CNN hosted a debate last night over the embattled GOP tax plan.
The massive tax plan has faced deep criticism from congressional Democrats in both the House and Senate as it slowly moves forward. The bill will be reaching floor votes in the Senate soon, and Republican hopes for the legislation are high. Sens. Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, Tim Scott and Maria Cantwell debated tax reform Tuesday night on CNN. Their colorful exchanges were marked with made-for-TV moments and clapbacks. However, one question really stung for moderate Democrats.
When an audience member, who grew up under communist regimes in Nicaragua and Cuba, asked why Sanders wants to raise taxes for her business, Bernie demurred. The democratic socialist from Vermont said:
I am for a tax break for you. And I’m for a tax break for small business and I am for a tax break for working families all over this country. What I am not for is massive tax breaks for billionaires.
Cruz addressed the woman and her struggle against government overregulation and taxation:
Your story is like so many millions of Americans, your husband and my dad came here seeking freedom and a land of opportunity. Small businesses, businesses like the restaurant y’all own, two-thirds of all new jobs come from small businesses. Under the last eight years of Democratic control, small businesses have been hammered with taxes and regulations.
Cruz, not missing a beat, asked Bernie’s fellow Democrat onstage, Maria Cantwell, what the difference is between a Democrat and a socialist on taxes?
There used to be Democrats who would support cutting taxes. The problem is that the Democratic Party in today’s Senate has become more extreme. Bernie and I have done three of these debates. He’s a socialist. He admits he’s a socialist and wants to raise everyone’s taxes. And so, Maria, I’d like to ask you a question that I asked Bernie last time. This is a tax debate. What is the difference between a Democrat and a socialist on taxes?
You know, Ted, I really thought about this issue of you trying to divide the Democrats. But we’re a big-tent party. There’s room for Bernie and there’s room for me. The difference is you guys keep trying to isolate your party.
There you go.