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Op-ed Placement

2020 Democrats Aren't Giving Much to Charity, so Why Not Contribute to the National Debt?

BY Adam Brandon
04/22/2019
Originally Published in The Daily Caller by Adam Brandon on 4/22/19.

Bernie Sanders is a millionaire. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

He refuses to apologize for it. (There’s nothing wrong with that either.)

“I didn’t know that it was a crime to write a good book which turns out to be a best-seller,” Sanders said at an event in Gary, Indiana. He told The New York Times, “I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.” Sounds like a strong capitalist defense, if you ask me.

Far-left Democrats like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have hardwired their voter base to feel entitled to know and judge every detail of a candidate’s personal financials.

Releasing tax returns has become a self-imposed prerequisite for candidacy in the Democratic presidential primary. There’s only one problem: Democrats are making big money, and not spreading the wealth around.

Beto O’Rourke only donated one-third of 1 percent of income to charity in 2017. Sen. Bernie Sanders donated only 3.4 percent of income last year, despite reporting an adjusted gross income of $1.06 million in 2016 and $1.13 million in 2017.

Sen. Kamala Harris donated only 1.4 percent of income to charity, despite reporting $1.89 million in 2018 gross income. These numbers differ significantly from 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was widely criticized in the press for his personal wealth, despite giving 29.4 percent of income to charity in 2011.

Instead of taking the initiative to “spread the wealth around” through charitable giving, Democrats blame the tax code for their enormous personal fortune. They consider themselves victims of circumstance, hopelessly trapped in a system that never seems to take enough of their money.

Fortunately, we have found a solution to their revenue surplus. Democratic millionaires like Bernie Sanders can donate today to help pay off the national debt. The best part? It only requires a bank account, Amazon account, PayPal account, debit card, or credit card. There are no tax hikes, and no congressional votes required.

In fact, the federal government has a donation page available right now for anyone who believes they should be giving more of their hard-earned money to the federal government.

If Beto, Bernie, and Co. truly believe they are not paying their fair share to the federal government, they can lead by example and make a voluntary donation today. Progressive voters must hold them accountable and demand they #PayYourFairShareFirst.

So far, the Democratic presidential candidates who have released their tax returns include Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Jay Inslee, and Amy Klobuchar.

Democrats are still waiting on Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, John Hickenlooper, Tim Ryan, Eric Swalwell, and Andrew Yang. No word yet from any candidate on plans to donate to the national debt.

The ceremonial ‘releasing of the tax returns’ is nothing more than a political weapon in presidential politics. It grants citizens a peek into the private spending habits of candidates and their families. It gives strategists and consultants the opposition research necessary to seize the moral high ground above campaign rivals.

Candidates who decide to keep family tax records private are accused of secrecy and dishonesty. Candidates who decide to release returns are criticized for making too much money or not giving enough to charity. It’s a lose-lose for everyone.

Democratic hopefuls in the 2020 presidential primary have mostly backed themselves into a corner on this issue. Many have already called for a law requiring presidential candidates to share all personal and business returns from the last 10 years.

After all the huffing and puffing around President Trump’s tax returns, it would be the height of hypocrisy for 2020 Democrats to keep their tax returns private. But hey, if they come under fire for lackluster charitable giving, at least they can make things right by donating to the federal government.

Releasing a tax return is a pointless political spectacle, but it reminds us the revolving door of wealth and power in Washington is bipartisan. When politicians call for tax hikes, we know they’ve cut a deal with special interests at the expense of the rest of us.

Regular families can’t afford teams of lawyers and lobbyists dedicated to avoiding taxes. We work hard and play by the rules. We believe that communities know best how to help neighbors in need, not some politician in Washington.

If Democrats want to “spread the wealth around,” they should do it voluntarily — not on our dime. They can start by making a voluntary donation to the federal government.