Cruz Asks Cantrell to Differentiate Democrat from Socialist on Taxes, She Flatlines

"We’re a big-tent party."

In a debate of the Republican tax plan last night on CNN, a question for Democrat Maria Cantwell was raised by Ted Cruz who apparently had his phaser set to stun. 

The town hall exchange — which was moderated by CNN’s anchor Jake Tapper and chief political correspondent Dana Bash — involved questions from the audience regarding the slow-moving congressional fight over tax reform, with the Democrats unsurprisingly heavily criticizing the proposals of the GOP. For the discussion, CNN had invited Republicans Ted Cruz and Tim Scott, as well as Dems Cantwell and Bernie Sanders.

At one point during the evening of lively back-and-forth, an audience member asked Sanders:

“Thank you, Senator Sanders, for taking my question. I am from Nicaragua, and my husband is from Cuba. We both lived under regimes…where…[they have denied] the right of entrepreneurship. For the past 23 years, we have dedicated our life to keep up with the ever-changing business of the restaurant industry.”

She went on to explain their hopes of expanding their business. However, she said, their heavy tax burden was preventing such additions:

“But after paying operating expenses and the high-rate taxes, that leaves us with very little money for expansion. Why don’t you agree to give us a tax break for a small business like ours, and to create more jobs, and possibly [give] better benefits to the workers we already have?”

The self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” — who made more than $1 million last year while claiming to fight the wealthy — responded with his typical party-line posturing against the rich:

“I am for a tax break for you. And I’m for a tax break for small business and I am for a tax break for working families all over this country. What I am not for is massive tax breaks for billionaires.”

Of course, that didn’t answer the lady’s question. But this is politics, after all. Cruz dived into the discussion, directing his comments toward the woman:

“Your story is like so many millions of Americans -- your husband, and my dad, came here seeking freedom and a land of opportunity. Small businesses -- businesses like the restaurant y’all own -- two-thirds of all new jobs come from small businesses. Under the last eight years of Democratic control, small businesses have been hammered with taxes and regulations.”

Senator Cruz then turned his attention to the Democrats on the panel and, with regard to taxes, the Texas Republican asked Cantwell to explain the difference between a Democrat and a socialist:

"There used to be Democrats who would support cutting taxes. The problem is that the Democratic Party...has become more extreme...I like debating Bernie because he is honest...he admits he is a socialist -- he wants to raise everyone's taxes. And so, Maria, I’d like to ask you a question that I asked Bernie last time. This is a tax debate; what is the difference between a Democrat and a socialist on taxes?”

Cantwell’s answer - or lack thereof - couldn’t have been more telling:

“You know, Ted, I really thought about this issue of you trying to divide the Democrats. But we’re a big-tent party. There’s room for Bernie and there’s room for me. The difference is you guys keep trying to isolate your party.”

In other words, she had no answer. Perhaps that’s because there is no difference. Winston Churchill said, “The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” Those from socialist and communist countries know the destruction of these philosophies. Too bad the Democrats don’t -- or don't care.