Bernie Sanders took the stage in a fiery Fox News town hall in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on Monday, and sparks flew almost immediately, as Sanders defiantly refused to explain why he would not voluntarily pay the huge new 52 percent "property tax" that he advocates the imposition of the richest people of the nation.
& # 39; We'll get through this together, & # 39; Sanders said at one point when the tensions flared up.
Sanders admitted that later "you are going to pay more tax" when he became president. Just minutes before the town hall began, Sanders released ten years of his tax return, which he acknowledged to be "happy" even when he insisted on a more progressive tax system.
According to returns, Sanders and his wife paid a 26 percent tax rate on $ 561,293 in revenue and earned more than $ 1 million in both 2016 and 2017. Sanders donated $ 10,600 in charity in 2016 and $ 36,300 in 2017, according to records, followed by nearly $ 19,000 in 2018.
But urged by anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum about why he was holding his wealth instead of refusing rejections or sending a check to the finance ministry, Sanders laughed disapprovingly and asked in an apparent non-sequitur why MacCallum did not donate her salary. ("I did not propose wealth tax," MacCallum responded.)
"Pfft, come on, I paid the taxes that I owe," Sanders shot back. "And by the way, Why don't you get Donald Trump here and ask him how much he pays for taxes? President Trump looks at your network a bit, right? Hey President Trump, my wife and I just released 10 years. Please do the same. "
Asked if Sanders' success – and the subsequent decision to hold his money – was not an implicit approval of the capitalist system he has repeatedly called dysfunctional, Sanders rejected the idea.
"When you wrote the book and earned the money, isn't that the definition of capitalism and the American dream?" Baier asked, referring to Sanders & # 39; best selling 2016 memoir "Our Revolution."
"No," Sanders answered bluntly, after a pregnant break. "What we want is a country where everyone has a chance … Many people don't have a university degree, many people aren't senators in the United States."
BERNIE LIGHTS THE DEM IN THINKING TANK HE SAYS THAT PROGRESSIVE POSITIONS & # 39; SMEARING & # 39; TO BE
Sanders doubled his earlier defense of his wealth, which some progressives call hypocritical.
"This year we had $ 560,000 in revenue," Sanders said. "In the case of my and my wife, I wrote a pretty good book, it was a bestseller sold all over the world and we made money." If anyone thinks I should apologize for writing a bestseller book, I'm sorry, I'm not going to do it. & # 39;
As to whether he supported abortions that took place until the moment of birth, Sanders replied: "I think that happens very, very rarely, and I think this will be a political issue. At the end of the day, I think the decision about abortion belongs to a woman and her physician, not to the government. & # 39;
Sanders also said criminals, including rapists and murderers, should be able to vote from prison. But he insisted that he not only show more potential democrat voters the way.
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The town hall of the tax office took place when Sanders emerged as the fundraising front-runner among the Democrats, and tried to further distinguish itself from a crowded field of liberal candidates who largely embraced his progressive proposals, from a radical & # 39; Medicare for All & # 39; – revision to a higher minimum wage and free public higher education.
"I think Trump is a dangerous president, but if everything we do focuses on him, we lose," Sanders said in the town hall.
Sanders individually acknowledged that his proposed Medicare for All healthcare revision – which has also been embraced by other hopeful citizens from 2020, including Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren – would mean that many Americans would "pay more in taxes".
Some estimates bring the total cost for the plan over 10 years to more than $ 32 trillion, saying it would require historic tax increases.
Sanders began to bend when Baier asked him if he was worried about the rising government debt and said it was "ironic" that the Republicans were not attacking the president.
"You are talking to the wrong person," Sanders said. "We pay for what we propose, unlike the President of the United States."
Sanders discussed a more substantive plan for a & # 39; speculaton tax & # 39; on Wall Street.
"I'm worried about the debt, that's a legitimate concern," Sanders said. "But we pay for what we propose. As for Medicare for All, we pay for it by eliminating, as I said before, deductible amounts and premiums." We are going to save the average American family money. "
When Baier visited the public in the town hall – which was clearly the support of Sanders everywhere – most of them indicated that they would support Sanders' care planalthough they currently have private insurance, they would lose.
Sanders also warned that climate change poses an existential threat, citing a recent United Nations report that claims that there are only 12 years left to implement significant changes in global carbon emissions to prevent a climate catastrophe. The United Nations made the same prediction in 1989, falsely warning that the world was then meeting a 10-year deadline that has come and gone.
Regarding immigration, Sanders said we & # 39; do not have to demonize immigrants & # 39; and have suggested building good facilities directly at the border & # 39; and & # 39; extensive immigration reforms & # 39; to be carried out. But he said it was "not a real question" when MacCallum asked about the merits of Trump's proposal to send illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities.
The 77-year-old self-proclaimed & # 39; democratic socialist & # 39; – the longest-serving independent member of the congress in history – has also been criticized for having to be too old to serve as president.
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Sanders acknowledged in the town hall that it was a "fair question", but said with applause that "there is too much attention for individuals and insufficient attention for the American people and what their needs are."
Over the weekend, Sanders struggled with progressive activist groups who pointed out that he has since largely dropped his criticism of "millionaires and billionaires" by choosing only "billionaires."
Earlier on Monday, Sanders took an example of his reports by claiming that President Trump's tax policy would raise taxes for millions of people.
In an article titled & # 39; Face it: You (Probably) got a tax reduction & # 39 ;, the New York Times labeled liberal messages with confusing large parts of the electorate on the assumption that their taxes were rising, while in fact most saw significant tax savings under Trump & # 39; s 2017 tax legislation.
The town hall marked the first appearance of the Vermont senator on Fox News Channel since he agreed to be a guest at the Baier show in December 2018. He also participated in a Fox News Channel town hall in 2016 together with his then competitor Hillary Clinton.
Sanders ended the town hall by thanking Fox News for offering the opportunity.
"Not everyone thought I would come to this show," Sanders said at one point. "Your network doesn't have much respect in my world, but I thought it was important to be here."
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The president of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Tom Perez has excluded Fox News from organizing a democratic primary debate. Some congressional democrats have called that decision inappropriate and useless, and the DNC leadership later said it had no objection to Sanders appearing in a Fox News town hall.
Asked if he felt that the DNC would like to tilt the scales against Sanders – as leaked emails showed in 2016 – Sanders was optimistic.
"I think we have come a long way since then, we talk to the DNC every week," Sanders told Baier and MacCallum. "And I think the process will be fair."
Since the announcement of his presidential bid in February, Sanders raised no less than $ 18.2 million in the first 41 days of his campaign. But although Sanders had fundraising against his rivals, Democrats generally did not raise as much cash as they had hoped at this point. Many donors have sat on the sidelines to see how the competition unfolds, which means a drawn-out primary battle ahead.
The campaign among the Democrats has become more visible, as stated hopeful parties in the White House have reported their total fundraising totals in the first quarter. Early glimpses provided by nine of the declared candidates showed that Democrats raised less money than in previous cycles and were short of the campaign book account that Trump was building up.
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Democrats have collectively raised $ 68 million since January, according to candidates who have already released their fundraising totals. That's less than the $ 81 million Democrats called up in the same period in 2007, the last time the party had an open primary, according to data from the Federal Election Commission. And it paled in comparison to the $ 30 million that Trump had raised in the first quarter.
"There is no doubt that the figures are not as high as those of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008," said Tom Nides, adviser at Clinton and former fundraiser. "Am I worried? No, I'm not worried, but I'm a little worried."
Fox News & # 39; Paulina Dedaj and The Associated Press contributed to this report.