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Debra Saunders
On keeping up with the Clintons
Article published on Tuesday, July 1, 2014
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It’s time to pass the hat for Hillary Clinton. The former secretary of state has tried to distance herself from her weeks-ago assertion that after husband Bill left the White House, the couple were “dead broke.” She told PBS that the line was “inartful,” but only after she told a British paper that she does not count herself among the “truly well-off.” Nobody knows the troubles she’s seen.

In the United Kingdom pushing her latest book – for which she received a reported eight-figure advance – Clinton told The Guardian that the Clintons should not be seen as out-of-touch swells: “We pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well-off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard work.”

Let us check the boxes of that quote. The Democrat essentially asserted that U.S. income taxes are cleaning out the family coffers. Expect her to call for tax reform a la Mitt Romney, as she believes that paying taxes has kept the Clintons – who, according to Politico, reported earnings of $109 million in the eight years preceding 2008 – from being truly well-off.

“Through dint of hard work”? Surely, Clinton worked harder as first lady and secretary of state than now. Ergo, she sees the speaking fees and book advances as just reward for what she often refers to as the call to public service. Now we know what “public service” means: Run for office; collect a top-2-percent paycheck; then cash in. If you engaged in “public service,” you’re entitled to it.

With such an attitude, it should come as no surprise that Clinton will be paid $225,000 to speak at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas fundraiser in October. A private foundation will pay her fee – so who cares if the money goes not to students but to a speaker who excels at self-serving spin?

I don’t begrudge the Clintons their wealth. It’s just that every time I hear or read Hillary Clinton confess that she’s a gal who just can’t say no to public service, I reach for my wallet.

Say this for Romney: He made his fortune in the private marketplace.

Likely 2016 presidential rival Joe Biden knows a good opening when he sees it. On Monday, the veep told the White House Summit on Working Families not to hold it against him that he doesn’t “own a single stock or bond” and has “no savings accounts.” He said, “But I got a great pension, and I got a good salary.”

PolitiFact rated Biden’s statement as “half true,” as the Bidens own five bank accounts. Also, wife Jill owns stocks. That said, it is refreshing to see a politician who recognizes that a six-figure salary and generous benefits are a fair reward for elective office. He even described his $230,700 salary as “a lot of money.”

Biden seems to understand the fact that fundraising, which puts politicians in an orbit with the super-rich, doesn’t mean they are entitled to a private-plane lifestyle.

Let the reader beware. Democrats who crusade against income inequality oftentimes are counting the days until they, too, can rake in many times more than the median earner they claim to champion. Worse, in their case, they think they’re so selfless that they deserve it.

Email Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@sfchronicle.com.
Article published on Tuesday, July 1, 2014
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