(CNSNews.com) - Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders says his call for free college tuition and paid family leave would require a major tax hike, but on Sunday, he refused to say if he's going to tax the very weathy at 90 percent, as Republican Donald Trump has claimed.
"Yes, we are going to ask Trump and his billionaire friends to pay more in taxes," Sanders told ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos.
"What rate?" Stephanopoulos pressed him.
"We'll come up with that rate," Sanders replied. "But it will be a damned lot higher than it is right now.
"When you see the rich getting much, much richer, and their effective tax rates, as Warren Buffet often reminds us, is lower than the effective tax rates of truck drivers and nurses -- yes, the wealthy have got to pay more, and corporations....who, in some cases, make billions of dollars, billions of dollars a year in taxes, billions of dollars in profits, don't pay a nickel in taxes. That has to change."
Stephanopoulos tried again: "You said a damned lot more. Previously, you'd been asked if a 90 percent marginal rate is certainly too high, and you said no. So how high are you willing to go on that top marginal rate? Are we talking 50 percent? Sixty percent?"
"Well, we're working -- George, what we -- this is what we are working on right now. We're going to end the loophole that allows large corporations to stash their money in the Cayman Islands and in some cases, avoid paying all federal income taxes.
"We are going to raise the estate tax so that Trump and his billionaire friends will -- and their families -- will end up paying more in taxes. We are going to have a tax on Wall Street speculation.
"Trillions of dollars have flown -- flowed from the middle class to the top one tenth of 1 percent. And we have got to address the fact that the middle class of this country is disappearing. They need help. We have massive wealth and income inequality. The wealthy are going to have to pay more."
Stephanopoulos noted that to pay for his social programs, Sanders is going to have to tax more than just the top one percent. "How far below the top 1 percent are you going to go with tax hikes?" he asked Sanders:
"It is not true that we have to go much further," Sanders replied.
"I just indicated to you some of the proposals that we have -- the proposals that we have to provide public colleges and universities tuition-free will be paid by a tax on Wall Street speculation. Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, a huge need out there, and creating millions of decent jobs will be paid by doing away with the loophole that allows corporations to stash their money in the Cayman Islands tax-free.
"We have huge amounts of tax loopholes that exist for the wealthy and large corporations. We're going to address that issue and protect the needs...of working families and the middle class."
"No tax hikes below the top 1 percent?" Stephanopoulos asked again:
"I didn't say that," Sanders answered.
"I think if you're looking about guaranteeing paid family and medical leave, which virtually every other major country has, so that when a mom gives birth, she doesn't have to go back to work in two weeks, or there's an illness in a family, dad or mom can stay home with the kids. That will require a small increase in the payroll tax."
Sanders agreed that a higher payroll tax would hit all workers: "But it would mean that we would join the rest of the industrialized world and make sure that when a mom has a baby, she can, in fact, stay home with that baby for three months rather than go back to work at one -- at the end of one week."