Democrats Find a Foil for 2020 Primary: Billionaires (Even Liberal Ones)

With populism making a strong comeback on the left, candidates like Elizabeth Warren are decrying billionaires who might self-finance campaigns, like Michael R. Bloomberg.

Comments: 117

  1. I wonder how many rank and file democrats actually care whether or not someone self finances a presidential campaign.

  2. It’s about time someone called this out, whether the billionaire happens to be a Republican or Democrat. Looking from the outside at the state of US politics and democracy, it appears increasingly that the political system and campaign finance rules are strongly skewed to the advantage of the extremely wealthy, the new American aristocracy. It’s just too bad that Elizabeth Warren appears to be acting more in self-interest to gain the Democratic nomination than on the basis of democratic principle. Either way, it needs to be addressed.

  3. Why do you say that of Ms. Warren?

  4. @Chris I agree with you. Politics in this country are bought and paid for by the rich. This is why the middle and lower class are so underrepresented. Oh to get money out of politics.

  5. The question for me is not whether a candidate can self-finance. The question is whether a candidate: -- is ethical and self-regulating -- is smart -- is savvy in the ways of government and governance -- is fiscally careful -- embraces the concept of working with our allies and against those who would subjugate us -- understands the value of protecting the post-world war order that fostered broad prosperity and freedom -- champions equal rights and equal justice -- respects the opinions of opponents and reaches across the divide to find mutually acceptable ways forward -- CAN WIN.

  6. I’d support either Warren or Bloomberg in the general election. Unfortunately for NY, most of the primary field is decided by the time we vote, so the chances of these two directly competing here are low. Any attempts to put Bloomberg down to Trump’s level, even through innuendo, should be categorically dismissed. He has 3 terms under his belt as mayor of the world’s most important city, and is actively applying his wealth to address climate change, research disease, and address oppression and injustice. He’s not perfect, but he’d certainly be an improvement on the status quo.

  7. Bloomberg is NOT a liberal, he is a conservative! His policies were right in line with Giuliani and Trump. What differentiates him from them is that he's more sophisticated, and therefore more dangerous.

  8. I'm not sure if this is unique to the US, but we have a very bizarre and sick relationship with money in this country, and certainly within our politics. Rich people per se are not the problem, and scapegoating, demonizing and/or being resentful of them isn't going to solve anything. The problem is the system and the way that it is set up that allows a tiny minority to have disproportionate influence, and until that changes, nothing is going to get done and we're going to be sitting in partisan deadlock arguing endlessly and pretending that the problem is just "the other side." This first problem plays into our second: that our cynicism has become so deep that we have started to believe that nothing can be done about the first, and that divisive bitterness is the new status quo. Hopefully the effort with HR 1 goes someway towards effecting change. It and any similar efforts are deserving of more and more coverage until a legitimate draining of the swamp becomes the number one priority for voters in this country, regardless of party.

  9. We have seen self funding in Ohio, in particular the last Governor's race where the Republican nominee spent millions of dollars of his own money, for his ultimately successful campaign. We have also seen self funding in some judicial races. Are we as a country going to continue to vote for the aristocracy to govern us? Our type of democracy was founded on the notion that anyone can run to become a representative of the people. In order for that to happen we must stop voting for those who self fund and who also use large Super Pacs to propel them into office. Maybe this a form of a violation of the Equal Rights Amendment, as under this scenario people are no longer equal when it comes to running for office. Clearly all men are no longer created equally.

  10. This is wrong. A billionaire is not necessarily a man without empathy, is not necessarily a man without knowledge, is not necessarily corrupt. Trump had no empathy, has no knowledge, is corrupt and most likely not even a billionaire. I will paraphrase Senator Lloyd Bentsen - Trump is no Bloomberg.

  11. @BWCA No one creates a billion dollars in wealth through their own work. That is impossible. People become billionaires by taking other people's productivity and putting it in their bank accounts. As far as I'm concerned having a billion dollars proves that you are greedy and don't pay people enough for the work they do. I will not vote for a billionaire, and neither will many others on the left. You didn't believe me when I said over and over for a year that Hillary can't win. Will you make me tell you for a year that Bloomberg can't win?

  12. This is the only attack line that someone like Warren has. Not sure if Bloomberg would win a primary- but he has a great shot at the general election.

  13. @BR If establishment center candidates could win, Jeb or Hillary would be president right now. No one is buying what the center is selling.

  14. The dumbest thing Democrats can do is to use wealth as a disqualifier. That's one of the things that, thanks to Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders, helped Trump get to the White House. Hillary was pilloried for giving paid speeches on Wall Street, while Jill Stein, a woman with zero good ideas and zero chance to be elected, siphoned off votes and Bernie made arguments that would make it impossible for Jesus to get elected, if Jesus was rich. Hillary, meanwhile (showing why she really wasn't president material), was so intimidated that she repudiated good initiatives like the TPP. Whatever happened to evidence? Warren Buffett is a zillionaire, but I have never heard anyone say he is unethical or without empathy. Meanwhile, the loud voices (except for AOC) are not exactly on food stamps. Has Elizabeth Warren taken a vow of poverty? Has Bernie Sanders? Judge people on their ideas and their character, not on their bank accounts.

  15. @Mike Colllins Jill Stein didn't siphon off votes. I told you ahead of time, I would never vote for Hillary because for their entire time in public office the Clintons only implemented Republican policy. If Democrats had nominated a candidate I could vote for, I would have voted for a Democrat, but you insisted on nominating someone who opposes everything I believe in, and compromises with the Party of liars and thieves. When you nominated Hillary, you forced me to vote for Stein. If you want the left to vote for Democrats, you have to nominate a candidate that doesn't keep telling us there is no money for the things that are standard in every other industrialized country.

  16. Dwight D. Eisenhower won election and re-election so easily that one forgets that Republican and Democratic leaders couldn't even answer a basic question about him in 1951: "Is he a Republican or is he a Democrat?" Turns out, of course, that Eisenhower was a Republican. It's hard not to notice the parallels today, when several of the most prominent "Democratic" candidates aren't even Democrats at all. I'm referring to Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg -- who not only are not Democrats but are quite old to boot. Bloomberg now takes on the additional liability of being a "self-funding" candidate, which I understand is a bad thing. In case it's not obvious, the NY Times has picked its candidate to back from the very crowded 2020 Democratic Party field: Elizabeth Warren (who's no spring chicken herself). The "crowded 2020 Democratic Party field" is looking not so crowded after all. There are a few candidates still to knock out -- Harris and Booker and Gillibrand, for example -- but several would-be candidates have already taken themselves out of the running (e.g. Tom Steyer), or can easily be brushed aside as having a snowball's chance in hell of winning (e.g. Howard Schultz, Terry McAuliffe, Juan Castro), or will soon be knocked out with relentless hit pieces (e.g. Bernie Sanders). For better or worse, the horse that the NY Times has chosen to ride in 2020 is Elizabeth Warren.

  17. and for the next year almost 2 years, all we will see is slanted reporting to bring it to a foregone conclusion.

  18. @MyThreeCents I doubt that the NYT is going to be particularly supportive of Elizabeth Warren, except as a tool to lever Bernie Sanders aside. Go Bernie, and consider Ro Khanna, Congressman from CA to run with you for vice president.

  19. I think Warren is the best choice, because she clearly and passionately explains why the left is better than the right. I have seen nothing but attacks on Warren coming from the NY Times, just like they attacked Bernie. The NY Times is neoliberal and wants a centrist that will compromise with the Party of Trump. If they get their way, Trump will be president for life.

  20. I see the NYT is beginning its one-sided attacks on the Democratic Party well in advance of the 2020 election. Is Trump really so good for paper sales that you want four more years daily dumpster fires?

  21. @Renee Margolin Isn't this interesting. I noticed the same thin this morning. Quite a shift and not pleasant for a paying reader.

  22. Dems better wake up and unify. The never Hillary, Bernie supporters own a big part of this disaster. Have a civilized debate about the issues and let the voters choose, and they every Dem better get behind whoever wins the nomination, just as Hillary did in '08. Bernie could've had a big seat at the table if he cultivated his supporters into votes for Hillary, instead he played sore loser and even sided with Trump on issues like tariffs.

  23. A higher proportion of Sanders primary voters voted Clinton in 2016 than Clinton primary voters voted Obama in 2008. So you see, your premise is false. Which means your conclusion is false as well.

  24. @Bull Moose 2020 Dems better wake up and grow your base, because the electoral college makes the center too small for Democrats to win elections. It's two years later and you're still attacking the left. How do you think attacking has left is going to win you an election? If you nominate another candidate that your base hates, you will make Trump president again. The left will not vote for a billionaire, especially an establishment billionaire. Find a candidate that the left doesn't hate.

  25. The party of the people should not have a billionaire as its standard-bearer. That simple.

  26. Bloomberg left the city in a surplus. Created many health initiatives. I would vote for him, at least he is self made

  27. @Danilo Bonnet Bloomberg's net worth doubled while he was mayor. He wasted $80 million on a corrupt privatisation of the NYC's payroll system, which was working fine when run by union government employees. Bloomberg also attacked the public school system, backing charter schools and attacking the union with scams like hiring more teachers than he needed, then blaming the fact that there were excess teachers with no positions on the union. He was closing about 25 schools every the months for years causing mass confusion. He left most of the unions without contracts for his entire tenure. He gave tax breaks to global banks for increased hitting, then let them get away with firing people instead. Neo-liberals like Bloomberg think the purpose of government is to give the national wealth to global corporations. The left is against it. Neo-liberalism is an attempt to trick the left into supporting right wing policy. The base of the Democratic Party is wise to this nonsense, and establishment Dems that keep pushing supply side economics are doomed. I don't trust him as far as I could throw him.

  28. It occurs to me that once big money entered politics, fairness famished from the political arena. Yes, I do remember a time when candidates were given equal time on broadcast media and the only advertising was in the form of posters and buttons.

  29. of course Warren doesn't want to see Bloomberg in the election. he would whip her in a New York minute.

  30. I don’t know, Bloomberg, at least, made NYC into an overall better place before he left. His ability to fund himself means that special interest groups won’t really have a hold on him, though it depends on how far he is able to distance himself from his companies. There could be a Trumpesque air about this if done incorrectly. We shall see.

  31. I have run (locally and definitely not for President) for public office 5 times in the past 18 years for different offices. I was unsuccessful in my first attempt, successful in my second and third, unsuccessful in my fourth, and successful in my fifth (and last) run. My fourth and fifth efforts covered five counties in NY and were expensive. I'm not rich. I am middle class. I was able to raise some money to campaign, but at least 50 percent of what was spent during my campaigns came out of my pocket. I never "out spent" the opposition, not because I didn't want to, but because I couldn't. They either had more money or raised more money. Nevertheless I was mostly successful and money was not the difference in any particular race I ran in. I met people face to face, talked to and with them. That was the path open. I didn't get their money, I got their vote. When people give large amounts of money for your campaign they probably like you, but they also believe you have a good chance to win and they (rightly or wrongly) want access. That can definitely be a problem. When you self fund you owe them only your honesty, best effort and integrity. When you don't self fund, well . . .

  32. @James Hubert That's a nice anecdote. Sounds a lot like Sherrod Brown's own Ohio campaigns first as a House member, and then as a Senator. Shoe leather wins elections. Even a lot of analysis of the last presidential election points to who and who didn't visit certain places.

  33. I suspect Mike Bloomberg and other rich Democrats who want to run will release their tax returns. Wealth inequality doesn't mean we attack successful, ethical candidates based on where they are on the wealth scale. We need bright people with good ideas.

  34. I personally feel that political runners should not self fund. If the populace wants them, the populace will fund them. Self funding is for the rich who seem to mostly serve the rich. This is likely why we have so few middle class candidates. The amount of money thrown at politics is totally disgusting. Think of all the good it could do rather than making someone part of our "democratic" government. Seems all spots are paid for. Government by money.

  35. There are only two things I will care about when I decide which presidential candidate gets my vote: 1) Character: Hint, I voted for a third party candidate in 2016. 2) Policy: I want to see policies that combine compassion and fairness with fiscal responsibility and an understanding of basic economics. The folks currently representing us in Washington get generally poor marks in both categories. I’m not surprised that they’re afraid of Mike Bloomberg.

  36. If the left is calling itself "progressive" why does the NY Times insist on calling them "populists?" Why do you want to confuse the left with Trump's fake populism? The word "populism," is used to attack policies that are merely popular with a majority of voters. Isn't that what democracy is supposed to implement? Shouldn't it be redundant to call politicians populists in a democracy. The word Populist insinuates that the people are too stupid to understand good policy. Trump sold himself on poplar policies (beautiful healthcare and education for everyone," and a trillion dollar infrastructure plan, but hasn't moved on any of it because it was a lie. In 2016, neo-liberal media purposefully tried to confuse Bernie Sanders with Trump by calling them both populists, even though Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist. It is insulting and inaccurate to keep calling the left populists. The left has anarchists that don't vote, socialists that sometimes vote for Democrats, and progressives and liberals that are mostly aligned with various wings of the Democratic Party. No one on the left calls themselves populists. Should I call your paper the NJ Limes just because I like it better, or should I call you what you call yourself?

  37. Hey, leave Michael Bloomberg alone. He has his priorities straight. The number one problem we face is global warming and he just might be the best one to confront it.

  38. Is it just me, or does this article have a bit of a condescending tone towards the progressive left? The author seems to place a great emphasis one labeling the left as "populist", likely in an effort to undermine their credibility, which I don't really appreciate. Tone aside, any political writer who thinks running a billionaire like Michael Bloomberg is a hack. There is NO support for Bloomberg on the left, and the only people who like him are the minority of COP voters who are still anti-Trump. The math simply does not check out regardless of ideology. This calculus seems to come from the center and center left, who make the very tenuous connection between Trump being president and his being a billionaire- as if we could just win if we only had a billionaire of our own. It should be clear by now that Trump won not because he was willing to self-fund (he didn't even do that- he received a tremendous amount of support from the media giving his outrageous comments free press and had multiple PAC groups helping him). Trump won because he catered to America's worst instincts.

  39. @Greg There is indeed support for Bloomberg from us lefties. Not saying he has enough to win the nomination (if he runs) but (as a former 10-year resident of NYC, including when Bloomberg was mayor), the guy ain't too shabby.

  40. @Jane Bond I suppose that there would be some support for him in NYC, but I would imagine that the democratic vote down there would overall lean leftwards. Speaking as an upstater, I don't think I know a single person who likes Bloomberg. The Democrats around here don't trust him because of his past as a Republican and his billionaire status, and the Republicans here see him as a nanny-state proponent who wants to take their guns and even their soda and fast food. In my experience, upstate NY is a pretty decent barometer of national political enthusiasm since there is a big mix of both suburban and rural voters. I guess what I'm trying to say is that even if you're right about his support in NYC thanks to his tenure as mayor, he would be a very long shot to win the democratic nomination and an even longer shot in the general if he managed to pull it off. Put it all together and he's got no chance of beating Trump .

  41. I thought the objection to money in politics was because relying on donations has the potential to corrupt (or at least, engender a perception of corruption). (At least that's the policy interest the courts wrestle with.) How is self-financing your own campaign in any way corrupt? I think this is just a self-interested attack against Bloomberg by potential competitors.

  42. @Mmm The only true self-financing politician in American history was Emperor Norton of San Francisco. Hand-Made in 'Murica! Everyone else got their money through some sort of agreement, usually for some immediate, previous, or future service to be rendered or object to be delivered. Which maaaaay be a bit of a distraction from pure dedication to civil service when the time comes to pay for a second term campaign. I mean, I thought the Emoluments Clause thing was to prevent that sort of temptation to self interest, at least for the specific role of President.... know what, too long;don't read I really don't know what I'm talking about.

  43. @Mmm If you buy yourself a presidency, then you will assume that it belongs to you and not to We the People.

  44. Matt Mackowiak says "It's hard to make the case that he's (Bloomberg) been selfish." Several years ago Joyce Purnick, a former Times reporter, published a biography on Bloomberg. I attended a symposium at which she spoke and I asked her about Bloomberg's apparent hypocrisy of giving money for gun control legislation but also donating money to local, state, and national Republican candidates who opposed it when he was still the Republican mayor of NYC. She said he's well aware of it but in Bloomberg's mind, decisions are always based on what's best for Michael Bloomberg. if that's not being selfish, I'd like to know what is.

  45. Years ago I sold my little house in LA. I made a modest profit but it was a lot of money to me. I invested my profit in my own small chemical company. I was told at the time I was a fool. For 18 years and 2 failed marriages I woked 12-19 hour days , 7 days a week. I was considered a fool still. Little by little my product caught on and to make a long story short, I made a lot of money. Now, I'm a bad guy? I'm not a "grass roots" person, even though my parents never made it to high school? Let me ask this: if when I 2nd and 3rd. mortgaged my house and borrowed as much money as possible, let's say I failed, would I now be a good guy? Would I be "grass roots" because I lost everything? Hey, all you "holier than thou" poor people, if I failed would you all have supported me, as a fellow "grass roots" kind of guy?

  46. @Richard The term "grass roots" doesn't apply to individual enterprise, it applies to political movements such as candidate support or the backing of legislation or policies. The people arguing for increased grass roots support aren't demonizing people for being successful, they are rejecting the influence of big money on democracy.

  47. We need more info before offering an honest answer.

  48. According to Senator Warren, who describes herself as a capitalist, no, that does not make you a bad guy.

  49. What’s more laughable, Ms. Saul’s promulgation that billionaires are the boogie man of populism or the repeat mistake of The Times playbook that helped Trump get elected? Government shutdown while the White House hires 17 attorneys, indeed.

  50. Tom Steyer's obsession with impeaching Trump makes him seem stupid. The Democractic legislators obsessed with impeaching Trump seem stupid. There is nothing I can think of that would energize Republicans more than an effort to impeach Trump. Trump supporters would view attempted impeachment as an attempted coup. I find Trump offensive, but I doubt that he has done anything worthy of impeachment. For the most part all this anti Russian hysteria that the Establishment and its media work so hard to whip into mindless frenzy, is just that, mindless. This country and the world are facing serious issues, and I wish that Democrats would strongly focus on the important issues, and just let Trump wither from neglect. Senator Bernie Sanders rebuttal to Trump's prime time talk to the nation was a clarion call of strength and substance, while Pelosi and Schumer lethargically scolded. Focusing on the serious issues is what will win Democrats the Presidency in 2020... Go Bernie! This constant whining about Trump is childish. Focus on issues, and build a strong foundation for winning in 2020.

  51. The common complaint is that money rules politics, and it's indeed important. But there's plenty of money available to all strong Presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump by a large margin, for example. If donors like a candidate and think he or she can win, they'll donate money. Maybe they'll want access, and maybe the candidate will give them access, but either way they'll get the money.

  52. Democrats will never nominate Bloomberg because he’s the only candidate that could actually get moderate independents and Republicans to vote for him in the general election. That makes him way too centrist for the current Democratic base which has moved far to the left. Nothing new, we’ve seen this before, they forget that the country is mostly centrist, and candidates espousing socialist propaganda, massive tax increases, and new entitlements don’t win the Presidency, especially with the electoral college. Currently the only other candidate that has a chance to beat Trump is Biden, but he too will be rejected by the base. Maybe someone else will emerge from nowhere but right now it looks like the Democrats are determined to get their progressive socialist candidate and despite all the excitement that will generate they are highly likely to lose in 2020. The frantic race to the left that we now see with previously rational politicians claiming support for abolishing ICE and open borders, 70% marginal tax rates, these policies in polls are supported by less than 10% of Americans. The Democrats will own these radical ideas in 2020 and they will lose.

  53. Democrat base hasn't moved to the left, but the Democrat party has moved to the center right (along with the media) and Republicans have moved to the far right. Progressives are aligned with centrists in other equivalent first world nations, and their platform has broad support both here and abroad. Access to healthcare for all. Ending of wars of choices abroad. Increased funding for infrastructure and education. Antitrust enforcement. National minimum wage. Action on climate change. Rollback of tax reductions for the rich. Action on student loan debt. An end to corporate welfare. An end to for-profit incarceration. An end to gaming of the tax system by the rich and pan-national corporations and their armies of accountants.

  54. @Rob If the country is mostly centrist, why did it elect a far-right president instead of a centrist? The new division is not left vs right, but corporatist vs populist. Trump worked that to beat Clinton. These small-donation candidates can make a good case, as Sanders did, that they are the true populists. 70% of Americans want Medicare for All. 60% of Americans support free college tuition. These "radical ideas" are mainstream.

  55. @Rob Completely agree with you. Biden is the most "centrist" candidate the Democrats could put forward and stand a chance of winning in 202. Leave the far left candidate for the VP position, not the front runner position. Democrats need to realize quickly that Warren is NOT well liked by the Democratic base, that she is far too left and will never win against a country that is desperate to return to some "normalcy". Biden is the only hope - pair him with Booker or Beto and call it a day.

  56. Good question, but you won't like the answer: "I thought the objection to money in politics was because relying on donations has the potential to corrupt ... How is self-financing your own campaign in any way corrupt?" Simple answer: If you've made a lot of money, you're a bad person. Conversely, if you've lost a lot of money, you're a good person – and, of course, people who've made money should give you a lot of it; maybe that will make them feel less bad. Clear?

  57. Trump has, over his career, lost more money than most people can imagine. does that make him a good guy?

  58. @MyThreeCents If you make a billion dollars, you had to do it by under-paying those who work for you. I won't vote for that.

  59. I'm tired of the NYT positioning progressive policies against so-called "pragmatic politics" of the centrists. Most of the progressive policies have been enacted and work well in many countries worldwide. Are those countries not "pragmatic"? It's lazy and deceptive journalism and reinforces a false narrative that only centrist policies that don't adequately address our problems are "pragmatic".

  60. @Eric Yes, for example every country that has universal healthcare provides BETTER care for LESS money per citizen. The most expensive system is in Denmark which pays 60% of what we pay per person. Our government already pays 60% of all healthcare costs. Mathematically this means that we could have better healthcare for everyone for what the government already spends now, and we could stop paying premiums! Any politician that is against doing this is for taking your money and giving it away to global corporations.

  61. While I might be concerned if some ego maniac billionaire used his money to buy the presidency in order to enhance himself (remind you of anyone?) Bloomberg has shown himself to be civic minded, concerned about medical care, climate change and education, to name a few. Why would you look a gift horse in the mouth?

  62. @Jsailor I would vote for Bloomberg in a New York minute with O'Rourke as VP. If you can be very effective as mayor of NYC, being POTUS would be easy.

  63. I strongly disagree with your conclusion: "Tom Steyer's obsession with impeaching Trump makes him seem stupid...I find Trump offensive, but I doubt that he has done anything worthy of impeachment." I don't think an obsession with impeaching Trump is "stupid," but it is pointless. The chances of the Senate "convicting" Trump and removing him from office are close to nil, and probably wouldn't happen, even so, before Election Day 2020. If voters prefer a Democratic candidate, they can vote that candidate into office, making impeachment unnecessary. Even if Trump were impeached, Mike Pence would become President. Those pressing for impeachment would be left with the insoluble dilemma of the dog chasing the truck: "What will he do if he ever catches it?"

  64. Trump will be impeached by his brothers. The House will start it however, the GOP will finish it out of self preservation.

  65. @DENOTE MORDANT If Mueller (or someone else) comes up with a "high crime or misdemeanor," you'll be correct. Otherwise, you'll be incorrect. If you're incorrect, the Democratic Party can still win the 2020 election, of course. Frankly, that's the best way for the DP to get rid of Trump; that's Nancy Pelosi's point.

  66. @MyThreeCents The 2020 election was lost to Trump and the GOP on November 6, 2018.

  67. I don’t have an issue with self funding if the candidate will act in the economic interests of everyone, instead of just the interests of those in his or her class. However, Bloomberg has asserted that large financial institutions did not have any responsibility in the crash 10 years ago, so he would likely maintain the status quo. In addition, he’s almost 77. I thought many Democratic voters did not want anyone that old to run.

  68. Thanks to Senator Elizabeth Warren for being the first to claim her run to be President of OUR United States of America and for challenging BIG money - both pac and other - and billionaire self-donors. Billionaire Tom Steyer has already dropped out. OUR U.S. Presidency is no longer for sale to the highest bidder as the midterm elections showed. WE THE PEOPLE are going to find out where candidates money comes from before we decide who to vote for. WE are going to send great candidates - who pledge to work for 99.9% of us - small donations to help them fund their campaigns. WE are going to vote only for those who come out to meet us and actually care what we think and want. WE are going to fact check them to make sure they are telling the truth - not just making up good stories. WE THE PEOPLE are going to restore/preserve true democracy in OUR United States of America - social and economic justice for ALL Americans. If you would like to donate to Senator Warren, as I did, here is the link:

  69. The country is increasingly divided by 2 distinct camps one camp believes that the beauty of America is that if you work hard are successful you should be celebrated for Your hard work and allowed to keep a good Chuck Of the money you earned The other camp basically believes you're part of a collective sorta like the Borg in star trek and it's your duty to basically give most of what you make to the government for the common good Another way to look at it is you're like a surf when there used to be Kings in Europe

  70. @Jdavid Baloney. 90% of the population is killing themselves to stay above water, and .1% is refusing to give them raises for 40 years, so that they can use the extra money to bribe our government officials. For ten thousand years, the 1% taxed the rest of us to make themselves rich. We had a revolution so we could tax them for a change. There will be a government and it will tax some and spend on others. If we are not taxing the rich to spend on the general welfare, as the Constitution demands in plain language, then they will be taxing us to spend on them, like they did for ten thousand years. Pick a side.

  71. Once again, NYT: all horse-race, no substance.

  72. The focus isn't on demonizing billionaires. It's on the undue influence of private money on public policy which has totally corrupted our system. This is at the root of every issue from health care to sane climate policy. This will be key to who is a viable candidate.

  73. This commenter is referring, of course, to Lloyd Bentsen's famous remark to Dan Quayle during their 1988 Vice Presidential debate: "I will paraphrase Senator Lloyd Bentsen - Trump is no Bloomberg." But I also remember that Lloyd Bentsen lost, and Dan Quayle won.

  74. The other risk is Sen Warren come across as disingenuous. Her last tax returns showed annual income of $900k and CNN estimated net worth in upwards of $10m. Really you're railing against the rich? Maybe not by DC politician standards but for the rest of the country she qualifies as pretty well off.

  75. @albert Warren referred specifically to billionaires, not everyone who is rich. People in her income range do not buy elections. Do you really not understand the difference between someone with her income and Bloomberg?

  76. @albert $10 million its upper middle class. It takes a hundred times that to make a billion. Don't confuse apples with gold plated apples.

  77. Billionaires are not the enemy. Populists are. We have had enough of Hitler, Mussolini, Chavez, and Trump for many lifetimes.

  78. Warren is ridiculous claiming no one should "self fund" campaigns. It was good enough for our founding fathers.

  79. so was slavery, but one hopes we have moved on a bit since the 18th Century.

  80. I am certainly alive to the arguments that can be used in favor of rich people funding their own campaigns--the historical examples of FDR and JFK, the idea that they are beholden to no special interest or lobbying group, But I believe that is trumped (pun intended) by the argument that Thomas Edsall has made in his excellent column today--even when they espouse certain progressive positions, the very rich are unlikely to truly work for economic policies that diminish their own great advantage, particularly around taxation and business policies that promote inequality, such as increased restrictions on business behavior through regulation, as they have been able to take advantage of such oligarch advantaging policy to get where they are. If very rich people run, I would first have to see them make legitimate promises to work towards publicly funded elections with no corporate/organizational/union contributions at all, very low limits (three digits) on personal contributions to campaigns, reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine and repeal of Citizens' United, etc., and then not use any of their own funds for the campaign and only use small individual donations and/or public matching funds. Then I might consider supporting them.

  81. Bloomberg seems fine, but he has a house in Bermuda. He must be asking himself: does he really want to do this ? If Elizabeth Warren wants the job, and she would be fine enough, and she would be « a sure win », why not just let her have the job ? He, Bloomberg, could just enjoy these upcoming years. But he probably wants what is best for the nation.

  82. So rather than be self-funded, it's preferred to be beholden to your powerful donors? That's an irrational complain, even by Elizabeth Warren standards.

  83. @Joe Schmoe No, Warren is also calling for candidates to reject super pac money. Do you know what is more effective than TV ads? Humans going door to door, and talking to each other. Hillary spent far more than Trump. Stop saying that you have to sell it to win.

  84. The statement that Tom Steyer is a "longtime environmentalist" is false and misleading. Steyer showed no interest in environmental issues until 7-8 years ago. In fact until 2011, for the major part of his business career, Steyer was principal of the Farallon hedge fund, through which investments were made in coal mines and other business enterprises damaging to the environment. It is interesting and, it seems, hypocritical that Steyer, having accumulated his own personal wealth from investments in environmental-damaging enterprises, now seeks to prevent other Americans from earning their livelihoods through business enterprises having an impact on the environment.

  85. "What counts in this is the voice of the American people." If he truly believes this, why is Steyer so intent on overturning the results of a national election? (Yes, yes, I know that HRC won the popular vote. Trump still won the election.)

  86. If you prefer Democrat presidents with genuine working class origins, remember Bill Clinton. He wasn’t exactly tough on Wall St. Ironically it may take a billionaire to stand up to the other billionaires.

  87. @Thollian Hilarious. That was sarcasm right? Billionaires want tax cuts for billionaires. That is what they always want and what establishment centrists give them. I won't vote for that.

  88. @Thollian Nixon goes to China.

  89. I want the Mug-Trump apple-pie party gone so the only question is whose electable. I like Warren and Harris but Hillary may have ruined their chances. Also do we want the first woman president to be tested by Iran, North Korea, China and Putin. The most electable would be Biden, Bloomberg and Brown & O'Rourke. America is center-left but not 70% taxable. I also would add the new House speaker to that list.

  90. @samuelclemons If you spend the next year saying the left is bad and Republicans are worth compromising with, you will be talking people into voting for Republicans. We need a candidate that explains why the right is wrong and the last is correct. No more compromise with the Party of liars and con-men.

  91. “People really do believe they’ve been buying influence. They think there’s a nexus of C.E.O.s, corporations, big business and politicians that’s corrupt.” -- Stan Greenberg, a veteran Democratic pollster Believe? Think? This is not some optional opinion one can have that can be debated! So a pollster goes around and asks people questions and then reports their answers saying they are beliefs. It is a hard fact that the power of industry transforms into the power of money which transforms into the power of politics. Suggesting this is a belief is the false utterance of those who sidle up to the wealthy elite instead of siding with the masses. We do not control the places where we work, period. We do not control the places where we shop, period. We do not control the government we elect, period. We vote to put people in power over us, not to represent us, period. The exceptions are so rare and marginalized by the establishment majority in both the corporate and political spheres, their effect barely rises to tokenism. To think that believing in the social structure as way or the other is an optional decision is the same malevolent message that says one can choose to believe in climate change or various degrees of it, debating whether its really happening, if so, whether or not its anthropomorphic, and then whether or not it's too late to do anything and we should just enjoy modern life while we still can. Maybe the wealthy have no more power than we do...

  92. @Chris GOod point. But Greenberg has been a fixture of the party machine for a long time swallowing all the PAC money that Pelosi and Schumer generate.

  93. What has naked political pandering to billionaires and business owners in the past half century given us? The most unequal nation in recorded history, worse than the Gilded Age. A de-facto oligarchy according to academic research. Middle East policy dictated by an unelected Sheldon Adelson. Energy policy dictated by an unelected Charles and David Koch. Financial policy dictated by Goldman Sachs alumni. Stagnant worker pay, food insecurity, student loan debt, medical debt, crumbling infrastructure, failing safety nets. Rising birth mortality rates, falling life expectancy, decreased social mobility. All direct consequences of the capture of the legislative process by monied interests, and the channelling of our tax dollars to their priorities (endless war, corporate welfare). The rich don't drive on our roads, breathe our air, fly in our planes, send their kids to our schools, shop in our stores. They don't need a well funded education system, they don't need access to healthcare for all, they don't care if carbon emissions increase or regulations that protect consumers are rolled back. It's time to fight back, by supporting candidates who don't take their funding, and who pledge to work for our priorities not theirs. This coming decade may be the last opportunity to course correct via democratic institutions. A continuation of these trends will lead to violent revolution, as it has done time and time again in the past.

  94. I am a democrat and find it odd that any candidate (Including Warren) would seek to disqualify someone else because of their personal wealth. Call me naive, but in many cases the accumulation of wealth is a sign of intelligence, creativity and competence. Admittedly the current occupant of the the oval office is not a good example. Mr. Bloomberg built a 'real company' , served the public and is an intelligent moderate voice who would strengthen the Democratic field. He should not be discounted anymore than Ms. Warren should be credited for growing up in a household of moderate means. Character, intelligence and integrity cannot be measured by one's personal balance sheet.

  95. @Dennis W The government has been corrupted by the ultra rich, who make 90% of all campaign contributions and have been legally bribing our representatives to ignore the needs of most people to make them richer. The Republicans are the Party of the rich, because they work very hard to help them corrupt the system. If Democrats nominate a billionaire, or someone that wants to compromise with Republicans, it will be very difficult to convince voters you are any different than the Party of Trump. Why should anyone for for Republican lite? They either want to for for Republicans or for something else altogether.

  96. That's how it looks to me too: "Democrats are determined to get their progressive socialist candidate and ... they are highly likely to lose in 2020." Things could change, of course, but I can't imagine a Democratic victory unless the DP picks a centrist candidate. Think about it: When was the last time a non-centrist candidate ever got elected President? It just doesn't happen. Historically, the candidate for each major party moves toward the center in an effort to pick up the centrist vote and, by Election Day, the "progressive" or "Tea Party" supporters who got that candidate the nomination in the first place will accuse him or her of "selling out." That accusation will be fair, but the candidate will have picked up many votes by moving toward the center -- and, in the process, will have become a "centrist" candidate. If a candidate just can't move to the center -- for example, because that candidate is too well-known for far-left of far-right views -- that candidate inevitably will be seeking some other form of gainful employment after Election Day. That's how it works in this country -- always has, and probably always will: Centrists rule, extremists drool.

  97. @MyThreeCents Democrats will lose if they pick a centrist candidate, less enthusiasm, lower voter turn out... Senator Bernie Sanders would have beaten Trump, as the polling indicated. Sanders has crossover appeal with many of the same people who voted for Trump but may now be turned off by his presidency.

  98. @MyThreeCents In political science, the dominant theory of the two party system is the Median Voter Theorem. This theorem states that the two parties trade issues in the center until one part gets one more vote than the other party. That is the median voter. Unfortunately for the Democratic Party, the electoral college overrides the media voter. In the last election it over rode 3 million swing voters. Democrats cannot win by sacrificing their base to win the center. Democrats must explain clearly and passionately why the right is wrong and the left is correct. I don't believe that Democrats are as bad as Republicans, but if you want to grow your base so that it is big enough to beat Trump's base plus the electoral college, then the Democrats have to explain clearly and passionately why the left is better to those that don't know. You cannot win by attacking the left and compromising with the Party of Trump. They already have a candidate they want to vote for. They will never vote for a Democrat. The American electorate, especially the base of the Democratic Party is not buying establishment-centrist calls to sell out to corporations anymore. A centrist cannot win. If you want to lose, put your billionaire against their billionaire. Democrats cannot win in the center. You have to promise to help workers with the things they need to raise their families: healthcare, education, infrastructure. Grow the left base bigger than the right base.

  99. @MyThreeCents Centrist? Trump?

  100. Bloomberg pairs Republican economic priorities with New York City social policies like gun control and soda pop taxes, along with Macron-style carbon taxes on the poor and working class. That agenda has no appeal in the Midwest. Trump would beat him even if Bloomberg found a path through the Democratic primaries, which there isn't one. He has no chance.

  101. @Chris Grayz Yes, Republican economic policies are bad policies. Democrats keep losing elections because they keep trying to sell Republican economic policy to their base. Supply Side Economics has never worked, ever. It is a useless hypothesis designed as an excuse to cut taxes on the rich. It has no basis in fact. Republican economic policy is to cut taxes on the rich and to borrow and spend, so they can get rich on fat government contracts. That is why they want to privatize every government function, so they can get paid tax dollars while they cut their own taxes to zero. It is a contradiction only a thief could love. Democrats that think they can win elections by embracing supply side economics are the reason Democrats keep losing elections.

  102. Stop bashing billionaires. Bash Republicans. The two are not necessarily synonymous.

  103. I would vote for Bloomberg at the drop of the hat! I would not vote for Warren or Bernie......whether we financed their campaigns or they financed their own. As a New Yorker, having lived through every NY administration from Wagner to DeBlasio, Bloomberg was the best! Age doesn't mean a thing to me...honesty, integrity, compassion, empathy and the upholding of the Constitution of the US are my benchmarkers. I don't want a table-thumping activist as president. Warren and Bernie are great where they are....we need them there.

  104. A billionaire will NOT help you. Have we not learned that yet?

  105. As someone who is represented in Montana by Greg Gianforte, reportedly the richest man in Congress, this message strikes home to me. In 2016 he ran against a great candidate, Kathleen Williams, who ran her campaign on a shoestring, but still went out and met the voters and talked to people where they lived throughout the state. Gianforte could not even be bothered to hold town halls after attacking a reporter just doing his job. It was close enough that at the end, Gianforte "lent his campaign" $1 million dollars to push him over the top. What kind of grassroots campaign can compete against that? We need to get corporate and personal wealth out of politics so that we can send people to Washington who are willing to work for and represent the voters, not just fly over the state in their private jets and phone it in.

  106. The paradox is that Bloomberg might be able to be elected as a moderate Republican but can't get the nomination, but can't get elected as a 'moderate' Democrat tho he might be able to gt the nomination. "...regarded as an economic centrist" ...and "was a loyal ally of Wall Street". A positional oxymoron if there ever was one. Regarded by who? (sloppy reporting). By Paul Ryan? By Gary Cohen, a self-defined Democrat, former president of Goldman Sachs , chief economic adviser to Trump and supporter of the Trump tax cuts before resigning? Before his current incarnation as a Democrat Bloomberg was a longtime Republican and has never supported progressive economic ideas like a livable minimum wage, single payer medical insurance, or tax reform measures to more closely ensure that equal incomes pay equal taxes. His views might best be described as similar to yesteryears now extinct Republican moderate to moderate-conservatives.

  107. Interesting undertone to the article, perhaps propagated by the NYT? Liberal/Democratic billionaires get a pass?

  108. the wealthy, as well as the poor and the middle class, all have the same right to run for office, and to serve if elected. the rich are no less citizens than the poor. but the rich also have no inherent right to buy the government and run the country for their own benefit and amusement, like the long-overthrown aristocracy. someone like Michael Bloomberg, by all accounts a pretty good guy with some good inclinations, would face steep uphill battle as a well-known member of a class most people consider selfish exploiters.

  109. Someone wanting to be president whose crowning achievement in local government service is regulating tobacco & soft drinks? A guy who made his fortune selling high priced cups of flavored coffee? Haven't these guys something better to do? Apparently not.

  110. MIKE IN 2020 - Mike Bloomberg would be a terrific candidate based on his record as mayor, as a business executive, as a philanthropist and good solid results in all of his endeavors.

  111. “Progressivism means making progress toward better conditions; employing or advocating more enlightened or liberal ideas, new or experimental methods, etc.: a progressive community”. This is not socialism. This is socialism: a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

  112. Quayle won by a shirttail. Not on his own. Big difference.

  113. It is pretty much accepted that the US has the best democracy money can buy. It is regrettable that the US spends so much money and resources criticizing other countries for their imperfect democracies and then giving weapons to dissidents, and generally making the world a more dangerous place. The US could instead set a better example by making its democracy less bought, and having a "paper trail" for its voting apparatus, and investing in education so that the US citizenry is better educated. I'll bet the US could make the world a safer place if it worked to bring out the best in leaders whose elections the US disparages, instead of the worst.

  114. It's obvious Trump fears [and envies] a legitimate Billionaire. I think the DNC should run one.. Bloomberg, Steyer, Schultz .. why not?

  115. "There is evidence, though, that self-funders generally don’t win in political campaigns, although it’s not entirely clear why." It may be less about the actual process of self-funding than the self-selection of those who go that route. Anybody who's ever had super-rich clients or patients recognizes the tendency to know more about things than the professionals. This may ripple through the professional politics understructure, not just affecting the candidate's own pros but perhaps what and who they talk to/interact/gossip/interface with and whether the candidate is taken seriously, especially after winning a primary. If the state party solicited the candidate on the basis of its own lack of resources, winning may have been a long shot all along. The other thing about self-funding is that by its nature it denigrates the average voter, the small contribution--"I don't need your twenty dollars, my good man". This brings out the "retirement hobby" aspect of the self-funder's campaign

  116. The Democrats are the party of the super-rich! The Democrats are fighting for tax cuts for super-rich buyers of expensive Teslas and for property tax cuts for super-rich mansion owners!

  117. Senator Warren: you want to be President? Go for it, but don’t waste your time decrying the financing some of your potential rivals might have access to.