2020 candidate Tom Steyer: 'The government has been bought by corporations'

Brooke DiPalma
Associate Producer

Former Democratic Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick entered the presidential race on Thursday and billionaire Michael Bloomberg might follow, continuing to reshape the race.

Billionaire Tom Steyer, who was the latest entrant before Patrick, said the new candidates reveal the race is wide open and voters are even more undecided than they were a few months ago and will likely choose a presidential candidate closer to election date. Steyer, known for his $1.6 billion fortune after he founded and ran Farallon Capital Management, told Yahoo Finance’s On the Move that he stands out from the 20-plus Democratic opponents because of his message.

“I’m saying something different... The problem we have is the government's been bought by corporations,” Steyer tells Yahoo Finance’s On the Move. “You can talk all you want about the different policy nuances that people care about...but we're not in a position to pass any of those policies. They're not new. They've been around. They haven't been passed. This government is literally broken. The question is what are we going to do about that.”

Steyer said that he plans on fixing that problem and has made that along with climate change the focus of his campaign.

“I would declare a state of emergency from day one. I’ll make it the focus of my foreign policy,” he said, adding that “if we don’t deal with that we are in a lot of trouble. We can deal with it in a way that makes us better employed, healthier... and create millions of jobs and really reinvent the United States.”

Steyer, known as an “outsider” to the political system, has been criticized for spending over $47.6 million of his own money on his presidential bid.

“Even though I'm not a famous person... a lot of people, in spite of the fact that we've run TV ads, do not know who I am, when they hear who I am, then I do really well,” said Steyer. “My goal is to continue to say the things that I've been saying, to try and get people to know who I am, and to have them respond.”

Democratic presidential candidate and billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer greets guests at the Polk County Democrats' Steak Fry on September 21, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.(Courtesy: Getty Images)

Steyer also pointed out that he proposed a wealth tax over a year ago, adding that to represent the Democratic party and the American people “you have to address the inequality issue.” He said he plans on coming out with a more granular wealth tax proposal which will “start at a lower place and has lower rates” than presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren.

He said his plan “remains an attempt to raise some of the resources that we need to pay for social programs and also an implicit acceptance that we need to redo income and asset redistribution that has happened to the benefit of the richest Americans over the last 40 years, at an extreme level very undemocratic unjust, unfair and unnoticed.”

Steyer qualified for a spot in the fifth Democratic presidential primary debate set to take place on November 20. According to a recent poll by FiveThirtyEight, he ranks seventh among the Democratic presidential candidates, ahead of Senators Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker and Congresswoman Tusli Gabbard.

Brooke DiPalma is a producer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma.

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