Full Debate: Bernie Sanders vs. Ted Cruz on Taxes


Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) clash over taxes in a nationally-televised debate on CNN hosted by Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Live from Washington, this is CNN's Debate Night with Senators Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz. At issue, President Trump's new tax plan. Will Congress go for it? And how might it affect your wallet? I'm Jake Tapper.

DANA BASH. CNN: And I'm Dana Bash. This morning, President Trump again promised his plan will be a boon to small businesses and the middle class, but President Trump's critics say the plan is a huge boost to the rich and might even raise taxes for some in the middle class.

TAPPER: Meanwhile, President Trump's treasury secretary is saying that the stock market, now at a record high, will drop if Congress does not cut Taxes. Senator Cruz supports the president's effort to lower taxes. Senator Sanders opposes it.

BASH: Gentlemen, welcome. A reminder: You will get 90 seconds to answer questions from us and our audience, 45 seconds for responses and rebuttals. Senators, let's start with your opening arguments. You each have one minute.

Senator Cruz, we'll start with you.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: Dana, thank you. I want to thank CNN and Jake and Dana both for hosting this, everyone for coming out, and, Bernie, thank you for joining us for a substantive debate on tax policy. Several months ago, you and I did Obamacare. Now we're back with taxes.

And I got to say, this debate is very, very simple. Bernie and the Democrats want every one of you watching today to pay more taxes. And Republicans want to lower the taxes for each and every person watching this debate.

Now, tonight I'm going to make a prediction. Bernie is going to suggest in just a few seconds that this is not really about you, this is about, quote, "taxing the rich." That's what the Democrats always say. But here's what you need to know. Every time Bernie says the rich, what he means is taxpayers. And so if you pay taxes, he's talking about you.

Now, how do we know this? We know this because there's a difference between facts and rhetoric. Bernie's tax plan cost over $13 trillion. That's what he's proposed raising in new taxes. And who pays for it? Well, the Democrats always talk about the millionaires and billionaires, but here's a simple fact. We could take every single person making $1 million a year or more and confiscate 100 percent of their income, everything they make, every penny, and it would raise about $1 trillion, about 8 percent of the cost of Bernie's tax plan.

That means if you want tax revenue, you don't get it from the millionaires and billionaires. You get it from the middle class. You get it from the working men and women in this country.

Tax cuts are about jobs and more money in your pocket, more money for the single mom to buy books for her kids, for the truck driver to be able to afford sending his daughter to college, for -- for the family who's struggling to make ends meet to be able to save up and go to Disneyworld.

This debate is very, very simple. Bernie and the Democrats want to raise your taxes. And the Republicans want to cut them so that you have more in your pocket.

BASH: Senator Cruz, thank you. Senator Sanders?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-VERMONT: Let me make a prediction.


In two minutes, Senator Cruz is going to tell you that if we give tax breaks to the billionaires like George W. Bush did, like Ronald Reagan did, we're going to create zillions of jobs and you're all going to become very, very rich, that we have a trickle-down economic theory, tax breaks for the wealthiest people, the largest corporations, and, whoa, everything is good.

That is a totally fraudulent theory. Here is the reality of American society today. For 40 years, the middle class of this country, the great middle class has been shrinking. And what we have seen is a massive transfer of wealth from working families to the top 0.1 percent, trillions of dollars because of cooperate greed and an unfair tax system.

Now, the Trump Republican tax proposal that's before us today, this proposal is being pushed by Senator Cruz's campaign contributors, some of the wealthiest people in this country, by the Koch brothers, who are worth $90 billion. Why are they pushing this agenda? Because 80 percent of the tax breaks in this proposal will go to the top 1 percent.

In fact, 30 percent of the middle class will end up paying more in taxes. Forty percent of the tax benefits will go to the top 0.1 percent. This is massive tax breaks for the wealthy.

And then the other thing they do, in order to pay for their tax breaks, you know what they do? They cut Medicaid over a 10-year period by $1 trillion, throwing 15 million Americans off of the health insurance they have. They cut Medicare by $470 billion.

So what this is, in fact, is a proposal -- which is right on the floor of the Senate right now -- Senator Cruz and I go back tomorrow, we're going to continue the debate -- it is a Robin Hood proposal in reverse. They are taking from the working families and the poor and they're giving to the rich. It's a proposal that must be defeated.

Read the full transcript here.

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