Bernie Sanders: Spending ‘a lot’ on Medicare for All will save people ‘substantial’ money

And one of those presidential candidates,
Senator Bernie Sanders, joins us now. Senator Sanders, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” It’s good to see you back on the campaign
trail. Congratulations. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you very much. JUDY WOODRUFF: And first question, has this
heart issue slowed you down at all? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Not at all. I mean, I took some time off. I’m feeling great right now. We had a wonderful rally on Saturday. We’re going to be in Iowa in a few days. We’re back and running. JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk — I want to move
from your own health to your health care plan, Senator. You would eliminate private insurance, require
no co-pays or premiums from patients, from people. You would give everybody coverage. But the nonpartisan Urban Institute — and
we just looked at their — study that they put out last week — is estimating that, over
its first decade, your plan would cost $34 trillion, more than total — the total cost
of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid combined. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, two responses, Judy. First of all, if we do nothing in terms of
the health care, I think the estimate is, we will be spending as a nation $50 trillion. We have by far the most expensive health care
system in the world. We’re spending twice as much per person as
the Canadians and most countries in the industrialized world. And yet we still have 87 million uninsured
or underinsured, 30,000 dying. We pay by far the highest prices in the world
for prescription drugs, and some 500,000 people a year go bankrupt as a result of medical
debt. We have a dysfunctional bureaucratic system
whose main goal is to make huge profits for the insurance companies and the drug companies,
and that has got to end. Health care is a human right, not a privilege. We don’t have to spend twice as much per person
as any other major country. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Senator, as you know,
a lot of people are saying that $34 trillion figure is just a shocking number. This reporting we have seen in The Atlantic,
Ron Brownstein, a reporter you know, he’s saying this would literally require more tax
increases than anything the country’s seen since World War II. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: You know, Judy, we are taking
on the drug companies and the insurance companies. We’re taking on the Republican establishment. We’re taking on the Democratic establishment. We are the only major country on Earth that
doesn’t guarantee health care to all people. What these guys keep forgetting is that we
are eliminating — if you’re paying, as is not uncommon, $1,500 a month in premiums,
$15,000 a year or more, that’s gone. If you end up in the hospital with a bill
for $50,000, $80,000, that’s gone. Co-payments are gone. All out-of-pocket expenses are gone. For the average American — you know, what
Republicans do is they do these 30-second sound bite and they say, oh, you’re going
to pay more in taxes. They forget to say, you’re going to pay less
for health care than you currently are. Right now, the average family of four spends
$28,000 a year on health care. They will be spending a lot less under Medicare
for all. JUDY WOODRUFF: But just to set the record
straight, Senator, this is an analysis by the Urban Institute, nonpartisan group, not
by Republicans. But what I want to ask you is, you voted for
Obama… SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: But — but — look, I’m not
denying we’re going to spend a lot of money. But they cannot deny that we’re saving people
substantial sums of money by eliminating all premiums. I talked to a woman in New Hampshire, $1,700
a month in premiums, huge prescription drug costs. Under our bill, nobody pays more than $200
a year. The average American will pay less for health
care under Medicare for all. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, to clarify, you voted
for the — President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re now saying that
it is flawed enough or inadequate enough that it should just be thrown out and replaced? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: What I’m saying is, over a
four-year period, we should expand the most popular health insurance program in this country,
which is Medicare. So in my first year, we expand Medicare to
cover hearing aids, dental care and eyeglasses. And then we lower the eligibility age from
65, where it is today, down to 55, next year, 45, next year, 35. Then we cover everybody. That is the simplest way, the most cost-effective
way to guarantee health care to every man, woman and child in this country. JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about, for lack
of a better word, your world view. We have talked to some Democratic strategist
who say to us, look, it’s either going to be Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren when
it comes down to the finalists for the nomination. That’s the view out there. And you, yourself — you describe yourself
as a Democratic socialist. She says she’s a capitalist to her bones. So, for people who are out there looking at
these two world views, what is the difference? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, first of all, Elizabeth
is a good friend of mine. We work together in the Senate on so many
issues. I think that the only way we bring about real
change in this country is not within Capitol Hill. What I believe is, we need a political revolution,
like the labor movement did in the ’30s, like the women’s movement, the civil rights movement,
the gay movement. Millions of people have got to stand up and
fight for justice. So what our campaign is about is twofold. Number one, I do believe I’m the strongest
candidate to beat the worst president in the history of this country, the most dangerous
president, Donald Trump. But, second of all, what I know is that no
president, not Bernie Sanders or anybody else, can do it alone. So, what this campaign is about, it’s not
just winning the election. It is about building a movement of millions
of people who, in fact, will stand up to the greed and corruption of the fossil fuel industry,
the drug companies, the insurance companies, the military industrial complex, et cetera. That is the only way that I know as to how
we can bring about real change. We are the only campaign, I think, who goes
going forward in that direction. JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator, a question about foreign
policy. As you know, President Trump this month pulled
out 1,000 U.S. troops from Syria, from Northern Syria. He’s been criticized by people in both political
parties as selling out the Kurds. You in the past have been someone who has
been, to put it mildly, skeptical of the value of U.S. troops abroad. What would you do if you were president right
now about Syria? Would you put those troops back in? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, two things. Judy, you’re certainly right. I would say the word skeptical is an understatement. I helped lead the opposition to the war in
Iraq. And, tragically, much of what I feared ended
up taking place. And I will say this, that I think Trump’s
betrayal of the Kurds, people who lost 10,000 soldiers fighting against ISIS, is one of
the worst foreign policy and military decisions ever made by any president in the history
of this country. It is outrageous. And it’s going to haunt us for a long time,
because our allies all over the world are going to say, can we really trust the United
States of America to stand with us? Now, Syria, as you well know, is an enormously
complicated issue. You have got a president there who has used
chemical weapons against his own people. But our job right now is to work with the
international community, with our allies to prevent further Russian gains and Iranian
gains in that region, bring stability to that area, and do everything we can to create a
peaceful situation in terms of what’s going on there right now. JUDY WOODRUFF: So would you put the troops
back into Northern Syria? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, you are asking me how
I would undo the damage that Trump has inflicted on us in that region. It’s something I think that, as a nation and
as a community, as allies, I — we and our allies are going to have to work together
on that issue. But what Trump did is unforgivable in terms
of his betrayal of the Kurds. JUDY WOODRUFF: You would have left the troops
there? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Yes, I would have. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Senator… SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I think, when you deal with
troop withdrawal, when you deal with the — trying to end endless wars, was you don’t do it based
on a phone call with Erdogan of Turkey, and you don’t do it through a tweet. I mean, these are difficult issues. We want our troops home. I will do everything I can to end our involvement
in endless wars. But you don’t do it just based on a phone
call with the president of Turkey. JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Bernie Sanders, joining
us today from Vermont, thank you very much. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you. Good to see you, Judy.

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