John F. Kennedy once said that he wanted to be President because that's where the power is. Nowadays that statement could probably be modified to reflect that being President is where the money is.
It hasn't been that many years ago that Bill and Hillary were little more that a couple of ridge-running lawyers trying to scrape together a living in the backwoods of Arkansas. Then, in 1977, Bill became Governor of Arkansas at the tender age of thirty-three, and the money started rolling in. Hillary, then a partner in the Rose Law Firm of Little Rock, managed to get herself appointed to the Board of Directors of Walmart, and the days of looking for roadkill to put in the stew pot were officially over.
Yesterday the Clinton's and Kaine's released more of their tax returns in an effort to embarrass the shameless Donald Trump into releasing a few of his. Trump, for his part, continues to file those requests at ain't-a-gonna-happen.com. Mr. Trump, who once famously needled Mitt Romney to release his tax returns, says that his returns would be detrimental to his campaign - and he is undoubtedly right.
But Hillary laid hers out there for the whole world to see. In the year 2015 Hillary and Bill Clinton reported an income of $10, 745, 378 - noteworthy for the fact that it was down nearly fifty percent from the previous year.
One might arguably wonder how two lawyers, neither of whom still practice law, manage to amass that kind of income. The answer is primarily for speaking fees - people pay each of the Clinton's to show up at meetings and get-togethers to speak. Hillary currently commands a horse-choking $225,000 per speech, with the fee sometimes coming in as high as $400,000.
Nice work - if you can get it.
The reality of hiring somebody like the Clinton's to speak is that rich individuals and big corporations are doling out that cash for far more than just hearing a politician warble - the big boys are buying the attention of the politicians - and access to those individuals - something that is unavailable to poor pud-knockers out in the Podunk's.
2013 was a good year for the Clinton's. Bill took in $13.2 million for forty-one speeches with the highest per speech payout being three-quarters of a million dollars. Hillary also gave forty-one speeches that year, but had to settle for just $9.7 million with one topping out at $400,000. Hopefully things will even out when she, too, can advertise herself as a "former" President of the United States.
Bill Clinton also made a whopping $16.5 million from serving on the board of Laureate Education, Inc - a massive for-profit college scheme that contributes to the Clinton Foundation. He resigned that role as Hillary started edging closer to announcing another White House run.
(When Hillary finally did declare her candidacy, she spent lots of time begging for donations from ordinary American's like me. "Just one dollar, Pa Rock. Please just send me one lousy dollar - that's all I ask!" She didn't get it.)
On a positive note, the Clinton's paid a tax rate of 31 percent in 2015 - which is close to what normal people pay.
Alleged billionaire Donald Trump, however, is having none of this transparency stuff. He doesn't want America knowing how much income he makes or how much he pays in taxes - or even his actual worth. He may also have business shenanigans that he would prefer to keep under wraps.
So, kudos to Hillary and Bill - and the Kaine's - for throwing open their tax records and letting America browse. It's motivating to know that there is real money to be had even in the most sordid of occupations. And for those who donate money to either candidate, Clinton or Trump, remember the words of American showman P.T. Barnum, "There's a sucker born every minute!"
Let them both self-fund!