Are the Clintons in the top 1% of the top 1%?
posted at 5:31 pm on June 28, 2014 by Ed Morrissey
Live by the class-warfare sword, die by the class-warfare sword. The One Percenter argument that effectively painted Mitt Romney in 2012 as an out-of-touch patrician in a nation full of populists has boomeranged on Bill and Hillary Clinton in 2014, thanks in large part to Hillary’s own declarations of poverty and struggle. With Democrats paving the way two years ago to attacks on wealth, the Wall Street Journal’s Tim Hanrahan looks at financial disclosures and other public records and concludes that the Clintons aren’t just One Percenters — they’re among the top One Percent of the One Percenters:
The nationwide level to make the top 1% of households in 2012 was $567,719,according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. And the level for the top 0.1% was about $2.9 million, a bar the Clintons easily surpassed.
The Tax Policy Center data stop there, at the top 0.1% — or the top 10% of the top 1% of Americans.
Did the Clintons reach the top 1% of the top 1%, based on their 2012 income? A different measure offers a strong clue. The Tax Policy Center says that IRS data for 2011, the most recent numbers available, show 11,500 total tax returns with adjusted gross income over $10 million that year, out of 145 million total returns. So a $10 million adjusted gross income puts one in the top 0.007% of all tax returns, and the Clintons’ income was well above that — likely putting it into the top 1% of the 1%.
The AP noted yesterday that the last public disclosure of the Clinton’s net worth was in 2012, when it ranged from $5 million to $25 million. That’s not exactly hereditary peerage level, but it’s far from “not truly well off,” let alone “struggling.” That’s apart from their earnings, which have surpassed the nine-figure mark over the last thirteen years; Bill Clinton by himself has made over $100 million just in speeches. Every speech either gives can be measured in multiples of annual average household incomes for Americans. For instance, two speeches at UCLA brought in more than 10 times the annual US household income, the Washington Post reported yesterday:
Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton was paid $300,000 to speak to students and faculty at the University of California Los Angeles in March, the university confirmed Friday.
UCLA spokesman Jean-Paul Renaud said Clinton’s fee was paid through a private endowment established for a lecture series by Meyer Luskin, an investor and president of Scope Industries, a food waste recycling company.
In 2012, former president Bill Clinton was paid $250,000 to deliver the inaugural address in the Luskin lecture series, Renaud said.
Meyer Luskin is a diffident Democratic donor, but apparently enough of a fan of the Clintons to cough up more than a half-million dollars for a couple of hours’ worth of speeches.
There’s nothing wrong with making a living off of the speaking circuit, of course. Ronald Reagan did that for years to hone his political craft before running for governor in California and then President, unsuccessfully in 1976 and successfully in 1980. Even the amount of money wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that Hillary and her apologists (now including Bill) have to shoehorn it into the demagoguery of the class-warfare strategies of their party — a class warfare strategy that worked in 2o12 but looks like it will backfire in 2014 and 2016 if Hillary runs for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Ruth Marcus has some advice for Hillary Clinton today. Either shut up entirely — including a retirement from the six-figure fees on the speaking circuit — or retire from politics, and pronto:
The issue isn’t that you’re rich, or even that you and your husband became rich after leaving office. American voters don’t have a problem with wealthy candidates or even wealthy ex-presidents and ex-officials.
They have a problem with wealthy candidates who are whiny and/or defensive about their wealth; who are greedy and/or ostentatious in their acquisition and display thereof; or whose wealth makes them, or makes them appear to be, out of touch with the concerns of everyday people. Your difficulties, at the moment anyway, appear to be chiefly in the first two categories: defensiveness and greed. …
Madam Secretary, enough already. This behavior borders on compulsion, like refugees who once were starved and now hoard food. You’re rich beyond your wildest imaginings! You don’t need any more! Just. Stop. Speaking. For. Pay.
In the midst of a book tour (and with the ample cushion of a multimillion-dollar advance), you don’t need to be hustling for another $200,000 or so from the United Fresh Produce Association and Food Marketing Institute. On the verge of a potential presidential bid, please feel free to say yes to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas if you want to speak there. But you don’t have to hit its foundation up for a $225,000 fee, even one you plan to donate to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
Fix this now, or decide not to run. Then you can rake in the fees to your heart’s content.
I suspect that Marcus is not alone in this sentiment on the Left, not even among Hillary’s supporters. The more Hillary Clinton talks, the more the media will keep dissecting her remarks and compare them to the reality of the overwhelming Clinton earnings and wealth, and the more ridiculous the class-warfare arguments from Democrats will look.