Sen. Bernie Sanders said in Tuesday’s Democratic debate that the three wealthiest Americans have more money than the bottom half of all Americans — an assertion he’s made before, including at the Democratic debate in June. Sanders is referring to billionaires Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett. And according to the fact-checking news organization Politifact, Sanders is right that they’re richer than half of all Americans.
In 2018, Forbes said that Bezos and his family are worth $160 billion, Gates is worth $97 billion, and Buffett is worth $88 billion. That comes to a total of $345 billion dollars.
The Guardian reported that Bezos’ ex, MacKenzie Bezos, will receive $36 billion in their divorce. That would drop his worth to a paltry $124 billion, and the total worth of Bezos, Gates and Buffett to $309 billion.
But that still makes their combined wealth significantly higher than the roughly $250 billion in combined wealth for the bottom half of Americans, according to a study by the Institute for Policy Studies. The institute is a progressive think tank.
Politifact has rated Sanders’ statement as true.
As the Institute reported, “almost one in five American households now resides in our Underwater Nation. These households often have no savings at all or owe more than they own.”
Sanders brought up the statistic in response to a question from CNN’s Erin Burnett, who asked if he wants to tax billionaires out of existence. Sanders said he does indeed want significantly higher taxes on the wealthiest people in America.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar fired back that “not even the billionaire” onstage wanted to protect billionaires, referring to Tom Steyer.
Lawrence Yee contributed to this story.