People do not deserve to be billionaires, according to presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke (D) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who made the remarks during an interview with the New York Times.
The Times’ question was part of a broader interview involving all of the Democrat presidential candidates.
“Most Democrats see economic inequality as a problem, but they don’t always agree about how extreme wealth should be treated,” the New York Times wrote.
The question was fairly straightforward: “Does anyone deserve to have a billion dollars?”
No– at least not according to O’Rourke.
“I don’t know that anybody deserves to have a billion dollars,” he said.
Gillibrand also took a hard stance against the wealthy, answering, “I think no, no one deserves to have a billion dollars.” Her net worth, as of 2015, was $498,502.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said she has “a lot of problems” with billionaires who are not paying their fair share and cited the student loan debt crisis. Her net worth was nearly $8 million as of 2015.
Pete Buttigieg (D), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Sen. Cory Booker (D- NJ) took more moderate positions on wealth, with Buttigieg adding, “I’m not sure anybody cosmically or morally deserves to have a billion dollars, but I don’t hold it against them.”
Booker said he is “bothered” when people fail to use their resources for what he considers to be the “common good,” and Klobuchar was iffy.
“The key to me is: How does our country make sure that there’s shared prosperity?” Klobuchar asked.
Klobuchar released 12 years of tax returns early in the year, and it was revealed that she had an estimated $1.1 million net worth in 2015. Booker had a more “modest” net worth in 2014 of $563,001. Meanwhile, Buttigieg has repeatedly claimed a six-figure salary and has an estimated net worth of about $250,000, according to Fox Business.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) (estimated net worth of $208,504 in 2015) said billionaire status is “not a bad thing,” and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said, “If you work hard, this should be a country where your potential is limitless.”
Swalwell is believed to be the least wealthy of the Democrat contenders, coming in with a negative net worth.
“His estimated net worth in 2017 was between negative $10,000 and negative $149,000, not including the value of a primary residence,” the Center for Public Integrity reported.
Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney (D) told the New York Times that an individual can “deserve” a billion dollars “if they do something great.”
“But what we don’t deserve is to live in a country where so many people struggle,” he said.
Delaney was once considered one of the richest lawmakers in Congress, with an estimated net worth of $232,816,089 in 2015.