Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) directly defended his tuition-free public college plan against criticism from fellow presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg for the first time Thursday night, arguing that the South Bend, Indiana, mayor was “wrong” about universal programs in general and the Sanders plan in particular. Sanders, who is competing with Buttigieg for the 2020 Democratic nomination, delivered the rebuttal, after days of leaving the task to campaign aides and surrogates, during an interview on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes.” Hayes asked Sanders to respond to a video clip of Buttigieg on the campaign trail in South Carolina on Monday in which Buttigieg claimed that Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who also backs universal, tuition-free public college, were erroneously sending the message that “you need a college degree in order to get by in life.” Buttigieg’s public college tuition plan, by contrast, limits free tuition to the 80% of American households with incomes of $100,000 a year or less . In his remarks on Monday, Buttigieg also reiterated his belief, which he emphasizes in a television ad blanketing Iowa , that the federal government shouldn’t subsidize college tuition for wealthy Americans. “Buttigieg is wrong on both counts,” Sanders said in his response Thursday. Sanders noted that his plan covers trade schools and other college alternatives as well, so it is not designed to favor the traditional four-year college track over other forms of higher education. (In fact, as HuffPost reported on Tuesday , Buttigieg’s tuition subsidy plan, unlike Sanders’s and Warren’s, does not cover public trade schools and comparable college alternatives.) “There are millions of good jobs out there in construction and all kinds of areas where people are good at working with their hands and they don’t want to go to college,” Sanders said. He likened the benefits of a universal tuition program to the advantages of existing universal programs, such as Social Security and Medicare. Rather than restrict access at the point of service, Sanders said he prefers to attack income and wealth inequality by raising taxes on the wealthy to fund the universal programs he envisions. “I’m very glad that Mr. Buttigieg is worried that I have been too easy on upper-income people and the millionaires and billionaires,” he quipped, prompting a chuckle from Hayes. “That I’m going to allow their kids to go to public colleges and universities just, by the way, as they do go to public schools right now. Trump’s kids can go to any public school ― elementary school, high school ― in the country ‘tuition free.’”
Buttigieg’s campaign pointed out, however, that Sanders introduced
free-college legislation in 2017 that was means-tested. His bill provided free tuition to households with incomes under $125,000 ― the same cutoff as Hillary Clinton’s college plan in the 2016 general election. Sanders’ decision to directly address the critique lodged by Buttigieg marks a shift in strategy for the candidate. At back-to-back campaign events in South Carolina on Sunday, Sanders did not mention Buttigieg by name. Warren, whose decline in early-state polls has coincided with Buttigieg’s ascent in recent weeks, also signaled for the first time on Thursday night that she plans to take a tougher approach to the young mayor than she has thus far been willing to employ . She called on Buttiggieg to disclose his campaign contribution bundlers and open his high-dollar fundraisers to the media, according to The New York Times . (Warren foreswore high-dollar fundraisers in February, not long after launching her presidential campaign.) Lis Smith, a Buttigieg campaign adviser, immediately responded by demanding that Warren release tax returns from her years consulting for corporations. In May, Warren’s campaign released a list of over 50 legal cases for which she consulted. Also on HuffPost NSA Surveillance
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), left, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), center, exit the Senate floor after Paul spoke about surveillance legislation on Capitol Hill on May 31, 2015.
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From left: U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) place their hands over their hearts during the playing of the national anthem during a presentation ceremony for the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of the American Fighter Aces' service to the United States at the U.S. Capitol on May 20, 2015. Congress honored the service of the pilots with the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow.
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President Barack Obama (from left), Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson attend the 34rd Annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service on Capitol Hill on May 15, 2015.
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U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (right) appears before the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on May 7, 2015. The committee is hearing testimony on the Justice Department's budget request for fiscal year 2016.
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U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) leaves after a news conference to speak on his agenda for America on Capitol Hill on April 30, 2015, after announcing he would run for U.S. president.
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Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), second from left, smiles as he rides a Senate subway with a member of the press, left, after a vote April 23, 2015, to confirm Loretta Lynch as the next U.S. attorney general.
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Members of the Minnesota delegation taste each other's entries during the Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition on Capitol Hill on April 22, 2015. Hotdish is a meal similar to a casserole.
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Henry Singleton of New York City holds up a sign as U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) speaks during a rally to mark the finish of March2Justice on April 21, 2015, on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Dozens of marchers took part in an eight-day, 250-mile march from Staten Island, New York, to the nation's capital to demand congressional intervention to tackle "the national crisis of police violence."
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Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, second from left, speaks with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), second from right, as they pose for a photo alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), left, and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), right, prior to a meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on April 21, 2015.
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Capitol Hill police officers and other officials lift a gyrocopter that landed on the U.S. Capitol's South Lawn, onto a trailer on April 15, 2015. A man identified as Doug Hughes, 61, illegally landed his aircraft on the Capitol lawn, triggering street closures around the building and prompting a police investigation. Hughes is described as a mailman, and a logo appearing to be that of the U.S. Postal Service was visible on the tail fin of the aircraft.
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is trailed by staff and security while departing a meeting with members of the U.S Senate on the proposed deal with Iran at the U.S. Capitol on April 14, 2015. Kerry met with members of the House and Senate to discuss the ongoing Iran nuclear negotiations.
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Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) applauds the final comments from fellow committee member, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), as they conclude a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 26, 2015, to discuss the situation in Yemen. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) is at right.
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Actor, filmmaker and founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative Ben Affleck testifies before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs hearing on "Diplomacy, Development, and National Security" on March 26, 2015. His wife, Jennifer Garner, looks on.
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Bill Gates testifies during the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs hearing on "Diplomacy, Development, and National Security" on March 26, 2015.
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Golf legend Jack Nicklaus, left, and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) wipe away tears after listening to the remarks of Nicklaus' son Jack Nicklaus II during the elder Nicklaus' Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on March 24, 2015. Nicklaus was lauded by family, friends and politicians for his many sports achievements and his philanthropy.
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House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lead the way down the House steps for the House Democratic Caucus media event to mark the fifth anniversary of President Barack Obama signing into law the Affordable Care Act on March 24, 2015.
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Conference aide SoRelle Wyckoff films a news conference in the Capitol after a meeting of the House Republican Conference using the live streaming app Meerkat on March 24, 2015.
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Golf legend Jack Nicklaus, center, is presented the Congressional Gold Medal by, from left, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the Capitol Rotunda on March 24, 2015.
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Joseph Clancy, director of the U.S. Secret Service, testifies during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in on March 19, 2015.
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Code Pink peace activists discuss a letter to Iran's leaders written by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) outside his office in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 19, 2015. The group organized a "spring cleaning of Congress."
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) right, prepares to take a picture in her Capitol office with Supreme Court Justices, from left, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, before a reception on March 18, 2015. The justices were in the Capitol to be honored at Pelosi's annual Women's History Month reception in Statuary Hall.
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From left: Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), President Barack Obama (D) and Irish Prime Minister Taoiseach Enda Kenny depart the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon on Capitol Hill on St. Patrick's Day 2015.
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Shawna Blair, of the Senate Periodical Press Gallery, holds her dog George Clooney, a 4-month-old Goldendoodle, for Kate Hunter of Bloomberg News to pet in the Capitol's Senate Press Gallery on March 13, 2015.
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Protesters from Code Pink hold up signs as Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter arrive to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill on March 11, 2015.
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