Who Is Tom Steyer?
Tom Steyer is an American billionaire who built his wealth as a former hedge fund investor in California. In 2012, Steyer left the financial world to focus on politics and fighting climate change, and the following year, founded NextGen America, a nonprofit that pushes for progressive solutions in the areas of climate, healthcare, education and immigration. Steyer began attracting national attention in 2017 when he began his "Need to Impeach" campaign against President Donald Trump. In July 2019, Steyer announced his candidacy in the 2020 presidential election.
Early Life and Education
Steyer was born on June 27, 1957, in New York City. His mother was a teacher and his father was a partner at the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell. Steyer has two brothers, one of whom is Jim Steyer, a lawyer and professor at Stanford University who founded Common Sense Media.
Steyer grew up in privilege, attending the prestigious boarding school Phillips Exeter Academy and from there, Yale University, where he majored in economics and political science. He would further his education by going to Stanford Business School and later in life, would serve on the board of trustees (2007-2017).
Steyer embarked on his career at Morgan Stanley in 1979 before moving onto Goldman Sachs as an associate in mergers and acquisitions in the risk arbitrage division. After becoming a partner at the San Francisco-based private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, Steyer founded the hedge fund Farallon Capital in 1986 and managed it for the next 26 years.
Steyer was an early player in the hedge fund business and had a strong base of financial connections, thanks to his father's prestigious New York City law firm and his wife's family's banking ties. After he founded Farallon Capital, he built a reputation for making strategic, solid bets for institutions, foundations and affluent individuals. After running Farallon well over two decades, Steyer left the company and turned his attention to politics and environmental issues.
Platform and Policies
Along with utilizing his NextGen America organization to finance and promote Democratic candidates who have bold climate agendas, Steyer has also pushed for stronger global alliances in this area. His $2.3 trillion dollar plan includes declaring a national emergency on climate change during his first day as president, re-entry into the Paris Climate Accords, creating millions of green jobs and protecting low-income communities (which are affected first and foremost by climate change).
“We can’t afford to countenance the continued lying from the Republican Party and the president,” Steyer told Vogue. “Climate is a justice issue when it comes down to it. So is health care, tax cuts, immigration... This government is allowing corporations to make sure that hazardous waste ends up in the poorest communities who have the least political power to prevent it. This isn’t some theoretical fancy-pants, elitist issue. It’s straight-up justice.”
Steyer and his activist wife Kat Taylor have donated millions to their alma maters, Yale and Stanford, to fund advanced energy solutions. The couple also owns an environmentally minded cattle grazing operation near San Francisco to experiment on curbing greenhouse emissions in the farming industry.
Although Steyer believes healthcare is a fundamental right, he does not support "Medicare for All." Instead, he suggests expanding coverage by way of a public option.
"I don't think we need to change everything in society in order to drive down the cost of healthcare for everybody and make sure that every American has a right to affordable healthcare," Steyer told Fox News on Cavuto Live. "I think that a public option does it without turning everything upside down and allowing Americans to make a choice for themselves."
Steyer believes in major structural reform. If he were elected president, Steyer would propose a restructuring of the Federal Election Committee and fight to overturn the Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United decision to push back on corporate influence on politics.
Steyer is for raising taxes on wealthy Americans, although he hasn't offered specifics on how much. He also advocates for repealing Republican tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.
"We need to make sure that we're not in a society that is unbalanced and unfair and where the richest Americans are taking advantage of everybody else," he has said.
Family and Philanthropy
Steyer married Kathryn Taylor, a Harvard and Stanford graduate, in 1986. The couple has four children (Sam, Charles, Evelyn and Henry) and lives in San Francisco.
In 2006, Steyer and his wife launched OneRoof, Inc., which helps provide Internet access and employment skills to small communities in Mexico and India. The following year they founded the community development bank Beneficial State Bank to help underserved individuals and small businesses in the San Francisco area.
The couple's strong sense of philanthropy and civic duty compelled them to sign Bill Gates and Warren Buffet's "Giving Pledge" in 2010, which promises that they would use most of their vast wealth for philanthropic causes.
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