MSNBC’s Velshi Frets Wealthy Taxed Too Little, Dismisses Charity Work

News & Politics

On Sunday’s Velshi show, MSNBC host Ali Velshi joined left-wing activist Reverend William Barber in complaining that taxes on the wealthy aren’t higher, and dismissed the benefits to society contributed by the wealthy.

He also invoked Marie Antoinette against the Trump administration over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

At 9:35 a.m. Eastern, Velshi turned to one of his guests, the Reverend Barber, and was dismissive of charitable giving by billionaires:

ALI VELSHI: One thing I hear is that if we change our tax system to tax the wealthy more — which is what a lot of people who talk about income inequality say we have to do — well, then, these billionaires — and they’ve gone on TV and they’ve said, “You know how much we give to hospitals? You know how much we give to charity? All that would actually disappear.”

I’m not sure that’s the way we should be thinking about society — that we should have people — we have to sustain the wealthy with low tax rates so that they can give us the charity so that poor people can go to hospitals.

Reverend Barber agreed: “Well, it’s a ridiculous argument, and it’s the same arguments that we used during the Great Depression. Those are old arguments that are refurbished in this time.”

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The liberal activist went on to argue that his group, the Poor People’s Campaign, had proved that more spending on the poor improves the economy, and complained that there is too much spending on defense. He also took a shot at “white evangelicals” as he concluded his analysis:

REVEREND WILLIAM BARBER: Lastly, Ali, there’s a scripture that gay people often — they used to talk against gay people, and I hate it — it’s about Sodom and Gomorrah. You know what the Bible actually says about Sodom and Gomorrah in Ezekiel 16? That the city failed because it did not care for the poor and the needy. Let the white evangelists check that out, and maybe they’ll go talk to Trump. Said the city failed because it refused to take care of the poor and needy. You cannot leave all of them alone and think all of us are going to live. Everybody has a right to live. If they don’t, we don’t.

Host Velshi declared that he “enjoys” Reverend Barber’s analysis as he followed up. Not mentioned was the more obvious benefit that wealthy people create jobs with their money that provide employment and essential services to people of all economic levels.

Earlier in the show, the liberal MSNBC host also made his Marie Antoinette reference while discussing the pandemic response. Speaking with one of his guests, liberal comedian and talk radio host Dean Obeidallah, Velshi posed:

ALI VELSHI: You would think that, two and a half months into the first case in the United States, we’d have some consistency from the White House, but we’re still arguing about ventilators — where they are. Earlier this week, you saw Jared Kushner come up — apparently he’s in charge of something here — saying — it sort of seemed a little like a Marie Antoinette thing — “There are enough ventilators — those who say there aren’t are not really telling the truth — fend for yourselves.”

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Sunday, April 5, Velshi show on MSNBC:

Velshi

4/5/2020

8:08 a.m. Eastern

ALI VELSHI: What do you make of what’s going on this week? You would think that, two and a half months into the first case in the United States, we’d have some consistency from the White House, but we’re still arguing about ventilators — where they are. Earlier this week, you saw Jared Kushner come up — apparently he’s in charge of something here — saying — it sort of seemed a little like a Marie Antoinette thing — “There are enough ventilators — those who say there aren’t are not really telling the truth — fend for yourselves.”

(…)

9:35 a.m.

VELSHI: Reverend Doctor Barber, I’m an economics guy. I watch CNBC sometimes, and one thing I hear is that if we change our tax system to tax the wealthy more — which is what a lot of people who talk about income inequality say we have to do — well, then, these billionaires — and they’ve gone on TV and they’ve said, “You know how much we give to hospitals? You know how much we give to charity? All that would actually disappear.” I’m not sure that’s the way we should be thinking about society — that we should have people — we have to sustain the wealthy with low tax rates so that they can give us the charity so that poor people can go to hospitals.

REVEREND WILLIAM BARBER, POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN: Well, it’s a ridiculous argument, and it’s the same arguments that we used during the Great Depression. Those are old arguments that are refurbished in this time. We put a budget together in the Poor People’s Campaign and actually showed, if you do the things we’re talking about, it actually benefits the society. You pay people a living wage, you pump more money into society. If everybody has health care, more healthier workers produce more. And so — and we have the money. And if we look at our bloated defense budget, that we have all of those billions of dollars that we really don’t need in that budget, you can still protect the country and could redirect that money into social uplift. It makes no sense.

We put 53 cents of every discretionary dollar into Defense, and less than 16 cents of those monies into health care and infrastructure and education. We are at a point where we must look at the cost of inequality — the price of inequality — as Joseph Stickler has talked about in his book. And the reality is, going back to this point. If you do not make sure everybody has health — and a pandemic especially will show you this — and living wages and sick leave. And if you pass bills that leave out millions of people, you put everybody at risk — everybody at risk. A virus spreads through the breakages in society. So it’s a matter of physical death, and it’s a matter of economic death.

Lastly, Ali, there’s a scripture that gay people often — they used to talk against gay people, and I hate it — it’s about Sodom and Gomorrah. You know what the Bible actually says about Sodom and Gomorrah in Ezekiel 16? That the city failed because it did not care for the poor and the needy. Let the white evangelists check that out, and maybe they’ll go talk to Trump. Said the city failed because it refused to take care of the poor and needy. You cannot leave all of them alone and think all of us are going to live. Everybody has a right to live. If they don’t, we don’t.

VELSHI: Dorothy, how — the thing I enjoy about Doctor Barber is he’s a man of the cloth, but he actually speaks in economic terms. This concept of fixing inequality should be appealing to conservatives and liberals and people who like markets entirely because your return on your investment is better if everybody’s got health care. It is better if you’re not incarcerating as many people — it is better if people are not on unemployment and they’re making money and they’re paying taxes. It shouldn’t be an ideological argument at this point.

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