Tax off: Sen. Cantwell battles Ted Cruz

Washington’s Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell joined Vermont’s independent Sen. Bernie Sanders Tuesday night to face off against Republican senators Ted Cruz and Tim Scott during a town hall style debate on CNN. The issue at hand: tax reform.

cantwel debate 2

The debate may have started off cheery, relatively anyway, but quickly became combative and is perhaps best summarized by an exchange that occurred early on. Sanders and Scott both shouting “here are the facts” at the same time while sharing two entirely different interpretations of the Republican tax proposal.

debate, sandvers v scott

The entire debate is available online (and here’s the transcript in full), but here’s a few key takeaways from Washington’s own Senator Cantwell.

“Our economy needs to continue to grow, and we do need to work together to figure out how to do that. Spending this much money without focusing on the middle class and what’s going to help them incur larger wage increases, help with health insurance, make education and housing more affordable is wrong.”

On the state and local tax deduction:

“In the state of Washington, there’s about a million people who itemize, and about 85 percent of those people are in a bracket between $50,000 and joint up to $200,000.
So it is not this uber-wealthy. It is about whether we’re going to fight for the middle class, for our citizens to be able to make these deductions.”

Why there’s no bipartisan compromise:

“I think because people are in a hurry. And I wish they wouldn’t hurry on this.”

Considering that cuts to corporate taxes will not benefit workers:

“Because just like repeal health care, reform tax cuts, it’s like a moniker that they want to put up, but the substance is wrong. And that is on the point you just made. Most people will tell you that this money, 75 percent of it, at least, will go to dividends and to shareholders. And what we have in America is a wage issue and productivity issue.

We’re not going to do this by just having a truckload of money drive down the street and have it fly off the back to corporations and not understand how this is going to help middle- class compete in the economy of the future.”

On why Cantwell isn’t working with President Donald Trump on the issue:

“What I would say to him, if he was standing where you’re standing right now, is, President Trump, this is too focused on corporations. I don’t know if it’s because you have a corporate cabinet … but you need to listen to what is going to help our economy grow, and that is investment in the skill level of the American worker.

That is making sure that we have affordable housing, which is a problem in our area, to make sure that we have the ability to skill for those new jobs and those new things that are changing.

So what I want President Trump to hear from me … is don’t think that these corporations are just going to grow the wage and productivity that you think they’re going to. Because the economists don’t think that they will.”

Katy Sword

Katy Sword

I cover the city of Vancouver and federal politics. Reach me at

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