- The Washington Times - Friday, November 1, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa — Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday rolled out a plan to pay for “Medicare for All” that she says will not raise “taxes a penny on middle-class families” — pushing back against the critics who pressured her to be more upfront about the cost of her proposal, and challenging her rivals to prove they have something better to offer.

Ms. Warren said her Medicare for All vision relies on raising $20.5 trillion in new revenue — far less than outside estimates — and that the lion’s share of that would come from having employers pay into Medicare rather than private health care.

The rest of the new revenue would come from a combination of military spending cuts, going after tax cheats, and slapping higher taxes on Wall Street, corporations and the richest Americans.

The Massachusetts Democrat said her plan will cover everyone and put $11 trillion back in the pockets of working-class Americans by doing away with insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.

She called on her rivals to show their proposals will deliver the same sort of results.

“If they are unwilling to do that, they should concede that they think it’s more important to protect the eye-popping profits of private insurers and drug companies and the immense fortunes of the top 1% and giant corporations, rather than provide transformative financial relief for hundreds of millions of American families,” she said. “If they are unwilling to do that, concede that their half-measures will leave millions behind.”

The proposal comes after Ms. Warren, who has a plan for everything, came under heavy criticism for previously refusing to fill in how she planned to pay for a Medicare for All program that outside analysts have said could cost upwards of $34 trillion over ten years.

Ms. Warren’s rivals in the primary race have warned it is more logical to give voters a Medicare option and warned against stripping people of their health care.

They’ve also highlighted how Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, who wrote the Medicare for All bill that Ms. Warren supports, has said that middle-class taxes would increase, but that people would pay less overall by eliminating out of pocket expenses, including insurance premiums.

Ms. Warren, though, on Friday blamed lobbyists in Washington for peddling false information about the true cost of Medicare for All and trying to “to scare middle-class families about the prospect of tax increases.”

She said her plan will deliver the same levels of services outline in Mr. Sanders’ plan.

But former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s team said the math in Ms. Warren’s plan simply doesn’t work. Mr. Biden is one of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates advocating for a Medicare buy-in option.

“The mathematical gymnastics in this plan are all geared towards hiding a simple truth from voters: it’s impossible to pay for Medicare for All without middle class tax increases,” said Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager and communications director for the Biden campaign.

Sen. Michael Bennet, another 2020 contender and public option advocate, likewise said that Ms. Warren’s numbers aren’t believable.

“Voters are sick and tired of politicians promising them things that they know they can’t deliver,” said Mr. Bennet, Colorado Democrat. “Regardless of whether it’s $21 trillion or $31 trillion, this isn’t going to happen, and the American people need health care.”

Ms. Warren’s plan also drew criticism from the right, with Sen. Ben Sasse saying it relied on “bonkers” math.

“Hahaha. This make-believe math is bonkers,” said Mr. Sasse, Nebraska Republican.

But the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal group backing Ms. Warren’s candidacy, claimed vindication and used the proposal to urge its supporters to donate to her campaign.

“The pundits were wrong. Republicans were wrong. Big Insurance was wrong. And more conservative Democrats like Pete Buttigieg were wrong to go negative and scare people,” said PCCC co-founder Adam Green.

Mr. Green said Ms. Warren now has “the most fully-baked Medicare For All proposal out there.”

The group asked its supporters to donate $7, or $1 for each time they said MSNBC host Chris Matthews “badgered” Ms. Warren “incorrectly” about her plan after a recent presidential debate.

But Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, was skeptical that such an expansive plan could avoid middle-class tax hikes.

“Hahaha. This make-believe math is bonkers,” Mr. Sasse said.

David Sherfinski contributed to this article.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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