Pelosi pushes back on Sanders' pledge to raise taxes

Story highlights

  • Pelosi said flatly on Wednesday, "We're not running on any platform of raising taxes"
  • Pelosi sidestepped a question about the growing concerns of fellow Democrats about the impact Sanders could have on 2016 House and Senate races

Baltimore (CNN)House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi maintains she isn't taking sides in the Democratic primary for president, but pushed back against Bernie Sanders' pledge that he would raise taxes to pay for his health care plan, saying flatly on Wednesday, "We're not running on any platform of raising taxes."

Speaking at the House Democratic Caucus' annual retreat here, Pelosi sidestepped a question about the growing concerns of fellow Democrats over the impact Sanders could have on 2016 House and Senate races, saying, "I'm very proud of all three of our candidates."
    But the top House Democrat didn't mince words when it came to Vermont Senator Sanders' health care proposal, dismissing the notion of a single-payer health care plan, curtly saying, "That's not going to happen."
    Pelosi did acknowledge Sanders' appeal, however.
    "The fact is that Bernie Sanders is enlarging the universe of people who are paying attention to the election and we hope that he will bring them to the polls in November to support the Democratic nominee," she said.
    Pelosi gave a nod to the single-payer health care model, saying it was "a very popular idea" but said Democrats came together on another approach with Obamacare and touted that 18 million more Americans now have health insurance because of the law.
    But then Pelosi took another pointed swipe at Sanders' plan, saying, "It's no use having a conversation about something that's not going to happen."
    Pelosi told reporters the enthusiasm for the Democratic field, embodied in the large numbers attending campaign rallies, is a positive sign for those down ballot, and even raised the prospects of winning back the House in 2016 -- something few political analysts, or even Democrats, believe is within reach.
    Vermont Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, who hasn't endorsed any candidate, told CNN that Hillary Clinton has "deep roots" and strong support inside the Democratic caucus and "there is a lot of amazement in how well Sanders has done."
    On Sanders' self-identification as a "democratic socialist" and how that would be viewed by the electorate outside Vermont, Welch admitted, "that's a real question mark."
    Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, who is a Hillary Clinton supporter, told reporters that Sanders has tapped into "the struggle" of the middle class. That message, along with that of the other Democratic candidates' focus on jobs and wages, is in contrast to the "sideshow and a circus and nothing but name-calling" on the Republican side.
    Welch said other House Democrats are just starting to realize the size of Sanders' following and thinks that the gathering in Baltimore will be the first chance for members to huddle to hash out what it could mean for their own electoral prospects. Welch admitted, "any talk about taxes makes politicians nervous." But he also emphasized Sanders is connecting with younger voters and that if the party is going to do well in November, it needs to bring those voters to the polls.