Bill Gates jabs Elizabeth Warren over 'beef with billionaires,' wealth tax

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is eyeing the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2020, may not have a fan in Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

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The senator, who has made no secret that she believes the richest people in the country have far too much wealth, has proposed a wealth tax as a means of breaking up concentrated fortunes.

And while Gates is in favor of raising taxes in a variety of ways, he does not necessarily share the view that billionaires should not exist at all.

“Maybe I’m just too biased to think that if you create a company that’s super-valuable, that at least some part of that, you should be able to have – a little bit for consumption, and hopefully the balance to do philanthropic things,” he said during a New York Times/DealBook conference on Wednesday.

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Gates quickly corrected host Andrew Ross Sorkin when he suggested the businessman had historically been in favor of a high wealth tax, saying he supports “a high estate tax.”

“I’ve paid over $10 billion in taxes, I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes,” Gates said. “If I’d had to have paid $20 billion in taxes – fine. But, when you say I should pay $100 billion, okay I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.”

Warren recently increased her top wealth-tax rate to 6 percent, from 3 percent.

When asked whether he would consider sharing his ideas on taxes with Warren – including his view that raising taxes too high would put innovation and capital formation at risk in the U.S. – Gates questioned how open-minded she is.

“I’m not sure … she’d even be willing to sit down with somebody you know who has large amounts of money,” he said.

In a tweeted response, Warren said she was always happen to sit down with people who don't share her opinions.

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Warren was forced to defend her stance on the wealthy during the last Democratic debate, after former Texas lawmaker Beto O’Rourke accused her policies of being “punitive.”

“I’m really shocked at the notion that anyone thinks I’m punitive,” Warren said during the debate in Ohio. “Look, I don’t have a beef with billionaires, my problem is you made a fortune in America – you had a great idea, you got out there and worked for it – good for you. But you built that fortune in America, I guarantee, you built it in part using workers all of us helped educate. You built it getting your goods to market on roads and bridges all of us helped pay for. You built at least in part protected by police and firefighters all of us help pay the salaries for.”

Should the race ultimately come down to Warren and President Trump – Gates said he would support the candidate that had “the more professional approach,” even if he disagreed with some of the policies.