Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren offered to meet with Microsoft founder Bill Gates after he joked that her proposed wealth tax might cost him $100 billion.
Speaking at The New York Times DealBook Conference on Wednesday, Gates said that he's open to higher wealth taxes: "I've paid over $10 billion in taxes. I've paid more than anyone in taxes. I'm glad to have paid-if I'd had to pay $20 billion, that's fine."
"But when you say I should pay $100 billion, OK, then I'm starting to do a little math about what I have left over," Gates said. "Sorry, I'm just kidding."
Gates also said he wasn't sure Warren would be open to "sit down with somebody who has large amounts of money" to discuss policy ideas.
Warren responded in a tweet Thursday, saying, "I'm always happy to meet with people, even if we have different views. @BillGates, if we get the chance, I'd love to explain exactly how much you'd pay under my wealth tax. (I promise it's not $100 billion.)"
I'm always happy to meet with people, even if we have different views. @BillGates, if we get the chance, I'd love to explain exactly how much you'd pay under my wealth tax. (I promise it's not $100 billion.) https://t.co/m6G20hDNaV
- Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 7, 2019
In the plan Warren released last week to pay for her proposed Medicare for All plan, she outlines a tax on billionaires of 6% net worth above $1 billion.
More: Elizabeth Warren says 'Medicare for All' plan increases taxes on billionaires, avoids hike on middle class
Gates' net worth is estimated by Forbes to be nearly $107 billion. The Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin asked Gates how he felt about that plan, and estimated it would add $6 billion to what Gates already pays in taxes.
"I'm all for super progressive tax systems," Gates said, but he added later that, "I'd love somebody to find a middle ground approach," and said that taxing too much could harm the idea that the United States is a good place to "do innovative companies."
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, another candidate running for president with a Medicare for All plan, also weighed in.
"Say Bill Gates was actually taxed $100 billion," Sanders tweeted on Thursday. "We could end homelessness and provide safe drinking water to everyone in this country."
"Bill would still be a multibillionaire," Sanders continued.
Say Bill Gates was actually taxed $100 billion.
We could end homelessness and provide safe drinking water to everyone in this country.
Bill would still be a multibillionaire.
Our message: the billionaire class cannot have it all when so many have so little. https://t.co/fVlxuIGygf
- Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 7, 2019
Sanders has come under scrutiny for saying he believes billionaires should not exist in America.
2020 candidate Tom Steyer, a billionaire himself, also sent a message to Gates on Twitter: "a wealth tax is the right thing to do. Don't panic - you'll be alright."
Asked if he would vote for Warren if she were the Democratic nominee facing off against President Donald Trump, Gates declined to answer.
"I'm not going to make political declarations, but I do think no matter what policy somebody has in mind, a professional approach... I would weight the most," Gates said.
Warren currently stands behind only former Vice President Joe Biden in a recent national poll by USA TODAY and Suffolk University.
USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll: Biden's lead over Warren narrows in a turbulent Democratic field
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Elizabeth Warren wants to talk wealth tax with billionaire Bill Gates