"Two French economists," the New York Times reports, "are the driving force behind proposals for a wealth tax, an idea embraced by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren."
The Times reports that "Four years ago, Mr. Saez and Mr. Zucman pitched the leading Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Mr. Sanders, on their wealth tax proposal, but both campaigns passed. This cycle has been different. Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren have both proposed wealth taxes."
The New Yorker in October 2019 ("The French Economist Who Helped Invent Elizabeth Warren's Wealth Tax") reported more details of how Zucman and Saez interacted with the presidential campaigns:
At the end of last year, Saez got an e-mail from Bharat Ramamurti, a longtime economic policy adviser of Elizabeth Warren's, who said that Warren was interested in proposing a tax on wealth in some form. Zucman and Saez created a spreadsheet, using their own estimates of wealth, that allowed the Warren campaign to play around with different thresholds and rates for the tax...During the 2016 Presidential primaries, Zucman and Saez had an extended conversation with Warren Gunnels, Bernie Sanders's longtime economic adviser, after Sanders had expressed interest in the idea of a wealth tax. The Berkeley economists scored various versions of the plan, estimating the revenue and economic effects, and eventually Gunnels brought a proposal to Sanders and the campaign.
Saez's CV says he has both French and U.S. citizenship. Zucman's CV does not specify his citizenship, and Zucman did not reply to an email I sent him over the weekend asking him whether he is an American, a U.S. citizen, or in the process of applying to become one.
There's a difference between a foreign-government-hatched plot to interfere with an American election and one carried out privately by a foreign citizen. And there's a difference between involvement by citizens of France, a NATO ally, and involvement by Russia, which is not our ally. With or without government involvement, though, foreign influence on the American political process is something that Democrats recently professed to be so concerned about that they were ready to impeach President Trump over it. Indeed, the same edition of the New York Times that carried the friendly business-section profile of Professors Zucman and Saez carried, on page one, an article with a much more alarmed tone reporting that "Russia Is Said To Be Interfering to Aid Sanders in Democratic Primaries; The nominal Democratic front-runner denounced Russia's efforts to attack American democracy."
When Russia gets involved in an American election, it is an "attack" on democracy. When French economists are writing tax plans for leading Democratic presidential candidates, no one except for FutureofCapitalism seems to see it as a problem. I'm not a xenophobe; if Sanders and Warren want to run campaigns with health care plans from Canada and tax plans from France, it's as fine with me as when Republicans want to run campaigns with Israeli-style counterterrorism plans and Chile-style pension-reforms. But given the scope and breathlessness of Democratic demands for details about contacts between the Trump administration and campaign and various Russian and Ukrainian officials, it would seem consistent, at least, for Sanders and Warren to be asked to disclose all the emails, phone calls and meetings that happened between their own presidential campaigns and Senate offices and foreigners trying to influence American policy. It's not to say there is anything impeachable, much less criminal, about what happened. But if the French are influencing the American presidential campaign to the point of crafting the Democratic front-runner's tax plan, it's the sort of thing that deserves consistent play on the front page headlines of the New York Times and of newspapers across the land, not merely in the Saturday business section.