The CNN anchor, who described his guest, a regular contributor to the left-wing Huffington Post , as merely a "leading international economic advisor, and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University," first asked about the possibility of the country going bankrupt. Sachs didn't waste any time to bring up his tax solution: "We're not going bankrupt, but we're not managing properly, and the gap between what we're spending every year and what we need to spend and what we're taxing is a persistent gap....Nobody wants to talk about the 'T' word...taxes. It's the most reviled word in America...and yet, the fact of the matter is that there is no way to cut to close that gap just by cutting because the most basic things that we are doing- Social Security and health care and so forth- eat up all of that revenue."
Roberts then hinted in his next question that he sympathized with his guest's point of view: "The President promised in the campaign not to raise taxes on people who make less than $250,000 a year in order to dig us out of this hole. Is he going to have to break that promise?" Sachs replied, "This country is going to have to take the direction with more taxes....Most people didn't want to say anything like that, unfortunately, because in this country we're allergic to the idea of taxes. We have one political party, the Republicans, who's only mantra is cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes. People like to hear that, but we can't balance the books the way we have them right now."
The Earth Institute director made it clear later in the segment, which began at the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour, that he not only advocated raising taxes on the rich, whom he thought weren't being taxed enough, but that tax hikes on the middle class and the poor were also needed. He also verified his left-wing credentials by revealing his anti-war stance:
ROBERTS: So high income earners are the ones who are being targeted right now. You know, New York State- they put a surtax on high income earners. In the House, they're talking about doing it to pay for health care. They're also talking about doing it to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Can you derive the revenue you need just by taxing high income earners? SACHS: High income earners should be paying more taxes and the banks should be paying special taxes right now. We may see Goldman Sachs and others in a few weeks making billions-
ROBERTS: But can they carry it?
SACHS: They would not be able to do it on their own, but people are annoyed that they see billions going out when everyone else is suffering. So the first thing is we do need to be fair about this and right now, the system's not fair because the rich have been getting off the hook and the bankers have been getting off the hook. But it's not enough. It will not close the gap that way. So we're going to need something more broad-based, and people hate to hear it. I don't blame them. Also, everyone's struggling right now, but the truth is we've got spending up here, we've got revenues here, and if you tax the rich, as they should be, you'll close some of the gap.
ROBERTS: But not all of it.
SACHS: But you will not close all of the gap, because if we want education in this country, if we do- if we want roads that work, if we want bridges that work, if we want an energy system that works, you have to pay for it in the end, and we don't have the revenues that are paying for it right now. Now, I say also, let's get out of these wars- that's my own view, because that would save more of the money, but still there'd be a gap.
-Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.