- - Saturday, February 22, 2020

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s popularity has ebbed and flowed in the early presidential caucuses and primaries, so why pick on her now? Ideas have consequences, and many of Ms. Warren’s most controversial and dangerous are being advanced by other far-left and even “mainstream” candidates.

Win or lose the nomination, Ms. Warren’s ideas will keep rattling around, suggests author David Bahnsen.

Her flawed diagnoses of America’s problems and her batty policy proposals have influenced not just socialist Bernie Sanders, but most of the Democratic field. Survive as a candidate or not, even Ms. Warren’s wackiest plans seem destined to live on through other extreme candidates and even in some corners of polite society.

David Bahnsen is on the board of the National Review Institute, but is best known as the founder of a successful bicoastal wealth management company.

Ms. Warren, writes Mr. Bahnsen, was not always quite as extreme as her platform proclaims. In 2003, for example, her support for school choice was similar to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Now all of the Democratic candidates for president genuflect at the altar of the national teachers unions, essentially condemning countless children to remain trapped in failing, mostly urban, public schools.

Presidential candidate Warren, in 2019-20, seems to have no frontiers in signing onto the most extravagant and ill-conceived schemes in domestic policy. Like others vying to be president and on the left fringe of elected Democrats, Ms. Warren favors Medicare for All as the “solution” to insure all Americans.

Even though single-payer schemes have been abandoned by other “progressive” nations, Sens. Warren and Sanders plow ahead with this nostrum, guaranteed to jack up taxes, blow up all private insurance coverage, enforce rationing of care, and discourage medical and pharmaceutical innovation.

But while the socialist Mr. Sanders openly promises that his scheme will raise taxes for everyone earning more than $29,000 per year, Ms. Warren blithely claims that these trillions in new spending can be achieved without tax increases on middle class Americans. Her “plan”: A “wealth” tax that is perhaps the most impractical and unwieldy of all her proposals.

Her “plan” would tax those with net worths of $50 million or more, though such fortunes are usually moving targets, nearly impossible to quantify. Even owners of modest IRA accounts know that their value can fluctuate by 3 percent or more in a single day.

Then consider trying to assess the value of a privately-held business or family real estate holdings. Take a look at the movement in home prices on Zillow, and you begin to understand how absurd are Ms. Warren’s ideas. She would tax people on the value of their holdings at a rate of 2 percent, with 3 percent confiscation kicking in on estates of $1 billion.   

Sure, if you have extravagant liberal schemes to fund, such wealth is a tempting target. But do the compounding math and see for yourself: After some decades of the Warren tax grabs, most of a successful family’s fortune will have been transferred to the government. Is that the way to incentivize the next Bill Gates, or those who might hope to be rewarded for a cure for Alzheimer’s or cancer? No wonder Denmark and Sweden (often praised by Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren) have abandoned their experiments with wealth taxes.

One of the “accomplishments” that Ms. Warren touts is the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, described by Mr. Bahnsen as a “ghastly perversion of a bureaucratic agency that has damaged the middle class more than it has helped.” Her dreams have led her into worrisome economic authoritarianism, such that she would compel corporations to allow their employees to vote for corporate boards.

From her embrace of the amazingly intrusive and expensive Green New Deal to the counterproductive and unfair notion of forgiving debt, Mr. Bahnsen deftly exposes the senator’s platform with telling statistics and dispassionate analysis.

But toward the end of the book, I experienced unexpected emotional tugs. Mr. Bahnsen published an open letter to Ms. Warren from Leon Cooperman, and it’s devastating. The son of Polish immigrants, Mr. Cooperman’s father worked in the South Bronx as a plumber. Through his pluck, grit, hard work and education, Mr. Cooperman made it through Columbia Business School and on to Goldman Sachs. From there, like Mr. Bahnsen, he founded his own wealth management firm and prospered by making money for others. He, like his peers and friends Ken Langone, Sandy Weill and others, have donated billions to an array of worthy causes.

But he explains how Ms. Warren’s grandiose plans would choke off his ability, as well as Mr. Bahnsen’s, to flourish in our still-free economy, profit from it and share that wealth with so many others. The senator’s ideas do have consequences, with the American dream surely being a targeted casualty.

• Herbert W. Stupp is editor of Gipperten.com. He was an NYC commissioner appointed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani after serving in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

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By David L. Bahnsen

Post Hill Press, $25, 160 pages

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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