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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

The Better Homes and Gardens of Populist Democrats, Part Four



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Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat of Massachusetts who touts herself as the intellectual godmother of the Occupy Movement, is getting some very cushy coverage of her book rollout, touting her humble upbringing:

MUIR: In fact, a new study shows the rich in this country getting richer since the recession. The top 1 percent taking in 22 percent of income in this country. Warren knows those families slipping, because growing up in Oklahoma, hers was one of them.

(On camera) You write that “my mother usually picked me up from school in our bronze-toned station wagon.”

(Voice over) Instead, she writes that “one day she showed up driving the old off-white Studebaker that dad had been driving back and forth to work. As she climbed into the car, she asked where the station wagon was.

(On camera) And she said?

WARREN: And she said, it’s gone. And I just didn’t understand. I said, gone where? And she said it’s gone. And I remember her hands on the steering wheel getting tighter and tighter.

With soft-focus profile evening-news pieces like this, it’s easy to forget Warren is the 23rd-wealthiest U.S. senator. Based on congressional financial-disclosure forms and calculations made available by OpenSecrets.org, Warren’s net worth as of 2012 was estimated between $3.8 million and $10.1 million.

Warren and her husband live in gorgeous three-story, 3,700-square-foot home, assessed at $1,815,700 by the city of Cambridge. (Because her financial-disclosure form identifies the value of the home between $1 million and $5 million, others have incorrectly reported she “lives in a $5 million house.”)

(The location of the senator’s home is available through public records, but don’t be a jerk and go onto her property or bother her or her family. The above photo is from the web site of the Cambridge, Mass., property-tax assessor.)

In 2009, she earned more than $980,000; during her 2012 Senate campaign, she received some grief when her tax returns revealed she chose to not pay a higher rate under Massachusetts tax laws. Jeff Jacoby:

For Warren, who demands higher taxes on the wealthy and blasts the tax code for “giving tax breaks to the already-rich,” voluntarily paying a slightly higher income tax rate on her Massachusetts return should have been a no-brainer. Since 2002, the Bay State has given taxpayers the option of paying 5.85 percent, rather than the usual 5.3 percent — a perfect opportunity for an affluent progressive like Warren, who is passionate about the “social contract” that obliges the rich to “pay forward” more of their wealth in taxes, to live up to the values she espouses.

Instead she kept the money for herself. “I paid my taxes,” Warren says, “and I did not make a charitable contribution to the state.” That was her right. But shouldn’t someone so vocal on the subject of tax fairness choose to lead by example instead?

Perhaps no other Democrat spends more time touting herself as a fighter and representative of the “middle class” than Warren, or spends more time denouncing others she deems greedy. Her accumulated fortune, of course, doesn’t strike her as a reflection or symbol of runaway American greed; only other people’s fortunes are part of the problem. If she agrees with President Obama that “at a certain point you’ve made enough money,” apparently she hasn’t reached it yet.


Tags: Elizabeth Warren


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