March 17, 2024

Bernie Sanders engages in testy exchange with reporter over workweek proposal

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) last week got into a heated back-and-forth session with a Fox Business' Hillary Vaughn, who sought greater detail on the lawmaker's bid to remove a full day from the routine schedule of American workers without a decrease in their pay, as The Hill reports.

The exchange quickly went viral, with Vaughn's journalistic persistence showing through, even in the face of Sanders' angry tone.

“Can I talk to you?”

Kicking off their discourse, Vaughn approached Sanders as he appeared to make his way through a corridor on the way to catch an elevator, and she asked, “Can I talk to you about the 32-hour workweek?”

Apparently suspicious of the reporter's affiliation, Sanders asked Vaughn to identify her employer.

Once she replied that she worked for Fox Business, Vaughn posited that Democrats are seeking to impose additional taxes on businesses, with Sanders angrily replying, “Really? This how we do things?”

Crosstalk ensued, with Sanders taking a gruff tone and Vaughn noting that she had been unable to ask her original question.

Sanders holds forth

Apparently ready to make his case, Sanders' glance went toward the camera, and he gave what he believed was a sound rationale for his proposed legislation.

“We held a hearing on a 32-hour workweek because what we have seen is that over the last 50 years, despite a huge increase in worker productivity, almost all the wealth has gone to the top 1%, while 60% of the people [are] living paycheck to paycheck.”

The senator added, “Many of our people are exhausted. We work the longest hours of any people in the industrialized world, and I think it's time for a shortened workweek.”

Vaughn was left dissatisfied with that answer and pressed again for a response to her question about raising taxes on businesses, something Sanders waved off, ultimately retorting, “I think billionaires have got to start paying their fair share of taxes.”

Controversial proposal

According to the Associated Press, Sanders' proposed measure would cut the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours and would impose a prohibition on employers from reducing workers' pay as a result of the decreased hours.

Though the changes would be phased in over four years, critics suggest that in industries such as manufacturing, where hands-on work is critical, the results would be devastating, and it seems unlikely that Sanders' objectives stand much chance of making headway in the broader Congress.

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