Buttigieg Calls Warren ‘Evasive’ on Tax Hikes: Campaign Update

Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou

(Bloomberg) -- Pete Buttigieg on Thursday challenged Elizabeth Warren to explain how she would pay for her $30 trillion health care proposal, saying she was being “extremely evasive” about whether it would raise taxes on the middle class.

“Senator Warren is known for being straightforward and was extremely evasive when asked that question and we’ve seen that repeatedly,” Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said on CNN. “I think it’s puzzling that when everybody knows the answer to that question of whether her plan or Senator Sanders’ plan will raise middle class taxes is ‘yes,’ why you wouldn’t just say so and explain why you think that’s the better way forward?

Asked about Buttigieg”s comment at a campaign stop in Iowa City, Warren didn’t address the issue of taxes, but said her Medicare for All plan would decrease “costs to the family.”

“Insurance companies sucked $23 billion dollars out of the system last year in profits and they made every dollar of those profits by saying ‘no’ to health care coverage from Americans and that has got to stop,” Warren added. “So we’ve got premiums, and we’ve got families paying and paying and paying.”

As Warren has risen in the polls in recent weeks, she has faced repeated questions about how she would finance a government-run universal health care system that she and Bernie Sanders support. She has rolled out several progressive policy proposals that she says would be paid for by her proposed wealth tax of 2% on fortunes of more than $50 million, and 3% of more than $1 billion.

Bernie Sanders First to Reach 1 Million Donors (3:12 p.m.)

Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has 1 million individual donors, making him the first Democrat to reach the milestone in this cycle, his campaign said Thursday.

“Our strength is in numbers, and that is why Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who is able to say his campaign will rely only on grassroots funding in both the primary and against Donald Trump,” Campaign Manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement. “Like all campaigns we are beholden to our donors, and we’re proud to stand with 1 million working people.”

Sanders’ campaign relied on small-dollar donors in 2016. In the 2020 race, other Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts also have sworn off large-dollar fundraisers in the Democratic primary. Many donors have given more than once, and the Sanders campaign said that it had received 1 million contributions in April; Warren achieved that milestone in July.

Teaching is the most common occupation of Sanders’ donors and the top employers are Starbucks, Walmart and Amazon, according to the campaign. -- Emma Kinery

Biden Picks Up Three Congressional Endorsements (3:12 p.m.)

Joe Biden picked up three more endorsements from House members as his campaign seeks to cast him as an increasingly inevitable choice, especially for nonwhite voters.

Two members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, endorsed the former vice president on Thursday. Charlie Crist of Florida, a Democratic member of the House who used to be the Republican governor of his state, also backed him.

Earlier this week, Biden got the support of Representative Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, who had pulled his endorsement from presidential hopeful Julian Castro after Castro attempted to raise questions about Biden’s age and memory during last week’s Democratic debate.

In all, Biden now has 16 endorsements from House members, a tie with Senator Kamala Harris, who has racked up support from the CBC and fellow Californians. But Biden has the support of five senators, while Harris has not received any endorsements from the Senate.

Beto O’Rourke Gets a Roasting in Reddit Q&A (2:27 p.m.)

Beto O’Rourke went looking for upvotes on Reddit, but he ended up getting downvotes.

The Democratic presidential candidate signed up to answer users’ questions on one of the site’s popular “Ask Me Anything” forums, and it didn’t go well.

The questions are typically a mix of serious and offbeat, with a popular query being whether you’d rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck.

But O’Rourke instead faced harsh questions about why he’s not running for Senate, his proposal for a mandatory buyback of assault weapons and a drunk-driving arrest from 1998.

The former Texas congressman gamely answered some of the tougher questions, but his responses received thousands of downvotes -- a way that Reddit users signal disapproval. Many of the other upvoted questions that O’Rourke declined to answer centered on gun rights. -- Ryan Teague Beckwith

Pete Buttigieg Rolls Out Health-Care Plan (6:00 a.m.)

Pete Buttigieg unveiled a “Medicare for All Who Want It” plan on Thursday that would create a government-run option but also allows consumers to keep their private insurance.

The proposal parallels the “Medicare for Choice” plan of presidential front-runner Joe Biden and offers a sharp contrast to Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All,” which would end private coverage.

Buttigieg’s proposal “doesn’t force Americans off private plans they may want to keep, but offers them a meaningful public alternative,” his campaign said.

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor proposed bolstering Obamacare subsidies, capping premium payments at 8.5% of income and limiting out-of-pocket costs for seniors on Medicare.

His campaign estimated the plan would cost about $1.5 trillion over 10 years and would be paid for by cost savings on provider payments as well as an overhaul of the corporate tax code that would raise revenue. -- Sahil Kapur

COMING UP

MSNBC will host a seven-hour climate change forum on Thursday and Friday. The event will feature 11 Democratic candidates: Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Steve Bullock, Buttigieg, Julian Castro, John Delaney, Tim Ryan, Sanders, Marianne Williamson, Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer. Republican primary challenger Bill Weld will also participate.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union will host forums in Iowa and Michigan with Democratic presidential candidates on Sept. 29 and Oct. 13. Bennet, Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have confirmed that they will attend.

--With assistance from Sahil Kapur, Ryan Teague Beckwith, Jennifer Epstein and Emma Kinery.

To contact the reporter on this story: Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou in Washington at megkolfopoul@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Max Berley, John Harney

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