Last fall, right-wing pundits at Fox News and elsewhere savaged Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, after video circulated of the former Obama administration official explaining that because business moguls take advantage of infrastructure and education funded by taxes, "[t]here is nobody in this country who got rich on his own." This morning, an unlikely group offered up comments strikingly similar to Warren's: the hosts of Fox & Friends Sunday.
During a segment on wealthy Americans who renounce their citizenship to avoid paying taxes, Clayton Morris offered up this advice to such persons: “Get out of here. But the point is, you've made all this money on the backs of the infrastructure, taxpayers that got you there, the roads that taxpayers pay so you can drive back and forth to work to get rich on a regular basis, and now you're going to leave so you're not going to pay taxes.”
Alisyn Camerota added, "[A]re they just greedy? I mean, are they just -- after this country allowed you the entrepreneurial spirit, the freedom to make all this money, now you're going to leave it? I mean, that does send the message that you care more about your money than you do about your country."
Compare their comments to those Warren made during a campaign stop in August while pushing back against claims that asking the wealthy to pay more in taxes is “class warfare”:
WARREN: There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there -- good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory and hire someone to protect against this because of the work the rest of us did. Now look. You built a factory, and it turned into something terrific or a great idea -- God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
There are some differences, of course. Fox & Friends being what it is, the segment concludes with the hosts determining that “the answer” is to “be part of the solution” by “stay[ing] here and... fight[ting] for better tax laws,” followed by a series of jokes about European toilets. But both make the case that the private sector success of the wealthy is driven by government investments funded by the public. Fox, of course, has long been a chief promoter of the very claims of “class warfare” Warren criticized.
In October, Fox News' Andrew Napolitano responded to Warren's comments by labeling her a “crazy lady.” Reason magazine editor in chief Matt Welch called them “the best advertisement I've seen in a long time for limiting the size and scope of government” and “terrifying.” Other right-wing commenters termed her remarks "dunderheaded" "piffle" that made her sound like a "guileless, fevered Marxist."
It remains to be seen whether the right will similarly target the “Marxist[s]” on Fox & Friends' curvy couch.