U.S.

Sanders Calls Dwight D. Eisenhower More of a Socialist Than Him

Bernie Sanders hit Hillary Clinton about her Wall Street donations
Bernie Sanders hit Hillary Clinton about her Wall Street donations. Jim Young/Reuters

In contemporary presidential politics, you usually hear a lot of comparisons to John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, and some side-swipes at George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Oddly, during the last two presidential debates, both political parties have cited an often forgotten president: Dwight D. Eisenhower.

During Saturday's Democratic debate in Iowa, hosted by CBS, Bernie Sanders said that he was less of a socialist than Eisenhower (a Republican), citing tax rates under the nation's first president after the end of the Second World War.

Eisenhower, known as "Ike" was a United States general and Supreme Allied commander during the War.

During his first term, tax rates on the income of those making over $400,000 per year were 92 percent. A two term president, he later lowered the rate to 90. 

In the post-Bush-tax-cuts world, such a rate is almost unthinkable, but during World War II President Franklin Roosevelt taxed the highest earners in the nation at a rate of 94 percent. Sanders has said that he would not go over a 90 percent income tax for the top bracket, which is what he meant by calling himself "less socialist" than Ike.

Eisenhower was hesitant to start a political career after his retirement from the military. He weighed which political party to join, ultimately settling on the Republican party and choosing Richard Nixon as his Vice President. Interest in Eisenhower has spiked this week, after Donald Trump cited his controversial "Operation Wetback" deportation policies as an example of positive immigration reform during the Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

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