Millionaire Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders evaded direct answers to questions about his taxes during a town hall meeting on April 15.
The town hall kicked off with Sanders taking a question about his taxes and his millionaire status. Instead of answering directly, he shifted the topic to major corporations and their taxes.
Sanders mentioned Amazon and Netflix by name and points out the disparity in the taxes paid by corporations compared to individuals, before finally addressing his personal wealth.
MacCallum: “So would you be willing to pay 52% on the money that you made? You can volunteer, you can send it back”
Bernie: “You can volunteer too…why don’t you give? You make more money than I do”
M: “I didn’t suggest a wealth tax”
Baier: “And she’s not running for POTUS” pic.twitter.com/zn4XrzJIXG
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) April 15, 2019
Sanders then went on to address his own wealth by attributing it to his book.
“It was a bestseller, sold all over the world, and we made money. So if anyone thinks that I should apologize for writing a bestselling book, I’m sorry I’m not going to do it,” Sanders said.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders platform consisted of slamming the wealthy, The New York Times reported. Despite the revelation that Sanders is among the wealthy, his polarizing views have not changed.
IRS data indicates Sanders is in the top one percent of taxpayers.
Fox moderator Bret Baier pointed out that Trump’s tax cuts benefited Sanders. He asked if Sanders was willing to give back the money he saved on taxes, since Sanders said he voted against the tax cut.
“Your taxes do show that you’re a millionaire. You did make a million in 2016 and 2017. You’re right [about] the $561 [thousand] in 2018. But your marginal tax rate was 26 percent because of President Trump’s tax cuts. So why not say ‘I’m leading this revolution. I’m not going to take those.’,” asked Baier.
Sanders scoffed, slightly started to answer, but then quickly deflected and changed the subject. Instead of answering, he took a cheap shot at Trump.
“I pay the taxes that I owe. And by the way, why don’t you get Donald Trump up here and ask him how much he pays in taxes,” Sanders said, sidestepping the original question. “I am eagerly awaiting your doing that!”
Sanders was also asked about his meager charitable donations compared to other wealthy people. Baier pointed out that Sanders only gave 3.4 percent of his income to charity. Sanders gave little explanation.
“My wife and I do give money to charity, and we’re proud to do what we did. There are others—you’re quite right—there are people, Gates Foundation, do a phenomenal job. We do what we do.”
Somehow, despite whatever answer Sanders gave, no matter how short or feeble its logic, the audience clapped wildly. They clapped when Sanders sidestepped questions. They clapped when his answers to questions left bigger questions, like when the moderators asked who would pay for his single-payer health care plan.
The audience members were also very polite in addressing Sanders, full of admiration and respect, suggesting many supporters were in attendance. A woman sitting just behind Sanders can be seen with a hoodie over what looks like a Sanders campaign shirt.
Even though the city of Bethlehem elected Donald Trump in 2016, the meeting was overwhelmingly supportive of Sanders.
ThinkProgress put out a video showing clips Sanders over the years of his political career making negative comments towards “millionaires and billionaires.” They showed that he changed his language over the years as his income reached one million, to attack only “billionaires” and “multi-millionaires.”
A blog post by ThinkProgress suggests that Sanders made his million-dollar income by attacking the same club he is a part of.
“Turns out railing against ‘millionaires and billionaires’ can be quite the lucrative enterprise,” wrote ThinkProgress. “Clearly Sanders, who has spent the better part of his career saying “millionaires” like it’s a slur, finds the whole situation a bit awkward and would prefer no one notice his wealth.”