Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonQueer Marine veteran launches House bid after incumbent California Rep. Susan Davis announces retirement Poll: Trump neck and neck with top 2020 Democrats in Florida Former immigration judge fined, temporarily banned from federal service for promoting Clinton policies MORE began Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate by hammering Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi set to unveil drug price plan | Abortion rate in US hits lowest level since Roe v. Wade | Dems threaten to subpoena Juul MORE on his plans to dramatically expand the federal government. 

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"I think that the best analysis that I've seen based on Sen. Sanders's plans is that it would probably increase the size of the federal government by about 40 percent," Clinton said at the start of the PBS debate in Milwaukee. 

The former secretary of State jumped in after the Vermont senator spent about a minute avoiding the moderator's question on what limits he would impose on the size and scope of government. 

"What is most concerning to me is that in looking at the [Sanders] plans — let's take healthcare for example. Every progressive economist who has analyzed that says that the numbers don't add up," Clinton added.

Clinton, the early overwhelming favorite who narrowly won Iowa's caucuses but suffered a major loss to Sanders in the New Hampshire primary, is doubling down on framing her opponent as an idealist who cannot fulfill his promises. 

"We should level with the American people," she said before Sanders interrupted to defend himself.

"Well, let us level with the American people," Sanders responded. 

"Secretary Clinton has been going around the country saying 'Bernie Sanders wants to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, people are going to lose their Medicaid.' "

"I have fought my entire life to make sure that healthcare is a right for all people. We're not going to dismantle anything."

"I don't know what economists Secretary Clinton is talking to," Sanders said, adding that his team is right to calculate that under his healthcare policy a family in the middle of the economy would pay $500 more in taxes and get a reduction in their healthcare costs of $5,000.