Democratic presidential candidates tore into Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday after she dodged questions on whether middle-class Americans would have to pay more in taxes under her “Medicare for All” proposal.
“At least Bernie’s being honest here,” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said at the fourth Democratic primary debate, referring to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ universal health care plan, which Warren said she supports. Sanders has acknowledged taxes would go up for the middle class under his proposal, and he did so again Tuesday.
Warren has promised that Medicare for All would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and lower costs for middle-class families.
“Costs will go up for the wealthy, for corporations,” she said at the debate. “But for middle-class families, it will go down.”
A moderator followed up: “You have not specified how you’re going to pay for the most expensive plan, Medicare for All. Will you raise taxes on the middle class to pay for it? Yes or no?”
Warren again avoided a direct answer to that question, prompting a sharp response from South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
“I don’t think the American people are wrong when they say what they want is a choice,” said Buttigieg, who has put forward a plan that retains private insurers, which he labels “Medicare for All who want it.”
Buttigieg added: “I don’t understand why you believe the only way to deliver coverage for everybody is to obliterate private plans.”
Elizabeth Warren has a lot of plans—including a plan not to cop to how she would pay for Medicare for all.
It’s a simple answer. Everyone knows it: Taxes would almost certainly have to go up on middle-class families, even if Warren is right that their overall costs would go down. She knows it, too. She’s just decided not to say it.
That decision is bigger for her candidacy than a conversation about health care or the tax code. On the campaign trail, the Massachusetts senator has presented herself as the truth-teller, the straight-talker, the one who can break down complex economic ideas and bring non-progressives along. Now, just as she’s started to get the attention from competitors and the press that comes from leading public polls, she’s insisting on talking in circles.