News & Politics

Sanders Hits Back at Clinton in Argument Over Healthcare Plans

As polls tighten and primaries approach, the two candidates are sparring on a key Democratic issue.

With recent polls showing we may actually have a race on our hands, the Hillary Clinton campaign is becoming increasingly aggressive in its attacks on Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. The most recent spat began after Clinton challenged Sanders on how he planned to pay for his single-payer health care plan, claiming he would have to raise taxes on the middle class (which the Clinton camp defines as anyone making under $250,000 a year). The Sanders campaign immediately struck back, insisting this would be offset by the money saved on health care premiums.

The back and forth, according to many observers, is upsetting progressives who don't like Clinton attacking Sanders from the right, especially since single-payer healthcare is popular among most Democrats. As The Hill reported:

Clinton’s new attacks on Sanders’s “Medicare for all” system is perplexing some progressives.

Charles Chamberlain, president of the grassroots group Democracy for America, called out Clinton for her “right-wing attacks” that he said “have no place in a Democratic primary.”

Sullivan, the policy adviser, dismissed claims that Clinton was using a Republican-style argument against single-payer. He argued that Clinton’s calls to build on the Affordable Care Act — “and not to be starting this whole thing over” — were consistent with the views of President Obama and national Democrats.

Clinton campaign spokesman Jake Sullivan said on a conference call with reporters that Sanders is refusing to release details of the plan because they are "politically difficult." Sanders did not mention health care in a trillion-dollar tax plan he released Wednesday. 

Tuesday, Chelsea Clinton went on the offensive for her mother, saying Sanders was trying to "dismantle Obamacare and its programs," a charge Sanders said was "absolutely wrong, insisting she had not read his plan. Things got even testier Wednesday afternoon when Sanders tweeted out a laudatory letter from 1993 that Clinton sent to then-representative Sanders for his "commitment to real health care access":

Clinton has also doubled down on attacks against Sanders on gun control, an issue some view as the only major area in which Clinton can outflank Sanders from the left. 

On Wednesday afternoon, Clinton super PAC Correct the Record, which is run by Media Matters chairman David Brock, issued a statement criticizing Sanders for not releasing a detailed plan, saying, "Sanders’ healthcare plan is estimated to cost trillions and would likely require tax increases on working families—we’re not surprised the plan’s pay-for is missing."

Adam Johnson is a contributing analyst at FAIR and contributing writer for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @AdamJohnsonNYC.

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