Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) released a decade of personal tax returns, and they show that the presidential candidate is in the top 1% of earners.
Sen. Sanders said in a statement provided to PoliticusUSA, “These tax returns show that our family has been fortunate. 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. I will continue to fight to make our tax system more progressive so that our country has the resources to guarantee the American Dream to all people.”
The 2016 presidential campaign made Sen. Sanders a millionaire, but he also paid more in taxes:
NEW: @BernieSanders releases ten years of tax returns. Adjusted gross income & effective tax rate took a jump after his presidential campaign:
2018: $561k | 26%
2017: $1.13m | 30%
2016: $1.06m | 35%
2015: $240k | 15%
2014: $205k | 13.4%
— Adam Kelsey (@adamkelsey) April 15, 2019
There are 2 political reasons for Sanders to release his tax returns.
First, the millionaire Bernie criticism was picking up traction and undercutting some of Sanders’s message. The campaign is clearly trying to deal with Sen. Sanders’s wealth in a head-on way because questions about his wealth go to the heart of the credibility of his populist message. The Sanders campaign went out of their way to explain that their candidate pays his fair share and is nothing like the people who he criticizes on the campaign trail.
Secondly, Sanders doesn’t want to give Trump any cover. As high profile Democrats like Kamala Harris release 15 years of tax returns, it was important for Sanders not only to keep up with his competition for the Democratic nomination but also to make sure that Trump can’t use Sanders as an excuse not to release his own returns.
Bernie Sanders is a one percenter, but does it matter?
Sanders’s tax return do hurt the myth of the ragtag populist warrior, but lots of Democrats who were liberal have been rich. FDR was rich, but he is the founding father of the modern Democratic Party. LBJ was rich and he gave the country Medicare. John F. Kennedy was rich. Democratic primary voters will decide if Sanders’s income matters to them.
Sanders is a polarizing figure on the left, so minds were made up long ago before his tax returns were ever released.
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