public option, giving people the option basically of joining Medicare, but allowing 160 million people to make the decision for themselves," Steyer said.

Steyer also pointed to organized labor, and union members who have negotiated for their insurance, as a reason he would shy away from a more radical shift.

"I don't think it's right for the government to tell them that we're going to scrap a 75-year-old system. If you like it, keep doing it," he said. "If the public option is cheaper and better for you, then you can go to your employer and say pay me the money you're spending on my health care, I'll buy the public option."

Climate change comes first in a Steyer White House

How is Tom Steyer different from his primary rivals when it comes to climate change?

The answer, he said, is simple: It is his "number one priority" -- taking precedent over any and all other issues.

Steyer on Sunday said he would declare a state of emergency on climate on his first day in office and use the emergency powers of the presidency "to make changes immediately."

He also pledged to demand Congress to pass a version of the Green New Deal during his first 100 days in office.

"I've spent over a decade fighting oil companies and beating them at the ballot box. I've led the charge for clean energy across the country at the ballot box," Steyer said. "I've worked to stop pipelines. I've worked to stop fossil fuel plants. We're talking about the future, but you can look at my history and know that this is something that is an absolutely top priority for me."

Steyer added he does not fly private, and said he hopes the rest of the Democratic field would promise to forswear it too.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 147382

Reported Deaths: 3763
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto973199
Hinds9668197
Harrison6898109
Jackson6178119
Rankin5319100
Lee487695
Madison4666106
Forrest371386
Jones346788
Lauderdale3355144
Lafayette317549
Washington3122107
Lamar283449
Oktibbeha240861
Bolivar240184
Lowndes229763
Neshoba2177115
Panola215849
Marshall209650
Leflore201490
Pontotoc196128
Monroe191477
Sunflower190555
Lincoln186865
Warren172657
Tate165451
Union163925
Pike160658
Copiah159540
Yazoo152039
Scott150729
Coahoma148743
Itawamba148234
Pearl River146567
Alcorn146327
Simpson145153
Prentiss141230
Adams137949
Grenada137745
Leake131943
Holmes126561
Tippah123030
George122324
Covington119737
Winston119124
Wayne116223
Hancock115939
Marion111646
Attala109833
Tishomingo106542
Chickasaw104132
Newton103629
Tallahatchie96327
Clarke88853
Clay87127
Jasper81222
Walthall75328
Stone73114
Calhoun72913
Montgomery72125
Carroll70614
Lawrence70314
Yalobusha70027
Noxubee69717
Smith69616
Perry65426
Tunica59619
Greene58422
Claiborne57616
Jefferson Davis55017
Humphreys52918
Amite51814
Benton48717
Quitman4816
Webster42114
Kemper41918
Wilkinson38722
Jefferson34211
Franklin3265
Choctaw3117
Sharkey30717
Issaquena1124
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 239318

Reported Deaths: 3532
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31391491
Mobile19562361
Tuscaloosa12813154
Madison12741146
Montgomery12198235
Shelby1000577
Baldwin847398
Lee764466
Morgan634348
Calhoun6112115
Marshall607954
Etowah606565
Houston517038
DeKalb474736
Cullman428038
Limestone413744
St. Clair409055
Elmore400762
Lauderdale393653
Walker3588108
Talladega343453
Jackson307624
Colbert301941
Blount285539
Autauga268641
Franklin247833
Coffee239715
Dale230354
Dallas224531
Russell22053
Chilton219638
Covington216833
Escambia197431
Chambers173749
Tallapoosa173391
Pike157514
Clarke156319
Marion136535
Winston129923
Lawrence124836
Geneva12028
Pickens119418
Marengo119124
Barbour117010
Bibb116217
Butler114441
Randolph100921
Cherokee100824
Hale94531
Clay90223
Washington90219
Fayette87316
Henry8496
Lowndes79129
Monroe78111
Cleburne75714
Macon72321
Crenshaw70730
Bullock69119
Conecuh68314
Perry6756
Lamar6508
Wilcox63118
Sumter57122
Choctaw41913
Greene41418
Coosa3374
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