Fact check: Would Warren's wealth tax proposal be unconstitutional?

Delaney, a millionaire, said Warren's wealth tax proposal could be "unconstitutional."

"I think the wealth tax will be fought in court forever. It’s arguably unconstitutional and the countries that have had it have largely abandoned it because it’s impossible to implement,” Delaney said.

Tax experts have in fact argued this, though not definitively. 

The Constitution places limits on the federal government's ability to levy taxes and Congress previously had to enact the 16th Amendment to impose taxes on income. Other types of taxes have to be apportioned among the states by population, which could be difficult to reconcile with Warren’s plan.

“So the question is, what is and is not a direct tax?” analysts for the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit that studies tax policy, asked in January.

The group’s analysis points out several Supreme Court rulings on the issue. Some rulings struck down taxes deemed "direct," while other taxes, such as inheritance and estate taxes, were upheld by the high court on the grounds that they were “indirect taxes on the transfer of wealth.” Other taxes, like corporate income taxes, were also upheld on the basis of involving transactions. The Warren wealth tax does not involve transactions, the analysis points out. 

“I’d argue that the term ‘direct tax’ is a proxy for incidence, as there’s solid evidence from the Founders that’s what they were getting at by using the term,” the Tax Foundation’s Joseph Bishop-Henchman wrote. "Based on that and the precedents, my inclination is that Warren’s proposal would be found unconstitutional. But it's not a slam-dunk case, as the precedents go both ways."

Anticipating the issue, Warren's office said she consulted with outside legal scholars ahead of the proposal's release, and over a dozen affirmed that it passed constitutional muster.

Who won the Democratic debate?

It was the second face-off for the slate of 10 Democratic presidential candidates who took the stage Tuesday night to debate. For some, it could be their last.

Only half of the candidates on stage in Detroit are on track to meet the higher threshold needed to qualify for the next debate in September, putting the rest in the fight of their political lives.

Here, in no particular order, is a look at who stood out from the pack in the potentially make-or-break faceoff, who held their ground — and whose presidential hopes may be at risk.

Warren says differentiating herself from Bernie isn’t important right now

After Tuesday’s debate, Warren was asked by NBC News’ Ali Vitali about how she could differentiate herself from Sanders as the two didn’t have any big policy disagreements on the debate stage.

“Look I don't think this is about differentiation,” she said. “I think this about an opportunity for Democrats to stand up and talk about our vision for America.”

As Sanders has, Warren mentioned making the federal government “work, not just for those at the top, but for everyone else.”

“So I talk about my plans to do that,” she said. “Attack the corruption head on. Restructure basic parts of our economy. Make it easier to join a union. Put a wealth tax in place and give us universal child care and cancel student loan debt. And we didn't talk much about it tonight, but protect our democracy.”

Watch the highlights from tonight's debate:

Williamson explains one of her most talked about moments

Williamson told MSNBC’s Garrett Haake what she meant about the “dark psychic force” pervading American politics under Trump. It was another viral moment from tonight’s debate that made Williamson the talk of social media. 

“But until the last few years, we thought we reached a consensus in this country that there were lines past which we would not go on either the left or the right when it came to real, dark aspects of human character — racism, bigotry, Islamophobia, homophobia, antisemitism,” she explained after the debate. “We thought we reached a point, not that those forces didn't exist, but where whether you were a Democrat or a Republican, nobody would be giving them a major megaphone.”

She added, “Those levies have fallen. First of all, I think because of social media and also because we have a political figure who stokes those things for his own political purposes. This is very, very dangerous. Very, very dangerous.” 

Williamson also sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper to discuss her position in the crowded field. She said she does not regret her unconventional political messaging about creating a “moral uprising” to defeat Trump, arguing that the current political conversation — intellectual and wonky — is not the way Americans talk and think. 

Read the full transcript of tonight's debate

Here's the full transcript of the second Democratic debate hosted by CNN in Detroit. Read the questions from the moderators, the candidates' responses and more.

Where was the ‘I-word’?

MSNBC’s Brian Williams and The Washington Post’s Robert Costa just made an interesting point: The word “impeachment” wasn’t uttered tonight.

The lack of a mention comes after testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller on his nearly two-year investigation into Russian election meddling and whether Trump obstructed justice failed to move public opinion on the question of impeachment, according to recent polling. 

However, billionaire candidate Tom Steyer — who didn’t qualify for the debate stage — ran a pro-impeachment advertisement during the CNN broadcast. And more than 100 House Democrats have also called for the beginning of impeachment proceedings against Trump.

Klobuchar: 'I've gotten things done'

Fact check: Does the climate reach a 'point of no return' in 2030?

"By 2030 we will have passed the point of no return on climate," Buttigieg said Tuesday night in his closing statement. Earlier in the debate, he said that "science tells us we have 12 years before we reach the horizon of catastrophe when it comes to our climate."

He is exaggerating.

The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change zeroed in on 2030 as an important climate date in their 2018 report, pointing to the global Paris Agreement that promises to reduce carbon emissions by that date. But the report does not label 2030 as the beginning of the end of the world or a point of catastrophe, as the mayor and media reports have done.

The more global warming is slowed by 2030, the better the globe will be able to handle the challenges of climate change, the U.N. report explains.

Looking ahead to the next debate, can Beto save himself?

After the debate, CNN’s John King noted that some candidates, such as Beto O’Rourke, have qualified for the next debate in September, so any performance issues tonight might be based on having that surety and also might not ultimately hurt their standing with voters. However, the reaction on social media to O'Rourke's performance, for example, was largely negative. The next debate could give him and others time to tweak their performances and find that sweet spot to connect with voters.

Sanders camp touts 'I wrote the damn bill' debate line

It appears that the Sanders campaign is hoping his "I wrote the damn bill" moment with Tim Ryan was a "That little girl was me" moment Kamala Harris had from the first debate, and the campaign is already fundraising off it:

Fact check: Warren misleads on her wealth tax pitch

Warren pitched her wealth tax plan as just a drop in the bucket for the country's richest Americans on Tuesday night.

“Your first $50 million, you can keep free and clear. But your 50 millionth and first dollar, you got to pitch in two cents. Two cents,” she said.

But Kyle Pomerleau, an economist and tax policy expert at the Tax Foundation, noted on Twitter that her pitch is a bit misleading. 

Pomerleau explained to NBC News after the debate that he is evaluating the tax as an income tax. He said that an annual 2 percent tax — on an asset with a hypothetical 5 percent return annually — actually taxes about 40 percent of that asset's income. On an asset with a hypothetical 2 percent return, it could even be a 100 percent tax on that asset's income.

Of course, this only applies to uber-rich Americans' wealth above $50 million. But a 2 percent tax wealth does — at times — look more sizable when you consider it like an income tax.