1. BLITZER: Let's talk about this and more with two guests. The Minnesota Republican congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, and the independent senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. Thanks to both of you for coming in. So, what would do you about this issue of income inequality? It's a poignant story we just told, we just heard, and the president is going to be focusing in on this in the state of the union address.
2. REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, (R) MINNESOTA: Well, I thought the segment that just ran was excellent. I agreed with Ann. I agreed with what she was saying because what she's saying is that I've been on dependency entitlement programs for years. They haven't changed my life. What I want is a job. And that's what we need. It isn't income inequality, it's income opportunity. We need growth, we need prosperity, because a job is what she wants. That's the dignity that she needs and the opportunity for a way out.
3. BLITZER: She wants an education, too, to help her get a job. You don't have a problem with that?
4. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: Do I have a problem with that? No. I think it's absurd that we probably have the most dysfunctional early childhood education system in the entire world, that the cost of college is soaring and I believe that we should learn from many countries that understand that education is an investment and that every kid in this country, regardless of income, should have educational opportunity.
5. BLITZER: What do you want to hear the president say tomorrow night?
6. SANDERS: Well, what I want to hear him say is quite somewhat what the pope has said is that is that at a time when we have the top one percent in this country owning 38 percent of the financial wealth and the bottom 60 percent owning 2.3 percent of the wealth, that that is at the top of the wealth, that that is obscene, that is unacceptable, and that is not what America is about. In terms of income in the last few years, 95 percent of all new income generated, Wolf, went to the top one percent. So we need an economy that works for all of the people and not just millionaires and billionaires.
7. BLITZER: Congresswoman?
8. BACHMANN: Well, we need to grow the middle class and what the middle class needs are jobs. That's really the problem that the president has to explain. It's tough to blame President Bush for the current economic woes. We have five years of Obama policies and what do we have? We have people who are really suffering because people made more money. If you look at the median income level, people actually made more money seven years ago than they're making now. People have every right to be upset. So, what we need to do is reject these policies of growing entitlements and dependency and instead embrace policies that will grow jobs for people, because that's the question.
9. BLITZER: You want less government --
10. BACHMANN: President Obama, where is the job?
11. BLITZER: You want less government, but senator you want more government?
12. SANDERS: The congresswoman kind of forgets to mention is that when Obama became president, we were losing over 700,000 jobs a month because of the greed and the recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street (ph). Is the economy good today? No, it is not. Is it a heck of a lot better than when Obama first came? Sure, it is. The real issue that we need right now is, in fact, how do you create jobs, how do you protect working families.
13. Cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, abolishing the minimum wage with some of my more conservative friends want to do is it's not going to help Ann and it's not going to help millions of workers. We need a real jobs program. We need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, put millions of people back to work. Make states like Minnesota and Vermont more energy-efficient, so people are --
14. BLITZER: Where are you going to get the money?
15. SANDERS: You're going to get the money by asking the wealthiest people in this country --
16. BLITZER: More taxes.
17. SANDERS: Pardon me?
18. BLITZER: More taxes on the wealthy people.
19. SANDERS: Yes, my goodness. Given the fact that one out of four corporations in American doesn't pay a nickel in federal taxes, given the fact that the wealthy are doing phenomenally well, their tax rates are much better lower than they were in the days of that old socialist like (INAUDIBLE). Yes, I do think the wealthy --
20. BACHMANN: Well, let's talk a little bit about tax rates. I'm a former federal litigation tax attorney. If there's anything that's been proven over time, Wolf, it's this. When you lower the tax burden, that's a cost of doing business, you create more jobs. That's exactly what the piece that preceded our segment said. This woman, Ann, wants a job. And so, we have people all across United States who have an ability to start companies.
21. Single mothers like Ann want to start a business. We're not talking about mega businesses. We're talking about people who just want to get in on an economic ladder.
22. BLITZER: So, basically, what's she's saying, senator, if you raise taxes on those big corporations, there won't be enough jobs. They're going to cut back on hiring.
23. BACHMANN: It's not only that.
25. BACHMANN: No. Let me say something. It's not only that. It's also the fact that government is spending too much. The share that government has been spending -- the question is, will people like Ann have money in her pocket to spend or will it be government's big pocket that will be gulping our money? That's a big problem.
26. SANDERS: The fact of the matter is that those countries around the world, which have virtually eliminated childhood poverty are those countries that have invested heavily in education.
27. BACHMANN: Now, where is that?
28. SANDERS: Excuse me.
29. BACHMANN: Which country has eliminated childhood poverty?
30. SANDERS: -- Denmark virtually eliminated. We are at 22 percent. They are less than five percent. Those countries guarantee health care to all people as a right -- and you know what, let me finish, please. And you know what, they spend about 50 percent per capita on health care than what we do. So, those countries that have strong -- that's not socialism.
32. BACHMANN: -- like Norway, let me add. The reason why Norway has so much wealth is because they tap into the natural resource called energy. We could be energy independent in this country. Create millions of high-paying jobs if we only open up and legalize American energy production.
33. (CROSSTALK) BACHMANN: It totally matters. We've got huge natural resources. In fact, we're the number one country in the world in energy resources and we say no to it.
34. SANDERS: Yes. But the fact of the matter is --
36. BACHMANN: People like Ann could have good, high paying jobs.
37. BLITZER: Go ahead, senator.
38. SANDERS: The fact of the matter is we've had an energy boom in recent years, but 95 percent of whole new income -- excuse me -- 95 percent of all new income went to the top one percent. Now, what I think Ann was talking about -- excuse me -- I think what Ann was talking about is the desire for education. My version (ph) is she'll have a whole lot of money.
39. BACHMANN: She wants a job. Ann wants a job.
40. SANDERS: I heard her say --
41. BACHMANN: She wants a job and she wants to be able to support her family.
42. SANDERS: I think she also said she needs education in order to get the job. And if you don't have any money, it's hard to get education.
44. SANDERS: In America, we have the highest --
45. BACHMANN: -- education, we've got a great educational system. She needs access to that.
46. SANDERS: Excuse me.
48. SANDERS: In America, you have a college education system where costs are soaring, where kids leaving school 25, $50,000 in debt, and hundreds and thousands of young people have given up on college.
49. BACHMANN: And what's an American policy when it comes to hire education? It's been less but more federal government --
51. BACHMANN: You look at the correlation, the federal government has actually increased the cost of education. So, now, there's a trillion dollars of debt outstanding from American kids.
52. SANDERS: You've got it a little bit backwards and I think the idea that solving the very serious problem of declining middle class and the growing gap between the wealthy and everybody else is to do what some of Miss Bachmann's colleagues, perhaps, yourself. You want to cut Social Security. You want to transform --
53. BACHMANN: That's absolutely a lie.
55. BACHMANN: -- brought out all the time --
57. BACHMANN: Well, it's a lie. Let's face is, Senator Sanders.
59. BACHMANN: You shouldn't be lying about what our position is.
60. SANDERS: I'm not lying.
61. BACHMANN: Ask me. Ask me. Do I want to cut Social Security? No. I'm not cutting Social Security. That is not what I'm doing.
62. SANDERS: You support a change --
64. SANDERS: Do you support a change CPI?
66. SANDERS: You're not answering the question, do you support a change CPI?
67. BACHMANN: It is a joke for the Democrat Party to lie about what our position is.
69. SANDERS: I asked you a question. You didn't give me an answer.
70. BACHMANN: Well, calm down.
71. SANDERS: Do you support a change CPI?
72. BACHMANN: Calm down. The reality is, we want Ann's life to be better because President Obama has created an economic war on women so that women are saying, I can't even buy propane to heat my house, and now, my health insurance premiums have quadrupled because of Obamacare. That's an economic war on women. We want women --
74. BLITZER: On the social security issue, even the president of the United States has indicated, correct me if I'm wrong, he's willing to take the position you strongly disagree.
75. SANDERS: I sure do. And I believe that virtually every Republican in the United States Congress believes in cutting Social Security. BACHMANN: That's absolutely a lie.
76. SANDERS: The Ryan budget --
78. SANDERS: The Ryan budget called for the transformation of Medicare into a voucher program, massive cuts in Medicaid and many Republicans --
80. SANDERS: Can I finish my point? Can I finish my point?
81. BACHMANN: But when you say something that isn't true, I have to correct it. It's not true.
82. SANDERS: Do you believe in raising minimum wage?
83. BACHMANN: What I'm saying is --
84. SANDERS: Do you believe in raising --
85. BACHMANN: -- economic opportunity. Let me tell you what happened in Australia. The minimum wage in Australia is $20 an hour. They're losing the Ford (ph) plant. They're losing the GM plant.
87. SANDERS: She doesn't want to talk about that.
88. BACHMANN: No. I want job growth. I want opportunity and I want people's wages to go up.
89. SANDERS: Yes, I know. We all do. But --
91. SANDERS: Most republicans, by the way --
93. SANDERS: Excuse me.
94. BACHMANN: People's wages have gone down eight percent in seven years. Not just stayed the same.
95. SANDERS: Wolf, may I --
96. BACHMANN: They've gone down eight percent for median --
97. BLITZER: Go ahead. Respond to --
98. SANDERS: Most Republicans and Ms. Bachmann to tell us her view believe in abolishing the concept of the minimum wage so that employers in America can pay workers $3 or $4 an hour. BACHMANN: You know, all of this is --
99. BLITZER: I don't know if it's most. I know there are plenty --
100. SANDERS: In the Senate, by the way --
101. BACHMANN: All we've heard are these broad-brushed generalized statements. What we haven't heard is how one job is going to be created for Ann. Ann wants a check. Those poor kids sitting in the kitchen, that woman needs to be able to be able to buy a home, own a car, move up, help her kids.
102. SANDERS: We've had the trickle-down economic -
104. BACHMANN: Not these economic war on women that the president has been putting forth for the last five years. It's embarrassing. It's a shame.
105. BLITZER: Go ahead, senator.
106. SANDERS: You know, many of Miss Bachmann's ideas have already taken place. That was George Bush's tenure which was the worst economic performance in the private sector in the modern history.
108. SANDERS: Excuse me. Excuse me.
109. BLITZER: One at a time.
110. SANDERS: We lowered taxes for the rich. And you know what, under Bush, we lost a whole lot of jobs. Now, the truth of the matter is --
111. BACHMANN: We need to is lower taxes on the ability to be able to create jobs.
113. SANDERS: -- in American today pays nothing in taxes. We're losing about $100 billion --
115. BLITZER: Hold on one second. I just want to clarify. Do you believe that the minimum wage should be increased?
116. BACHMANN: What I think is that we need to create jobs and I think we need to look at the example of Australia. You want to talk about raising the minimum wage --
117. BLITZER: That's going to be a major issue in the president's speech tomorrow night. He's going to call on Congress to raise minimum wage.
118. (CROSSTALK) BACHMANN: So, do you think it should be raised to $20 an hour?
119. BLITZER: I'm just asking if you --
121. BACHMANN: No, I don't.
123. BACHMANN: And -- but what I do believe...
124. BLITZER: All right. BACHMANN: But do you believe that taxes should be cut for the average job creator and the average American?
125. BLITZER: Well, go ahead...
126. BACHMANN: I think they should.
127. BLITZER: -- and answer the question.
128. SANDERS: I think we need a good tax...
129. BACHMANN: And I also think the federal government should restrain its spending.
130. SANDERS: Excuse me -
131. BACHMANN: That's where you need austerity.
132. SANDERS: We have, once again, one out of four corporations not paying a nickel in federal taxes. They are keeping...
133. BACHMANN: So they should be paying.
134. SANDERS: They should be creating jobs. But what they are doing is they're sit -- putting the money in the Cayman Islands and they are shutting down factories in the United States and investing in China, in Mexico, in Vietnam.
135. So I think what we need...
136. BACHMANN: So where should the jobs come from, Bernie?
137. SANDERS: I think what we need is a demand...
138. BACHMANN: Should they be...
139. SANDERS: -- that their corporate -- excuse me.
140. May I have just one second?
141. BLITZER: Yes.
142. BACHMANN: Should... SANDERS: One second?
143. Just one tiny little second.
144. BLITZER: Go ahead.
145. SANDERS: I think what we need to do is tell corporate America, the time is now to invest not in China, not in Mexico, but in the United States of America. I (INAUDIBLE)...
146. BACHMANN: That's why you redesigned...
147. SANDERS: Excuse me.
148. BACHMANN: -- our tax policy...
149. SANDERS: I think we need to rebuild...
150. BACHMANN: -- and our tax reform...
151. BLITZER: -- our crumbling...
152. BACHMANN: -- so that jobs could be started in...
153. SANDERS: You know, this is...
154. BACHMANN: We have the highest...
155. BLITZER: All right...
156. BACHMANN: -- corporate tax rate...
157. BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE).
158. BACHMANN: -- in the world.
159. SANDERS: No, we do not.
160. BACHMANN: End of story.
161. SANDERS: Not in terms of an effective...
162. BACHMANN: The highest corporate tax rate in the world.
163. SANDERS: Nominal but effective.
164. BACHMANN: You want to know why people are leaving the United States, investing elsewhere?
165. Because President Obama has the highest corporate tax rate in the world.
166. SANDERS: Well, that happens to be (INAUDIBLE)...
167. BACHMANN: And that's hurting Ann...
168. SANDERS: In terms of an effective tax rate...
169. BACHMANN: -- that's hurting Ann...
170. SANDERS: -- that is not true.
171. BACHMANN: -- and that's causing her to not...
172. BLITZER: This was an excellent...
173. BACHMANN: -- be able to to get a job.
174. BLITZER: -- an excellent discussion.
175. You know what I'd like to do?
176. I'd like to continue the conversation...
177. BACHMANN: Absolutely.
178. BLITZER: -- in the days and weeks to come...
179. BACHMANN: Yes.
180. BLITZER: -- because you bring -- you both bring good arguments to the table. Senator, thanks very much for coming in.
181. SANDERS: My pleasure.
182. BLITZER: Congresswoman, thanks to you, as well.
183. BACHMANN: Thank you.
184. BLITZER: At least we know you don't want to raise the (INAUDIBLE) -- cost of living increases on Social Security...
185. BACHMANN: And Bernie doesn't want to cut the taxes on corporations so that we can have new jobs created.
187. BLITZER: He wants to increase the taxes on those big corporations...
188. BACHMANN: He wants to increase taxes. Right.
189. BLITZER: -- so that they can pay for education and other infrastructure development and other...
190. BACHMAN: Well, we're going to have fewer jobs.
191. BLITZER: So there's a good debate...
192. BACHMANN: That's Australia's experience.
193. BLITZER: -- and you both reflect those good positions. And we'll continue the conversation.
194. BACHMANN: Thank you.
195. BLITZER: Thanks to both of you for coming in.
196. SANDERS: Thank you.
197. BACHMANN: Thank you.
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