President Trump accused Democrats of drifting into socialism and even looking to collapsing Venezuela as an economic model, in a fiery Wednesday op-ed blasting the party's “Medicare for All” plan.
The USA Today column marked a rare presidential appearance on the op-ed pages, and one aimed at portraying Democrats as increasingly "radical" -- an appeal to stave off a Democratic takeover of one or both chambers of Congress in November's midterms.
“The truth is that the centrist Democratic Party is dead,” Trump wrote. “The new Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela.”
He added: “If Democrats win control of Congress in November, we will come dangerously closer to socialism in America. Government-run health care is just the beginning.”
In terms of policy, Trump vowed to “protect Medicare” and tore into the “Medicare for All” plan—a Democratic proposal backed by a growing number of liberal lawmakers including Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as well as New York House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
'If Democrats win control of Congress in November, we will come dangerously closer to socialism in America.'
Under the plan by Sanders, all Americans would gain access to government insurance with no copays or deductibles for medical services.
The insurance industry would be regulated to play a minor role in the system. Supporters argue that other developed countries already have implemented systems like this, and America's private insurance-centered model continues to leave some families with crushing costs.
But Republicans contend that the proposal would cost too much for taxpayers and argue it marks an extreme government overreach. According to recent studies, the program would increase government health spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years.
The spending hikes would allow the government to replace what employers and consumers currently pay for health care—delivering significant savings on administration and drug costs, but increased demand for care that would drive up spending, according to a study released by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University over the summer. The study estimated that doubling all federal individual and corporate income taxes would not fully cover the additional costs for the program.
Trump claimed the plan could negatively impact seniors as well.
“We have seen Democrats across the country united around a new legislative proposal that would end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives,” Trump wrote.
“The Democrats’ plan means that after a life of hard work and sacrifice, seniors would no longer be able to depend on the benefits they were promised,” Trump wrote. “By eliminating Medicare as a program for seniors, and outlawing the ability of Americans to enroll in private and employer-based plans, the Democratic plan would inevitably lead to the massive rationing of healthcare.”
Trump went on to slam the program as simply “Medicare for None.” He claimed that Democrats would “eliminate Medicare Advantage plans” for nearly 20 million seniors, and eliminate “every American’s private and employer-based health plan.”
Trump went on to allege Democrats are pushing other programs that would lead America “closer” to socialism—like “massive government control of education, private-sector businesses, and other major sectors of the U.S. economy.” He added, “This radical agenda would destroy American prosperity.”
Despite Republican criticism, Sanders, who sponsored the “Medicare for All” bill in the Senate, has support from a host of Democratic lawmakers and potential presidential hopefuls.
Sanders fired back at Trump's op-ed Wednesday, slamming the president's budget, and blasting him as a liar.
"Now the president, who has a very difficult time telling the truth about anything, is lying about the Medicare For All proposal that I introduced, which poll after poll shows has strong majority support among the American people," Sanders said in a statement, noting that his proposal "would not cut benefits for seniors on Medicare," but instead "expand benefits."
"Our current dysfunctional health care system is designed to make huge profits for insurance companies and drug companies, rather than provide quality care for every man, woman and child," Sanders said. "The time is now for the United States to join every other major country on Earth and guarantee health care to every American as a right noot a privilege."
The idea won rank-and-file support after Sanders ran on the idea in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries. Looking to the 2020 election, Democrats are debating whether single-payer should be a “litmus test” for national candidates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.