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Clinton Releases 2015 Tax Returns; Pressure On Trump To Do The Same


Hillary Clinton will be talking to working-class voters today at a campaign stop in Scranton, Pa., where she'll appear with Vice President Joe Biden. It is Donald Trump who famously lays claim to being, quote, "really rich" - hardly working class. Well, by most people's standards, so is Hillary Clinton. Her campaign released another batch of her tax returns in an effort to pressure Trump to release his tax returns. But those taxes make it clear just how much wealth Hillary and Bill Clinton have amassed in recent years. NPR's Scott Horsley is with us now. Good morning.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: And those taxes were released just as everyone was heading out for the weekend, but they were noticed. What did we learn?

HORSLEY: Well, we learned the Clintons' income puts them well within the top one-tenth of 1 percent of all American households. Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill, made $10.6 million last year. They paid more than a third of that in federal taxes, and they gave about 10 percent to charity, mostly to the Clinton Family Foundation, which is separate from the better-known Clinton Foundation. To put that Clinton income in perspective, Renee, it's about 200 times the median family income in the U.S., but it's only about a third of what the Clintons made the previous year before Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign.

MONTAGNE: Well, how did they earn all that money in this past tax year?

HORSLEY: Well, most of their income comes from paid speeches and also from book sales. In 2015, Bill Clinton did most of the talking and brought home about $6.7 million in speaking fees. Hillary Clinton earned a little over $3 million in book royalties. But if you go back further, Hillary Clinton herself gave a lot of paid speeches - 51 of them in 2014 and the early part of last year - at an average fee of about $215,000 a speech. Now, over the last decade or so, the Clintons have raked in $150 million. They've paid about a third of that in taxes, and they've given just over 10 percent to charity.

MONTAGNE: So when Hillary Clinton says, as she did in Detroit last week, that Donald Trump's economic policies would only benefit - and I'm quoting here - "millionaires like himself," should he really be saying millionaires like him and me?

HORSLEY: Well, certainly the Clintons are multimillionaires. And one of the challenges for Hillary Clinton is not just the millions she and her husband made, but the notion that part of what they've been trading on is the prospect that Hillary Clinton might be back in power someday. So when an investment bank or trade association pays hundreds of thousands of dollars for a speech, they're not just seeking reflections on the past, but maybe access or favors in the future. Beyond that, of course, there's just a question of how working families can relate to someone who makes more than $10 million a year.

The latest NBC Wall Street Journal poll in Pennsylvania shows Clinton trailing Donald Trump among white voters without a college degree by about 16 points, even though she has a big lead with white college graduates. So narrowing that deficit with working-class whites is part of what today's Scranton campaign stop is all about. We can expect to hear some folksy stories from Joe Biden about his childhood in Scranton. And don't be surprised if Hillary Clinton talks about her grandfather, who worked in a Scranton lace mill.

MONTAGNE: Well, you know, something - something somewhat amusing - there's a subtle dig when Hillary Clinton talks about millionaires like Donald Trump - practically an insult for Donald Trump because he always describes himself as a multibillionaire with a B.

HORSLEY: Yeah, that's absolutely a way to needle Donald Trump. And, you know, he, unlike Clinton, has not yet released his tax returns - something every presidential nominee's done for the last 40 years. He says he's not doing that because he's under audit, though the agency says there's nothing to prevent him from releasing his tax returns. There are a variety of theories of what he might be trying to hide. Maybe he makes less money. Maybe he pays less in taxes. Maybe he gives less to charity. Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, says he will release his tax returns, though, and he says they'll be a quick read.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Scott Horsley, thanks very much.

HORSLEY: My pleasure, Renee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.
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