GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, THIS WEEK: Well, you just heard Secretary Mnuchin right there, says the goal is no tax cuts for the wealthy, huge benefits for the middle class, and projected a cut in the deficit of about $1 trillion in the next 10 years. You ready to sign on?
SANDERS: Not quite, George.
I mean, think everything he said is dead wrong. No tax breaks for the rich. They are repealing the estate tax. The estate tax only applies to the top two-tenths of 1 percent, millionaires and billionaires like the Walton family of Wal-Mart, like the Koch Brothers family, like the Trump family: $269 billion in tax breaks for the top two-tenths of 1 percent over the next 10 years. This is not a tax break for the rich? Well, I don't know what a tax break for the rich is.
The Tax Policy Institute, in fact, has estimated, based on the information that they now have, that at the end of ten years, 80 percent, 8-0 percent of all of the tax benefits go to the top 1 percent.
Further, in the midst of all of this stuff, there is a $450 billion cut in Medicare. Now, you may remember that when Trump ran for president, he promised working families, oh, he's not going to cut Medicaid. He's not going to cut Medicaid. A $1 trillion cut in Medicaid, $450 billion cut in Medicare.
What this is is a massive transfer of wealth. It's the Robin Hood principle in reverse. He's taking from working families and low-income people and giving to it the super rich and creating a $1.5 trillion deficit.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, the president is actively quoting Democrats. He appeared in Indiana with Senator Joe Donnelly. This week Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, all of them are up in 2018. If a Democrat votes, Democratic Senator votes for this bill, will you support a primary challenge?
SANDERS: Look, the issue is, I would hope that Democrats from one end of this country to the other would be fighting this proposal. This is not politics, George, this is just really, bad policy. And I'm not clear why anybody would support a proposal, which gives massive amounts of tax breaks to the people who don't need it at a time of incredible income and wealth inequality in America.
If anything, right now, what we must be demanding is that the wealthiest people in this country start finally paying their fair share of the taxes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What would that be?
SANDERS: I'm sorry?
STEPHANOPOULOS: What would that be? What should the top rate be?
SANDERS: Well, that's something we have to work on. But when you have the top one-tenth of 1 percent now owning almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, it is very clear to me that the wealthiest people in this country have got to start paying their fair share of taxes.
You've got major corporations making billions of dollars a year in profit, stashing their profits in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda and at the end of the year not paying one nickel in federal taxes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Any tax cuts you will support right now?
SANDERS: I'm sorry?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Any tax cuts you would support right now?
SANDERS: Well, I think we have got to focus on the needs of the middle class and working families of this country, those are the people who need help, not the top 1 percent.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What would that mean?
SANDERS: Well, I think you can raise the standard deduction. I think what Trump was talking about is right, but he gives with one hand and takes away with the other by repealing the personal exemption. We also need to expand and improve the Earned Income Tax Credit to help working families. So, there's a lot that can be done.
But bottom line is when you have massive income and wealth inequality, when the rich are getting richer and most Americans are getting poorer, you don't give tax breaks to billionaires, you give tax breaks to the people in need.