One of the biggest issues dogging self-described Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, the chief rival to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has been questions about how he will fund the various programs he is promising to create for the American people, including “Medicare for All” and tuition free college.
On Monday night, in a CNN-sponsored “town hall” for the three candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, he made it clear: Taxes will go up. However, he promised, many of the other bills paid by the middle class will go away.
Related: The Next few Weeks Could Determine the Election—Here Are the Key Events
“I believe everyone should be entitled to healthcare as a right,” Sanders said in response to a question from the audience, adding that his plan would “save middle class people thousands of dollars a year on their health care bills.”
Moderator Chris Cuomo interrupted at one point. “What you’re really asking for is one of the biggest tax hikes in history,” he said.
“That is an unfair criticism for the following reason,” Sanders said. “If you are paying $10,000 a year to a private health insurance company, and I say to you, hypothetically, that you are going to pay $5,000 more a year in taxes…but you’re not going to pay any more private health insurance, are you going to be complaining about the fact that I’ve saved you $5,000 in your total bills?”
Cuomo followed up, “Just to be clear, you are going to raise taxes to do this?”
Related: Why Every Candidate in the 2016 Race Should Fear Mike Bloomberg
“Yes, we will raise taxes. Yes, we will…. We may raise taxes but we are also going to eliminate private health insurance premiums for individuals and for businesses.”
Cuomo later pushed back against Sanders, asking if the senator’s proposals were, in effect, punitive against the wealthy and against high-earners.
As he has done throughout his campaign, Sanders blasted “Wall Street” and the concentration of wealth in the hands of the top one-tenth of one percent of the population. The question, he argued, is not whether tax revenue in general should go up or down, but rather whether the wealthiest in the country are paying their fair share to begin with.