Billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer on Tuesday made his first appearance on the Democratic presidential stage. Right off the bat, he was asked about his position on closing the income gap. He has a unique perspective since he's the only Democratic presidential candidate that is also a billionaire.
"You are the lone billionaire on this stage. What's your plan for closing the income gap?" CNN host and moderator Erin Burnett asked.
"Well, first of all, let me say this: Senator Sanders is right. There have been 40 years where corporations have bought this government and those 40 years have meant a 40 year attack on the rights of working people, and specifically, on organized labor," Steyer replied. "...It's absolutely wrong and it's absolutely undemocratic and unfair."
Steyer touted his previous calls for a wealth tax, saying he was the first person on the stage to call for such a measure. In addition to a wealth tax, Steyer proposed "undoing Republican tax cuts" for corporations and the rich.
According to the billionaire, the biggest issue he has with the "income gap" is the fact that Americans have not seen a raise over the last 40 years.
"But there's something going on here that's absolutely shameful and that's the way the money gets split up in terms of earnings. As a result of taking away the rights of working people and organized labor, people haven't had a raise. 90 percent of Americans have not had a raise for 40 years," he explained. "If you took the minimum wage from 1980 and adjusted it for inflation, you get $11 bucks [an hour]. It's [federal minimum wage] $7.25."
Steyer said Americans' productivity has gone up to $20 an hour and the problem is "corporations have bought our government."
"Our government has failed. That's why I'm running for president because we're not going to get any of the policies that everybody on this stage wants – health care, education, Green New Deal or a minimum wage – unless we break the power of these corporations," he concluded.