Kamala Harris Says She Won’t Raise Taxes on Middle Class for Health Care, Unlike Bernie Sanders
California Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris broke with Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders over health care by saying that she will not raise taxes on the middle class in order to fund Medicare for All universal health care.
In an interview that aired on Tuesday night’s edition of CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront, Kyung Lah asked Harris to explain what “Medicare for All” would look like under a Harris presidency.
“Medicare-for-All means that everyone will have access to health care and costs will not be a barrier,” Harris said, and explained that M4A would cover more services — like dental, vision, and hearing aids — than the current Medicare program does.
“Medicare-for-All means that you recognize that right now in America, 91 percent of our doctors are in Medicare,” Harris said. “So, you’re not going to have to lose your doctor. It’s very unlikely.”
She added that under the current system, out-of-pocket costs are unaffordable for most Americans, and that our current system already provides poorly-executed universal care via the emergency room.
“It is extremely expensive for the American taxpayer,” Harris said. “And also it’s a system that basically means that people have access to health care when they’re in crisis. A smart system will not require people to be in crisis before they have access to health care.”
“So then how does this plan differ from what Senator Sanders is proposing?” Lah asked.
After noting that she does support Sanders’ bill, Harris told Lah that “I’m not in support of middle class families paying more taxes for it.”
Sanders has repeatedly said that Americans will pay more in taxes under his plan, but stand to save more in out-of-pocket costs.
“How do you propose to pay for your version of Medicare-for-All if it resembles what Senator Sanders is proposing?” Lah asked.
“Well, part of it is going to have to be about Wall Street paying more,” Harris replied. “It’s going to have to be about looking at how we — and what we tax in terms of financial services.”
“But the other part of it is to understand that this is about an investment which will reap a great return on the investment,” she continued. “We can’t only look at this issue in terms of cost without thinking about benefit. The benefit to the American public will be that people will have access to health care that right now they cannot afford. And we are all paying a price for that.”
“Well, Senator Sanders says that is impossible to achieve without a middle class tax hike,” Lah said.
“I’m not prepared to engage in middle tax hikes,” Harris reiterated. “The rules have been written against the middle class and working families for far too long, and it is not necessary that they’d be taxed even more to achieve what is achievable, by recognizing that that they don’t have to pay more to receive a benefit they deserve which is access to health care.”
“But in many studies, study after study shows it would cost approximately $30 trillion over a decade to pay for this,” Lah said, and asked “So, taxing Wall Street will reap $30 trillion in order to cover this?”
“What we are doing right now is unaffordable to so many American families,” Harris replied. “And the idea that we are going to go down, and this level of analysis that suggests that status quo is OK is completely unacceptable.”
Later in the interview, Harris again said she would implement Medicare for All “without a middle-class tax hike,” and when Lah pressed her on it again, Harris said “There are ways to pay for it, also understanding the investment that we are going to be making in a way that is going to reap great benefits in terms of other costs.”
“When people question that there is no formula for this, that you are going to find money in magical ways is not realistic thinking, how do you respond to that?” Lah asked.
“The status quo is not enough,” Harris replied. “So, we have to be open to challenging status quo so that everyone has access to health care and price is not the burden, is not the barrier.”
Watch the clip above, via CNN.
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