The criminalization of speech she doesn’t trust you to contextualize responsibly isn’t the only Warren plan that conflicts with the nation’s founding charter. Warren’s vaunted “wealth tax” is equally offensive to civic-minded Americans possessed of a passing familiarity with the Constitution. The senator has never acknowledged the objections of informed observers to her proposal. Those observers note that the expropriation of wealth likely violates both Article I’s prohibition on direct taxes and the 16th Amendment, which has been affirmed in subsequent court rulings as a tax on transfers of wealth, not the requisition of property just because it exists.
But the illegality of these plans is less revealing than the motives behind them. What would Warren’s wealth tax achieve? According to the bipartisan Tax Foundation, it would raise some new revenue—revenue Warren has already dedicated in its entirety to her plans to universalize child care and forgive some student loan debt—though no one is sure how much because those with property would evade the tax or leave the country entirely (an outcome Warren’s plan envisions). Those disappointing results should not come as a surprise; this was the experience of most European countries that phased out their wealth taxes. Moreover, the unintended consequences of this policy would be to substantially depress economic growth and replace domestic millionaires and billionaires with foreign interests as the primary owners of capital. These downsides clearly outweigh the benefits.