“When you wrote the book and made the money, isn’t that the definition of capitalism and the American dream?” Brett Baier of Fox News pointedly asked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday night.
The venue was a town hall in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The context was Sanders’ wealth — revealed after he released 10 years’ worth of tax returns on Monday showing that he had been “fortunate” even as he pushed for a more progressive tax system.
At the same time, Sanders refused to say why he would not volunteer to pay the massive new 52-percent “wealth tax” that he himself advocated imposing on the country’s richest individuals, as Fox News also pointed out.
The returns showed that Sanders and his wife, Jane, paid a 26 percent effective tax rate on $561,293 in income — and made more than $1 million in both 2016 and 2017.
“What we want is a country in which everyone has an opportunity,” Sanders insisted on Monday night. “A lot of people don’t have a college degree. A lot of people are not United States senators.”
Sanders robustly defended his wealth, as he has before — which some people have said is hypocritical.
“This year, we had $560,000 in income,” Sanders admitted. “In my and my wife’s case, I wrote a pretty good book. It was a bestseller, sold all over the world, and we made money.”
“If anyone thinks I should apologize for writing a bestselling book, I’m sorry, I’m not gonna do it,” he added.
Fox News also noted the following about the town hall event on Monday night:
Pressed by anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum as to why he was holding onto his wealth rather than refusing deductions or writing a check to the Treasury Department, Sanders began laughing dismissively and, in an apparent non sequitur, asked why MacCallum didn’t donate her salary. (“I didn’t suggest a wealth tax,” MacCallum responded.)
“Pfft, come on. I paid the taxes that I owe,” Sanders shot back. “And by the way, why don’t you get Donald Trump up here and ask him how much he pays in taxes? President Trump watches your network a little bit, right? Hey, President Trump, my wife and I just released 10 years. Please do the same.”
Sanders had earlier mentioned his 2018 best-seller, “Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance,” as the reason for his comfortable financial status.
“I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too,” he quipped to The New York Times recently.
And in Gary, Indiana, on Friday, Sanders said with a bit of testiness to a Daily Mail reporter, “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.”