Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders compared some ultra-wealthy Americans to drug addicts, saying they are willing to do “terrible things” to members of the working class in order to increase their fortunes.
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"In the same way that we look at some people who are alcoholics, some people who are drug addicts, I think [the ultra-wealthy] are addicted to money,” Sanders told CBS News during an interview on Friday. “And in order to get that money, they are prepared and do terrible things to working people.”
The Vermont senator, a self-described Democratic socialist, frequently rails against billionaires, corporate greed and the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots in the U.S. Last year, income inequality climbed to the highest level in more than 50 years, according to Census Bureau data.
The combat the inequality, Sanders has proposed a sweeping wealth tax that would halve the wealth of billionaires in the U.S. over 15 years, according to economists. (Couples worth more than $10 billion, for instance, would pay an 8 percent tax).
"Greed for some of these people has literally become a religion – 'I need more, more, more,’ like a drug addict” Sanders said in the interview, which aired Saturday.
That greed spiraled into corruption, he said, pointing to pharmaceutical companies that charge “the highest prices in the world” for prescription drugs by engaging in price-fixing and collusion.
Sanders has proposed a slew of other plans, including to raise the corporate tax rate to 35 percent (it’s at 21 percent right now); overhaul the health care system in the U.S. with Medicare-for-all and require all publicly traded companies to give at least 2 percent of stock to workers every year until the company is at least 20 percent employee-owned.
Though some critics argue Sanders’ vast plans could endanger the economy, he maintained that cracking down on the ultra-wealthy would not hurt the poor or working class.
"When you raise wages to a living wage, when you end homelessness in America, when you end hunger in America, as we must do, poor people are not going to need charity,” he said. “They're going to have dignity, they're going to have jobs, they're gonna have education. That's the direction we have to go in.”