Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told late-night host Stephen Colbert on Thursday that his Medicare for All proposal is far from free and Americans making over $29,000 will see their taxes raised to pay for it.
Sanders has been a vocal proponent of Medicare for All, which — by some estimates — could cost over $60 trillion over a decade. Colbert asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) last week if Medicare for All would result in higher taxes for middle class Americans, and he posed the same question to Sanders on Thursday.
“Senator Warren was on here last week and I asked her about her plans for Medicare for All, and I’m going to ask you the question that I asked her … at the risk of being accused of trumpeting Republican talking points,” Colbert said.
“Is there an increase in taxes on the middle class to pay for Medicare for All, or rather, where would the tax burden go to pay for that?” the CBS host asked.
Sanders initially issued a similar answer to Warren, who repeatedly talked about overall “costs” rather than increased taxation itself.
“Under my legislation — 15 co-sponsors I believe in the Senate now — nobody in America will pay any more premiums,” Sanders said. “No more co-payments, gone. No more out-of-pocket expenses, gone. Nobody will go bankrupt… because of medical bills, that is gone.”
“Nobody in America under my bill will pay more than $200 a year in total for their prescription drugs,” he continued.
However, the socialist senator admitted that health care is not “free.”
“Now having said that, is health care free? No, it is not. So what we do is exempt the first $29,000 of a person’s income. You make less than $29,000, you pay nothing in taxes,” Sanders explained, essentially admitting that taxes will go up on middle class families from there.
“Above that, in a progressive way with the wealthiest people paying the largest percentage, people do pay more in taxes,” Sanders said. “But if I say to you, that right now you’re paying $20,000 a year in a tax called a premium for insurance companies. That’s gone.”
Sanders’ admission stands in stark contrast to Warren, who refused to explicitly state that Medicare for All will result in increased taxes for the middle class.
“Will their taxes go up?” Colbert asked after Warren refused to answer the question directly.
“I’ve listened to these answers a few times before, and I just want to make a parallel suggestion to you that you might defend the taxes perhaps that you’re not mentioning in your sentence,” he said.
“Isn’t Medicare for All like public school? There might be taxes for it, but you certainly save a lot of money sending your kids to school and do you want to live in a world where your kids aren’t educated? Do you want to live in a world where your fellow citizens are dying, even if it costs a little bit of money?” he asked.
“So, I accept your point and I believe in your point. Health care is a basic human right. We fight for basic human rights, and that’s Medicare for All. Everyone gets covered,” Warren responded, still refusing to say if she would raise taxes on the middle class to implement Medicare for All.