At long last, the two Democratic candidates you’re paying attention to are actively, substantively beefing, and it is wonderful. Hillary Clinton’s campaign decided this week to start attacking Bernie Sanders’ record on healthcare, leading the Sanders team to tweet an actual thank-you note Clinton once wrote Sanders on healthcare.

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Let’s just...let’s just start with this tweet. This is a good tweet:

The background here is that as Sanders closes the gap on Clinton, her campaign’s attacks have become a little more direct. On Tuesday, stumping for her mom, Chelsea Clinton claimed that Bernie Sanders would entirely dismantle Medicare and Medicaid, and “strip millions and millions and millions of people of their health insurance.”

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That is misleading at best and a grossly inflammatory lie at worst, because Sanders supports single-payer healthcare, and always has, and talks about it more or less constantly. The most recent bill he introduced was in 2013, and that video above is of him in 2014, advocating for it again.

The Sanders campaign issued a statement affirming that, yeah, they still think universal single-payer healthcare is a good idea:

“It is time for the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world and provide health care as a right to every man, woman and child. A Medicare-for-all plan will save the average middle-class family $5,000 a year. Further, the Clinton campaign is wrong. Our plan will be implemented in every state in the Union regardless of who is governor.”

Shortly before Sanders sent out that bern of a tweet, the Clinton campaign sent a press release to reporters saying they’re holding a call to pin Sanders on his “shifting answers and lack of clarity on how he would pay for his health care plan.” The release adds:

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Sanders has recently said he would release his tax plan before the Iowa caucus, but today his campaign put out a plan for how to pay for his policies that did not include health care. Also today, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said they would not release that information before the Iowa caucus. It remains unclear whether Sanders will include broad middle class tax increases to pay for his proposal, as past Sanders proposals have, because Sanders has refused to specify in the campaign. One report stated his proposal could cost as much as $15 trillion, a figure experts said would almost certainly require a middle class tax increase.

A single-payer system would require large tax increases; it would also mean that nobody would pay for private insurance anymore. That’s the whole idea. Sanders told CNN he’ll release a plan on how to pay for his healthcare proposals before the Iowa caucuses, which are at the beginning of February.

Clinton, as Mother Jones points out, once said Democrats shouldn’t attack each other or argue over universal healthcare, but that was a few years and some polling numbers back.


Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.

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