Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been promoting Medicare For All nonstop on the campaign trail, but typical of most Democratic proposals, he made clear on Tuesday that he has no idea how to pay for it.
During an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, the Democratic presidential candidate was pressed to explain how he’d finance the entire proposal.
After targeting the ultra-wealthy, Sanders then said he didn’t feel the need to come up with a detailed plan on how it would be paid for, noting that his goal right now was making Americans understand they’re paying more for healthcare than people in other countries do.
John Harwood: One of the constraints has been fiscal. Senator Warren is producing plans to pay for Medicare for All. You’ve identified revenue sources for about half of it. Do you think it’s important to identify revenue sources for the other half? Or do you believe, as those who subscribe to modern monetary theory believe, that we’ve been a little bit too constrained by concerns about the deficit?
Bernie Sanders: We’re trying to pay for the damn thing. At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, it is my view that the wealthiest people in this country, the top 1/10th of 1% should be paying substantially more than they’re paying right now. You have an insane situation […]
John Harwood: But you still have more revenue to go to make it fully paid for, yes?
Bernie Sanders: The fight right now is to get the American people to understand that we’re spending twice as much per capita, that of course, we can pay for it. We’re paying it now in a very reactionary, regressive way. I want to pay for it in a progressive way.
You’re asking me to come up with an exact detailed plan of how every American — how much you’re going to pay more in taxes, how much I’m going to pay. I don’t think I have to do that right now.
The reason Sanders and Warren have been dodging the question of financing is because there's no way to avoid the fact that taxes on middle-class Americans would go up.
“There is simply not enough available revenue from high earners and businesses to cover the full cost of eliminating premiums, ending all cost-sharing, and expanding coverage to all Americans and for (virtually) all health services,” states a report from the Committee for A Responsible Federal Budget.
According to the liberal Urban Institute, the projected price tag for the plan is $34 trillion in its first 10 years, which is "more than the federal government’s total cost over the coming decade for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid combined, according to the most recent Congressional Budget Office projections," The Atlantic reports.
No wonder Sanders doesn't want to get into details.