Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., slammed the Trump administration’s approach to trade policy in a PBS NewsHour interview Tuesday, arguing that the U.S. needs to do more to protect workers but “not the way Trump is dealing with it.”
The remarks come in a week when President Donald Trump threatened the harshest tariffs on China yet, causing stocks to plummet Tuesday.
“I think we do need new trade policies that are fair to the working people of this country not just to the CEOs, but as usual, I think Trump gets it wrong in terms of implementation,” Sanders told the NewsHour’s anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff.
Sanders, who has opposed many of the same trade deals Trump has, including the Trans Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement, said his policies are aimed at stopping companies from sending jobs overseas.
Here are some other highlights from the interview.
On “Medicare for All”: The 2020 presidential candidate pushed back on a recent Congressional Budget Office report that said moving to a single-payer health care system “could be complicated, challenging, and potentially disruptive” and could deter people from entering the medical field.
Sanders called the nation’s current health care system “dysfunctional,” and said most of the pushback for his Medicare for All plan is coming from insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
When asked whether Americans would be able to choose their doctors under his plan, Sanders argued that Americans do not have true “freedom of choice” right now because insurance companies decide which doctors are included in their networks.
On free public college and university tuition: Sanders has long proposed free college tuition, but acknowledged Tuesday in the NewsHour interview that getting states on board with his plan could be a challenge. The proposal he introduced in 2016 calls for states to pay for a third of the cost of eliminating tuition for public college and universities for families making less than $125,000.
“That’s another issue” that could pose a challenge, Sanders said when asked how he plans to get states to pay for college tuition. He proposes paying for much of the tuition by expanding the estate tax to up to 77 percent on people with estates valued at more than $1 billion.
On attracting moderates and going head-to-head with Trump: Sanders also dismissed concerns among some Democrats that former Vice President Joe Biden could win more support among moderate, middle-class voters. Biden, who entered the presidential race last month, is already polling above Sanders, who was the front-runner before Biden entered the race. Sanders has slipped to second place in most polls in recent weeks.
“At the end of the day, we are going to be fine because I think our message is going to appeal to working people,” Sanders said.
Producers Geoffrey Guray and Saher Khan contributed to this story.