Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Forbes magazine’s latest tally of billionaires simply highlights the growing danger of “obscene” wealth and income inequality in the country.
Forbes last week released its list of the 400 richest Americans, whose total net worth stands at $2.29 trillion — a cumulative increase of $270 billion over last year.
Bill Gates was the wealthiest with $81 billion, and four members of Walmart’s Walton family are in the top ten. The Koch brothers Charles and David occupy the No. 4 spot.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg saw his net worth shoot up the most over the past year, by $15 billion for a total of $34 billion.
Sanders, however, stressed that the billionaires on the list make more than 150 million people who comprise the “bottom half” of America.
“Never before in the modern history of our country have so few had so much and so many had so little. This incredible and obscene level of wealth and income inequality is a grave danger to our economy and our political system,” Sanders said in a statement this weekend.
“Congress must summon the courage to take on their big money campaign contributors and pass legislation that asks the wealthy to start paying their fair share of taxes and overturns the disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United.”
Sanders has been testing the waters of a potential 2016 run, with supporters arguing that he will give voters a choice on liberal orthodoxy.
The senator has pointed out when asked about likely candidate Hillary Clinton that “America does not want to anoint anybody.”
“In this country today, as I think you know, the middle class is collapsing. We have more people living in poverty than almost any time in the history of this country. We have massive wealth inequality. 95 percent of new income is going to the top 1 percent. We have a Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allows billionaires, like the Koch Brothers, to buy elections. We have the global warming crisis. We have an enormous set of problems facing our nation, and, in fact, the world,” Sanders told CNN on Thursday.
“And I think that the working class of this country, the middle class of this country, needs people to stand up for them and to take on the billionaire class which, today, has so much power economically and politically. And, yes, within that context, I am giving thought to running for president. But it is a very, very difficult decision. Not on easy decision. I have to assess whether there is the kind of support necessary all over this country in terms of a unprecedented grassroots movement prepared to take on the billionaire class that have so much power. That’s what I’m trying to ascertain right now.”
Sanders said there’s “absolutely nothing” wrong with Clinton, but “this is not about Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or anybody else.”
“Weal unemployment today is 12 percent. Do you know what youth unemployment percent is? It is 20 percent. Our infrastructure is crumbling. We need to create millions of jobs rebuilding our infrastructure,” he said.
Sanders telling headed to New Hampshire for a town hall on Friday and to Iowa for Saturday and Sunday events.
He told MSNBC that the trips are designed to determine whether “there is the kind of grassroots support that I would need to take on the billionaire class and the Koch brothers.”
“It is very hard to determine, if you’re serious and if you really want to win, whether you can mobilize people in the way that has to be done to be successful.”