In a move that will increase pressure on President Trump to
comply with the congressional request for his tax returns,
Democrat-in-name-only presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has released 10
years of tax returns. The Vermont senator’s tax documents show that the democratic
socialist is among the nation’s “one-percenters” and has become a capitalist at
least in practice.
CNN reported that Sanders’ taxable income jumped from $240,622 in 2015 to $1,073,333
in 2016 after his unsuccessful challenge to Hillary Clinton’s coronation as the
Democratic nominee. Since the 2016 campaign, Sanders and his wife, Jane, have
raked in $2.79 million, largely from book deals. Sanders has written a total of
five books, three of them since 2016. “Our Revolution” (2016) and “Where We Go
from Here” (2018) were best-sellers. Jane Sanders also has an upcoming book for
which she was paid $106,000.
“These tax returns show that our family has been
fortunate,” Sanders said in a statement. “I am very grateful for
that, as I grew up in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck and I know the
stress of economic insecurity. That is why I strive every day to ensure every
American has the basic necessities of life, including a livable wage, decent
housing, health care, and retirement security. I consider paying more in taxes
as my income rose to be both an obligation and an investment in our country.”
Sanders may have come from humble origins but his concern
for the poor did not extend far beyond the taxes that he paid. Buzzfeed notes that the Sanders family paid an effective 26 percent tax rate on the $561,293
that they earned in 2018 but only donated 3.4 percent of their earnings to
charity. After earning more than $1 million in 2016, Sanders gave only $10,600 to charity, less than one percent of his income. The charities that Sanders did
donate to included senior centers, low-income groups, educational organizations,
and political groups that advocate for housing and environmental causes.
Sanders denies that his millionaire status conflicts with
his democratic socialist message, telling a reporter last week, “I didn’t know
that it was a crime to write a good book. My view has always been that we need
a progressive tax system, which demands that the wealthiest people in this
country finally start sharing their fair share in taxes. If I make a lot of money,
you make a lot of money.”
Sanders’ attitude is symptomatic of the view of the
Democratic Party that it is okay to make money but that taxes need to be
increased to take the money from those who earn it. Sanders doesn’t seem to
realize that he could voluntarily transfer an unlimited amount of his wealth to
the needy without government compulsion. As the Bible says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Apparently, less
than five percent of Sander’s heart is with the downtrodden.
But that’s okay. In a free country, people should have the
right to give as much – or as little – to charity as they want. People should
be free to spend the fruits of their labor in any way that they choose as long
as it isn’t illegal.
Americans have a right to give Bernie millions for his books
if they want. They also have the right to pay him for his 1987 folk album,
“We Shall Overcome,” for which he reportedly earned $110 in royalties last
year, indicating that the market has decided that the senator is a better
writer than a singer.