Bernie Goldberg Explains Why We Should Be Thanking Rich Americans

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 13, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Weekdays with Bernie" segment tonight: The always-provocative purveyor of has written a column entitled "Thank God for Rich People."

He joins us now from Miami, just a short skateboard away from his lavish home. OK, why don't I let you explain this column.

BERNARD GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST/AUTHOR: OK. Cigar, rich people, you get it?

O'REILLY: Got it.

GOLDBERG: Yes. What I said in the column is that we need to build a beautiful granite and bronze monument in our nation's capital to honor American heroes, unsung American heroes. And those unsung American heroes are the rich.

Now, I said that half tongue-in-cheek, OK? But the absolute serious part was: try to imagine an America without rich people. Rich people contribute a lot to this country. They pay -- the top 1 percent of wage earners pay 38 percent of all federal taxes. The top five percent pay 60 percent, and the top 10 percent pay 70 percent of all federal income taxes.

Now, they pay a disproportionate amount for all sorts of things that help poor people, whether it is food or medicine or whether it is helping send other kids to college. The rich do a lot of good.

What I'm saying, Bill, is that I don't believe all rich people are selfless philanthropists. I am not even making the argument that they need -- and I put that word in big quotation marks, "need" -- the tax break. But what I am saying is they don't need to be vilified the way they are by the left in America today.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, how do you react to the Bible passage that says it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than it would be for a camel to go through a needle's eye?

GOLDBERG: This is going to offend even my friends out there in TV land. I don't care what the Bible says on matters like that. As a matter of fact, you know, Jesus probably would be, except for one or two issues, a liberal Democrat if he were around today. So I don't care. We don't -- we're not governed by the Bible.

And I'm not defending -- I'm not defending rich people who cheated to get their money. I'm not defending that. And I didn't say, by the way, I didn't say one negative word in the entire column, "Thank God for the Rich," I didn't say one negative word about poor people or about middle-class people or anything else. All I said was that the rich deserve our gratitude. And as a result of that, our friends in left-wing, you know, websites have sent the most vile -- I mean this is beyond nasty hate mail -- the most vile e-mails that I've received. And why?

O'REILLY: What is -- what is the point they want to make by being vile? That rich people are all evil? Is that what they want to say?


O'REILLY: All rich people are evil?

GOLDBERG: Well, listen, you just had on your program a few minutes ago a mainstream liberal Democrat, Congressman Nadler, calling Republicans gangsters. That's what he said. That's his word.

O'REILLY: I would ask Nadler if he would show up -- but he won't; he's afraid -- what he thinks of the Kennedy family. The Kennedy family, very, very wealthy. They're the Democratic icons, I believe. The money that they accumulated was accumulated by Joseph Kennedy, a bootlegger who broke the law to amass the family fortune. Yet, the Democratic Party puts up the Kennedy family.

And believe me, I respect the Kennedy family. I respect their service. They do a tremendous amount of good. You don't blame the children for the sins of the father and all of that. But I would ask Mr. Nadler, OK, here we have, you know, perhaps the most famous family in the United States, Democrat icons, hugely rich. Hugely rich. So what are you saying?

GOLDBERG: They're liberal Democrats, and if you're hugely rich and a liberal Democrat, you get a pass. Listen, I've never seen class warfare as nasty as it is today, as a result of this tax debate. I've never seen it.

O'REILLY: It's pretty nasty, but it's generalized. It's stupid. It's irrational. I mean, you take a guy like Steven Spielberg, who's beyond, you know, wealthy. You take a guy like Bill Gates, the same situation. And these people, they make an enormous amount of money, and are they overpaying taxes? Are they giving away their wealth to the government? I don't think so.

GOLDBERG: Well, you know what?

O'REILLY: John Kerry, for example, could have checked the box in Massachusetts that said, "I'd like to give more money and pay a higher tax rate." He chose not to. So I think you're absolutely right. I think that this is a bogus, phony debate.

GOLDBERG: A lot of people who are writing -- thank you for that -- a lot of people who are writing think that all rich people make Spielberg money, you know? Or John Kerry money. A lot of so-called rich, according to this legislation, make $250,000. That's a lot of money, but it is not rich. I want to make one thing -- I want to make one thing...

O'REILLY: Go ahead. Go ahead.

GOLDBERG: What's that?

O'REILLY: Yes, the only point that I want to make sure is that if the higher tax rate had been embraced, 50 percent of it would have been paid by small business, which would have constricted hiring. That's all you need to know. I'll give you last word, go.

GOLDBERG: I'll agree with that and let it go at that.

O'REILLY: But I didn't want you to because I have 60 seconds more.


O'REILLY: Why don't you attack someone, just pick someone out and attack them?

GOLDBERG: Let's pick Barnie -- Bernie Sanders.

O'REILLY: All right. Go ahead.

GOLDBERG: Bernie Sanders goes on the floor of the Senate a few days ago and he talks about, you know -- I'm talking about the rich. He's talking about the greedy, selfish, no-good SOB rich. I mean, they think -- they think rich people, the hard left or some members of the hard left, think rich people really are bad people. They don't want to pay more taxes.

O'REILLY: You put the Kennedy question right to Bernie Sanders, and he goes, "Huma, huma, huma, huma, huma, huma."

All right. I want everybody to read Bernie's column on As always, Bernie, thank you.

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