The Latest: Biden campaign faults Warren’s health care math

Politics

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., pauses while audience members applaud during a campaign event Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. (AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Democrat Elizabeth Warren’s “Medicare for All” plan (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

Joe Biden’s campaign is dismissing as “mathematical gymnastics” Elizabeth Warren’s promise of financing a single-payer government insurance system without a middle-class tax hike.

A top Biden presidential campaign deputy said Warren’s plan understates the cost and overstates savings while obscuring the costs to the middle class.

Kate Bedingfield on Friday dismissed Warren’s idea of having employers transfer to the government almost all of the $8.8 trillion she estimates will be spent on private insurance for employees. Bedingfield argues that’s a “sleight of hand.”

Health care is perhaps the starkest policy difference between Warren and Biden. The former vice president backs a “public option” plan that would introduce a government insurance option to compete alongside private insurers.

Biden and other more moderate Democrats point to a public option’s lower cost and say it allows Americans more choice.

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11:25 a.m.

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack says Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s increase in taxes on wealthy Americans to finance her health care proposal is unrealistic.

During a panel discussion on rural politics in Iowa Friday, Vilsack said Warren’s plan wrongly suggests voters will accept that an increase in her proposed tax on the wealthiest Americans won’t affect their own pocketbooks.

Vilsack, a former U.S. secretary of agriculture, says “One sliver of society isn’t going to pay for the rest of us.”

Vilsack, who has not endorsed a candidate, also says it’s unlikely there will be sufficient support in the Senate to pass such a measure, even if Democrats take control of the GOP-controlled Senate after the 2020 elections.

Vilsack, who has consulted Warren on rural policy, adds “and then there’s the practical application of getting 60 people in the Senate who are going to vote for this.”

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8:44 a.m.

Elizabeth Warren is promising to spend more than $20 trillion over the next decade to provide government-funded health care to every American without raising middle class taxes.

The stakes are high since Warren spent weeks, and two straight Democratic presidential primary debates, refusing to provide a straight answer on if she’d have to increase middle class to pay for her “Medicare for All” plan.

The issue has meant sustained tough headlines for Warren, who had ridden a steady summer rise in the polls to catch former Vice President Joe Biden atop the crowded 2020 primary field.

Detailed in a 20-page online post, Warren’s proposal relies on employers transferring to the government nearly all of what they currently spend on private health insurance for employees.

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