Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont, discusses Medicare for All legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2017. The former US presidential hopeful introduced a plan for government-sponsored universal health care, a notion long shunned in America that has newly gained traction among rising-star Democrats. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Sanders: GOP should worry very much about 2018
01:39 - Source: CNN

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"What you are seeing is a referendum on Donald Trump," Sanders said

Sanders said Trump campaigned on helping the working class, but in office was delivering for the wealthy

CNN  — 

Voters’ views of President Donald Trump’s performance should spell trouble for his party in the midterm elections, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“What we’re seeing in Alabama, what we’re seeing in Virginia, New Jersey and in states all across this country, are large voter turnouts, are people standing up and fighting back and demanding that we have a government that represents all of us, not just the 1%,” Sanders told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Sunday.

He continued, “If I were the Republicans, I would worry very much about 2018.”

Sanders pointed to the recent special election in the heavily Republican state of Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore. He said Moore was “not a strong candidate,” but contended the election was evidence that more people were “catching on” that Trump lied about his campaign promises.

“He ran for president saying that he was going to defend the interests of the working class and the middle class, and it turned out he lied,” Sanders said. “What you are seeing is a referendum on Donald Trump about a man who said one thing during the campaign and his actions are very, very different.”

In the wide-ranging interview, Sanders blasted the GOP’s new tax reform law as skewed in favor of the wealthy and large corporations and said he continued to demand a permanent fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Congress did not address before it adjourned for the holidays.

Sanders said the tax cuts for the middle class are “very good,” but asserted that Congress should have made those tax breaks permanent instead of leaving them up to a future Congress to extend.

“What the Republicans did is made the tax breaks for corporations permanent, the tax breaks for the middle class temporary,” Sanders said.

To underscore his point, Sanders cited an analysis from the Tax Policy Center that said the highest earners stood to gain larger cuts, and said the corporate tax cut would not generally translate to gains for workers, but instead to increased benefits for executives.

“This situation makes a bad situation worse,” Sanders said. “Many large corporations are going to use their tax breaks to make CEOs wealthier and do very little for workers.”

Sanders also bemoaned the projected increase to the deficit from the tax reform package and said the Republicans would use this deficit increase to argue for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, referencing comments from House Speaker Paul Ryan that the GOP in the coming year would look to reform entitlement programs.

He also said it was incumbent on Congress to focus on passing legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for people brought to this country illegally as children who were previously eligible for protection under DACA.

“As a result of Trump’s effort, or successful effort, to repeal DACA, their legal status is now in doubt,” Sanders said. “If we do not act, you’re going to have 800,000 people with no legal status who will be subject to deportation, thrown out of the only country they have ever known. This is a moral outrage.”

The Trump administration in September said it believed the Obama-era program was unconstitutional and gave Congress until March to create a permanent fix. Congressional Democrats initially said they would demand protection for the “Dreamers” during negotiations to fund the government past mid-December, but as the deadline approached, Democratic leadership agreed to fund the government without the fix.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last Wednesday the Senate would hold a vote on immigration legislation in January if lawmakers could reach a deal in time.