Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigeig refused to answer whether their proposal to put all Americans onto Medicare would require raising taxes on the middle class.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper at Tuesday’s Democratic debate asked both candidates whether their agreement with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, another Democrat presidential hopeful, that the U.S. government should open Medicare to all Americans also meant that they agreed the plan would require higher taxes on the American middle class. Sanders has admitted that his program would require higher taxes but says these would be offset by lower out-of-pocket costs for health care.
“Senator Sanders has said that people in the middle class will pay more in taxes to help pay for Medicare for all but that would be offset by the elimination of insurance premiums and other costs,” Tapper said. “Are you also ‘with Bernie’ on Medicare for all when it comes to raising taxes on middle-classes when it comes to pay for it?”
Senator Warren said that “giant corporations are going to pay more” and “middle-class families are going to pay less out of pocket for their health care.” She did not, however, address the question of whether middle-class families would have to pay more in taxes.
Tapper asked a second time.
“Just a point of clarification. In fifteen seconds. Would you raise taxes on the middle-class to pay for Medicare for all?” Tapper asked.
Warren again did not answer the question about taxes and instead focused on corporations, billionaires, and said “total costs” for families would go down.
Peter Buttigeig was also asked to address the question of whether taxes on middle-class Americans would rise to pay for Medicare for all. He did not answer the question.
“You are willing to raise taxes on middle-class Americans in order to have univesal coverage with the disappearance of insurance premiums?” Tapper asked after Buttigeig dodged his first attempt to ask about trading higher taxes for government health care.
“I think you can buy into it. That’s the idea of Medicare for all who want it. Look, this is a distinction without a difference, whether you are paying the same money in the form of taxes or premiums,” Buttigeig replied. “In this country, if you don’t have health coverage, you are paying too much for care. If you do have health coverage, you are paying too much for care.
Beto O’Rourke, the Texas Congressman, was also asked.
“The answer is no. The middle-class will not pay more in taxes in order to ensure that every American is guaranteed world-class health care,” O’Rourke said.