Associated Press

Mike Bloomberg once said taking too much money from the rich and giving it to the poor was a bigger problem than income inequality


Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg said in 2018 that shifting too much money from the rich and giving it to the poor posed a bigger problem than income inequality.

During a Q&A session at a forum with International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, the former New York City mayor was asked about the future of job creation with the emergence of artificial intelligence.

In a lengthy answer, Bloomberg said encouraging the movement of money away from the wealthiest people would slow economic growth.

"I think income inequality is a very big problem. But the bigger problem is, you can take money from the rich and move it over to the poor. If you do it too much then the rich stop producing and everybody loses," the billionaire media executive said.

Bloomberg also said that increased taxes on the rich and raising the minimum wage were barriers to job growth. The Daily Beast first reported the comments.

The Bloomberg campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The answer resurfaced only a day after another set of remarks came to light where Bloomberg linked the end of a discriminatory housing practice known as "redlining" to the 2008 financial crisis.

And he drew extensive criticism for previously defending in starkly racial terms the "stop and frisk" policing tactics that targeted minority neighborhoods during his mayoral tenure. Bloomberg has since apologized for supporting the practice.

The string of problematic comments underscore the mounting scrutiny Bloomberg is drawing as he surges in national polls in the Democratic primary as a centrist with a record of advocacy on hot-button issues like gun control and climate change.

In his presidential bid, Bloomberg has pledged to roll back widening inequality and raise taxes on the rich in an attempt to cast himself as a fighter for the middle class. He pointed to his successful effort to increase taxes on New York's highest earners as mayor in a New York Times op-ed published last week and said he would prioritize reducing the gap between the rich and poor.

But Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have both attacked Bloomberg, who is self-funding his candidacy with vast sums of personal cash. Both of the primary's leading progressives accused him of buying the election, and Warren on Thursday said the billionaire former mayor shouldn't be the party's nominee.