Hillary Clinton over the past two days has launched an all-out assault on presidential primary rival Sen. Bernard Sanders’ health care plan, arguing that voters in the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire deserve answers from the senator on how he’ll guarantee health care to all Americans without raising middle-class taxes.
Mr. Sanders reiterated Tuesday night in an interview with CNN that he’ll explain how he plans to pay for his Medicare-for-all plan before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses.
But other Sanders campaign officials have indicated those details might not be revealed before caucus night. The campaign on Wednesday released a chart of major policy proposals and how they’ll be paid for, but health care was absent from the list, creating an opening for Mrs. Clinton.
Now trailing in both Iowa and New Hampshire, according to some polls, the Clinton campaign has latched on to the mystery around Mr. Sanders’ health care plan and is using it to target middle-class Democrats worried about tax increases under a Sanders administration.
“One can only conclude the Sanders campaign does not want to outline what is going to amount to a massive, across-the-board tax hike for working families. They would prefer to avoid that,” Clinton campaign adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “They want to essentially create a circumstance in which they try to lead voters to believe they can implement single-payer health care at no burden to anyone and everyone will be better off.”
On Tuesday night in New Hampshire, Mrs. Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, also attacked Mr. Sanders and said his Medicare-for-all plan would “dismantle Obamacare” and “dismantle Medicare.” Mrs. Clinton has made defending Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, a centerpiece of her campaign platform.
In an interview with CNN immediately following President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, Mr. Sanders fired back.
“As much as I admire Chelsea, she didn’t read the plan,” Mr. Sanders said.
“And where she is absolutely wrong: This is a plan that works in 50 states in this country, whether you have conservative Republicans or progressive Democrats. It’s a national program,” he continued, rejecting the idea that Republican governors could limit Medicare coverage under his proposal.
As for other programs, the Sanders campaign released a chart explaining how other expensive proposals will be paid for.
It explains that Mr. Sanders’ plan for free college tuition would be funded through a new tax on Wall Street speculators; expanding Social Security would be paid for by lifting the cap on taxable income above $250,000; paid family and medical leave would be funded through a payroll tax hike; massive new investments in clean energy would be funded by eliminating tax breaks for oil-and-gas companies; and others.
Still, the Clinton camp argues the most interesting thing about the chart is that health care isn’t a part of it.
“What we would like to see is for Senator Sanders to lay out not just his pay-fors for certain items but his pay-fors for all items,” Mr. Sullivan said.