Biden pushes back on Sanders criticism

Vice President Biden rejected criticism from Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg draws fresh scrutiny, attacks in sprint to Iowa MORE (I-Vt.) that the Obama administration hasn’t done enough for middle- and working-class Americans, citing crises that occupied much of the White House’s time.

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“We had about eight atom bombs dropped on our desk," Biden said in a CNBC interview released Tuesday. “It took us the auto recovery; it took us Dodd-Frank; it took us the Recovery Act; it took us all those God-awful difficult things we had to do, including raising the top rate for the wealthiest Americans so there's $600 billion more income now — it took us five years to get that done.”

Biden praised Sanders for highlighting income inequality but criticized him for not outlining the steps needed to make his pledge to break up big banks and ramp up Wall Street regulation a reality. 

“What I don't see enough of is the explanation of how to do that,” Biden said. “But I do think that Bernie has raised a very legitimate issue that has consequences beyond the way Bernie talks about it. We have maybe 24 percent, 24.1 percent of all the income in America earned by 1 percent of the people. That hasn't happened since 1922, I believe.”

But Biden’s strongest pushback came on resistance to raising the tax rate on “carried interest,” or profits from certain investment packages.

Doing so has been a goal of the Obama administration, and Biden rejected that raising the carried interest tax would be like “Hitler invading Poland,” a criticism from Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman.

“I'd say it's like us liberating death camps,” said Biden sarcastically. “The truth of the matter is there's no justification for a hedge fund paying at 15-17 percent. There's just no justification.”

“They're playing with other people's money. If you take a risk to start a business and you make money, you pay less taxes — because you took a risk. Well, that's because you used your own money,” he added.