Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg called out Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as a pro-communist candidate during Wednesday’s Democratic debate.
While talking about taxes, the two squared off and took turns taking hits at each other. Bloomberg began by saying that he “absolutely” would not back Sanders’ tax plan, calling it an attempt “to throw out capitalism.”
“I can’t think of a way to make it easier for Donald Trump to get re-elected than listening to this conversation,” Bloomberg said. “This is ridiculous. We’re not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that. Other countries tried that. It was called communism, and it just didn’t work.”
There was a collective “whoa” that came from the other candidates on stage, most notably from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, as well as audience members.
Sanders was then asked by a moderator about the results of a Tuesday NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll which found that two-thirds of voters “were uncomfortable with a socialist candidate for president.” Sanders replied by noting that he is winning in the polls “by a fairly comfortable margin.”
Sanders continued on to talk about democratic socialism, calling Bloomberg’s communism comment “a cheap shot.” He suggested that his ideas were far different from communism. (RELATED: Bernie Sanders Has A Complicated History With Violent Rhetoric And Communist Regimes)
“When Donald Trump gets $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury condominiums, that’s socialism for the rich,” Sanders said. “We have to subsidize Walmart workers on Medicaid and food stamps because the wealthiest family in America pays starvation wages, that’s socialism for the rich. I believe in democratic socialism for working people. Not billionaires. Health care for all. Educational opportunity for all.”
Bloomberg then quipped about Sanders’ social status, calling him “a millionaire with three houses.” The former New York City mayor added that Sanders’ job in Washington was just “the first problem” with his look.
“What a wonderful country we have,” Bloomberg said sarcastically. “The best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss?”
Sanders responded defensively, naming his three homes along with their locations. He brought the spotlight back to Bloomberg, asking him “which tax haven” he made his home in.
“New York City, thank you very much,” Bloomberg answered. “And I pay all my taxes. And I’m happy to do it because I get something for it.”