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Stephen Colbert Mocks Warren’s Refusal to Admit She Will Raise Taxes

Comedian Stephen Colbert arrives to be honored at the Time 100 Gala in New York, April 24, 2012. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Late Show host Stephen Colbert grilled Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on the cost of her Medicare-for-All plan in an interview Tuesday night, leaving Warren momentarily at a loss for words.

Colbert called the proposal the “most radical thing” in Warren’s platform and asked her: “How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to raise the middle-class taxes?”

“So here’s how we’re going to do it. Costs are going to go up for the wealthiest Americans, for big corporations,” Warren said. “And hard-working middle-class families are going to see their costs go down.”

“But will their taxes go up?” Colbert interjected.

“But here’s the thing-” Warren began.

“But here’s the thing,” Colbert quipped back, “I’ve listened to these answers a few times before, and I just want to make a parallel suggestion for you about how you might defend the taxes that perhaps you’re not mentioning in your sentence: Isn’t Medicare-for-All like public school? There might be taxes for it, but you certainly save a lot of money on sending your kids to school. And do you want to live in a world where kids aren’t educated? Do you want to live in a world where your fellow citizens aren’t dying even if it costs a little bit of money?”

Warren did not jump on Colbert’s public-school parallel but launched into a description of how badly health care gouges families’ wallets.

“So I accept your point and I believe in your point,” she said. “Health care is a basic human right. We fight for basic human rights, and that’s Medicare-for-All. But here’s how I look at it: A big reason why families go broke is health care.”

Warren outlined her concerns that Americans often go broke over bad medical diagnoses, high premiums, co-pays, and insurance practices such as not covering certain doctors, specialists, treatments, and prescriptions.

Insurance companies’ business model is “rake in as much money as you can in premiums and then say no as often as you can to health-care coverage,” Warren alleged. “This is not a sustainable health-care system. I am so deeply grateful to President Obama, who moved this country to say we as a country want every person here to have health-care coverage.”

Medicare-for-All, she concluded, is the “cheapest” and “most effective” way to make sure that happens.

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