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.

Confirmed Cases: 93087

Reported Deaths: 2809
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6956155
DeSoto539355
Harrison372772
Jackson337867
Madison320086
Rankin318875
Lee258567
Jones239978
Forrest238270
Washington217471
Lafayette207239
Lauderdale1994124
Bolivar179065
Oktibbeha174750
Lamar162134
Neshoba1534103
Panola144027
Sunflower141144
Lowndes139857
Warren138050
Leflore136280
Pontotoc122516
Pike120948
Monroe118365
Scott116125
Copiah115933
Coahoma112327
Holmes109158
Marshall107515
Lincoln106253
Grenada105335
Yazoo103629
Simpson101243
Union97824
Tate95137
Leake93937
Adams91736
Wayne87421
Pearl River86250
Marion84133
Prentiss80817
Covington80622
Alcorn76811
Newton75623
Itawamba75221
Tallahatchie74918
George74413
Winston72319
Tishomingo65737
Chickasaw65224
Tippah64216
Attala64125
Walthall59325
Clay57117
Hancock56121
Jasper54915
Noxubee54315
Clarke53539
Smith52114
Calhoun50612
Tunica47913
Montgomery45420
Claiborne45116
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41614
Perry40617
Humphreys37315
Quitman3735
Stone35011
Greene34317
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32511
Amite31210
Carroll31212
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2399
Benton2181
Franklin1893
Choctaw1785
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 128818

Reported Deaths: 2284
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson18911337
Mobile13039289
Montgomery8628173
Madison750775
Tuscaloosa7180114
Lee570559
Shelby564550
Baldwin504749
Marshall382143
Etowah333447
Calhoun332039
Morgan318126
Houston269922
Elmore251947
DeKalb234619
St. Clair221335
Walker220780
Talladega205026
Limestone197319
Cullman183017
Franklin174128
Dallas173626
Russell17112
Autauga167324
Lauderdale164133
Colbert159326
Escambia155725
Blount154214
Jackson149411
Chilton147127
Dale132743
Covington130227
Coffee12708
Pike11519
Tallapoosa113183
Chambers112342
Clarke104917
Marion93728
Butler90838
Barbour8307
Marengo69919
Winston69912
Lowndes64527
Pickens63114
Bibb62810
Hale61228
Randolph60712
Bullock58514
Lawrence58220
Monroe5758
Geneva5634
Cherokee55516
Washington54413
Perry5376
Clay5367
Wilcox53011
Conecuh52311
Crenshaw52231
Macon47620
Henry4674
Fayette4189
Sumter41819
Lamar3452
Choctaw34412
Cleburne3206
Greene30015
Coosa1613
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