Sanders, Cruz spar over tax reform in CNN debate

Sanders, Cruz spar over tax reform in CNN debate
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Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin Bernie Sanders tells Kansas crowd: This 'sure doesn’t look' like a GOP state The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia MORE (I-Vt.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWashington needs to end hidden inflation tax on our capital gains GOP tax writer introduces bill to reduce capital gains taxes Senators push to clear backlog in testing rape kits MORE (R-Texas) sparred over tax reform in a prime-time debate on CNN Wednesday, with Cruz arguing that the GOP’s recently released framework would benefit the economy and Sanders lambasting it as a boon for the wealthy.

“Bernie and the Democrats want to raise your taxes, and the Republicans want to cut them so that you have more in your pocket,” Cruz said.

But according to Sanders, “What this entire proposal is about is to give tax breaks to people who don't need it, and you do that by making massive cuts in education, in health care, in housing, in the programs that working families desperately need.”

The debate between the two former presidential candidates comes as Republicans aim to pass legislation overhauling the tax code by the end of the year. The White House and congressional GOP leaders released a framework last month that would reduce the number of individual tax brackets and cut rates for businesses.

Cruz said that everyone would benefit from lower business taxes and that it’s important to lower the corporate tax rate because, currently, jobs are going to other countries with lower taxes.

Sanders, however, called the tax plan “a Robin Hood proposal in reverse,” supported by wealthy GOP donors like Charles and David Koch, that would mostly benefit the highest income people and would come at the expense of programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. Sanders also said that very few global corporations pay the current statutory rate of 35 percent.

One particular part of the GOP tax plan that Sanders and Cruz argued over was the proposal to repeal the estate tax. Cruz argued that the people hurt by the tax are farmers, ranchers and small-business owners. Sanders, however, said that few farmers have to pay the tax, which applies to individuals with estates worth at least $5.45 million, and that Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinGOP tax writer introduces bill to reduce capital gains taxes Dem lawmaker calls for cryptocurrency probe after Mueller indictments Meet the woman who is Trump's new emissary to Capitol Hill MORE has acknowledged that repealing the tax would largely benefit the wealthy.

Cruz and Sanders also debated the effects of tax cuts on the national debt.

Cruz said that the debt increased under former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMontana governor raises profile ahead of potential 2020 bid Trump was right to ditch UN’s plan for handling migrants Ex-White House stenographer: Trump is ‘lying to the American people’ MORE, a Democrat, and that “the only force big enough to turn the debt around is economic growth” that could be generated by cutting taxes.

Sanders countered that the national debt increased after former President George W. Bush cut taxes.

“Voodoo economics … is a fraud,” he said.

Besides taxes, Sanders and Cruz also spent a considerable amount of time talking about health care.

Sanders, who supports a government-run health-care system, often referred to as "single-payer," argued that the average American would prefer paying $3,000 more in taxes and see their $5,000 health insurance premiums disappear. But Cruz criticized single-payer programs in other countries, as well as ObamaCare.