Bernie Sanders sarcastically congratulates billionaires for making America an 'oligarchic form of society'

Bernie Sanders sarcastically congratulates billionaires for making America an 'oligarchic form of society'
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a town hall meeting on February 3, 2016 in Derry, New Hampshire.Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took aim at billionaires and CEOs in a floor speech on Wednesday.
  • The progressive chair of the Senate Budget Committee was pushing to move social spending forward.

Senate Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders says there's "really, really good news" — for the wealthiest Americans.

In a Senate floor speech, the progressive senator from Vermont took aim at billionaires and CEOs, and called for the government to take action on social and climate spending.

"What I want to point out this afternoon is that while the vast majority of people in our country are hurting emotionally, they're hurting economically, these are not difficult times for everybody," Sanders said.

He said that for billionaires and CEOS of large corporations, "these times have not been bad — they in fact have been very, very good."

Sanders was referencing the massive gains in net worths and profits that both groups have seen throughout the pandemic. In 2021 alone, American billionaires added $1 trillion to their wealth, according to an analysis from the left-leaning Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF). In 2020, CEOs got paid 351 times what typical workers made, according to research from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.


"Maybe the time is approaching that we should offer a unanimous resolution congratulating the billionaire class for their enormous success in moving this country into the oligarchic form of society that they have long desired," Sanders said.

An oligarchy is a form of government in which a small group of people hold the power. It's a familiar refrain for Sanders, who has been an adamant proponent of increased taxes on the wealthy, and has pushed for an $6 trillion social spending and infrastructure package.

"When overwhelming numbers of the American people know that it is beyond absurd that some billionaires and large profitable corporations don't pay a nickel in federal income tax, maybe just maybe we might want to change our tax system so that the rich and the powerful start paying their fair share of taxes," Sanders said.

But Democrats have struggled to pass President Joe Biden's ambitious social spending package, which Biden initially proposed should be offset by taxes on high-earning Americans and corporations. But both of those taxes were eventually torpedoed by centrist Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a senator from Arizona. A tax on billionaires' unrealized gains — such as the value their stocks accrue — was scrapped within a day. Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist from West Virginia, eventually pumped the brakes completely on the package.

In his speech, Sanders said it was time for the Senate to vote on expanding Medicare, home healthcare, negotiating drug prices, paid sick and family leave, and universal pre-K — provisions that had been discussed in previous iterations of the bill.


It's unclear what a future package will look like, although Manchin has offered hints that provisions like universal pre-K and prescription-drug price controls would get his stamp of approval.