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Jun. 24, 2014

Hillary's Wealth Isn't the Problem

Clinton pretends she's something she's not, failing to connect with average Americans.

The American Dream is to enjoy the fruits of Liberty – to succeed in your endeavors, earn financial security and raise a family. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Yet humans are by nature covetous of the gains of others, and a certain political party has made a platform out of fomenting and exploiting that envy. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Bill and Hillary Clinton were masters of class warfare while in the White House, using it to push massive tax hikes on the “wealthy” in 1993. In 2001 and 2003, Republicans cut those taxes, albeit with an unfortunate sunset provision Democrats seized in order to raise those taxes again in 2013. Democrats made the “rich” paying “their fair share” their standard talking point. Of course, these taxpayers already more than paid their share, but that wasn’t really the point.

Meanwhile, since leaving the White House the Clintons have quite successfully cashed in on their political celebrity to the tune of more than $100 million – not to mention Bill’s ample pension plan and benefits. That leaves Hillary walking the difficult line between being truly wealthy and connecting with the average American.

Two weeks ago, she infamously lamented, “[W]e came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt. We had no money when we got there and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education – you know, it was not easy.” Lifestyles of the poor and downtrodden.

Realizing how out of touch she sounded, she’s been trying to “clarify” ever since. This week, she argued that she and her husband are just like you – working to make ends meet. “[W]e pay ordinary income tax,” she said, “unlike a lot of people who are truly well off – not to name names – and we’ve done it through dint of hard work.” Even CNN’s hosts couldn’t help but laugh at that one. And as National Review’s Rich Lowry observed, “[I]t seemed pretty clear that Hillary was contrasting herself with Mitt Romney. It was striking, then, that she said she and Bill have earned their wealth ‘through dint of hard work.’ What she was implying is that investing in and turning around companies is some sort of valueless, rigged financial game, while getting enormous book advances and speaking fees based on your political celebrity is the definition of honest labor.”

Furthermore, the Clintons have done everything they could to avoid paying as much tax as possible. And it’s amusing that she considers herself not “truly well off” with only $100 million when Barack Obama and the Democrats were pushing tax increases on “millionaires and billionaires” earning $200,000 a year.

Even Chelsea Clinton is getting in on the act. The Clintons’ 34-year-old daughter said recently, “I was curious if I could care about [money] on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t.” Translation: Money was plentiful and I needn’t worry. Not to hammer the younger Clinton, but she’s not helping her mom right now.

In related news, Joe Biden claims he’s the one who’s downright poor. “Don’t hold it against me that I don’t own a single stock or bond,” he said Monday. “I have no savings account. But I’ve got a great pension and I’ve got a good salary.” (Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has a stock portfolio of about $8 million, said in 2012 that no member of Congress should own stocks, so at least Biden’s following her advice.) That’s Biden’s way of taking advantage of Hillary’s missteps as he explores his own possible presidential bid.

Again, the issue here isn’t the Clintons’ or Biden’s wealth. It’s still a (somewhat) free country and they’re welcome to earn what they can. The issue is hypocrisy. The Clintons amass a tremendous fortune on the basis of nothing but their own fame, while pretending to share the average American’s struggles and attacking those who build wealth slowly through hard work, perhaps in a small business. (It’s worth noting the Obama tax increases of 2013 don’t hit the Clintons; they primarily penalize those like the small business owner.) Hillary should simply own up to her wealth, show a little gratitude and humility, and move on. Instead, she clumsily tries to pretend she’s something else entirely.

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