Addressing Some of the Clinton vs. Sanders Health Care Rhetoric

bernie sanders clinton democratsAs most know, things have deteriorated rather quickly between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over the last couple of weeks. While it hasn’t been overtly ugly, Clinton has ramped up her rhetoric against Sanders, seizing on his fairly pro-gun stances and the fact that he’s been reluctant about releasing the details for his health care plan.

Are these more aggressive comments by Clinton in response to Sanders’ poll numbers increasing? Of course. Though as someone who supports her, I think going after him how she has wasn’t exactly the best strategy. It’s made her look too reactionary, which in a world where optics matter, isn’t a good look for a politician.

That being said, there’s definitely been a double standard in how Clinton and Sanders are treated when it comes to negative comments.

For months, Sanders has used Clinton’s Iraq vote and ties to Wall Street against her, often claiming these weren’t “attacks” but he was simply pointing out policy differences. That’s fine – I think all candidates should answer for their past policy decisions.

Which begs the question, why does he see it as “Clinton attacking him” when she brings up his five votes against the Brady Bill or his support of legislation that provided immunity for gun sellers from any sort of legal liability? Aren’t those simply policy-related issues? Heck, she could have easily brought up how he sided with Republicans and voted against immigration reform in 2007 – but she hasn’t.

Another question: Why is it “attacking Sanders” to point out the reality that we’re mere weeks away from Iowa, and he’s yet to release details about his plan to create a “Medicare-for-all” healthcare system here in the United States? In fact, he promised earlier this month to release the details before Iowa – a promise recent reports indicate he plans on breaking.

I’m sorry Sanders supporters, but that’s something that should be questioned thoroughly.

This is a candidate who’s spent years talking about universal health care. So, why does he seem so hesitant to release the details of his plan and how he plans to pay for it? Logically speaking, there’s really only one real conclusion: He’s worried about how the details of his plan are going to impact him in the polls.

If his plan was something he thought Americans would embrace with open arms, he would have made the details a cornerstone of his campaign months ago – but he hasn’t.

Now Clinton has taken it a step further by attacking past proposals Sanders has put forth in the Senate, claiming that he wants to put health care in the hands of Republican governors. This has drawn the ire of many Sanders supporters, claiming that she’s trying to fear-monger to get people afraid of Sanders’ health care plan.

The problem for them is the fact that she’s not lying. The plan Sanders proposed in 2013 does put the running of these health care programs in the hands of the states. It also called for a new health care income tax and employer payroll tax that some experts have put on the low end as a 9 percent tax increase on the middle class.

Let me rephrase that another way: Sanders’ 2013 “Medicare-for-all” plan was based on giving state legislatures (including Republican ones) the task of implementing these health programs and it would have increased taxes on the middle class by at least 9 percent. Though as Politifact covered on Wednesday, Sanders’ 2013 plan still leaves a $599 billion annual hole. While Sanders has claimed that single-payer would reduce the costs, thus shrinking that “hole,” many experts say he’s drastically overestimating the savings.

Now I know what many Sanders supporters will say: But even with tax increases, Americans will save money overall.

Okay, that could be true. The issue here is, he needs to release the details of his plan, then let the American people decide for themselves whether or not his plan is what they want. I’m sorry, but I don’t think that’s “bashing” Bernie Sanders to say that.

And let’s also not forget that a “Medicare-for-all” plan failed in Sanders’ own state of Vermont after concerns arose over the 11.5 percent payroll assessment on businesses and shifting premiums to 9.5 percent of an individual’s income.

If voters want Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee even if he’s planning to raise taxes on the middle class by at least 9 percent, then so be it. As I’ve said repeatedly, I’ll fight for him as the Democratic candidate the same way I would fight for Clinton. But I think Sanders owes it to the voters to release the details of his plan and let them determine for themselves if what they see is what they want.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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