Jan 25, 2019

2. The rise of the 99% voter: Eat the rich

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The “wealth tax” reportedly being considered by Sen. Elizabeth Warren reflects the fact that income inequality has become an early battleground of the 2020 campaign.

Why it matters: This is new in American politics, pushed by rising awareness of — and efforts to weaponize — the top 1%. At the same time, the left has more of a platform than ever, with liberal ideas dominating the primary so far, and Democrats now in control of the House.

Driving the news: The Washington Post, citing an economist advising Warren, reports that she will propose a new annual “wealth tax” on Americans with more than $50 million in assets:

  • "Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, two left-leaning economists at the University of California, Berkeley, have been advising Warren on a proposal to levy a 2 percent wealth tax on Americans with assets above $50 million, as well as a 3 percent wealth tax on those who have more than $1 billion."

The backdrop: The economy is technically as strong today as it has been in years, particularly the labor market.

  • But that's perhaps the problem: Many people see all these good numbers and wonder why they're still struggling so much economically, and what will happen when things turn south: "If this is the best case scenario ... uh-oh!”
  • So this is a way for Democrats to harness economic anxiety, as Trump did on the other side in 2016.

Be smart: 2020 could be the first presidential campaign in our lifetimes in which "the rich” genuinely have something to fear from one of the final candidates. 

Go deeper

Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers and South Korea sees first death

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship. South Korea also announced its first death Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,200 people and infected over 75,465 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 118 new deaths since Thursday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 9 mins ago - Health

SoftBank to cut its stake to get T-Mobile's Sprint deal done

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

T-Mobile and Sprint announced a revised merger agreement that will see SoftBank getting a smaller share of the combined company, while most shareholders will receive the previously agreed upon exchange rate. The companies said they hope to get the deal as early as April 1.

Why it matters: The amended deal reflects the decline in Sprint's business, while leaving most shareholders' stake intact and removing another hurdle to the deal's closure.