Speaking to reporters during a campaign event in Ohio last Wednesday, former Vice President Joe Biden accused Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—his two top rivals for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination—of “playing Trump’s game and trying to con the American people” by supporting Medicare for All.
“I mean, look, I don’t want to pick on Elizabeth Warren, but this is ridiculous,” Biden said. “The idea that someone is going to be able to go out and spend what turns out to be, if you add on everything that’s going to be free beyond Obamacare, excuse me beyond Medicare for All, which is going to come out to about 3.4 trillion dollars a year.”
Biden went on to falsely claim that the $3.4 trillion estimate, for which he did not provide a source, is “bigger than the entire federal budget.”
The former vice president neglected to mention that the United States spent $3.65 trillion on healthcare in 2018, a number that is expected to rise rapidly over the next decade under the for-profit system Biden’s public option plan would leave intact.
“God love Bernie, and it was really good, I really mean it, to see him so healthy and moving last night,” said Biden. “But Bernie, Bernie doesn’t pay for half his plan… Look the last thing the Democrats should be doing is playing Trump’s game and trying to con the American people to think this is easy. There’s nothing easy about it. If you’re going to do it, tell us how you’re going to do it. It’s called truth in speaking.”
Joe Biden: “Bernie doesn’t pay for half his plans… The last thing the Democrats should be doing is playing Trump’s game and trying to con the American people to think this is easy.” pic.twitter.com/nz7LaffQ3m
—Ibrahim (@ibrahimpols) October 16, 2019
As the New York Times reported Wednesday, “Biden is under particular pressure because Ms. Warren has passed him in some national and early-state polls and joined him as a frontrunner, a status he held alone for months.”
In response to Biden’s attacks, Warren’s communications director Kristen Orthman told the Times that “instead of speaking to wealthy donors, our campaign spent the day calling and thanking over a thousand of our grass-roots supporters.”
“Other than that we have no comment,” said Orthman.
A request for comment to the Sanders campaign was not returned as of press time.
Biden’s remarks in Ohio last Wednesday came just hours after he joined South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg in launching a slew of misleading attacks on Medicare for All during Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate.
“For people making between $50,000 and $75,000 a year, their taxes are going up about $5,000 because the fact is, they will pay more in new taxes,” Biden said of Medicare for All, a statement that earned him a “mostly false” score from PolitiFact.
Briahna Joy Gray, Sanders’ national press secretary, pushed back on the premise of Biden’s attack on Twitter.
“The average American family pays $20,000 in premiums, and Joe Biden is focused on $5,000 in taxes,” said Gray. “The math is clear. Americans shouldn’t die because they’re poor. Period. Medicare for All.”
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