‘I Don’t Have a Specific Answer,’ Matthews Stumps Sanders Supporter On How To Pay For Policies

On Monday, MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews pressed South Carolina State Representative Justin Bamberg (D), who is supporting Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on where the money for Sanders’ proposals would come from, which prompted Bamberg to admit “I don’t have a specific answer for you.”

Matthews said, “He’s going to people and he’s saying to them, look, I’m going to give you more Social Security benefits. … I’m going to get your kids through state university, good universities for free. you know, i’m going to give you healthcare from the day you’re born until the day you die, free. That’s a hell of an offer. You say he’s not selling himself. those are sale pitches, and I’m not sure he can deliver on them, because there is a question of arithmetic here. Like Ronald Reagan used to say more military, tax cuts, and everything, and he would offer it all and would end up with huge deficits of course, because it didn’t add up.”

Bamberg responded, “One thing about Bernie Sanders, and why people think he’s genuine is because he believes in what he’s saying. Chris, we put man on the moon, we put an African-American male in the White House. You can’t tell me that providing — and I say you, anybody, you cannot say that in the greatest country on earth, that we can’t provide healthcare as a right to every citizen in this country. You can’t say that we can’t provide free public college education to students. We can. It’s a matter of whether or not we want to.”

Matthews then asked, “Who’s we?” “Who’s paying the college professors salary? Who’s this we? Who pays the college professor’s salary? Who pays for the tuition? Who pays for the doctor and the nurse, and the person working in the hospital? Who’s paying them? Who’s this we? I just keep asking where the money comes from. Where does it actually come from? Who’s writing the checks?”

Bamberg answered, “Yeah, that is a very good question. And quite frankly, I don’t have a specific answer for you. The beauty of the process we have is that it all starts with an idea, with an idea that can be made possible, and collectively, it is going to require the work of every elected official. But I do want to answer the question you posed about taxes, okay. And what we keep hearing are soundbites. Bernie Sanders is up front and blunt. That’s one thing about him. He’s bold with his statements, and he sticks to his convictions. He said yes, I am going to raise taxes, but there’s a second part to that. He’s raising taxes, okay, but he’s also cutting costs for insurance premiums, for American citizens. So it counterbalances. It’s not like there’s just an extra hole in your pocket because of what he –.”

Matthews cut in, “[H]e can say that all he wants about you don’t have to pay healthcare insurance premiums, but what about the cost of tuition? What about the higher benefits he’s offering in Social Security, he’s making a lot of offers in a lot of different directions and coming up with sort of quick answer, like, oh it’ll just be cheaper in your insurance policies. You know, you can’t get a doctor in many cases to even take care of Medicare patients any more. They don’t think it’s enough money. The money’s not even there now for what we have, in terms of our commitments.”

Bamberg countered that Matthews raised “valid points.” “But I’ll just end on this note. At — there was a point in time where everybody on this planet thought the earth was flat. There was a point in time when man did not have the ability to fly. Now, we can travel the country in just hours. Things can get done. Yes, it is something that is very, very complicated. But you know, I believe, and Bernie Sanders has a lot of folks who believe in him. And I think he has a great chance of winning this thing.”

Matthews concluded, “I think somebody once said there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that’s still true.”

(h/t Real Clear Politics)

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett