Warren has become known for her towering stack of policy plans, having offered dozens of proposals on a wide variety of subjects. But on health care, she has not been similarly forthcoming, and her refusal to say whether she would raise taxes on the middle class to help finance Medicare for All has drawn sharp criticism from some of her Democratic rivals.
In remarks at a town hall event Sunday afternoon, Warren said, “I plan over the next few weeks to put out a plan that talks about, specifically, the cost of Medicare for All and, specifically, how we pay for it.”
Warren’s repeated refusal to directly answer that question stood in stark contrast to how she has talked about other policy areas — providing lengthy, detailed plans and explaining how she would create a tax on the wealth of the richest Americans in order to finance other major proposals like student debt cancellation and universal child care.
On the subject of health care, Warren has aligned herself with one of her top rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, saying on the debate stage in June, “I’m with Bernie on Medicare for All.” But Sanders has openly acknowledged that taxes would increase for the middle class, something Warren has been unwilling to acknowledge despite repeated questions from the news media.
Instead, Warren has sought to reframe the question around the total costs that families would face under her plan. She has said that costs would go up for wealthy people and big corporations, but would go down for middle-class families.
“I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle-class families,” she said at last week’s debate.
Warren’s campaign had previously said that she was reviewing “revenue options” for paying for Medicare for All. But she has not offered details, and her lack of specificity has offered an opening for her opponents to criticize her.
Last month, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, called Warren “extremely evasive” on the subject, and at last week’s debate, he pressed the point further after Warren again declined to directly answer whether she would raise taxes on the middle class.
“We heard it tonight,” Buttigieg said. “A yes-or-no question that didn’t get a yes-or-no answer. Look, this is why people here in the Midwest are so frustrated with Washington in general and Capitol Hill in particular. Your signature, senator, is to have a plan for everything — except this.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota offered a similar critique. “At least Bernie’s being honest here and saying how he’s going to pay for this and that taxes are going to go up,” she said at the debate. “And I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but you have not said that, and I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we’re going to send the invoice.”
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