Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said that he remains confident in his Medicare for All health care plan, despite failing to win a key endorsement from Nevada’s Culinary Workers Union. The union declined to endorse any of the 2020 presidential candidates, but issued a specific criticism of Medicare for All.
“They are a great union,” Sanders said in an interview with PBS NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff. He added that his campaign had worked very closely with them, and will continue to do so. “Many unions do believe in Medicare for All.”
The Culinary Workers Union circulated a flyer earlier this week expressing concern that Sanders’ mandatory single-payer plan, in particular, would jeopardize the strong health care coverage they already have as union members. The next state in the primary cycle, Nevada will hold caucuses for Democratic presidential candidates on Feb. 22.
Sanders disagreed with the notion that his health care plan would not benefit Culinary Workers Union members. “I think our health care plan for them and for every person in America would expand the health care that we have,” adding that his plan would do away with premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Sanders further promised that under his plan, no American would spend more than $200 a year on prescription drugs.
The candidate also dismissed reports that some of his supporters had gone after members of the union on social media for their decision not to endorse him: “Obviously, that is not acceptable to me. And I don’t know who these so-called supporters are. You know, we are living in a strange world on the internet….Anybody making personal attacks against anybody else in my name is not part of our movement.”
More highlights from the interview:
- On looking forward to Nevada and South Carolina: Despite the fact that he lost 2016 election contests in Nevada and South Carolina, Sanders said he has a good shot at both of these states, which will be holding caucuses and a primary over the next two weeks. “We have a much, much stronger organization, much better name recognition. We’re feeling that we have a shot in South Carolina. In Nevada, I think we have a really good shot,” said Sanders. “We have an extraordinary grassroots movement of people…thousands of people knocking on doors all over this country.”
- On taxing the wealthy: Asked to respond to criticisms that his plan to cancel student debt would give unfair breaks to wealthy students, Sanders said that those who can afford to pay back their loans will “certainly be paying their fair share of taxes” under his agenda. “We live in a time of massive income and wealth inequality,” he said, adding that he believed it was important to pursue more universal programs to address these issues, such as social security. “The way you deal with social programs in my view is make them universal, and then you have the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes to pay for them. That is simpler. That is less complicated,” said the Vermont senator.
- On pursuing a progressive agenda: In an interview with the NewsHour Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said that the 2020 election is not the time for a “my way or the highway” approach to politics. Sanders responded on Thursday by saying he would not shy away from pursuing a progressive agenda.“The agenda that we are talking about is the agenda that working families want,” said Sanders, who added that most of these voters agree with his plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and offer universal health care. And on the issue of climate change, the candidate said a moderate approach was not the answer. “We have to act boldly. We have got to, frankly, tell the fossil fuel industry they cannot continue to destroy this planet.”
- On his personal health: Despite having suffered a heart attack in October, Sanders said he is feeling fine. “I feel great,” said the candidate, who has been criticized for not releasing as robust a collection of medical records as his predecessors. “I feel great, a little bit tired. I haven’t had a day off in three weeks, but other than that I’m feeling pretty good,” he said.