Sen. Elizabeth Warren pledged Friday not to raise middle-class taxes to fund her “Medicare for All” plan, responding to pressure she faced as she emerged as a front-runner in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
In a new outline, Warren’s campaign said her single-payer health plan would cost the country “just under” $52 trillion over a decade, which includes $20.5 trillion in new federal spending. It estimates the proposal would cost just less than the estimated $52 trillion in spending for the current system over 10 years.
In response to Warren’s plan, Biden campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield accused the Warren campaign of using “mathematical gymnastics” to hide that “it’s impossible to pay for Medicare for All without middle class tax increases.”
The Massachusetts senator also earned a new critic: fellow liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Mr. Sanders, an independent from Vermont who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, told ABC News that Ms. Warren’s proposal would “have a very negative impact on creating jobs” because she would tap employers to pay $9 trillion in new taxes. The structure of that tax could function, over time, as a per-worker levy, making it more costly to hire low-wage employees.
An aide to Ms. Warren pushed back on the idea that those taxes would hurt job growth, noting that employers with more than 50 workers must already provide coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Ms. Warren is looking to shift employer health contributions to the government from insurance companies.
Medicare for All would eliminate private insurance and switch all Americans to a health system paid for by the government. The front-runners in the Democratic field are split on the issue and Ms. Warren became a popular target on health-care policy as she rose in national polls. Her new plan, released Friday after her rivals called for her to explain how she would pay for it, only seems to have fueled their disapproval.