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: 313166

Reported Deaths: 7228
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21496257
Hinds20294414
Harrison17814309
Rankin13573278
Jackson13411246
Madison10066217
Lee9962173
Jones8364163
Forrest7649152
Lauderdale7181240
Lowndes6370145
Lamar621686
Lafayette6171118
Washington5323133
Bolivar4797132
Oktibbeha461498
Panola4561105
Pearl River4499145
Marshall4397103
Warren4380121
Pontotoc419572
Monroe4100133
Union409076
Neshoba4026176
Lincoln3950110
Hancock377786
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335790
Tate332484
Pike3301105
Scott315373
Alcorn311968
Yazoo310769
Itawamba299477
Copiah296465
Simpson294788
Coahoma294379
Tippah287768
Prentiss279560
Adams269582
Marion268880
Leake266273
Wayne262341
Grenada260386
Covington256381
George246848
Newton246061
Winston226881
Tishomingo225967
Jasper220848
Attala214173
Chickasaw207157
Holmes188673
Clay184754
Stone182033
Tallahatchie178140
Clarke177879
Calhoun170132
Yalobusha163337
Smith162234
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125938
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104826
Claiborne102230
Benton99125
Humphreys96133
Kemper95428
Franklin83623
Quitman80216
Choctaw76118
Wilkinson66930
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50317
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530325

Reported Deaths: 10966
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763971520
Mobile40908804
Madison34717503
Tuscaloosa25730452
Montgomery24314588
Shelby23401249
Baldwin21107307
Lee15856171
Calhoun14488314
Morgan14282279
Etowah13819353
Marshall12210223
Houston10557280
Elmore10044205
Limestone9954150
Cullman9649193
St. Clair9644242
Lauderdale9419241
DeKalb8825185
Talladega8214175
Walker7223277
Autauga6918108
Jackson6804112
Blount6651137
Colbert6292134
Coffee5506119
Dale4828111
Russell440638
Chilton4279112
Franklin425582
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4019152
Escambia393276
Chambers3559123
Dallas3547151
Clarke350861
Marion3113100
Pike310577
Lawrence299898
Winston274072
Bibb260464
Marengo249264
Geneva249077
Pickens234160
Barbour230757
Hale222677
Butler215969
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184445
Randolph179941
Monroe177340
Washington167039
Macon158750
Clay156156
Crenshaw152057
Cleburne148741
Lamar141934
Lowndes138653
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa107128
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
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