Feb 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sanders: There's a difference between "my socialism and Trump's socialism"

Sen. Bernie Sanders responded on "Fox News Sunday" to attacks from Joe Biden and others over his decision to label himself a "democratic socialist" and whether that can appeal to a broad electorate in November.

What he's saying: "In many respects, we are a socialist society today. ... Donald Trump, before he was president, as a private businessperson, he received $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury housing in New York. ... The difference between my socialism and Trump's socialism is I believe the government should help working families, not billionaires."

  • He continued: "I believe that health care is a human right. I believe we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour. I believe, in fact, that the rich must start paying their fair share of taxes when you have massive levels of income and wealth inequality."

Why it matters: Regardless of who the Democratic nominee is, President Trump will seek to brand them as a "socialist" — a term that has historically had a stigma in the United States due to its association with the Soviet Union, but which is increasingly growing in popularity among young people and women.

Between the lines: As Sanders points out, there are different definitions of socialism. According to a Harris poll for "Axios on HBO," even the public has varying levels of agreement on what exactly constitutes a socialist political system:

  1. Universal health care: 76%
  2. Tuition-free education: 72%
  3. Living wage: 68%
  4. State-controlled economy: 66%
  5. State control and regulation of private property: 61%

Go deeper: Trump's political advisers are seeking to boost Bernie Sanders in the polls

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Biden says he'll "work like hell" for Bernie if he wins the nomination

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Joe Biden continued to argue on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that the Democratic Party would have a harder time defeating President Trump if it nominates Bernie Sanders, who labels himself a democratic socialist, but stated that he would "work like hell" for the Vermont senator if he wins.

Why it matters: The divide between the moderate and progressive wing of the party has reignited debate over whether voters from each side would ultimately back the nominee against Trump.

Sanders defends socialism: "We are living, in many ways, in a socialist society right now"

Sanders in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders again defended on Wednesday's debate stage his embrace of Democratic socialism.

What he's saying: "Let's talk about Democratic socialism — not communism, Mr. Bloomberg, that's a cheap shot. Let's talk about what goes on in countries like Denmark, where Pete correctly pointed out, they have a much higher quality of life in many respects than we do."

Clyburn: Sanders' "socialist" label will be "extra burden" in House races

Jim Clyburn with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that Sen. Bernie Sanders' identification as a democratic socialist may be an "extra burden" in down-ballot House races if he were to win the Democratic nomination.

Why it matters: Clyburn's comments echo fears from many establishment Democrats, who worry the House majority they won in 2018 by taking moderate seats carried by President Trump could be at risk with Sanders at the top of the ticket.