- The Washington Times - Friday, February 5, 2016

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Sen. Bernard Sanders on Friday shot back against charges that he is “Santa Claus” and his campaign is built on the idea of providing “a bunch of free stuff” for everyone.

Speaking at the famous Politics and Eggs event in Manchester — hosted by The New England Council and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library at Saint Anselm College — Mr. Sanders mocked the popular narrative that he wants to provide free health care, college tuition and other benefits without actually paying for them.

“I’m Santa Claus. I want to give away a bunch of free stuff and we don’t pay for it,” he said, quoting frequent attacks on his approach. “Well, we do actually pay for it.”

His comments came just 12 hours after taking part in a fierce University of New Hampshire debate with his Democratic presidential primary rival, Hillary Clinton, and four days before New Hampshire voters go to the polls.

Surveys show Mr. Sanders with a commanding lead in the state, and a Quinnipiac poll released Friday shows him down just two percentage points nationally.

Mrs. Clinton, among others, has charged that Mr. Sanders isn’t leveling with the American people about how much his programs truly would cost. Mrs. Clinton been especially critical of a $1.38 trillion-per-year universal health care plan that Mr. Sanders says can be implemented with little financial impact on the middle class.

In response, the Vermont senator on Friday gave several examples of how he says he’d pay for vital government services, including spending $1 trillion over five years to pay for infrastructure investments. He says he’d pay for the work by closing loopholes that allow corporations to stash money overseas and pay no federal income taxes.

“What we have documented … that in a given year, you have very profitable — I mean very profitable — multinational corporations not paying a nickel in federal income taxes. And that seems to me to be absurd.”

He’s also pitching a payroll tax hike on all Americans to pay for guaranteed family and medical leave.

“The United States is the only major country on earth … that does not guarantee paid family and medical leave,” Mr. Sanders said.

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