Sanders: Government has a ‘moral responsibility’ to guarantee ‘a decent standard of living’ for everyone

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( – PBS debate moderator Judy Woodruff asked socialist Bernie Sanders Thursday night, “How big would government be,” if Sanders gets the chance to do everything he’s promising to do.

Sanders said he would guarantee health care to all people; make public colleges and universities tuition-free; and spend trillion dollars rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.

As for the size of a Sanders government, “Of course there will be a limit,” he said.

“But when today you have massive levels of income and wealth inequality, when the middle class is disappearing, you have the highest rate of child poverty of almost any major country on Earth — yes, in my view, the government of a democratic society has a moral responsibility to play a vital role in making sure all of our people have a decent standard of living.”

Sanders’ rival Hillary Clinton jumped in:

“Judy, I think that the best analysis that I’ve seen based on Senator Sanders plans is that it would probably increase the size of the federal government by about 40 percent, but what is most concerning to me is that in looking at the plans — let’s take healthcare for example.

She said the “numbers don’t add up” on Sanders’ single-payer, government-run, Medicare-for-all plan, and she accused him of making “a promise that cannot be kept.”

“If it’s Medicare for all, then you no longer have the Affordable Care Act, because the Affordable Care Act, as you know very well, is based on the insurance system, based on exchanges, based on a subsidy system,” said Clinton. She wants to keep and “improve” the Affordable Care Act.

Sanders says under his plan, a middle-class famility “would pay $500 more in taxes, and get a $5,000 reduction in their healthcare costs.

“Look, here is the reality, folks,” Sanders said. “There is one major country on Earth that does not guarantee health care to all people. There is one major country — the United States — which ends up spending almost three times per capita what they do in the U.K. guaranteeing health care to all people, 50 percent more than they do in France guaranteeing health care to all people, far more than our Canadian neighbors, who guarantee health care to all people.

“Please do not tell me that in this country, if — and here’s the if — we have the courage to take on the drug companies, and have the courage to take on the insurance companies, and the medical equipment suppliers, if we do that, yes, we can guarantee health care to all people in a much more cost effective way.”

Clinton said she’s been “in the trenches” fighting for health care reform for many years.

“I believe strongly we have to guarantee health care. I believe we are on the path to doing that. The last thing we need is to throw our country into a contentious debate about health care again.

“And we are not England. We are not France. We inherited a system that was set up during World War II; 170 million Americans get health insurance right now through their employers. So what we have tried to do and what President Obama succeeded in doing was to build on the health care system we have, get us to 90 percent coverage. We have to get the other 10 percent of the way to 100. I far prefer that and the chances we have to be successful there than trying to start all over again, gridlocking our system, and trying to get from zero to 100 percent.”

— Written by Susan Jones