During last week’s broadcast of HBO’s “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace,” host Chris Wallace pushed back against Bernie Sanders after the Vermont senator railed against several Wall Street investment firms, including Blackstone where Wallace’s son is the Global Head of Core Private Equity.
Sanders was ranting about an “American oligarchy,” the “billionaire class” that includes “people like Elon Musk,” who, according to the senator, wield “enormous power.”
The Vermont socialist ranted about the billionaires who continue to do “phenomenally well” while the country is experiencing “more income and wealth inequality” than ever. He claimed that only three Americans have more combined wealth than the entire “bottom half” of the country, saying that this is bad from a “moral” and “economic” perspective.
Wallace argued that, unlike the Russian oligarchs who are closely associated with the government and took over “state-run industries,” the “so-called American oligarchs” Sanders is referring to are “self-made entrepreneurs” that have created businesses that employ millions.
Sanders countered that he isn’t saying that the American oligarchy is similar to the Russian oligarchs, nor is he suggesting that the United States is “an authoritarian country” like Russia. Instead, Sanders explained, he is suggesting that a small group of Americans wield “enormous power” over the economy and politics, and that has resulted in “massive income and wealth inequality.” He said when more than 60 percent of the people live “paycheck-to-paycheck” while a handful of people do “phenomenally well,” the result is a “concentration of ownership.”
As proof of the “American oligarchy,” Sanders cited three Wall Street firms that control $20 trillion in assets, namely Blackstone, Vanguard, and State Street. He argued that those three firms are “the major stockholders” for more than 90 percent of the companies listed on the S&P 500.
Wallace stopped him, pointing out that he happens to know a lot about Blackstone since his son works there. He said the firm handles the investments of public employee funds and teachers’ funds, arguing that those are the investments of “real people.”
Sanders snapped that he was answering Wallace’s question about an American oligarchy, and he answered by “talking about power.”