Bernie Sanders finally went there on Hillary Clinton by accusing the former Sec. of State of sounding like a Republican on the issue of healthcare.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On the issue of healthcare, she made the point that you can’t — you shouldn’t tear about Obamacare. People should be defending the Affordable Care Act. And you still haven’t put out all of the details on your plan for Medicare for all.
So how high will the top rate go, the top tax rate to pay for it? When will those details be here?
SANDERS: Well, those details are going to be out very, very shortly.
But here is the point: anyone who says that the Clinton camp has said if Bernie is going to dismember healthcare in the United States of America, he’s going to do, millions of people will no longer have the insurance they have, that’s nonsense. What everybody understands is that what a Medicare for all program is, is guaranteeing healthcare to all people. We still have 29 million Americans today who have no health insurance. We are the only major country on earth that doesn’t’ guarantee healthcare to all people, and yet we spend far, far more per capita on health care than do the people in other countries.
So what I want to do is to fulfill the vision of people like Franklin Deleanor Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and say healthcare is a right of all people. I would hope that Secretary Clinton would join me on saying that, and to tell the pharmaceutical industry that they cannot continue to rip off the American people and charge us for the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But isn’t it fair for the voters of Iowa to know how you’re going to pay for it? The legislation you had back in 2013 had an additional…
STEPHANOPOULOS: …6.7 percent payroll tax on employers. 2.2 percent on workers. Fair to assume that will be in it as well?
SANDERS: Well, you know what, George? I mean, sometimes where the discussion becomes really absurd is that we will increase Medicare premiums, that is true. But we are doing away with all private health insurance premiums. And sometimes — and it disappoints me that the Clinton camp is kind of sounding like a Republican.
The argument that Hillary Clinton might not be liberal or progressive enough for the Democrats has finally made its first appearance in the primary. The idea that Clinton might be too moderate has been the elephant in the room, pun intended, since the 2016 campaign began. One of the reasons that Bernie Sanders initially considered a run for the Democratic nomination was to keep Hillary Clinton accountable to the left.
The Clinton campaign opened up the door for Sanders by trying to support the legacy of Obama while running to the right of their opponent on health care. The Clinton camp is trying to walk a tricky tightrope where they seem opposed to single payer but make the unspoken argument that Hillary Clinton is the most electable Democrat, who will protect the gains made by President Obama.
The rhetoric in the Democratic race has gotten blown way out of proportion in the last few weeks. Bernie Sanders is not a supporter of the NRA, and Hillary Clinton doesn’t sound like a Republican on health care. Anyone who thinks that Sanders and Clinton have anything in common with Republicans positions on these issues needs to examine closely what the Republican candidates are saying. On guns, the Republican solution is easy access to guns for everyone. On healthcare, they want to dismantle the ACA and replace it with nothing.
As a political tactic, what Sanders said could be very effective. The Democratic Party has moved more to the left in the last eight years, and some Democratic voters express concern that Hillary Clinton isn’t far enough to the left to represent them. The anxiety over Clinton’s ability to represent the left is real.
If the Democratic primary becomes a purity test, Clinton may have some problems. Sanders use of the R-word when describing Clinton on healthcare could open up a whole new can of worms less than two weeks before Iowa.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association