Colbert presses Warren on middle-class tax hike: 'You might want to defend the taxes'

Stephen Colbert pressed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during CBS's "Late Show" Tuesday night on whether the Democratic presidential hopeful would raise taxes on the middle class if she were to win the White House.

"You keep being asked in the debates how are you going to pay for it. Are you going to be raising the middle-class taxes?" Colbert asked. "How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to be raising the middle-class taxes?"

"So, here's how we're going to do this. Costs are going to go up for the wealthiest Americans, for big corporations," Warren replied. "And hard-working middle-class families are going to see their costs going down."

"But will their taxes go up?" Colbert asked again.

"But here's the thing," Warren said.

"But here's the thing," an amused Colbert retorted. "I've listened to these answers a few times before and I just want to make a parallel suggestion to you that you might defend the taxes perhaps that you're not mentioning in your sentence."

"Isn't 'Medicare for All' like public school?" he continued rhetorically, pointing to the health care proposal advocated by progressives in the Democratic race such as Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

"There might be taxes for it, but you certainly save a lot of money sending your kids to school, and do you want to live in a world where your kids aren't educated? Do you want to live in a world where your fellow citizens are dying, even if it costs a little bit of money?" Colbert added.

"So I accept your point and I believe in your point," Warren responded, without directly saying taxes will be raised on the middle class. "Health care is a basic human right. We fight for basic human rights, and that's Medicare for All. Everyone gets covered."

The back-and-forth with Colbert comes amid what appears to be an increasingly close race between Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, the latter having led most national and state polls since entering the primary earlier this year.

Biden and Warren are virtually tied in a new poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers released Wednesday, with Biden at 25 percent support and Warren at 23 percent, placing her within the margin of error for the top spot.

The poll, conducted for Focus on Rural America, a Democratic group run by former Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D) and Iowa political strategist Jeff Link, also found South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) in third with 12 percent support.