Millionaire entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk defended progressive New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a new interview but sharply criticized her proposal to tax wealthy Americans.
“I was born in the Soviet Union, so I laugh when Americans try to paint liberals as socialists or communists, because that's Americans that haven't lived in communism,” he says.
Vaynerchuk, who immigrated to the United States from modern-day Belarus as a young child, rebuked the notion of a tax hike on the wealthy. He said he is willing to part with the vast majority of his income but only if he controls how it’s spent.
“I'm willing to give up 95% of my earnings,” he says. “This is not about giving away money, it's about giving away money to people that have no idea what to do with it.”
The 95% giveaway volunteered by Vaynerchuk exceeds the rate of the Ocasio-Cortez proposal, which calls for a marginal tax of 70% on income over $10 million.
Vaynerchuk made the comments to Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a conversation that aired on Yahoo Finance in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
Beginning his career in e-commerce, Vaynerchuk grew his family’s New Jersey wine business from a brick-and-mortar store that made $3 million annuals sales into a $60 million-a-year online operation. In 2009 he co-founded VaynerMedia, a digital ad agency that has grown to more than 800 employees and works with companies like Pepsi and JPMorgan Chase.
He also puts out a daily video series and regular podcast called “The GaryVee Audio Experience,” in which he offers business advice.
‘Gary, you’re rich, you should give me your money’
Touting the merits of a capitalist economic system, Vaynerchuk described himself as “an alpha entrepreneur” who is “very scared of the slippery slope of massive entitlement.”
“I have many 20-year-old kids hitting me up and saying, Gary, you're rich, you should give me your money...so more government involvement doesn't hit me well in my alpha, player on the field, I'm an entrepreneur.”
“It hits me tremendously well as, ‘I'm the human being and I want everybody to be healthy and happy to the best of our abilities,’” he says. “I think the answer is always somewhere in between.”
But he derided elected officials tasked with determining how taxpayer dollars are spent.
“I'm going to work my face off, bleed in perpetuity, and I'm going to give it to you?” he says. “You've never operated anything in your life? And you're third generation wealthy...and you have no practical skills?”
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.
Vaynerchuk gave two donations totaling $5,400 to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign—the maximum amount an individual contributor could give.
Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance.