Sanders campaign trying (unsuccessfully) to explain away his 1970s attack on the immorality of senators being millionaires

Back in the 1970s, when he never thought he would have much money, Bernie Sanders was full of moral indignation at the idea that the United States Senate included a substantial number of millionaires.  Nathan McDermott and Andrew Kaczynski of CNN excavated the old moral posturing:

Bernie Sanders harshly criticized the wealth of US senators during his first campaign for office in 1971, calling it "immoral" that half the members of the Senate were millionaires.

Sanders' decades-old comments, which were picked up in December 1971 by the Bennington Banner, a local Vermont newspaper, are resurfacing as the US senator from Vermont has acknowledged that he is now a millionaire in large part due to his 2016 best-selling book, "Our Revolution."

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.


Jeffrey Cimmino of The Free Beacon notes:

Sanders's comments came during his campaign for Senate as a member of the Liberty Union Party, a self-described "radical political party" that advocated extensive nationalization of the economy.

Sanders said senators at the time served "the interests of corporations and big business —- their fellow millionaires."  He also proposed replacing legislators' annual salary with the average income in each member's home state.

But now that he is a millionaire himself, things are different, of course.  Nothing at all immoral about his wealth.  His campaign responded to CNN with a statement that can be summarized as "Blah, blah, blah."

In a statement to CNN, Sanders campaign spokesman Josh Orton said, "Yes, it is true: Senator Sanders said in the 1970s that it is immoral that the government too often represents the interests of the super-wealthy and large corporations — and yes, it is also true that Senator Sanders has continued to demand a change from that for his entire life."

Orton continued, "As the son of an immigrant who grew up living paycheck to paycheck, Senator Sanders believes elected officials should represent the interests of working people, not corporations, special interests or the ultra-wealthy.  This view has guided his work in politics, not the pursuit of personal wealth.  Senator Sanders' family has been fortunate, and he is grateful for that because he knows the stress of economic insecurity.  That is why he works every day to ensure every American has the basic necessities of life, including a livable wage, decent housing, health care and retirement security."

I'd suggest that as an immediate measure, Sanders should write an annual check to the U.S. Treasury for $116,478, the difference between his salary as a US Senator of $174,000 and $57,513, the average income in Vermont, which he claimed ought to be the level of salary for U.S. senators.  Or else he should explain what has changed since he made that suggestion.  After all, he can afford it, as his income even after the million-dollar years now is above half a million bucks.  Certainly, a socialist egalitarian like him should be able to get along on over 300 grand a year.