MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa — Beto O’Rourke said Friday that America’s capitalist economy is “racist,” while he praised a proposal to give infants so-called baby bonds to address systemic inequalities.
Responding to a question at a meet-and-greet in Iowa about whether he is a socialist, O’Rourke reiterated that “I consider myself a capitalist” and said capitalism is necessary to meet myriad “historic challenges” facing the country.
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“It won’t be government intervention or policy alone that makes it possible,” he said.
However, O’Rourke added at a coffee shop here, “Having said that, it is clearly an imperfect, unfair, unjust and racist capitalist economy.”
On Friday, O’Rourke lamented “the disparity in wealth accumulation between white America and black America” and spoke favorably about a proposal to give infants a “baby bond” of hundreds of thousands of dollars at birth — an idea Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has embraced.
“This idea of a baby bond, where there’s an investment made in every single American depending on their means, will not solve every problem in disparity in wealth and income and opportunity in this country,” O’Rourke said. “But it could go a long way to ensuring that there’s a little bit more fairness in this country.”
O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman who became a Democratic sensation after his near-miss Texas Senate race last year, had opened his second day as a presidential candidate with an impassioned response to the mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand. While offering prayers and thoughts, he said, “I hope that you will agree with me that it is not enough just to be compassionate, thoughtful and prayerful at this moment.”
He said such “acts of hatred and violence … are on the rise around the Western World.”
“They’re on the rise right here in this country,” O’Rourke said. “They’re part of a larger disease of intolerance that has taken hold in what was thought to be the most tolerant, most open and most welcoming country the world had ever known.”