Full Debate: Bernie Sanders, Maria Cantwell vs. Ted Cruz, Tim Scott on Tax Reform

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From the November 28, 2017, broadcast of CNN's debate on tax reform with Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) facing off with Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tim Scott (R-SC).

OCTOBER FLASHBACK: Full Debate: Bernie Sanders vs. Ted Cruz on Taxes

Full transcript:





JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Welcome to CNN's Debate Night. I'm Jake Tapper.

DANA BASH, CNN: And I'm Dana Bash. President Trump has promised America a big tax cut (inaudible) right now the Senate is on the verge of a vote that could pave the way for his first major legislative victory or another major defeat.

TAPPER: But will it be a win for you and your family? Here to answer your questions, four senators whose votes will help decide whether this tax bill lives or dies, Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington state and independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

BASH: Senators, welcome. And a reminder, you will get 60 seconds to answer questions from us and our audience, 30 seconds for responses and rebuttals. Let's start with your opening statements. You each have one minute. Senator Cruz?

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: Well, good evening. Thank you, CNN, for hosting this once again. Thank you to Bernie and Maria and Tim for taking part in a substantive discussion of tax policy.

Very soon we're going to be voting on a major tax cut bill. And the big question is exactly what Jake just asked, who are the winners under this bill? Well, let me tell you: If you're a taxpayer, this bill benefits you.

Our objective: We should be working to cut taxes for every single taxpayer in America. If you care about jobs and wages, if you're a young person who wants more opportunity, if you want to see wages going up, you're a winner.

Right now, America has the highest cooperate tax rate in the developed world. This bill cuts taxes on small businesses and job-creators, which the Council of Economic Advisers says will benefit every family by about $4,000 a year. If you're a parent, you're a winner. This doubles the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000. And if you want to see a brighter future for the next generation, cutting taxes and economic growth is the way to go.

BASH: Thank you. Senator Sanders?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-VERMONT: Gee, Ted, what tax bill were you talking about? Surely not the one that's coming before the Senate. Here are the facts. Despite what President Trump says, despite what my colleagues here will tell you, the tax bills both in the House and the Senate give the lion's share of tax breaks to the top 1 percent.

Fifty percent of the tax breaks in the House bill go to the top 1 percent. Sixty percent go to the top 1 percent in the Senate bill. Now, at a time of massive income and wealthy inequality, when the rich are becoming phenomenally rich, when corporate profits are at an all- time high, while the middle class struggles and we have 40 million people living in poverty, who in their right mind, with all due respect, believes that we should give massive tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires, and large corporations?

Here's something else. This legislation will grow the deficit by $1.4 trillion. Mark my words, mark my words, the day after or soon after this legislation passes, if it does -- we're going to do everything we can to see that it doesn't -- these guys are going to come back, they're going to say, oh, my goodness, deficit is soaring, we've got to cut Social Security, we've got to cut Medicare and Medicaid and education, and programs that the middle class and working families desperately need.

This is a disastrous piece of legislation. We've got to defeat it.

BASH: Thank you. Senator Scott?

SEN. TIM SCOTT, R-SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you, and thank you all for being here tonight. I grew up in a single-parent household, a mother who worked 16 hours a day as a nurse's aide, changing bedpans, enrolling patients (ph).

When I think about tax reform, I don't think about the numbers. I think about the people, the people who so often feel left out, stuck in the shadows, the people who often feel invisible. I have a message for those folks: We see you.

Our goal in this tax reform conversation is to deliver your money back in your paychecks, so that as my mother had to struggle paycheck to paycheck, those single mothers struggling paycheck to paycheck will be able to have more of their hard-earned money so that they can take care of their families and at the same time create an economy that creates the jobs of the future here in America, here at home. That's what this tax reform does.

BASH: Senator Cantwell?

SEN. MARIA CANTWELL, D-WASHINGTON: Well, thanks to CNN for having this debate on a tough subject to tackle on TV. Raising taxes on the middle class is wrong. And that's what this bill does. It is also wrong to cut the corporate tax rate without having a promise of how that is really going to raise wages and impact productivity.

Our economy needs to continue to grow, and we do need to work together to figure out how to do that. Spending this much money without focusing on the middle class and what's going to help them incur larger wage increases, help with health insurance, make education and housing more affordable is wrong.

So much time and money is being spent on the tax breaks and not enough time and interest on where the investment goes. We are a great society in the United States of America, but we shouldn't be a 1 percent society. We should have an economy that works for everyone, and that's what we want to focus on, making sure that the resources we do have help us invest for the economy of the future.


Continue reading the full transcript here.

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