On Monday, Bernie Sanders walked into a Fox News town hall in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to give a speech, but it wasn’t long before tempers were flaring. As Sanders refused to explain why he wouldn’t voluntarily pay the new 52-percent “wealth tax,” which is the tax on the country’s richest citizens that he advocated for, the townspeople became restless. At one point, Sanders said: “We’ll get through this together.”
Later on, Sanders admitted to the people that if he was elected as president “you’re going to pay more in taxes.” Following up to the meeting in the town hall, Sanders finally released ten years of his tax returns, which he admitted showed that he had been “fortunate,” even though he has pushed for a progressive tax system. According to their tax returns, Sanders and his wife paid a 26% tax rate on $561,293, and they made more than $1 million in 2017 and 2016. In 2016, Sanders donated $10,600 to charity, and $36,300 in 2016. Then, in 2018, Sanders paid $19,000 to charitable organizations. When Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum began to press Sanders as to the reason why he was holding onto his money, rather than writing a check to the Department of Treasury, Sanders laughed and asked MacCallum why she didn’t donate her own salary, in which she responded with “I didn’t suggest a wealth tax.”
Sanders then said: “Pfft, come on. I paid the taxes that I owe. And by the way, why don’t you get Donald Trump up here and ask him how much he pays in taxes? President Trump watches your network a little bit, right? Hey President Trump, my wife and I just released 10 years. Please do the same.” When Sanders’ was asked whether his decision to hold onto his money was an endorsement of the capitalist system that he has consistently called dysfunctional, he outright rejected the comment. Referring to Sanders’ memoir “Our Revolution,” Baier asked: “When you wrote the book and made the money, isn’t that the definition of capitalism and the American dream?” Sanders responded by saying: “No. What we want is a country in which everyone has an opportunity. … A lot of people don’t have a college degree. A lot of people are not United States senators.”
Despite being called a hypocrite, Sanders stood by his convictions and said: “This year, we had $560,000 in income. In my and my wife’s case, I wrote a pretty good book. It was a bestseller, sold all over the world, and we made money. If anyone thinks I should apologize for writing a bestselling book, I’m sorry, I’m not gonna do it.”
When asked whether or not he supported abortions that occur up until the moment of birth, Sanders said: “I think that happens very, very rarely, and I think this is being made into a political issue. At the end of the day, I think the decision over abortion belongs to a woman and her physician, and not the government.” While insisting that he wasn’t shopping for more Democratic voters, Sanders said that he believes that felons, including those that are serving time for rape and murder, should be allowed to vote from prison.
Sanders’ appearance at the town hall took place as he came out as the fundraising front-runner among all of the Democrats. During the meeting, Sanders said: “I think Trump is a dangerous president, but if all we do is focus on him, we lose.” Sanders also pointed out that he understood that his proposed overhaul for health care, Medicare for All, would cause a lot of Americans to “pay more in taxes.” Some of the estimates that have been released show that the total cost for the plan over 10 years amounts to more than $32 trillion, which would cause historic tax hikes to take place. When Baier asked Sanders whether or not he was concerned about the continuously rising national debt, Sanders said that it was “ironic” that the Republicans weren’t focused on President Trump, instead. “You’re talking to the wrong guy. We pay for what we’re proposing, unlike the President of the United States,” said Sanders.
Sanders then discussed plans to introduce a “speculation tax” to Wall Street. “I am concerned about the debt. That’s a legitimate concern. But we pay for what we are proposing. In terms of Medicare for All, we are paying for that by eliminating as I said before, deductibles and premiums. We are going to save the average American family money,” said Sanders. As Baier polled the clearly Sanders’-sided crowd, he discovered that most of them would support Sander’s proposed health care plan, even though they would lose their current private insurance. Sanders also spoke about the impending threat to the world caused by climate change. He referred to a report recently released by the United Stations which claimed that there were only 12 years left to make significant enough changes to the global carbon emissions in order to avoid a true catastrophe. In 1989, the United Nations made that same threat, but that 10-year deadline has come and gone.
When speaking about immigration, Sanders said we “don’t need to demonize immigrants” and discussed “building proper facilities right on the border,” as well as, initiating “comprehensive immigration reform.” When MacCallum asked Bernie about Trump’s proposal to send immigrants to sanctuary cities, Sanders responded by saying that it was “not a real question.”
When asked whether or not he felt that he might be too old to serve as president, 77-year-old Sanders said that it was “a fair question,” but there is “too much focus on individuals and not enough focus on the American people and what their needs are.” The visit to town hall was Sanders first appearance on Fox News since he agreed to be on Baier’s show in December of 2018. Sanders ended the meeting at the town hall by thanking Fox News for the opportunity. “Not everybody thought I should come on this show. Your network does not have a great deal of respect in my world, but I thought it was important to be here,” said Sanders.
The chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Tom Perez, has excluded Fox News from being allowed to host a Democrat primary debate, causing some of the congressional Democrats to call his actions unhelpful and inappropriate. Despite that, DNC leadership stated that they didn’t have a problem with Sanders appearing at the town hall meeting. When Sanders was asked whether or not he felt that the DNC would turn his back on him, as they did in 2016, Sanders said: “I think we have come a long way since then. We speak to the DNC every week. And I think the process will be fair.”