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‘I love AOC’ but her criticism of capitalism is ‘headline porn,’ says Mark Cuban

In a new interview, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban praised Queens Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for her social media savvy but dismissed some of her criticism of capitalism as “headline porn.”

“I love AOC,” says Cuban, a billionaire entrepreneur and host of the television show “Shark Tank.” “She's learned the lesson of social media where you get long and you get loud and you get people's attention, and then you deal with substance after that.”

“I don't always agree with her,” he adds, dismissing as “headline porn” a statement made by Ocasio-Cortez in January after she affirmatively responded to the comment that a system that allows billionaires to exist is immoral.

In those remarks, Ocasio-Cortez said it is “wrong” that billionaires can live in the U.S. alongside “parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health.”

“I don’t think that necessarily means that all billionaires are immoral,” she added.

In January, Ocasio-Cortez proposed a 70% marginal tax rate for income at or above $10 million. In reference to higher taxes on the wealthy, Cuban said he wasn’t “a fan of trickle down taxation.”

“The concept that just tax those who have a whole lot more, then all of a sudden, it'll find its way to those who need it,” he adds. “Doesn't work, hasn't worked, won't work.”

The top tax rate in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 94% in 1944, three years after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Until Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, the top tax rate remained above 70%. The two decades after WWII are widely considered boom years for U.S. economic growth, though economists disagree about the role of progressive measures like high taxes and union density.

Cuban made the comments to Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a conversation that airs on Yahoo Finance on Thursday in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

While Cuban is known for the Mavericks and “Shark Tank,” he made his first billions with an online streaming company called AudioNet that he co-founded in 1995. The company, which later became broadcast.com, sold to Yahoo in 1999 for stock valued at $5.7 billion. Soon after, in 2000, Cuban purchased the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks for $285 million; the team is now valued at $2.3 billion, according to Forbes. He also co-founded 2929 Entertainment, a film production and distribution company.

Cuban has invested in hundreds of start-ups as a host of the TV show “Shark Tank,” which he joined in 2012.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks during the National Action Network Convention in New York, Friday, April 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

‘The greatest cost to business is social disruption’

Despite his criticism of Ocasio-Cortez, Cuban acknowledge the severity and urgency of income inequality.

“That doesn't mean that there's not an income inequality problem,” says Cuban, who is mulling a 2020 presidential bid. “There is—and it's something we have to deal with.”

“The greatest cost to business is social disruption,” he adds. “If people are rebelling and burning things and aren't satisfied with their lives—and they're incentivized to do horrific things—that's the greatest cost to business.”

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. A tax proposal from Massachusetts Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, which would place a 2% wealth tax on households that exceed $50 million, outperformed the Ocasio-Cortez proposal in the same poll. Sixty-one percent of voters favored the Warren proposal, including 50% of Republicans.

Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance.

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