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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Democratic Presidential Debate. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired February 11, 2016 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:01] ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 ANCHOR: The best highlights and analysis around full two hours of coverage post-debate. Right now, from Milwaukee, time for the debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, New Hampshire.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Iowa.
SANDERS: It looks like we are in a virtual tie.
CLINTON: There is so much at stake in this election.
SANDERS: We will need to come together and unite this party.
CLINTON: Senator Sanders and I share a lot of the same goals. But there are differences.
SANDERS: Secretary Clinton does represent the establishment.
CLINTON: I am not going to make promises I can't keep.
SANDERS: What happened here in New Hampshire, that is what will happen all over this country.
CLINTON: We are going to fight for every vote in every state.
SANDERS: Are you guys ready for a radical idea?
CLINTON: You've got to be ready on day one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the PBS "NewsHour" Democratic debate in partnership with Facebook. Now, live from Milwaukee, Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff.
JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS "NEWSHOUR" CO-ANCHOR: Here we are. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Good evening and thank you. We are happy to welcome you to Milwaukee for this Democratic debate. We are especially pleased to thank our partners at Facebook who have helped us set up a vibrant conversation among voters who are undecided. And tonight, you're going to hear some of their questions for the candidates. And you can follow along at home on the PBS "NewsHour" page on Facebook.
We also want to thank our host, the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, on whose campus we meet here in the beautiful Helen Vader Concert Hall.
GWEN IFILL, PBS "NEWSHOUR" CO-ANCHOR: We want to also our warm thanks to Milwaukee public radio and Milwaukee public television. As well as all our friends at the PBS member stations across the country tuning in tonight.
This is the sixth time the Democrats have met face-to-face. Each time we learn more about them and the presidents they say they want to be.
You know you're watching, whether you're a Democrat or Republican or neither, because you believe the outcome of the election is important to you. And we believe that, too.
With that, let's welcome the candidates to the stage. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
WOODRUFF: Welcome, Senator. Great to see you. And former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
CLINTON: Good to see you.
IFILL: Good to see you.
CLINTON: It's really good to be here with you. Thank you.
IFILL: Welcome to you both.
WOODRUFF: Now, a word about format. There will be two short breaks. And the rules are simple, 90 seconds for each answer. And 30 seconds for the other candidate to respond.
IFILL: With Iowa and New Hampshire behind us, we are now broadening the conversation to America's heartland and beyond, including here in Wisconsin.
Now, let's turn to the candidates for their opening statements. The order was decided by coin toss. And Senator Sanders, you go first.
SANDERS: Well, Gwen and Judy, thank you very much for hosting this event, and PBS, thank you.
Nine months ago, our campaign began. And when it began, we had no political organization, no money. And not much name recognition outside of the state of Vermont. A lot has happened in nine months.
And what has happened is I think the American people have responded to a series of basic truths. And that is that we have today a campaign finance system which is corrupt, which is undermining the American democracy, which allows Wall Street and billionaires to pour huge sums of money into the political process to elect the candidates of their choice.
[21:05:01] And aligned with the corrupt campaign finance system is a rigged economy. And that's an economy where ordinary Americans are working longer hours for lower wages. They're worried to death about the future of their kids. And, yet, they are seeing almost all new income and all new wealth going to the top 1 percent.
And then in addition to that, the American people are looking around, and they see a broken criminal justice system. They see more people in jail in the United States of America than any other country on earth, 2.2 million. We're spending $80 billion a year locking up fellow Americans. They see kids getting arrested for marijuana, getting a prison, getting a criminal record while they see executives on Wall Street who pay billions of dollars in settlements and get no prosecution at all. No criminal records for them.
I think what our campaign is indicating is that the American people are tired of establishment politics, tired of establishment economics. They want a political revolution in which millions of Americans stand up, come together, not let the Trumps of the world divide us and say, you know what? In this great country we need a government that represents all of us, not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors. Thank you.
IFILL: Thank you, Senator Sanders.
WOODRUFF: Thank you Senator Sanders. Secretary Clinton.
CLINTON: I'm running for president to knock down all the barriers that are holding Americans back and to rebuild the ladders of opportunity that will give every American a chance to advance, especially those who have been left out and left behind. I know a lot of Americans are angry about the economy, and for good cause.
Americans haven't had a raise in 15 years. There aren't enough good paying jobs, especially for young people, and, yes, the economy is rigged in favor of those at the top.
We both agree that we have to get unaccountable money out of our political system, and that we have to do much more to ensure that Wall Street never wrecks Main Street again.
But I want to go further. I want to tackle those barriers that stand in the way of too many Americans right now. African-Americans who faced discrimination in the job market, education, housing and the criminal justice system. Hard working immigrant families living in fear who should be brought out of the shadows so they and their children can have a better future. Guaranteeing that women's work finally gets the pay, the equal pay that we deserve.
I think America can only live up to its potential when we make sure that every American has a chance to live up to his or her potential. That will be my mission as president, and I think together we will make progress.
WOODRUFF: Thank you both. Thank you both, and we'll be right back after a short break to begin questions.
[21:10:33] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The PBS "NewsHour" Democratic Debate in partnership with Facebook continues. Live from the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Once again, Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: And welcome back to this PBS NewsHour debate -- Democratic Debate here in Milwaukee.
And let's get right to the questions. Senator Sanders, to you first, coming off the results in Iowa and New Hampshire, there are many voters who were taking a closer look at you and your ideas. And they're asking, how big a role do you foresee for the federal government? It's already spending 21 percent of the entire U.S. economy. How much larger would government be in the lives of Americans under a Sanders presidency?
SANDERS: Well to put that into context, Judy, I think we have to understand that in the last 30 years in this country, there has been a massive transfer of wealth going from the hands of working families into the top 1/10 of 1 percent whose percentage of wealth has doubled.
In other words, very rich are getting richer. Almost everybody else is getting poorer. What I believe is the United States, in fact, should join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people. Our Medicare for all single payer proposal will save the average middle class family $5000 a year.
I do believe that in the year 2016, we have to look in terms of public education, its colleges, as part of public education making public colleges and universities tuition free. I believe that when real unemployment is close to 10 percent and when our infrastructure, our roads, our bridges, our water systems, Flint, Michigan, comes to mind, our waste water plants, our rail, our airports in many places are disintegrating.
Yeah we can create 13 million jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure at a cost of a trillion dollars.
WOODRUFF: But my question is how big would government be? Would there be any limit on the size of the role of government?
SANDERS: Well of course there will be a limit. But when today you have massive levels of income and wealth inequality, when the middle class is disappearing, you have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth.
Yes in my view, the government of a Democratic society has a moral responsibility to play a vital role in making sure that all of our people have a decent standard of living.
CLINTON: Judy, I think the best analysis that I've seen based on Senator Sanders' plans is that it would probably increase the size of the federal government by about 40 percent. But what is most concerning to me is that in looking at the plans, let's take health care, for example.
Last week in a CNN Town Hall, the Senator told a questioner that the questioner would spend about $500 in taxes to get about $5000 in health care. Every progressive economist who has analyzed that says the numbers don't add up. And that's a promise that cannot be kept. And it's really important now that we are getting into the rest of the country that both of us are held to account for explaining what we are proposing because, especially with health care, this is not about math. This is about people's lives.
And we should level with the American people about what we can do to make sure they get quality, affordable health care.
SANDERS: Well let's level -- let us level with the American people. 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. They're going to lose their C.H.I.P. program. I have fought my entire life to make sure health care is a right for all people. We're not going to dismantle anything.
But here is the truth, 29 million people have no health insurance today in America. We pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. One out of 5 Americans can't even afford the prescriptions, there are doctors are writing. Millions of people have high deductibles and co-payments.
What I said and let me repeat it. I don't know what economist Secretary Clinton is talking to. But what I've said and let me repeat it. That yes, the middle -- the family right in the middle of the economy would pay $500 more in taxes and get a reduction in their health care costs of $5000.
[21:15:02] In my view, health care is a right of all people, not a privilege, and I will fight for that.
CLINTON: Well, I can only -- I can only say that we both share the goal of universal health care coverage, you know, before it was called ObamaCare, it was called HillaryCare. Then, I took on the drug companies and I took on the insurance companies to try to get us the universal health care coverage.
And while I am a staunch supporter of President Obama's principal accomplishment, namely the Affordable Care Act is because I know how hard it was to get that done.
We are at 90 percent coverage. We have to get the remaining 10. I've set forth very specific plans about how to get costs down, especially prescription drug costs.
And it is difficult to, in any way, argue with the goal that we both share. But, I think the American people deserve to know specifically how this would work.
If it's Medicare for all, then you no longer have the Affordable Care Act because the affordable care act, as you know very well, is based on the insurance system, based on exchanges, based on a subsidy system.
The children's health insurance program which I helped to create which covers 8 million kids is also a different kind of program.
So, if you're having Medicare for all, single payer, you need to level with people about what they will have at the end of the process you are proposing.
And based on every analysis that I can find by people who are sympathetic to the goal, that numbers don't add up and many people will actually be worse off than they are right now.
IFILL: Final thought, Senator.
SANDERS: I thought it's absolutely inaccurate. Look, here is the reality, folks. There is one major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people.
There is one major country, the United States, which ends up spending almost three times per capita, what they do in the UK, guaranteeing health care to all people, 50 percent more than they do in France, guaranteeing health care to all people.
Far more than our Canadian neighbors who guarantee health care to all people. Please do not tell me that in this country, if, and here's the if, we have the courage to take on the drug companies and have the courage to take on the insurance companies and the medical equipment suppliers, if we do that, yes, we can guarantee health care to all people in a much more cost effective way.
CLINTON: Well, let me just say, once again, that having been in the trenches fighting for this, I believe strongly, we have to guarantee health care.
I believe we are in the path to doing that. The last thing we need is to throw our country into a contentious debate about health care again.
And we are not England. We are not France. We inherited a system that was set up during World War II. 170 million Americans get health insurance right now through their employers.
So, what we have tried to do and what President Obama succeeded in doing, was to build on the health care system we have. Get us to 90 percent coverage. We have to get the other 10 percent of the way to 100.
I far prefer that and the chances we have to be successful there than trying to start all over again, grid locking our system and trying to get from 0 to 100 percent.
IFILL: I'd like to move along. I'd like to move along. Secretary Clinton, you also had proposed fairly expansive ideas about government. You may remember this pledge from a State of the Union Address in which I believe you were present in which these words were said, "The era of big government is over." You may remember that. When asked their feelings about the federal government this week, 61 percent of New Hampshire Democrats told exit pollsters that they are angry or at least dissatisfied. Given what you and Senator Sanders are proposing, and in expanding government in almost every area of our lives, is it fair for Americans who fear government to fear you?
CLINTON: No, but it is absolutely fair and necessary for Americans to vet both of our proposals. To ask the really hard questions about what is it we think we can accomplish? Why do we believe that? And what would be the results for the average American family?
In my case, whether it's health care or getting us to debt-free tuition or moving us toward paid family leave, I have been very specific about where I would raise the money, how much it would cost, and how I would move this agenda forward.
I've tried to be as specific to answer questions so that my proposals can be vetted because I feel like we have to level with people for the very reason, Gwen, that you are mentioning.
There is a great deal of skepticism about the federal government. I'm aware of that. It comes from the right, from the left, from people on all sides of the political spectrum.
So, we have a special obligation to make clear what we stand for which is why I think we should not make promises we can't keep because that will further.
[21:20:09] I think alienate Americans from understanding and believing we can together make some real changes in people's lives.
IFILL: Well, I haven't heard either of you put a price tag on ...
SANDERS: Well I. CLINTON: I will put a price tag. My price tag is about $100 billion a year. And again, paid for. And what I have said is I will not throw us further into debt. I believe I can get the money that I need by taxing the wealthy, by closing loopholes. The things that we are way overdue for doing.
And I think once I'm in the White House, we will have enough political capital to be able to do that, but I am conscious of the fact that we have to also be very clear, especially with young people, about what kind of government is going to do what for them and what it will cost.
SANDERS: Well, Secretary Clinton, you're not in the White House yet.
And let us be clear that every proposal that I have introduced has been paid for. For example, all right. Who in America denies that we have an infrastructure that's crumbling? Roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants? Who denies that? Who denies that real unemployment today, including those who have given up looking for work and are working part time is close to 10 percent?
Who denies that African-American youth unemployment, real, is over 50 percent? We need to create jobs.
So, yes, I will do away with the outrageous loopholes that allow profitable, multinational corporations to stash billions of dollars in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, and in a given year pay zero, zero in federal income tax.
Yeah. I'm going to do away with that. We'll use those proceeds, $100 billion a year to invest, to rebuilding our infrastructure.
Yes, I believe, that is a result of the illegal behavior on Wall Street that there are a Wall Street that droves this country into the worst economic downturn since the great recessions, great depression.
Yeah, I do believe, that now, after the American people bailed Wall Street out, yes, they should pay a Wall Street speculation tax so that we can make public colleges and universities tuition-free.
We bailed them out. Now, it is their time to help the middle class.
CLINTON: You know, I think again, both of us share the goal of trying to make college affordable for all young Americans.
And I have set forth a compact that would do just that for debt-free tuition. We differ however on a couple of key points.
One of them being that if you don't have some agreement within the system from states and from families and from students, it's hard to get to where we need to go.
And Senator Sanders' plan really rests on making sure that governors like Scott Walker contribute $23 billion on the first day to make college free.
I'm a little skeptical about your governor, actually caring enough about higher education to make any kind of commitment like that.
WOODRUFF: Next. We're going to -- I think ...
SANDERS: A brief -- brief response.
WOODRUFF: Very brief, thank you.
SANDERS: Here's where we are with public education. 100, 150 years ago, incredibly brave Americans said, you know what, working class kids, low-income kids should not have to work in factories or on the farms.
Like rich kids, they deserve to get a free education. And that free education of extraordinary accomplishment was first grade to 12th grade.
The world has changed. This is 2016. In many ways, a college degree today is equivalent to what a high school degree was 50, 60 years ago.
So, yeah, I do believe that when we talk about public education in America, today in a rapidly changing world, we should have free tuition and public colleges and universities. That should be a right of all Americans, regardless of the income of their families.
WOODRUFF: Secretary Clinton, your campaign, you and your campaign have made a clear appeal to women voters. You've talked repeatedly about the fact, we know you would be if elected the first woman president.
But, in New Hampshire, 55 percent of the women voters supported and voted for Senator Sanders. What are women missing about you?
CLINTON: Well, first, Judy, I have spent my entire adult life working toward making sure that women are empowered to make their own choices, even if that choice is not to vote for me.
[21:25:12] I believe that it's most important that we unleash the full potential of women and girls in our society, and I feel very strongly that I have an agenda, I have a record that really does respond to a lot of the specific needs that the women in our country face.
So, I'm going to keep making that case. I'm going to keep making sure that everything I've done, everything that I stand for is going to be well-known.
But, I have no argument with anyone making up her mind about who to support. I just hope that by the end of this campaign, there'll be a lot more supporting me. That's what I'm working towards.
WOODRUFF: As you know, just quickly, as you know, your strong supporter, Former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright said the other day that there's a special place in hell for women who don't support other women. Do you agree with what she said?
CLINTON: Well, look, I think that she's been saying that for as long as I've known her, which is about 25 years.
But it doesn't change my view that we need to empower everyone, women and men to make the best decisions in their minds that they can make. That's what I've always stood for.
And when it comes to the issues that are really on the front lines as to whether we're going to have equal pay, paid family leave, some opportunity for, you know, women to go as far as their hard work and talent take them, I think that we still have some barriers to knock down, which is why that's at the core of my campaign.
I would notice just for historic aside, somebody told me earlier today we've had like 200 presidential primary debates, and this is the first time there have been a majority of women on the stage.
So, you know, we'll take our progress wherever we can find it.
WOODRUFF: Senator Sanders, you're in the minority, but we still want to hear from you.
SANDERS: Look, we are fighting for every vote that we can get from women, from men, straight, gay, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian- Americans. We are trying to bring America together around an agenda that works for working families in the middle class.
I am very proud if my memory is not correct, I think I am, that I have a lifetime. And I have been in Congress a few years, a lifetime, 100 percent pro-choice voting record.
I am very proud that over the years, we have had the support in my state of Vermont from very significant majorities of women.
I am very proud that I support legislation that is currently in the Congress. Got support of almost all progressive Democrats in the house and senate which says we will end the absurdity of women today making $0.79 on the dollar compared to men.
And we will join the rest of the industrialized world and saying that paid family and medical leave should be a right of all working families.
IFILL: Senator, do you worry at all that you will be the instrument of thwarting history, as Senator Clinton keeps claiming, that she may be the first woman president?
SANDERS: Well, you know, I think from an historical point of view, somebody with my background, somebody with my views, somebody who has spent his entire life taking on the big money interests, I think a Sanders victory would be of some historical accomplishment as well.
CLINTON: You know, I have said, I have said many times, you know, I am not asking people to support me because I'm a woman. I'm asking people to support me because I think I'm the most qualified, experienced and ready person to be the president and the commander-in- chief.
And I appreciate greatly Senator Sanders' voting record, and I was very proud to get the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood action fund because I've been a leader on these issues.
I have gone time and time again to take on the vested interests who would -- women's health care decisions, the province of the government instead of women ourselves.
[21:30:01] I'm very proud that NARAL endorsed me. Because when it comes to it, we need a leader on women's issues. Somebody who, yes, votes right, but much more than that, leads the efforts to protect the hard-fought gains that women have made that, make no mistake about it, are under tremendous attack, not just by the Republican presidential candidates but by a whole national effort to try to set back women's rights.
So, I'm asking women, I'm asking men to support me because I'm ready to go into the White House on January 20th, 2017, and get to work on both domestic and foreign policy challenges.
IFILL: Final comment. SANDERS: Let me concur with the Secretary. No question, women's rights are under fierce attack all over this country. And I'll tell you something that really galls me. I will not shock anybody to suggest that in politics, there is occasionally a little bit of hypocrisy. Just a little bit.
All over this country, we have Republican candidates for president saying, we hate the government. Government is the enemy. We're going to cut Social Security, to help you. We're going to cut Medicare and Medicaid, federal aid to education, to help you, because the government is so terrible.
But by the way, when it comes to a woman having to make a very personal choice, in that case, my Republican colleagues loves the government and want the government to make that choice for every woman in America. If that's not hypocrisy, I don't know what hypocrisy is.
IFILL: Thank you both.
We turn now to the first of several questions from our partners at Facebook. We -- they were selected from accurate group of people. We've been following of undecided voters.
The first comes from Claudia Looze, a 54-year-old woman who works as a program manager at a public affairs cable network in Madison, Wisconsin.
And she writes, Wisconsin is number one in African-American male incarceration, according to a University of Wisconsin study. They found that Wisconsin's incarceration rate for black men, which is at 13 percent, was nearly double the country's rate. What can we do across the nation to address this?
SANDERS: This is one of the great tragedies in our country today. And we can no longer continue to sweep it under the rug. It has to be dealt with.
Today a male African-American baby born today stands a one in four chance of ending up in jail. That is beyond unspeakable. So what we have to do is the radical reform of a broken criminal justice system.
What we have to do is end over policing in African-American neighborhoods. The reality is that both African-American community and the white community do marijuana at about equal rates.
The reality is four times as many blacks get arrested for marijuana. Truth is there are far more blacks get stopped for traffic violations. The truth is that sentencing for blacks is higher than for whites.
We need fundamental police reform. Clearly, clearly we talk about a criminal justice system, I would hope that we can all agree that we are sick and tired of seeing videos on television of unarmed people of an African-Americans, shot by police officers. What we have got to do is make it clear that any police officer who breaks the law will, in fact, be held accountable.
CLINTON: You know, I completely agree with Senator Sanders. The first speech I gave in this campaign back in April was about criminal justice reform and ending the era of mass incarceration. The statistics from Wisconsin are particularly troubling because it is the highest rate of incarceration for African-Americans in our nation twice the national average.
And we know of the tragic, terrible event that led to the death of Dontre Hamilton right here in Milwaukee. A young man, unarmed who should still be with us. His family certainly believes that, and so do I.
So we have worked to do. There have been some good recommendations about what needs to happen. President Obama's policing commission came out with some.
[21:35:02] I have fully endorsed those. But we have to restore policing that will actually protect the communities that police officers are sworn to protect.
And then we have to go after sentencing, and that's one of the problems here in Wisconsin because so much of what happens at the criminal justice system doesn't happen at the federal level. It happens at the state and local level.
But I would also add this. There are other racial discrepancies, really systemic racism in this state, as in others, in education, in employment, in the kinds of factors that too often lead from a position where young people, particularly young men, are pushed out of school early, are denied employment opportunities.
So when we talk about criminal justice reform and ending the era of mass incarceration we also have to talk about jobs, education, housing and other ways of helping communities do better.
SANDERS: Nothing that Secretary Clinton said do I disagree with. This mandatory sentencing, very bad idea takes away discretion from judges. We have got to demilitarize local police departments so they do not look like occupying armies.
We have got to make sure that local police departments look like the communities they serve in their diversity. And where we are failing abysmally is in the very high rate of recidivism we see.
People are being released from jail without the education, without the job training, without the resources they need to get their lives together and then they end up -- we're shocked that they end up back in jail again.
So we have a lot of work to do. But here is a pledge that I've made throughout this campaign, and it's really not a very radical pledge. When we have more people in jail disproportionately African-American and Latino than China does, a communist authoritarian society, four times our size, here's my promise.
At the end of my first term as president, we will not have more people in jail than any other country. We will invest in education and jobs for our kids not incarceration and more jails.
WOODRUFF: Secretary Clinton, I was talking recently with a 23-year- old black woman who voted for President Obama because she said she thought relations between the races would get better under his leadership in his example.
Hardly anyone believes that they have. Why do you think race relations would be better under a Clinton presidency? What would you do that the nation's first African-American president has not been able to?
CLINTON: Well, I am just not sure I agree completely with that assessment. I think under President Obama, we have seen a lot of advances. The Affordable Care Act has helped more African-Americans than any other group to get insurance, to be taken care of. But we also know a lot more than we did.
We have a lot more social media. We have everybody with a cellphone. So, we are seeing the dark side of the remaining systemic racism that we have to root out in our society.
I think President Obama has set a great example. I think he has addressed a lot of these issues that have been quite difficult, but he has gone forward.
Now, what we have to do is to build on an honest conversation about where we go next. We now have much more information about what must be done to fix our criminal justice system. We now have some good models about how better to provide employment, housing and education.
So I think what President Obama did was to exemplify the importance of this issue as our first African-American president and to address it, both from the president's office and through his advocacy, such as working with young men and Mrs. Obama's work with young women.
But we can't rest. We have work to do. And we now know a lot more than we ever did before. So it's going to be my responsibility to make sure we move forward to solve these problems that are now out in the open, nobody can deny them, to use the justice department as we just saw where they have said they're going to sue Ferguson that entered into a consent agreement and then try to back out.
So we're going to enforce the law. We're going to change policing practices. We're going to change incarceration practices. But we're also going to emphasize education, jobs and housing.
[21:40:04] WOODRUFF: Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: Well, I think, Judy, what has to be appreciated is that as results of the disastrous and illegal behavior on Wall Street, millions of lives were hurt. People lost their jobs, their homes, you know, life savings. It turns out that the African-American community and the Latino Community would hit especially hard.
As I understand that the African-American community lost half of their wealth as a result of the Wall Street collapse. So, when you have childhood African-American poverty rates of 35 percent, when you have youth unemployment at 51 percent, when you have unbelievable rates of incarceration, which, by the way, leaves the children back home without a dad or even a mother, clearly we are looking at institutional racism.
We are looking at an economy in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And sadly in America today, in our economy, a whole lot of those poor people are African-American.
WOODRUFF: So, race relations would be better under a Sanders presidency than they've been?
SANDERS: Right, absolutely. Because what we will do is say, instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we are going to create millions of jobs for low-income kids so they're not hanging out on street corners.
We're going to make sure that those kids stay in school or are able to get a college education. And I think when you give low-income kids, African-Americans, white, Latino kids the opportunities to get their lives together, they are not going to end up in jail. They're going to end up in the productive economy, which is where we want them.
IFILL: Let me counter what he said because when we talk about race in this country, we always talk about African-Americans, people of color.
I want to talk about white people.
SANDERS: White people?
IFILL: I know. So, many people would be surprised to find out that we are sitting in one of the most racially polarized metropolitan areas in the country.
By the middle of the century the nation is going to be majority non- white. Our public schools are already there. If working class white Americans are about to be outnumbered, are already underemployed in many cases and one study found they are dying sooner, don't they have a reason to be resentful, Senator -- Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Look, I am deeply concerned about what's happening in every community in America. And that includes white communities where we are seeing an increase in alcoholism, addiction, earlier deaths.
People with a high school education or less are not even living as long as their parents lived. This is a remarkable and horrifying fact. And that's why I've come forward with, for example, a plan to revitalize coal country.
The coal field communities that have been so hard hit by the changing economy, by the reduction in the use of coal. You know, coal miners and their families who helped turn on the lights and power our factories for generations are now wondering.
Has our country forgotten us? Do people not care about all of our sacrifice? And I'm going to do everything I can to address distressed communities, whether they are communities of color, whether they are white communities, whether they are in any part of our country.
I particularly appreciate the proposal that Congressman Jim Clyburn has, the 10, 20, 30 proposal to try to spend more federal dollars in communities with persistent generational poverty.
And you know what, if you look at the numbers, there are actually as many, if not more white communities that are truly being left behind and left out. So, yes, I do think it would be a terrible oversight not to try to address the very real problems that white Americans, particularly those without a lot of education, whose jobs have, you know, no longer provided them or even no longer present in their communities because we have to focus where the real hurt is.
And that's why as president, I will look at communities that need special help and try to deliver that.
IFIIL: Senator, I want you to -- I want you to respond to that but I also want you to tell, am I wrong? Is it even right to be describing this as a matter of race?
SANDERS: Yeah, you can, because African-Americans, Latinos, not only face the general economic crises of low wages and high unemployment and poor educational opportunities, but they face other problems as well.
[21:45:04] So, yes, we can talk about it as a racial issue, but as a general economic issue. And here's what the economic issue is. The wages that high school graduates receive today are significantly less, whether you're white or black, than they used to be. Why is that? Because of a series of disastrous trade policies which have allowed corporate America through NAFTA and permanent normal trade relations with China. Secretary Clinton and I disagree on those issues.
But my view is, those trade policies have enabled corporate America to shut down in this country for millions of people out on the street.
Now, no one thinks that working in a factory is the greatest job in the world. But you know what? You can make a middle class wage. You have decent health care, decent benefits. You once had a pension. Those jobs in many cases, are now gone. They're off to China.
Now, you are a worker, white worker, black worker, who had a decent job. That manufacturing job is gone. What do you got now? You're working at McDonald's? That is why there is massive despair all over this country. People have worked their entire lives. They're making a half, two-thirds what they used to make. Their kids are having a hard time finding any work at all.
And that's why this study which shows that if you can believe it today for white working class people between 45 and 54, life expectancy is actually going down. Suicide, alcoholism, drugs. That's why we need to start paying attention to the needs of working families in this country and not just a handful of billionaires who have enormous economic and political power.
WOODRUFF: Thank you. Senator Sanders, one of the causes of anxiety for working class Americans is connected to immigrants. President Obama, as you know, has issued executive actions to permit some 5 million undocumented immigrants who were living now in the United States to come out of the shadows, without fear of deportation, get work permits.
Would you go further than that? And if so, how specifically would you do it? Should an undocumented family watching this debate tonight say in Nevada, rest easy, not fear further deportations under a Sanders presidency?
SANDERS: The answer is yes. We've got 11 million undocumented people in this country. I talked to some of the young kids who had tears rolling down their cheeks. Are scared to death that today they may, or their parents may be deported.
I believe that we have got to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform, something that I strongly supported. I believe that we have got to move toward a path toward citizenship.
I agree with President Obama who used executive orders to protect families because the Congress, the House, was unable or refused to act. And in fact, I would go further.
What would motivate me and what would be the guiding light for me in terms of immigration reform duty is to bring families together, not divide them up.
And let me say this also. Somebody was very fond of the president, reasoned with him most of the time. I disagreed with his recent deportation policies. And I would not support those.
Bottom line is, a path toward citizenship for 11 million undocumented people, if Congress doesn't do the right thing, we use the executive orders of the president.
CLINTON: I strongly support the president's executive actions. I hope the Supreme Court upholds them. I think there is constitutional and legal authority for the president to have done what he did.
I am against the raids. I'm against the kind of inhumane treatment that is now being visited upon families, waking them up in the middle of the night, rounding them up. We should be deporting criminals, not hard-working immigrant families who do the very best they can and often are keeping economies going in many places in our country.
I am a strong supporter of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Have been ever since I was in the Senate. I was one of the original sponsors of the DREAM Act. I voted for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2007. Senator Sanders voted against it at that time. Because I think, we have to get to Comprehensive Immigration Reform with a path to citizenship.
And as president, I would expend enormous energy. Literally call every member of Congress that I thought I could persuade. Hopefully after the 2016 election, some of the Republicans will come to their senses and realize we are not going to deport 11 or 12 million people in this country.
[21:50:03] And they will work with me to get Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
SANDERS: Secretary Clinton, I do have a disagreement here. If my memory is correct, I think when we saw children are coming from these horrendously violent areas of Honduras and neighboring countries, people who are fleeing drug violence and cartel violence, I thought it was a good idea to allow those children to stay in this country. That was not as I understand that the Secretary's position.
Terms of 2007 Immigration Reform, yeah, I did vote against it. I voted against it because the sudden poverty law center among other groups sent that the guest worker programs that were embedded in this agreement were akin to slavery. Akin to slavery where people came into this country to do guest work, were abused, were exploited and if they stood up for their rights, they'd be thrown out of this country.
So it wasn't just me who opposed it, it was the LULAC, one of the large Latino organizations in this country. It was the AFL-CIO. It was some of the most progressive members of the United States Congress who opposed it for that reason.
But we are where we are right now. And where we are right now is we have got to stand up to the trumps of the world who are trying to divide us up. What we have to do right now is bringing out people together and understand that we must provide a path toward citizenship for 11 million undocumented people.
CLINTON: Two quick response is one -- with respect to the Central American children, I made it very clear that those children needed to be processed appropriately but we also had to send a message to families and communities in Central America, not to send their children on this dangerous journey in the hand of smugglers. I've also called for the end of family detention, for the end of privately run detention centers along with private prisons which I think are really against the common good and the rule of law.
And with respect to the 2007 bill, this was Ted Kennedy's bill. And I think Ted Kennedy had a very clear idea about what needed to be done and I was proud to stand with him and support it.
SANDERS: Well, let me just respond. I worked with Ted Kennedy. He was the chairman of my committee and I loved Ted Kennedy.
But on this issue, when you have one of the large Latino organizations in America saying vote no and you have the AFL-CIO saying, vote no. And you have leading progressive Democrats in fact voting no. I don't apologize for that vote. But in terms of the children, I don't know if to whom you're sending a message. Who you sending a message to? So these are children who are leaving countries and neighborhoods where their lives are at stake. That was the fact. I don't think we use them to send a message. I think we welcome them into this country and do the best we can to help them get their lives together.
CLINTON: Well, that just wasn't the fact, Senator. The fact is that there was a great effort made by the Obama Administration and others to really send a clear message because we knew that so many of these children were being abused, being treated terribly while they tried to get to our border.
So we have a disagreement on this. I think now what I've called for is counsel for every child so that no child has to face any kind of process without someone who speaks and advocates for that child, so that the right decision hopefully can be made.
WOODRUFF: If you will allow me now to move --to move on. We've been talking about children. I want to talk about seniors, that takes us to our second Facebook question.
From Farheen Hakeem, who writes, "My father'' -- she's a 40-year-old woman who works for a nonprofit here in Milwaukee. And she writes "My father gets just $16 in food assistance per month as part of Medicaid's family community program in Milwaukee County for low-income seniors. How will you, as president, work to ensure low-income seniors get their basic needs met?
Start with you, Senator Sanders.
SANDERS: You know, you judge a nation not by the number of millionaires and billionaires it has but by how you treat, we treat, the most vulnerable and fragile people in our nation.
And by those standards, we're not doing particularly well.
[21:55:01] We have the highest rate of childhood poverty among almost any major country on Earth. And in terms of seniors, there are millions of seniors and I've talked to them in my State of Vermont and all over this country, who are trying to get by on 11, 12, $13,000 a year Social Security.
And you know what? You do the arithmetic. You can't get by on 11, 12, $13,000 a year.
And here's an area where Secretary Clinton and I believe we have a difference. I have long supported the proposition that we should lift the cap on taxable income coming in to the Social Security trust fund, starting at $250,000.
And when we -- and when we do that, we don't do what the Republicans want, which is to cut Social Security, we do what the American people want, to expand Social Security by $1300 a year for people under $16,000. And we extend the life of Social Security for 58 years. Yes. The wealthiest people, the top 1.5 percent will pay more in taxes. But a great nation like ours should not be in a position where elderly people are cutting their pills in half, where they don't have decent nutrition, where they can't heat their homes in the wintertime. That is not what America should be about.
If elected president, I will do everything I can to expand Social Security benefits, not just for seniors, but for disabled veterans as well.
CLINTON: I think it's fair to say we don't have a disagreement. We both believe there has to be more money going into the Social Security System.
I've said I'm looking at a couple of different ways. One, which you mentioned, Senator, but also trying to expand the existing tax to passive income that wealthy people have, so that we do get more revenue into the Social Security trust fund.
I have a slightly different approach, though, about what we should do with that initially. First, rather than expand benefits for everyone, I do want to take care of low-income seniors who worked at low-wage jobs. I want to take care of women.
When the Social Security program was started in the 1930s, not very many women worked and women have been disadvantaged ever since. They do not get any credit for their care taking responsibilities. And, the people who are often the most hard hit are widows because when their spouse die, they can lose up to one half of their Social Security monthly payment.
So we have no disagreement about the need to buttress Social Security, get more revenue into the program, but I want to start by helping those people who are most at risk, the ones who, yes, are cutting their pills in half, who don't believe they can make the rent, who are worried about what comes next for them.
SANDERS: In all due respect -- in all due respect, Secretary Clinton, a lot of the progressive groups, the online groups, have really asked you a simple question. Are you coming onboard a proposal and what is that proposal?
Now, the proposal that I've outlined, you know, it should be familiar to you because that is what essentially Barack Obama campaigned on in 2008. You opposed him then. I would hope that you would come onboard and say that this is the simple and straightforward thing to do. We're asking the top 1.5 percent including passive income to start paying a little bit more so that the elderly and disabled vets in this country can live with security and dignity. I hope you will make a decision soon on this.
CLINTON: Well, Senator, look, I think we're in vigorous agreement here. We both want to get more revenue in. I have yet to see a proposal that you're describing that the raising the cap would apply to passive income. That is not been ...
SANDERS: That's my bill.
CLINTON: ... well, that is not been a part of most of the proposals that I've seen. I'm interested in making sure we get the maximum amount of revenue from those who can well afford to provide it.
So I'm going to come up with the best way forward. We're going to end up in the same place. We're going to get more revenue. I'm going to prioritize those recipients who need the most help first.
WOODRUFF: We're going to move on. Secretary Clinton, your campaign has recently ramped up criticism of Senator Sanders for attending Democratic Party fund raisers from which you say, he benefit in.
But nearly half of your financial sector donations appear to come from just two wealthy financiers, George Soros and Donald Sussman, for a total of about $10 million.
[22:00:07] You have said that there's no quid pro quo involved. But is that also true of the donations that wealthy republicans give to republican candidates, contributors including the Koch brothers?