(CNSNews.com) – Weighing in on issues raised by Sen. Bernie Sanders on the presidential campaign trail, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday portrayed America in terms that directly echoed statements made by Sanders and which the Ayatollah attributed to "a member of the U.S. ruling body."
“These aren’t my words, but the words of a member of the U.S. ruling body,” Khamenei said in a Twitter thread posted hours before Wednesday night's Democratic debate in Las Vegas. “He says over $100B has been added to the wealth of the 5 richest people in the US in the 3 years of Trump’s presidency. 3 of them own wealth equal to half the US population. Look at this social gap!”
"This person says the 3 richest people in the US own a wealth equal to that of 160M Americans!" the Ayatollah tweeted.
Khamenei did not name Sanders, but the 2020 presidential candidate and “democratic socialist” from Vermont is on record as saying that the wealth of the five richest people in the U.S. has risen by more than $100 billion since President Trump was elected and that the "three wealthiest" Americans own more than "the bottom half of Americans--160 million people."
“Not surprisingly, since Trump was elected, the five richest people in America have seen their wealth go up by over $100bn and corporations have announced over $1tn in stock buybacks in 2018 alone,” Sanders wrote in an op-ed published by The Guardian on Jan. 16, 2019.
“The three wealthiest people in this country own more wealth than the bottom half of Americans--160 million people,” Sanders wrote.
Sanders repeated essentially the same lines in the statement he posted in writing and in video on his Senate website on Feb. 5, 2019, responding to President Donald Trump's State of the Union Address.
“Yes, the economy is great for the 3 wealthiest people in America who own more wealth than the bottom half of our country – 160 million people,” Sanders said in that statement.
“Yes, the economy is great for the five richest people in America who have seen their wealth go up by over $100 billion since Trump was elected and for corporations that have announced over $1 trillion in stock buybacks in 2018 alone,” Sanders said.
Sanders has also frequently drawn attention to the findings in a 2017 report by the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies that the nation’s three richest individuals – Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett – together have a higher net worth than the 160 million least wealthy Americans.
Sanders made the point again in his closing statement at the debate in Nevada.
“The current US President claims he has improved the economic situation there,” Khamenei continued. "Others say yes, it’s become better, but only for the billionaires, not for the people of the US.”
The ayatollah then reached further back, referencing remarks made by former President Jimmy Carter in 2015, commenting on Supreme Court decisions on campaign financing.
“A former US President says the US is an oligarchy with unrestrained political bribery,” Khamenei said. “Evidence of poverty is abundant in the US. People die in the cold or the heat, & there are many homeless people on the streets.”
Then, highlighting comments he made during a speech in Tehran a day earlier, Khamenei added, “In the same way that the glory and splendor of the famous Titanic ship did not prevent her from sinking, the apparent glory & splendor of the US won’t prevent it from sinking. And, the US will sink.”
“We are not against the people of the US. What we are against is the rule of oppression, rebellion, and arrogance. Today, the epitome of rebellion, arrogance and tyranny is the US government, which is controlled by the wealthy Zionist individuals and corporate owners.”
In his speech on Tuesday, Khamenei made the Titanic equals America comparison, and said that America is “controlled by the Zionists – not the Zionist regime, but rich Zionist individuals and corporations.”
“Any other country acting in the same manner is in fact following the same pattern,” he continued. “We do not have any quarrel with any nation or race. We are against arrogance, against oppression, and opposed to rebelling against human and divine values.”
“Today, America is the manifestation of these. It is the manifestation of oppression and arrogance. That is why it is hated so much in the world. It shows off its materialistic power to everyone.”
“There are tens of American military bases in different countries surrounding us. However, these military bases will have no use for them. These bases are useless for America and useless for those miserable people who pay for them and have hope in them,” he said. “They are useless even for them. If something happens, they will not be of any use.”
(Terence P. Jeffrey contributed to this report.)