Questions (Sincere, not Snarky) You'd Like Answered: Democrats Edition

(That’s “Snarky” rather than “sSarky”…)

We all have unanswered questions, doubt. Here are two of mine:

**For Bernie Sanders: **
Clinton and Kasich have released eight and seven years of full tax returns, respectively; Trump may never release his. But Democrats are supposed to value transparency, and so far Sanders has released just ONE year (2014) despite many requests that he match his Democratic rival for the nomination in releasing eight.

So, Senator Sanders: What’s up with the repeated use of the excuse “Jane does our taxes; we’ve been a little bit busy, lately”? Sanders seems to think this is a cute, warm, humanizing thing to say. And sure, it explains why the 2015 pages aren’t yet posted. But how does it explain the failure to release the returns for 2008 – 2013 (to match Clinton)?

Isn’t it just a matter of uploading the file (if the forms are electronic) or going to the file cabinet, pulling the files, and slapping then on the copier for scanning (if the forms are paper)?

Even if it’s the case that all this would take up a full hour of Jane’s time (not meant snarkily), she could have a trusted aide take care of it, surely….? If the returns are going to be made public then they couldn’t be so secret that a trusted aide couldn’t be allowed to scan and upload them.

Sanders’ excuse makes me wonder if the “we’ve been busy” excuse means that something odd is going on. Is it that Jane has to fabricate the returns for 2008 to 2013 from scratch? (Granted, that would take time!) Probably not. But what’s the delay?

So, how about it, Senator? Why keep using the “Jane does our taxes; we’ve been busy” excuse? It really doesn’t make any sense.
**For Hillary Clinton: **
Why haven’t the Clinton people made the public (and pundits) aware of something extremely obvious about the release of speeches? Namely, that this sort of thing can be done with them:

As many here will know, Liberty University, located in Virginia, is an exceptionally conservative Evangelical Christian school, at which creationism is taught as a biology course, and president Jerry Falwell, Jr., said in 2015 ““If more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in.” They are really, *really *conservative.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/12/05/liberty-university-president-if-more-good-people-had-concealed-guns-we-could-end-those-muslims/

Speaking at Liberty University in September 2015, Bernie Sanders said this:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/9/14/1421244/-Bernie-Sanders-Transcript-Of-His-Speech-At-Liberty-University

OMG! Bernie Sanders just praised a man and an institution that randomly drug-tests its students, that bans all music/movies/other entertainment that contains curse words or nudity, and that states “Sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University.”
https://www.liberty.edu/media/1210/Student_Honor_Code.pdf

Bernie Sanders is no progressive if he can praise such a place! He has been faking it this whole time! He is a hypocrite! He is a tool of the right!

……Uh, no. He’s a person making a speech. When you are invited to make a speech, you begin by saying some nice things about those who invited you. It’s just common courtesy.

Similarly, if GOP Presidential candidate X had ever been invited to speak before the AFL-CIO or the Urban League, X would probably have begun with a few kind words about the institution----words which then could be excerpted by his or her primary rivals as “proof” that X is A TOOL OF THE UNIONS or SOFT ON CRIME or NOT SHARING OUR VALUES or whatever.

It’s ridiculous. But it would happen.

The demand that speeches be released serves primary rivals and only primary rivals. It will be of no use to the eventual GOP candidate if Hillary is found to have said nice things to executives of Goldman Sachs. GOP voters aren’t going to vote for Hillary anyway, no matter whether or not she paid some compliments to Wall Streeters.

(I’ve heard the theory that the GOP will freak if Hillary said something positive about the bail-outs, given that many on the right say they think poorly of bail-outs. But I find it unconvincing. If they think HRC said anything like ‘do whatever you want, guys—I’ll see that you never face any consequences!!!1!!’,then they are living in a dream world. She won’t have said anything of the kind.)

So, my question for Secretary Clinton is: why aren’t you pointing out the cynical way in which speeches can be used to “prove” things that aren’t true, by highlighting the Sanders Liberty University example?

… What are the questions you’d like to see either Sanders or Clinton answer?

As far as the first question, I would think it would be relatively easy just to request copies from the IRS in any case, though as bureaucratic as it is this could take a while.

The second is an excellent question…maybe you should tweet it to the campaign page, or email your double-secret Hillary contacts. :smiley:

I probably should get that typo fixed, first. :o

Do either of them say accept eating poo poo?

Typo in title fixed at request of OP.

I have no idea what Sanders motive is for not releasing his taxes. If he is hiding something, I do not know what it is.

Looking online, apparently in 2014 Sanders only paid 13% of his income in federal income taxes. Is that why?

He paid another 12% in state, local and real estate taxes. Plus medicare & SS which I assume is close to 7% (since he is above the cap).

That isn’t terrible, that is about a 32% total tax rate for federal, state, local, real estate and payroll taxes. For a big government democratic socialist, that isn’t a small number.

Sanders: Of all your policy proposals, which one will be your first priority if you are elected?

Clinton: You say you are the most experienced candidate in the race, and some say you are one of the most qualified people ever to run. But your official resume is actually fairly ordinary: 8 years as a Senator and four as Secretary of State. Are you including your time in the Clinton Presidency and as governor of Arkansas, and if so, precisely what was your role in those administrations? Were you equivalent to Al Gore in the White House, or perhaps an advisor like George Stephanopolous, or a co-President? or is your experience limited to what was in the public eye, such as health care reform?

BTW, is there a Republican edition yet?

Thanks!

Feel free to start it, adaher. I can’t imagine any circumstances in which I’d vote for any of the current GOP candidates, so I’m not the best person to come up with trenchant questions for them.

I don’t disagree with you, about the percentages–makes sense.

All I can really come up with, in explanation of his failure to release, is the possibility that Bernie and Jane have mislaid some of those relevant years’ returns and don’t like to admit it (no one likes to look careless with regard to important paperwork). Of course they could request copies from the IRS but that would be the same thing as admitting that some years have been misplaced.

But maybe there’s some other possibility (other than lost papers) that accounts for his reluctance.

There’s nothing I want to ask them.

I guess my question for you is, is this reflective of your best understanding of why Clinton has been criticized for speeches? If you’re deliberately straw-manning, lemme know; but if you just don’t understand the issue, I’ll be happy to explain it.

Are you referring to the criticism that she was paid money to give speeches (and that being paid is, allegedly, Bad and Wrong)?

Frankly, I find such criticism to be less than convincing. You could pay me half a million bucks to give a speech to the Heritage Foundation or to Americans for Prosperity, and it would make no difference in my opinion of said institutions. I’d begin courteously, by thanking them for inviting me and saying something nice about them (there’s always something nice that one can find to say.) Then I’d spend the rest of the speech telling them how mistaken and unhelpful they are in their views and actions.

And, sure, my opening thanks and complimentary remarks would be excerpted by ill-wishers and used to “prove” that I was a right-wing reactionary, and so on and so forth. Purely cynical politics-as-usual.

So, other than ‘she got paid to give speeches,’ what else have you got?

The difference is that they wouldn’t give you(or Clinton) that much money to speak. Speaking fees are just neat ways to get around bribery laws. See, you’re not slipping her money for favors, you’re paying her for a valuable service! Giving a speech.

I challenge you to find any six figure speaking fee she received from any entity that wasn’t seeking favors from the government that she was likely to grant.

I also make a prediction: Obama will not receive speaking fees nearly as large. Oh, he’ll make his money, to be sure, but unless Michelle has future plans(which she doesn’t), there’s no benefit in giving Obama money post-Presidency. That reduces his market value compared to the Clintons.

Accepting tremendous amount of money by an industry you’re hoping to be put in charge of regulating is, sure, let’s go with it, Bad and Wrong. Especially when the amount of money you’re paid is for a trivial amount of work.

“Being paid” is a clever use of the passive voice, which we should avoid here. She made an agreement with them to receive that money; she received it for a trivial amount of work. I’d prefer politicians not engage in behavior that has the appearance of a legalized bribe.

Your whole “honest question” in the OP was basically a back swipe at Sanders. If it’s an honest question, it’s one that shows you don’t understand the objection to her speeches at all.

And it should be noted that Sanders has proven that he’s not just going to latch onto everything Clinton to attack her with. He’s refused to go after her on the email scandal. He’s focusing on the speeches because he thinks it actually matters.

I suspect he’s afraid that people will see that he hasn’t paid a lot of taxes. It’s hard to argue for higher taxation and more social spending when you’re making $200K and pay an effective tax rate that’s lower than the people who are voting for you.

Is Bernie Sanders afraid that people are going to politicize his tax returns unfairly? You mean like how he’s been politicizing everything Clinton has done over the past 25 years unfairly? Too bad.

She hasn’t been bribed for anything. She asked for their political support in the form of paid speeches. There’s no specific pending legislation that she’s involved with, so at best, they’re simply hedging their bets that she will emerge the winner once this circus of an election cycle is done.

Bernie Sanders takes money from the people, which is all well and good. But what does the average person know about banking? What does the average person know about financial services? Or the global economy? Bernie wants to break up big banks and collected a lot of money based on that campaign premise. What if he studies the issue further and realizes that there might be (definitely will be) unforeseen consequences of over-regulation on economic growth, employment, and the like? Should he stick to his campaign pledges?

See, everyone on the Sanders campaign talks about these speeches. Who the hell cares? It’s been happening for years, even decades. It’s not illegal. Corporations have been involved for campaigns for decades, even centuries. Involvement in and of itself isn’t the problem.

Anything I’d ask is just ammo for the GOP after we’ve selected our nominee.

I’d be happy with either as president… and yes I do like Bernie too.

Complete bullshit.

It’s no more ‘bribery’ than a political contribution. If giving money to a candidate is bribery, then every single Sanders supporter is bribing the government, even if it’s on a much smaller scale.

There’s no problem with giving money to a candidate. Giving money to a candidate does not in and of itself influence a candidate or incumbent’s voting behavior. Politicians care about one thing: who shows up at the polls, and what they will do once they get there. Money just buys them air time and ad space, but as we’ve seen, there are ways around that.

Sanders supporters who claim that Clinton’s speeches are bribery need to turn themselves into the Federal Election Commission or the FBI. They’re obviously trying to exert undue influence on our political system.

A political contribution goes to a campaign. Speaking fees go directly into her pocket. No Presidential family has ever gotten as rich as the Clintons have gotten, and it’s 99% due to their connections which involve people currying favor with a family they expect to be returning to the White House. The Obamas will not command a fraction of the money the Clintons have been getting.