Shock: CBS’s O’Donnell Smacks Bernie Sanders from the Right on Health Care, Taxes

In a near 180-degree reversal to his interview the previous evening with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Democratic presidential candidate and socialist Bernie Sanders found himself on Friday’s CBS This Morning being repeatedly slammed from the right by co-host Norah O’Donnell on his far-left tax plans and hope for a universal health care system. 

The interview started off rather calm, with co-host Charlie Rose gushing over Sanders’ appearance on the new cover of Time magazine and asking him to elaborate on “how you define yourself” and “what does it mean” to be a socialist.

Rose also interjected with a quick follow-up wanting Sanders to be more specific whether or not his vision for Americans “mean[s] a lot more involvement of the government in our lives?”

It was then that O’Donnell seized control of the interview and first demanded Sanders explain to define “mak[ing] the wealthiest American pay their fair share” and if he’d be taxing them “at 90 percent as you’ve suggested in the past.”

After Sanders tried to dodge the topic and argued that levels such as that were in place under the Eisenhower administration, O’Donnell cut Sanders off and asked him again: “[W]hat would you tax the wealthiest Americans? How would you pay for this plan?”

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Sanders gave a brief answer about taxing “Wall Street speculation” and “profitable corporations” that store money overseas, but that didn’t satisfy O’Donnell and was joined by fill-in co-host Vinita Nair in pointing to a recent Wall Street Journal article raising red flags on the $18 trillion costs for the programs Sanders is lobbying for: 

O’DONNELL: You want to raise the corporate tax rate? 

SANDERS: Yes. 

O’DONNELL: By how much would you raise the corporate tax? 

NAIR: Because right now, you've seen estimates. People are saying the estimate for The Wall Street Journal is $18 trillion to cover.

SANDERS: But what The Wall Street Journal said and we responded to it is that that included 15 billion dollars for national health care program. What they forgot to say is that you would not be paying and businesses would not be paying for private health insurance. So, in other words, right now if you're paying $12,000 a year for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, you would not be paying that. In fact, every study indicated that we pay more per capita for healthcare than any nation on earth. We would lower that goal. 

Turning to health care, the surprising storyline from a media perspective was O’Donnell again knocking the socialist from the right (instead of gleefully going along). While Sanders is calling for socialized medicine, O’Donnell pointed to the failed attempt by Vermont Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin to implement a single-payer system in 2011. The CBS host argued that, if “[y]our own state can't carry it through, how is America going to do it?” 

When Sanders attempted to pass it off as nothing and maintain that “every other country in the world, in one way or another, does it,” O’Donnell rebuked him: “Then why couldn’t Vermont figure it out?”

Sanders then snapped at her that she would “have to ask the Governor about that” because “I'm not the Governor of the state of Vermont” and she should instead ask “the conservative prime minister of Canada how they have a single-payer health care system.”

O’Donnell tried again to follow-up, but Sanders would not budge, so the interview moved to a brief aside on ending tax deductions and then a softer portion on the proliferation of small donors giving to his campaign as it continues to build an infrastructure of staff and volunteers beyond Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

The relevant portions of the transcript from September 18's CBS This Morning can be found below.

CBS This Morning
September 18, 2015
8:05 a.m. Eastern

NORAH O’DONNELL: What does that mean to make the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. Would that mean taxing the wealthiest Americans at 90 percent as you’ve suggested in the past? 

INDEPENDENT SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (Vt.): No, I don't think you have to go up to 90% but you can remember that on the people like Dwight David Eisenhower, under him, we had a tax system that was far more progressive than it was today. When you have –

O’DONNELL: Which was around 90%. 

SANDERS: I don’t that you have to, but we will come up with some very specific ideas. 

O’DONNELL: But how can do you that? You're promising free health care for everybody, college for everybody, paid leave and you haven't yet said how you're going to pay for it and suggested you would tax the wealthiest Americans at a rate of about 90 percent. 

SANDERS: No, I did not suggest that. 

O’DONNELL: Then what is – what would you tax the wealthiest Americans? How would you pay for this plan? 

SANDERS: This is what we would do on. If you want tuition-free public colleges and universities, which I believe we will have a tax on Wall Street speculation, which will more than pay for that. We will end the fact that profitable corporations, in some cases, in America today, pays zero in federal taxes because they stash their money in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. 

O’DONNELL: You want to raise the corporate tax rate? 

SANDERS: Yes. 

O’DONNELL: By how much would you raise the corporate tax? 

NAIR: Because right now, you've seen estimates. People are saying the estimate for The Wall Street Journal is $18 trillion to cover.

SANDERS: But what The Wall Street Journal said and we responded to it is that that included 15 billion dollars for national health care program. What they forgot to say is that you would not be paying and businesses would not be paying for private health insurance. So, in other words, right now if you're paying $12,000 a year for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, you would not be paying that. In fact, every study indicated that we pay more per capita for healthcare than any nation on earth. We would lower that goal. 

O’DONNELL: That is true. You're calling for a single payer health care system but your home state of Vermont tried that in 2011 and the Democratic governor has said we can't afford it and rolled it back. Your own state can't carry it through. How is America going to do it? 

SANDERS: Because every other country in the world, in one way or another, does it. I live a 100 –

O’DONNELL: Then why couldn’t Vermont figure it out? 

SANDERS: Well, you’ll have to ask the Governor for that. I'm not the Governor of the state of Vermont but you can ask the conservative prime minister of Canada how they have a single-payer health care system. You can ask every other major country on Earth how they guarantee health care to all of their people with far less cost per capita than we do in the United States. You can ask how it is that we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs 1 out of 5 Americans can't afford the cost of prescription drugs in this country and fill the prescription their doctors write. 

O’DONNELL: There is no disputing what you're talking about. I think what your own Democratic Governor and you're running as a Democrat encountered in Vermont is that while it was an ideal to give everyone health care for all, the ability for actually paying for it became the real problem and he didn't want to bust the budget in Vermont in order to – 

SANDERS: What we are talking about now – number one, let's be clear. We spend far more per cap to on health care than any other country. 30 million people today have zero health insurance and millions more are underinsured. No one debates that fact. What the story is how can you create universal health care for every man, woman and child and do it in an effective way? Other countries do it. The United States of America can do it. Now, I know the private insurance companies don't like this idea. We’re going to put them out of business and the drug companies that are ripping off the American people and charging us the highest prices in the world don't like the idea. Tough luck.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Economy Budget Taxes Wages & Prices Media Bias Debate Liberals & Democrats CBS CBS This Morning Video Norah O'Donnell Vinita Nair Bernie Sanders
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