Sanders At CNN Tax Debate: "There Are Zero Opportunities For Progressives To Come To Table"


From Tuesday night's broadcast of CNN's town hall 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):

QUESTION: Thank you, Jake. Senator Cantwell, I believe there are opportunities to make compromises in reforming our tax code that can gain support from people on both sides of the political divide. Why has there been no apparent effort to sideline the most ideologically rigid of your Senate colleagues and work on a compromise bill that can gain support from both Republicans and Democrats?

CANTWELL: I think because people -- thank you for the question. I think because people are in a hurry. And I wish they wouldn't hurry on this.

If you look at how we got to other proposals, people always talk about the '86 Act. It took a long time. And people agreed, but it gave a lot of confidence that it was something that was going to stick around.

And I think the fact that people are trying to hurry to get this done, I would say to our colleagues, don't think that you have to get this done right now. Why? Are corporations suffering? I don't think they're suffering. I think they're making good money.

Do I want to get this issue about how we deal with a global economy and how we're going to continue to innovate and what kind of tax code would incent the best growth for the United States? Yes. But even this international tax code provision, I have big companies saying to me, I don't even understand what it means and how it's going to affect us.

If we're going to change something so big as that part of the tax code, slow down. Let's understand what it means. If you are going to make it work effectively, everybody should at least understand what it is. And as we marked it up, there were so many things in there that people were saying, oh, I didn't even know that was there, oh, I don't even know what the effect of that is. So let's slow down and work together.

TAPPER: Senator Scott, do you want to comment on that, on the need for bipartisan cooperation?

SCOTT: Absolutely. I was looking for some notes here. The child tax credit going from $1,000 to $2,000, can you support that? The Earned Income Tax Credit remaining as it is, can we support that? Former President Obama and Ranking Member Wyden both supported a lower corporate tax rate because they both agreed that in a global economy our nation is at an incredible disadvantage.

The average rate for our competitors is around 23 percent. We're at 35 percent. Five thousand companies have either inverted or been acquired because our tax rate is so uncompetitive, they have been easy targets.

So whether you're on the left, like former President Obama or Ranking Member Wyden, on if you're on the right, like Ted Cruz or Tim Scott, we've all come together on the fact that we must lower the corporate tax rate if we want America to be more competitive. Do you like the child tax credit, the earned tax credit? There are a number of opportunities for our friends on the left to come to the table. But they have said, no, thank you.

SANDERS: Actually, there are zero opportunities for progressives to come to the table--

SCOTT: You've missed the last five minutes (ph). You've missed the last five minutes (ph).

SANDERS: -- because you guys -- because you locked the door, because you made a decision to go forward with reconciliation. You have 52 votes in the Senate. You need 50 plus the vice president to pass it. And that's what you did. You decided from day one that you would not involve Maria, myself, or any other Democrat in this process.

Now, if you had, what would have happened is, yeah, we would have raised the Earned Income Tax Credit, we would have dealt very significantly with childcare. But you know what? We would not have given 60 percent of the tax breaks to the top 1 percent.

So, Andrew, the reason that there is no compromise, they made a political decision that they were going to do it alone, hoping that they would get 50 votes. Whether they will or not, we will find out soon enough. But there was never an effort to involve Democrats in the process.

SCOTT: That's not accurate.

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