Surprise: Pelley Challenges Sanders from the Right on Taxes, Wages, GOP Opposition

In an extensive interview for Wednesday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley took a stroll with socialist Senator Bernie Sanders around his childhood neighborhood in Brooklyn but not before a surprisingly tough sit-down that hit Sanders from the right on tax increases, the minimum wage, and how his ideas would be guaranteed to be “dead on arrival” in Congress.

However, Pelley started part one by going after Sanders with Clinton campaign talking points that the demographics of the states coming up on the primary calendar serve him no good with Pelley even suggesting to him that his New Hampshire win “[m]ight be your last one” because “[i]t only gets harder from here.”

Citing how the Granite State had “a more liberal population than the states you're headed to next, South Carolina, Nevada” with “African-American voters, Latino voters,” Pelley demanded to know how Sanders will “appeal to those people.”

Once they turned to policy, Pelley’s line took a turn to the right as he pushed Sanders on what his top individual tax brackets would be and was exasperated when Sanders told him that it would be pegged at 52 percent.

Pelley moved to the popular policy among those on the far left concerning a $15 minimum wage and briefly corned Sanders on its feasability: 

PELLEY: You have vowed to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

SANDERS: Over several years. 

PELLEY: Aren't employers going to start laying people off just saying, “I'm sorry, I can't afford to keep you anymore.”

SANDERS: Quite the contrary. Every worker in this country will be earning at least a living wage, and what that means is those workers will have disposable income, and when you do that, you create jobs. 

Tell the Truth 2016

In the final moments, Pelley accurately noted that nearly all of Sanders’ policies would be met with firm opposition by conservatives and Republicans in Congress:

PELLEY: The Republicans in Congress are going to say, “you go ahead and have your revolution, but we're not going to have one here.”

SANDERS: Ah, but Republicans, for better or for worse, are going to be drawn into this revolution. 

PELLEY: You're going to change their minds?

SANDERS: No, I'm not going to change their minds. The American people will change their minds.

The relevant portions of the transcript from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on February 10 can be found below.

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
February 10, 2016
6:34 p.m. Eastern

SCOTT PELLEY [TO SANDERS]: You looked like you were having fun at your victory party?

INDEPENDENT SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (Vt.): I was. 

PELLEY: Might be your last one. It only gets harder from here. 

SANDERS: No, I don't think it's going to be our last one. 

PELLEY: But New Hampshire, largely white. 

SANDERS: Yes. 

PELLEY: A more liberal population than the states you're headed to next, South Carolina, Nevada. You're going to be facing African-American voters, Latino voters. How do you appeal to those people? 

SANDERS: Well, the same way we appealed to all Americans. Look, if you and I were having this conversation nine months ago, what would you have said to me? You would have said, “Bernie, nobody knows who you are. You're regarded as a fringe candidate. You don't have any money. You don't have any political organization. Last poll we saw you, four percent. How are you possibly going to do well in Iowa or New Hampshire?” Well, a lot has happened in nine months. 

PELLEY: What’s your tax plan? 

SANDERS: A tax plan is at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, where the top one-tenth of one percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, yes, we are going to ask the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes. 

PELLEY: But tax increases, you envision, for people in what income brackets? How low? 

SANDERS: Well, the vast bulk of the tax increases would come from families making $250,000 a year or more. 

PELLEY: What's your top individual income tax rate? 

SANDERS: 52 percent. 

PELLEY: 52 percent? 

SANDERS: Yeah, for people that can — making 10 million or more. 

(....)

PELLEY: You have vowed to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

SANDERS: Over several years. 

PELLEY: Aren't employers going to start laying people off just saying, “I'm sorry, I can't afford to keep you anymore.”

SANDERS: Quite the contrary. Every worker in this country will be earning at least a living wage, and what that means is those workers will have disposable income, and when you do that, you create jobs. 

PELLEY: Everyone of these ideas is dead on arrival in the Congress. 

SANDERS: No, it's not. Change always takes place when millions of people stand up and fight back and what we are talking about in this campaign is a political revolution. 

PELLEY: The Republicans in Congress are going to say, “you go ahead and have your revolution, but we're not going to have one here.”

SANDERS: Ah, but Republicans, for better or for worse, are going to be drawn into this revolution. 

PELLEY: You're going to change their minds?

SANDERS: No, I'm not going to change their minds. The American people will change their minds.

(....)

PELLEY: How old was your mother when she passed away? 

SANDERS: 46.

PELLEY: How old other than you? 

SANDERS: 19, I think. 

PELLEY: How did that affect you? 

SANDERS: Significantly, significantly. Not having enough money was a cause of constant tension, and when you're five or six years of age, and your parents are yelling at each other, it's, you know — you think back on it now. You know, it's traumatic, and it's hard. 

PELLEY: Must have been a lot of joys up and down this block as well. 

SANDERS: Of course. Are you kidding? I would get up on a Saturday morning when we weren't in school. We used to play with what we called the smoldering rubber ball and you would throw it starting off with the red brick, then you go to the white brick, red brick, and you would win, I guess, if you threw it all the way up there. Literally, I would leave at 9:00, 10:00 in the morning and I’d come back at 5:00 in the evening exhausting. I had been running all day long, but it was a happy exhaustion and by the way, I learned something also about democracy. We didn't have much adult supervision, so the games were all determined not by adult cultures, kids themselves. So, we would choose up teams. There was no other person dictating anything. We worked out all own rules. It was a very interesting way to grow up. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center