Colbert questions Sanders on middle-class tax hike after pressing Warren on the same topic

Greg Nash

Late-night host Stephen Colbert questioned Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday on whether middle class taxes would be raised under his “Medicare for All” proposal after previously posing a similar question to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). 

“Sen. 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?”

In response, Sanders said there would be a progressive tax, but that health care premiums would be reduced. 

“Nobody in America will pay any more premiums, just talked to a woman the other day who pays $1,700 a month, $20,000 a year, gone. No more co-payments, gone, no more out-of-pocket expenses, gone, nobody will go bankrupt,” Sanders responded.

“Now having said that, is health care free? No, it is not,” he added. “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. Above that, in a progressive way, with the wealthiest people in this country paying the largest percentage, people do pay more in taxes.”

He gave an example of someone paying $20,000 in “a tax called a premium for the insurance companies” now having to pay a $10,000 government tax instead. 

“You’re $10,000 to the good, you would ask me where do I sign up for that?” Sanders said. 

The Democratic presidential candidate contends that his health care plan would result in most people paying less for health care. 

“We are covering all basic health care needs. Medicare is a very strong program and all I want to do … is expand it to everybody and include dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses, and home health care as well,” said Sanders. “The overwhelming majority of the American people will be paying less for health care than they are today.”

He added that in his plan there would be a private market for non-basic health services. 

The question from Colbert follows a back-and-forth last week between the TV host and Warren when he asked her if she would raise middle-class taxes. 

“How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to be raising the middle-class taxes?” Colbert asked the Massachusetts Democrat. 

“So, here’s how we’re going to do this. Costs are going to go up for the wealthiest Americans, for big corporations,” Warren replied. “And hard-working middle-class families are going to see their costs going down.”

Sanders and Warren are among the most progressive of the more than a dozen people vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Tags Bernie Sanders Elizabeth Warren Medicare for all Stephen Colbert taxes
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