In an appearance on the John and Ken Show on Thursday, Bernie Sanders got into a heated back-and-forth with the radio hosts about his background and his view of government.
HOST: "You didn't answer the main question about what jobs have you created. It's pretty vague, your background. What have you done in your life?"
SANDERS: There's nothing vague—
HOST: I'm not really clear on what kind of jobs you've had, besides Senator.
SANDERS: I have been in the U.S. House of representatives and actually before that, I was a mayor of 8 years. You ever been to Burlington, VT?
HOST: Yeah, but have you ever not been paid by taxpayers?
SANDERS: All right, look, if you don't like government my friend, that's fine. I'm proud of the record I've established as a mayor, making Burlington, VT, one of the more beautiful small cities in America, proud of my record in the House, proud of my record in the United States Senate. You don't like government? That's your point of view. I am proud of what I have accomplished.
HOST: All right, let me ask you about that because obviously your proposals expand government a lot, cost a lot of money, when it comes to free health care, free college educations, when we look at the government and we see the VA feeding cockroaches to veterans in Chicago—
BERNIE: All right, you know—
HOST: We see the TSA--
BERNIE: Hold on—
HOST: What is it that you see about the government that we don't between let's say the TSA and the VA for example?
BERNIE: What I see is—apparently you love the work that Wall Street is doing—
HOST: No, no, you're generalizing.
BERNIE: Wait a second! Can I respond to you?
HOST: No, we don't, but you're generalizing, that's not fair. What do you know about us?
SANDERS: Why did you just—you just told me that the VA is feeding cockroaches. I was chairman of the Veterans committee. Millions of veterans every day are getting high-quality, uh, health care. Now, in some instances, the health care is inadequate and people are doing a bad job—of course, it's a huge healthcare system. You don't think that happens in private hospitals? You don't think that happens in private doctor's offices? So the answer is, yeah, if the question is, do I believe that government should play an important role in making sure that elderly people can live in dignity so that we have decent social—
HOST: That wasn't my question!
SANDERS: Excuse me! Can I—excuse me!
HOST: My question was about—
SANDERS: Wait a minute, you know, you invited me on the program. And I'm happy to be on the program. And I'd like to answer your questions, but I have to respond. I do believe that government should make sure that all of our people earn a decent minimum wage by raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. Yeah I do believe the United States should join every other major country on earth in guaranteeing health care to all people.
HOST: My question about the VA was, it's pretty clear from the scandal the last couple of years that the veterans are waiting weeks and sometimes months. Sometimes, they're dying before they get an appointment and sometimes the supervisors are lying about the waiting lists and lying about the response time. And in Chicago, they're breathing in black mold at the nursing home and they're being served cockroaches. It seems like there's a lot of dysfunction spread around the country. What I want to know is, it would help get more support for your ideas if we saw the TSA running properly, the VA running properly, and similar agencies that the public has to deal with.
SANDERS: Well, I think it goes without saying that we want all of our government agencies to run as cost-effectively and as efficiently and as well as possible.
HOST: Why don't they?
SANDERS: Excuse me. But if you all think that the private sector today is doing just a great job, let's talk about Wall Street's greed which drove this country into the worst economic recession and the fraud, the rampant fraud that exists on Wall Street who paid $5 billion, Goldman Sachs paid $5 billion to the government as a settlement because they were selling worthless subprime mortgage packages. You can talk about corporations that are shutting down all over America and moving to China where they pay people a few bucks an hour and bring their products back into this country.
HOST: What I think John's trying to ask you is, you want us to put more trust in government and shift more of the economy to government.
SANDERS: Look, look, I got your point. You don't like government and I appreciate it. We have a different—
HOST: That's not—
SANDERS: Okay, my friend, look, I believe, you know, that we should make government run as efficiently and as effectively as possible, but I do not agree with anybody who thinks that we should privatize the VA. I was chairman of the VA. I talked to the American legion and the VFW and the Disabled Veterans of America. You ask them how their members feel about the VA and whether or not they want to privatize it. And what I will assure you is they will tell you, 'Yeah, the VA has its problems. It needs to be improved. We all agree with that. But it should not be privatized.'
HOST: Why do you think—
SANDERS: I have to apologize because I really have to run but I would love to continue the conversation, do you think we can do that again?
HOST: Set it up whenever you have a chance.
Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.
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