Michael Bloomberg attacked Sen. Bernie Sanders at Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, with the billionaire former New York City mayor claiming the self-described democratic socialist’s ownership of multiple homes makes him a hypocrite.
Bloomberg also accused Sanders of trying to “throw out capitalism” — something that he said resulted in “communism” in other countries. Sanders called the comparison “a cheap shot.”
“The best-known socialist in the country is a millionaire with three homes,” said Bloomberg, who is worth an estimated $64.2 billion.
Sanders, who is worth an estimated $2.5 million, explained that he has a home in Washington, D.C., where he works as a senator, a home in Burlington, Vt., and “like many in Vermont, I have a summer camp.”
“In which tax haven do you have your home?” Sanders quipped.
The onstage spat began with Sanders calling Bloomberg’s amassing of more wealth than the bottom 125 million Americans “immoral.”
Bloomberg, who is self-funding his campaign, was unapologetic about his billions.
“I worked hard for it,” he said. “And I am giving it all away.”
After Sanders suggested that billionaires should not exist, given the country’s wealth inequality crisis, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd turned to Bloomberg.
“Mayor Bloomberg, should you exist?” Todd asked.
“I can’t speak for all billionaires,” Bloomberg replied. “All I know is, I’ve been very lucky, made a lot of money and I’m giving it all away to make this country better.”
Sanders turned it into an attack on Bloomberg, who owns Bloomberg LP, a financial data company.
“You know what, Mr. Bloomberg, it wasn’t you who made all that money,” Sanders said. “Maybe your workers played some role in that as well. It is important that those workers are able to share the benefits.”
“I want workers to sit on corporate boards as well so they can have some say over what happens to their lives,” he added.
Bloomberg was asked if he would consider putting his employees on corporate boards.
“Absolutely not,” Bloomberg said. “I can’t think of a ways that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get reelected than listening to this conversation. This is ridiculous.
“We’re not going to throw out capitalism,” the former mayor continued. “We’ve already tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism and it just didn’t work.”
Sanders, who has long defended his self-described label, later hit back.
“Let’s talk about democratic socialism, not communism, Mr. Bloomberg,” he said. “That’s a cheap shot.”
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