What Would Medicare For All Cost?
Interesting. What about the idea of a single-payer system that keeps the private insurance system but allows people to buy into the system at the point of need?
I am not talking about a public option. I am talking about either a single-payer system or a system that has that option.
You don't think that would save a lot of money?
I think we have to do both. I think we have to do more on the cost of delivery. I think we have to think about ways to make the delivery system more efficient. I think we have to do more on the cost of prescription drugs. We are the only major country that does not negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies. That is a huge expense.
You have been very critical of the pharmaceutical companies, but you have taken money from the industry.
I have, and it was a bad decision. It was a very bad decision.
And you won't take it in the future?
That was a decision that I made. The truth is that I have raised more money from the pharmaceutical industry than any other candidate who is running.
I want to understand why you feel the need to apologize for taking the money.
I am grateful to the pharmaceutical industry. They have been innovative in providing us with drugs that have allowed people to live better lives. And I think we should acknowledge that. But they have also made this country the only major country in free-world history to have people who can't afford or do not have access to the prescription drugs they need. We are the only major country that doesn't have a national health-care program. There is a reason for that, and it is not because we didn't try.
You've taken more than $200,000 from the industry.
I have, and I regret that decision.
Why do you feel the need to apologize for taking the money?
I don't want to be beholden to any special interests. I don't want to be beholden to any special interests. Special interests have a stranglehold on Washington. I want to be beholden solely to the American people. I want to be able to make decisions based on what I think is right for the American people.
I heard you use the word “beholden.” Does it worry you that you have close ties to the financial industry?
I think what I worry about is whether or not the decisions that I make are influenced by the fact that I have received a lot of financial support from Wall Street.
You're saying that if you get elected, you will not take contributions from industry?
That's correct. I think it is important for the American people to know that the president is not beholden to special interests.
I interrupted you. You were telling me why you feel the need to apologize for taking the pharmaceutical money.
I didn't like it. It was a mistake. It was a bad decision.
Did you feel it would make you politically vulnerable?
I didn't want to be beholden.
Would it be a mistake for a politician to take money from banks?
What we need in this country is a president who will break up the large banks and make banks less powerful, which they are today.
You have said many times that you want to break up the big banks.
We have to do that.
Why not break up the biggest banks?
Why not go after the biggest banks?
That is a very different issue.
The biggest banks have assets equivalent to 56 percent of our gross domestic product. They issue one-third of the mortgages in this country. They issue two-thirds of the credit cards. They are a huge part of the problem.
OK, but we have a lot of small banks that aren't doing a bad job.
The small banks are not doing a bad job because they are part of a big bank. The small banks are part of a bigger entity. They are not the ones that are doing the subprime mortgages.
OK, but they're not doing a bad job.
I am not arguing with you about that.
You've taken more money from people who work in the financial-services industry than any other member of the U.S. Senate.
No, I haven't.
Yes, you have.
The Center for Responsive Politics tells me that I have raised more money from people in the financial-services industry than any other member of the U.S. Senate. That is based on the last election cycle.
That would be 2008?
That is based on the last election cycle. And that is correct.
And that was considered a good thing?
The financial-services industry has a lot of employees in New York. I am from New York. I am a senator from New York. I have raised a lot of money from New York.
I'm sorry …
I have raised more than any other senator. But I can tell you that I will be back in Iowa next week and the week after that. And we will raise the money we need to run a winning campaign.
OK, that brings us to the question of your electability. A lot of people who are very enthusiastic about you say, “I like what he is saying. I like what he represents. I like the fact that he is a fighter. He is vigorous, and he's not going to let these guys push him around. But the Democrats are just too crazy right now. He is too far to the left. He is not electable.”
Are you too far to the left?
No, I am not.
I don't want to