Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders rails against the “billionaire class” and has called income inequality “the greatest moral issue of our time,” but the senator from Vermont is “not exactly a man of modest means,” according to an article written by Kerri Anne Renzulli for the TIME magazine website.
However, “nothing about Bernie’s net worth devalues his progressive beliefs,” stated Peter Daou, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton who responded on the Blue Nation Review website to reports that Sanders and his wife, Jane, could retire with an “effective retirement nest egg” valued at “nearly $2 million.”
Daou began his article by stating:
If voters had a dime for every time Bernie Sanders railed against millionaires and billionaires, they’d be millionaires.
OK, that’s an exaggeration, but there’s no denying that Bernie has portrayed millionaires as one of society’s greatest ills.
“It is highly unlikely there’s anything newsworthy or untoward in Bernie’s unreleased tax returns -- which is what makes his evasiveness baffling,” the head of True Blue Media noted.
“Perhaps it’s something much simpler: Bernie and Jane Sanders are millionaires,” he continued. “So what happens to Bernie’s campaign if he is a millionaire?”
Daou then noted that he shares Sanders' and Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton's “beliefs about the injustice of extreme income inequality -- there’s something deeply wrong about a single individual hoarding enough money to feed millions of hungry children.”
“But like Bernie,” he continued, “we believe that wealthy individuals -- like Hillary and Bill Clinton -- who devote their life and resources to helping others instead of hoarding money are doing the fair and just thing.”
In addition, the Politico website reports that “according to campaign spokesman Michael Briggs, the senator owns at least two homes, one in Vermont and one on Capitol Hill.”
“On MSNBC yesterday, Jane Sanders -- responding to a question about releasing their tax returns -- mentioned a condo that the Sanderses sold,” Daou continued. “That would be the third home referred to in a report and would likely inflate their net worth (even at the lower estimates) to over a million dollars.”
“So what?” he then asked. “In our view, not much.”
“Nothing about Bernie’s net worth devalues his progressive beliefs,” the author stated. “The same holds true for Hillary. She has devoted her life to improving the lives of others. Rather than sit back and enjoy her financial success, she continues to expose herself to vicious attacks to be a public servant.”
“Fighting to secure health insurance for millions of children, as Hillary did, would be a powerful enough legacy to do nothing for the remainder of her life,” he added. “But instead, she continues to fight for progressive values, enduring more personal smears in an hour than most humans do in a lifetime.”
In her article, Renzulli noted: “True, on the financial disclosure forms Sanders released after announcing his entrance into the presidential race, he lists no assets of his own, other than a $5,000 annual pension payment from his stint as mayor of Burlington, Vermont.”
Instead, “all of the investments itemized on the disclosure form belong to his wife,” who “worked as an educator and college administrator.”
But that form does not require Sanders to disclose the amount of savings or the kinds of investments he holds in his government retirement savings account, known as the Thrift Savings Plan -- the well-regarded retirement plan, similar in many ways to a private-sector 401(k).
Although Sanders and his wife’s joint tax return showed income of only a little more than $200,000 for 2014 -- including his $174,000 salary, his mayoral pension and their Social Security payments -- the senator’s expected retirement benefits make his situation much more comparable to those in the millionaire class he faults.
“If Sanders, now 74, retires from politics at the end of his current Senate term two years from now without having won the presidential election, he will be able to collect an annual pension of $71,340,” Renzulli asserted, which “would be far above the $36,895 that the median American household with at least one member over 65 earns in a year, according to the Pension Rights Center.”
“About half of households 55 and older have no retirement savings, according to a GAO Report released last summer,” she noted. “And of those who do, households age 65-74 had a median $148,000 saved.”
Daou concluded his article by stating: “So perhaps it’s time for Bernie and his campaign to put the Wall Street hit against Hillary to rest,” the author noted. “After all, Bernie -- arguably a millionaire himself -- says it’s a personal attack.”
“She has the right to make money,” The New York Times quoted Sanders as saying.
Now if he'd only give everyone else in the country the freedom to do the same.