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.
Originally published on The Resurgent