Hillary Clinton hit Bernie Sanders for proposing a universal tax hike to foot the bill for his paid family-leave program — and Sanders shot back that “$1.61 (a week) is a pretty good investment.”
Clinton, at the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, was criticizing Sanders for backing a proposal to impose a 0.2% payroll tax — deducted from checks much like Social Security and Medicare — to cover his plan.
She also made a firm commitment not to raise taxes on the middle class.
“That is off the table as far as I am concerned. That is a pledge that I am making,” Clinton said in the ABC debate.
She said that she’d cover the cost of paid family leave with higher taxes only on the wealthy.
Sanders, though, responded that his plan is backed broadly by Senate Democrats. And he said Clinton’s criticism of payroll taxes is out of step with Democratic giants such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who oversaw the creation of Social Security, and Lyndon B. Johnson, who shepherded Medicare into law.
“What the legislation is is $1.61 a week. Now you can say that’s a tax on the middle class. It will provide three months of paid family and medical leave,” Sanders said, arguing it was well worth it.
Hillary Clinton drew laughs — but a bit of a rebuke from Bernie Sanders — when asked about her ties to corporate leaders.
ABC debate moderator David Muir asked: “Should corporate America love Hillary Clinton?”
A smiling Clinton responded, to cheers: “Everybody should.”
“I have said, I want to be the president for the struggling, the striving and the successful. I want to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share, which they have not been doing. I want the ‘Buffett rule’ to be in effect, where millionaires have to pay 30%,” Clinton said.
But Sanders gave a much different answer when Muir asked whether corporate America would love him.
“No, I think they won’t,” Sanders said.
He added that “Wall Street will like me even less.”
The Democratic presidential debate’s transition to the economy started with an awkward moment when Hillary Clinton was late returning from a break.
ABC moderator David Muir said he expected Clinton back momentarily, and started a question for Bernie Sanders.
But before Muir could finish the question, Clinton walked on the stage to applause from the crowd gathered in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Clinton stepped to the podium and said only: “Sorry.”
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred over the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — and regime change more broadly — during Saturday night’s Democratic presidential debate.
Sanders said Clinton is “too much into regime change and too aggressive without knowing what the consequences may be.”
Clinton swung back in the ABC debate, saying that Sanders had voted for regime change in Libya. She said that she had advocated a process to pursue the political ouster of Assad, saying it should operate on the same track as the U.S. fight against ISIS.
She also warned against any policy that would allow Iran to increase its role in Syria, equating such a move to “asking the arsonist to come and pour more gas on the fire.”
But Sanders stated, “We have got to get our foreign policy and our priorities right. It is not Assad who is attacking the United States — it is ISIS.”
All three Democrats had sharp words for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in Saturday night’s debate.
“He is becoming ISIS’ best recruiter,” Hillary Clinton said, pointing to the billionaire businessman’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
“He thinks low wages are a good idea,” Bernie Sanders said, directing his remarks at attendees of Trump rallies.
And former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said that the United States “must never surrender our American values to racists, must never surrender them to the fascist pleas of billionaires with big mouths.”
The candidates once again struck different tones on gun rights — with Clinton saying more citizens purchasing firearms wouldn’t help matters and Sanders focusing on a search for “consensus” on gun regulations.
“Guns in and of themselves, in my opinion, will not make Americans safer. We lose 33,000 a year already to gun violence. Arming more people — to do what? — is not the appropriate response to terrorism,” Clinton said.
Sanders, though, pointed to his state — Vermont — and said more than half of its residents own guns.
“I’m not going to say that everybody’s in agreement — it’s a divided country on guns. But there is a broad consensus on gun safety regulation,” Sanders said, calling for background checks for potential gun owners and the closure of loopholes that allow easier purchases at gun shows.
O’Malley took a big swing at both candidates, saying that, “Secretary Clinton changes her position on this every election year, it seems.”
“What we need on this issue is not more polls. We need more principle,” O’Malley said.
The other candidates hit back — with Sanders interjecting, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.”
“We can do all the great speeches we want, but you ain’t gonna succeed” without broad-based support, Sanders said.
Bernie Sanders, at the start of the third Democratic debate, apologized to Hillary Clinton for his staff’s exploitation of a Democratic National Committee computer vendor’s glitch to access her campaign’s proprietary voter files.
“This is not the type of campaign that we run, and if I find anybody else involved in this, they will also be fired,” the Vermont senator said in response to Saturday evening’s first question from ABC.
Sanders did take several shots at Clinton before apologizing, however, saying that “I am not convinced that information from our campaign may not have ended up in her campaign.”
“Don’t know that,” he added, while touting an agreement for an independent investigation.
He also complained of “many press releases from the Clinton campaign of late.”
Clinton, though, ignored those shots and dismissed the issue.
“Now that, I think, you know, we’ve resolved your data, we’ve agreed on an independent inquiry, we should move on, because I don’t think the American people are all that interested in this — I think they’re more interested in what we have to say about all of the issues facing us,” the former secretary of state said.
After addressing the data issue, the candidates quickly pivoted to terrorism, and issue they also each touched on in their opening statements.
Clinton took a shot at Republican contenders, saying that “despite all their tough talk about terrorism, (they) continue to let people who are on the no-fly list buy guns.”
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley touted his recent visit to a Northern Virginia mosque and took a swing at Republican candidate Donald Trump, saying that the country must “must never surrender them to the fascist pleas of billionaires with big mouths.”
Sanders said he’s running for president because he wants a new foreign policy — “one that does not get us involved in perpetual warfare in the quagmire of the Middle East.”
But it was the data imbroglio that shaped the political environment in the hours leading up to the debate.
The encounter comes with Clinton in a dominant position after she survived House Republicans’ inquiries into her private email use during a hearing on the Benghazi attacks and Vice President Joe Biden’s decision not to make a late entry in the race. Sanders is fading from his summer high, struggling to broaden his appeal in a campaign increasingly focused on foreign policy, and O’Malley has failed to break out of the low single digits.
The timing seems unlikely to help Sanders, whose campaign is irked that the DNC slated it for a Saturday night, when viewership is lower than the weeknight bouts that have drawn massive audiences to the Republican debates.
Clinton, a 2-to-1 front-runner in most national polls, has largely avoided punching down at Sanders throughout the campaign, rarely mentioning him at campaign events and taking carefully calibrated swings at him on issues like gun control.
But the data breach left Clinton with a decision: give Sanders a pass, as he did with her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, or tear into the Vermont senator over it during the debate, which takes place in New Hampshire and will air nationally on ABC.
Sanders’ campaign seized on a glitch in a DNC-housed program to access Hillary Clinton’s proprietary data on early-state voters this week. In response, the DNC locked Sanders out of all voter data, including information gathered by his own campaign. So Sanders retaliated with a lawsuit seeking $600,000 per day. The two sides announced a settlement in the wee hours of Saturday morning, with Sanders’ access restored.
Clinton’s campaign sent signals Friday that the daggers are out.
Campaign manager Robby Mook called Sanders’ team’s actions “incredibly disappointing” on a call with reporters, playing up the significance of what Sanders’ campaign had accessed.
“This was a very egregious breach and our data was stolen. This was not an inadvertent glimpse into our data,” Mook said.
Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon similarly lashed into Sanders on CNN, saying the senator’s campaign acted “like kids in a candy store and “went hog wild” downloading data.
Clinton’s campaign on Saturday also attempted to drum up focus on the data breach story by publishing an open letter to the Sanders campaign that directs four questions at the senator.
Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communication director, says that while the data breach has been “disturbing to our campaign and the volunteers who worked hard to build a strong organization,” it has also been “a distraction from the issues that the American people care about.”
Palmieri then went on to ask why the campaign said they didn’t store any data, despite logs showing that they may have, and why the campaign claimed the breach “was an accident” when the Sanders aides “conducted 25 targeted searches” within the Clinton data.
Comparing reaction to data access, Clinton emails
The Sanders campaign, for its part, has pinned blame on the DNC for the data’s accessibility. It has fired one aide, but has also accused national Democrats of overreacting.
“The failings of one or three or four young people who have made misjudgments in campaign is not cause for them to issue a death penalty on the Sanders campaign,” campaign manager Jeff Weaver told Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”
However, hours before Saturday night’s debate, Weaver told CNN not to expect the same fire from the senator.
“He is a very issue-oriented candidate. Always has been, always will be,” Weaver said. “He will, given the opportunity, talk about the substantive issues facing middle class and working-class people. Period. That is what he will do.”
He did add, though, “Now, if the issue is raised, I think what he will say is that the DNC dropped the firewall between the candidates, some young staffers on our campaign, inappropriately took advantage of that and may have looked at some Clinton data. One of them has been fired, others are being investigated. There may be more discipline handed out to employees as a result.”
Weaver stressed, “There is no one saying what they did is not wrong; it was wrong and we have taken it seriously. We have been investigating it and we will deal with it.”
When asked whether Sanders will echo Weaver when he said the DNC “gave our campaign the death sentence” by shutting off voter file access, Weaver responded, “No.”
The Clinton campaign’s criticism of Sanders’ team, meanwhile, is starkly different from how Sanders has handled Clinton’s use of a personal email address on a private server during her four-year tenure as America’s top diplomat.
Sanders said during the first Democratic debate that the American people are “are sick and tired about hearing about your damn emails” — a line that won applause in the moment but diminished his ability to criticize Clinton on an issue that had hampered her campaign for months.
Republicans have repeatedly seized on the issue to assail the Democratic front-runner as untrustworthy, and have redoubled their criticism as the FBI reviews whether any classified information was mishandled.
Sanders challenges party establishment
But the dust-up over the DNC data breach could give Sanders new openings.
His campaign’s relationship with the party establishment has always been strained — and spats such as Sanders’ criticism of the DNC’s limited debate schedule, which Clinton’s challengers view as designed to shield the front-runner, have spilled into the open.
That powder keg of resentment has been ignited.
The timing of the debate could bolster Sanders’ argument. It’s the second Democratic debate to be held on a Saturday night, with the audience likely to be smaller than the viewership that would tune in on a weeknight, when Republicans have so far held their debates.
The debate comes as the 2016 race’s focus increasingly shifts toward national security and terrorism in the wake of the attacks in Paris and California planned or inspired by ISIS.
Sanders’ campaign has focused largely on the issue of income inequality — with Sanders latching Clinton to Wall Street and influential donors.
While Clinton has maintained her large lead nationally, Sanders’ message has resonated in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire — which are both whiter and more liberal than the broader Democratic electorate.
A Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa poll put Clinton ahead there by just nine percentage points — with 48% to Sanders’ 39% and O’Malley’s 4% — earlier this month.
In New Hampshire, Sanders has at times led. An early December CNN/WMUR poll showed him with 50% support to Clinton’s 40% and O’Malley’s 1%.
FACT CHECK: Glossed-Over Realities in Democratic Debate
In the latest Democratic presidential debate, oversimplification struck again.
Hillary Clinton spoke of fixing “glitches” in President Barack Obama’s health care law to address rising costs, skimming over deeper issues on matters of affordability and the Affordable Care Act. And in education, fancy dorms and football stadiums aren’t the big reason for higher college costs, as Bernie Sanders suggested.
A look at some of the statements Saturday night and how they compare with the facts:
CLINTON on rising premiums and out-of-pocket costs for the privately insured after enactment of Obama’s health care law: “I would certainly build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act and work to fix some of the glitches.”
SANDERS on his proposed single-payer health care system: “The average middle-class family will be saving thousands of dollars a year.”
THE FACTS: Obama’s law was mainly about expanding coverage for the uninsured, and even former officials of his administration say major work still has to be done on cost control. In other words, rising costs are more than “glitches.”
One of the health care law’s main brakes on costs — a tax on high-value workplace coverage — has been put on hold by the new federal budget deal. Clinton had called for complete repeal of that levy, known as the Cadillac tax. Many economists believe the tax would help keep costs in check by forcing people into leaner insurance plans.
Sanders says his plan for a government-run health care system along the lines of Canada’s and Western Europe’s would save money for families and taxpayers. But such a major transition would involve winners and losers, as well as new taxes in place of premiums.
When the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office looked at the concept back in the early 1990s, it concluded that a single-payer system had the potential to save money but that wasn’t guaranteed. Moreover, individuals would have less freedom to choose their insurance packages, a trade-off that not everyone would accept.
SANDERS: “The cost of college education is escalating a lot faster than the cost of inflation. There are a lot of factors involved in that. And that is that we have some colleges and universities that are spending a huge amount of money on fancy dormitories and on giant football stadiums.”
CLINTON: “States have been disinvesting in higher education … So states over a period of decades have put their money elsewhere; into prisons, into highways, into things other than higher education.”
THE FACTS: Clinton comes closest to diagnosing the problem accurately. College expenses are unsustainably high, but luxurious dorms aren’t the big driver that Sanders portrays. Public universities are charging more because they receive less in state government support.
Demos, a left-leaning think tank, said in a May study that the decline in state funding accounted for 79 percent of tuition hikes between 2001 and 2011. Just 6 percent was due to construction costs.
Sanders would make up that lost government money by providing free tuition, paid for with a tax on financial transactions. Clinton would offer federal dollars to encourage states to do more and keep students from having to borrow. It’s unclear how either plan would control colleges’ costs, though.
SANDERS, apologizing for his campaign improperly gaining access to Clinton campaign data, raised the possibility that Clinton’s campaign may have done the same thing. “I am not convinced that information from our campaign may not have ended up in her campaign,” he said.
THE FACTS: Sanders is speculating, at best. There’s no evidence so far that Clinton’s campaign has accessed Sanders’ voter lists.
During a conference call with reporters on Friday, Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said he could “unequivocally tell you that no member of our staff stole data from theirs.” And the contractor that manages the campaign data for the Democratic Party, NGP-VAN, issued a statement Friday saying “our team removed access to the affected data, and determined that only one campaign took actions that could possibly have led to it retaining data to which it should not have had access.”
CLINTON: “Assad has killed 250,000 Syrians.”
THE FACTS: Clinton appears to be blaming the entire estimated death toll of the Syrian civil war on just one side: the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Yet no matter how vicious his forces have been, deaths have come at the hands of all sides in the nearly 5-year-old multi-front civil war.
The Syrian conflict began with anti-government protests before spiraling into a war with many groups emerging in opposition to the brutal regime crackdown. Rebels in some of these groups are fighting and killing each other, in some cases with no involvement by Assad-backed troops.
The United Nations has estimated a death toll of 220,000 since 2011; other estimates are higher, and Clinton’s figure is roughly in line with them. But the death toll is attributable to all parties, not just to Assad.
SANDERS: “Middle class in this country for the last 40 years has been disappearing.”
THE FACTS: It’s no secret that the middle class is struggling. The costs of college, health care and housing continue to rise, while wages have barely budged for two decades. The Pew Research Center reported earlier this month that the majority of Americans are no longer “middle income.”
Things are not quite as dire as Sanders suggests.
Pew found the share of Americans that it defines as middle income — a family of three earning $73,392 — has slipped. It’s down to 50 percent of households from 61 percent in 1971.
More Americans are low income, but more are also upper income. “The closer look at the shift out of the middle reveals that a deeper polarization is under way in the American economy,” Pew concluded.
Pew defines the median upper income as starting at $174,625 — a lot of money, but hardly the billionaire class attacked by Sanders.
SANDERS: “One of the heroes who we should recognize in the Middle East is King Abdul II of Jordan. This small country has welcomed in many refugees.”
THE FACTS: With each new debate, the presidential candidates come closer to getting the Jordanian king’s name right.
Among Republican and Democratic contenders alike, King Abdullah II is considered an important figure in the struggle for stability in the Middle East. But darned if they can nail down his name.
Sanders said Abdul instead of Abdullah. Invoking the king again, he mumbled the name.