3 Bernie Sanders policies now embraced by the Democratic field
Bernie Sanders is one of the front-runners — raising $18 million in the first six weeks of his campaign — among a crowded field of 2020 presidential hopefuls, but the self-described democratic socialist has also been a trend-setter for the field.
Since the Vermont senator mapped out his plans for a "political revolution" in 2016, many members of Congress have embraced his policies and ideas. And now several candidates are using them as talking points as they hit the campaign trail.
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Sanders will join Fox News Channel for a town hall co-anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum on Monday, April 15, at 6:30 p.m. ET in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Here's a look at some of the biggest proposals the 77-year-old — the longest-serving independent member of Congress in U.S. history — has championed for years that 2020 Democrats are now touting.
"Medicare for All"
Sanders first introduced the "Medicare for All" bill in 2016. He saw it as a step toward achieving universal health care.
The single-payer health insurance plan would require all U.S. residents to be covered with no copays and deductibles for medical services. The insurance industry would be regulated to play a minor role in the system.
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In August 2017, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., became the first Senate Democrat to support Sanders' bill. During a speech to officially launch her 2020 run, Harris declared "health care is a fundamental right" and vowed to serve her constituents by supporting "Medicare for All."
Sanders introduced an updated version of his "Medicare for All" plan on April 10.
The following 2020 candidates have already endorsed the updated proposal: Harris, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
The latest edition of Medicare for All adds coverage for long-term care in home and community settings, on top of its basic promise of comprehensive health coverage, including dental and vison. Brand name prescription drugs would be subject to copays totaling no more than $200 annually.
Several independent studies of Medicare for All have estimated that it would dramatically increase government spending on health care, in the range of about $25 trillion to $35 trillion or more over a 10-year period. But a recent estimate from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst suggests that the cost could be much lower.
$15 minimum wage
For years, Sanders has made passionate pushes to increase the minimum wage. He recently reintroduced legislation to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour by 2024.
"While the official unemployment rate is relatively low, too many workers in America today are making wages that don’t pay enough to make ends meet. Workers and their families cannot make it on $9 an hour or $10 an hour – or even less," Sanders said in a statement in November, claiming it would give 40 million workers a raise. "We have got to raise the minimum wage in this country to a living wage – at least $15 an hour."
At least 20 states increased their minimum wages since the start of the New Year, according to Fox Business.
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The Raise the Wage Act legislation that was reintroduced in the new Congress by Sanders this year, was cosponsored by several 2020 contenders including Booker, Gillibrand, Harris, Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
Once again, Sanders has vowed as a presidential candidate that he will aim “to make public colleges and universities tuition free.”
“Higher education in America should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few,” Sanders has said. “If we are to succeed in a highly competitive global economy and have the best-educated workforce in the world, public colleges and universities must become tuition-free for working families and we must substantially reduce student debt.”
Under Sanders' "College for All Act," which he introduced alongside Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., in 2017, the government would be responsible for 67 percent ($47 billion) of the cost of tuition and states would pay for the remaining 33 percent ($23 billion).
"The legislation would eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities for families making up to $125,000 – about 80 percent of the population – and make community college tuition- and fee-free for all," according to a statement released by Sanders' campaign at the time.
The proposal has been backed by Warren, Harris, Gillibrand.
Some candidates, such as Klobuchar, however, have blasted the idea.
“No, I am not for free college for all,” Klobuchar said during a televised town hall in Manchester in February. “I wish if I was a magic genie and could give that to everyone and we could afford it, I would. I’m just trying to find a mix of incentives and make sure kids are in need- and that’s why I talked about expanding Pell Grants, can go to college and be able to afford it and make sure that people who can’t afford it are able to pay.”
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, too, hasn't fully joined the tuition-free college rallying cry.
“Americans who have a college degree earn more than Americans who don’t,” Buttigieg recently said, per Politico. “As a progressive, I have a hard time getting my head around the idea of a majority who earn less because they didn’t go to college subsidizing a minority who earn more because they did.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.