“I don't think [Ocasio-Cortez] knows who Adam Smith was,” Munger said to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer.
Referring to the man known as the father of economics, Munger is being a bit hyperbolic as Adam Smith and his foundational works are known the world over. Even Ocasio-Cortez’s alma mater’s website would suggest that she’s familiar.
Nevertheless, it’s no surprise to hear that Munger, who identifies as a Republican, and his partner Warren Buffett, who’s called himself a “card-carrying capitalist,” would take issue with economic policy proposals coming from the far left.
Warren, a Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, “hasn’t studied Adam Smith enough,” Munger said.
Munger, the right-hand man of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, made these comments in his first interview since Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Shareholders Meeting.
He questioned the severity of income and wealth inequality, belittling the intelligence of politicians like Ocasio-Cortez and Warren who have drawn attention to the issue.
“The people screaming about it are idiots. It’s going to go away by itself,” he said. It’s “a problem if enough politicians are screaming about it. That makes it a problem.”
A study released last year by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute found that in 2015, the top 1% of Americans made 26.3 times as much income as the bottom 99%.
Ocasio-Cortez and Warren are not ‘the best prescribers in the world’
Munger dismissed policy proposals put forward by Ocasio-Cortez and Warren to close the wealth gap.
“I don’t consider those two necessarily the best prescribers in the world,” he said.
Ocasio-Cortez proposed a marginal tax rate of 70% on income over $10 million; while Warren put forward a 2% wealth tax on households that exceed $50 million.
Ocasio-Cortez’s tax proposal is supported by 45% of voters, while 32% of voters oppose it, according to a Morning Consult poll that surveyed 1,993 voters in February. Warren’s proposal outperformed the Ocasio-Cortez proposal in the same poll. Sixty-one percent of voters favored the Warren proposal, including 50% of Republicans.
While Munger disagrees with their views on economic policy, he doesn’t think they’re terrible people.
“They're kind of likable,” he said. “I particularly kind of like Elizabeth Warren. She's got a manner that appeals to me.”
Munger made the remarks to Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a conversation that will air on May 9, 2019 on Yahoo Finance in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance.