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Oct. 26, 2021, 4:36 p.m. EDT

Mitt Romney says a billionaire tax will push the rich to buy paintings or ranches instead of stocks

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By Nicole Lyn Pesce

That was Sen. Mitt Romney sharing one of the reasons that he’s against President Joe Biden’s proposed tax on billionaires to help pay for the Democrats’ social-spending bill.

The Utah senator and 2012 Republican presidential candidate told Fox News on Monday night that Democrats are “desperate” to pass the social infrastructure package — till recently pegged at $3.5 trillion over 10 years but in line to be whittled down to below $2 trillion trillion in order get all Senate Democrats and independents on board.

Read more: What’s in — and not in — Democrats’ big social-spending bill, as billionaire tax gains steam

“They want to get something done for the president because he’s kind of circling the drain with the electorate in the country. And, as a result, they’re willing to do almost anything,” Romney said, before arguing that a spending plan in the trillions of dollars is “not popular” with the American people, though polling has consistently indicated otherwise .

“I hope you understand how much a trillion is,” he told the Fox audience. “A trillion seconds ago, Neanderthals walked the Earth. So a trillion is an enormous amount of money. And the Democrats, I think, are adding fuel to a fire, creating more inflation, and it’s hurting the American people.” 

But it was his comments suggesting that Biden’s proposed billionaire tax would encourage the wealthy to pull their money out of the stock market that set Twitter abuzz on Tuesday. This led Romney’s name to trend throughout the morning and early afternoon.

On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CNN  that the proposal “would impose a tax on unrealized capital gains on liquid assets held by extremely wealthy individuals, billionaires.” Romney argued that taxing people “not when they sell something, but just when they own it and the value goes up,” would discourage the wealthy from investing in the stock market.

Watch the clip below:

“Mitt Romney thinks we shouldn’t tax billionaires because that will make them stop creating jobs. Bulls—,” tweeted comedian Steve Hofstetter in response.

But Romney isn’t alone in his skepticism, among the ultrawealthy. On Tuesday, a couple of billionaires told CNN International’s Richard Quest that they would back a billionaires’ tax, in theory — just not Biden’s plan. 

“Yes, I would support anything into that is going to have the effect of being spent on increasing creating equal opportunity and greater productivity,” said Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates’ co-chairman and co-CIO. But he added that “I’m not sure” that is what Biden’s plan does. 

Read more: Ray Dalio says he would support a billionaire tax — just not this one

At the same Future Investment Initiative Institute gathering in Saudi Arabia, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink agreed that “it depends on what you’re spending [a billionaire tax] on.” 

So what exactly is a billionaire tax — and how would Biden’s work? Experts break down what you need to know here.

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