Billionaire presidential candidate Tom Steyer finally made his Democratic debate debut on October 15, leaving voters curious to who exactly he is. Learn more about Steyer, his platform, and plans.
If you’re watching the October Democratic presidential debate right now, there’s probably one question on your mind above the rest: who is Tom Steyer? The billionaire has been running for president this entire time, but has only qualified for this, the fourth debate. While voters have had the chance to get familiar with the other candidates as they fight on live television once a month, Steyer has stayed in the shadows. So, here’s what you should know about the Democratic candidate and his policies:
1. His platform is ending “the corporate takeover of our democracy.” As Steyer says in his campaign mission statement, “We need the broadest democracy possible, to take back our government from the corporations that now control it and have stolen the rights of everyday Americans. Only a broad-based grassroots movement can restore power, fairness and prosperity to the people.” He states that his priorities as a candidate include decriminalizing illegal border crossings, combating climate change, and expanding the Supreme Court. Steyer has also proposed a “21st century bill of rights” — five rights that every American must have. Those are: the right to health, the right to an equal vote, the right to clean air and clean water, the right to learn, and the right to a living wage.
2. He’s a hedge fund billionaire turned activist and Democratic donor. Steyer, who lives in San Francisco, started the hedge fund Farallon Capital in the 1980s, selling his ownership in the company in 2012. He founded NextGen America in 2013, a nonprofit which promotes voter registration and grassroots organizing. His other group, Need to Impeach, mobilized voters during the 2018 midterm elections to sign petitions and fight to get Trump out of office.
3. He called for Donald Trump’s impeachment in 2017. Steyer has directed tens of millions of dollars into TV commercials deriding Trump as a threat to the United States. As one commercial states (watch here), “Donald Trump has taken money from foreign governments, obstructed justice at the FBI, and even brought us to the brink of nuclear war. We need to impeach this dangerous president.” Trump responded to one of the ads on Twitter, writing, “Weirdo Tom Steyer, who didn’t have the ‘guts’ or money to run for President, is still trying to remain relevant by putting himself on ads begging for impeachment. He doesn’t mention the fact that mine is perhaps the most successful first 2 year presidency in history & NO C OR O!”
4. Despite being a billionaire, he has proposed a wealth tax. Steyer said in a statement, “”I am committed to ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share. I proposed an annual wealth tax that could be used to improve public education, improve access to healthcare, and retirement security. Under my own proposal, I would pay more than an additional $10 million annually in taxes and have also called for closing the carried interest tax loophole.”
5. He doesn’t believe his low polling numbers means he has less of chance at the presidency. Steyer isn’t polling anywhere near as well as frontrunners Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders. Prior to the October 15 debate, he was only polling at an average one percent. But, as he said in an interview with the LA Times, “Who the hell knows what’s coming on this race?”