In a rare showdown between such extreme polar political opposites on live television, Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, got into a heated argument on Thursday based on their mutual opposition to President Obama’s budget proposal — a mutual opposition but for entirely different reasons.
Starting off the CNN segment, Sanders was quick to point out that corporations and America’s super rich continue to avoid paying their fair share in taxes. He slammed Obama’s proposal for cutting a variety of government programs as a means to reduce the nation’s deficit.
Dismissing Sander’s argument, Norquist posited that the government is receiving little in revenues due to high unemployment or not making enough in taxable income, to which Sanders replied that the debt and deficit has grown because of financial scandals on Wall Street enabled by deregulation.
“I’m talking to the senator who opposed the effort to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which gave us the recession that we had,” Norquist shot back. “That was government policy — it was big government policy. It sure wasn’t deregulation.”
“Our good friends on Wall Street just are so honest, so conservative in their fiscal investments,” Sanders said sarcastically. “They had nothing to do with the deficit, and it’s the big, bad government that forced them into derivatives, that forced them to merge, that forced them to become too big to fail. It’s always the government.”
“Are you unable to say Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Are you incapable of saying those two words,” Norquist asked.
“Are you unable to talk about the illegal behavior on Wall Street,” Sanders countered.
Watch the exchange in the video below.