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Four of five top candidates want 'Medicare for All'

The Telegraph, Nashua, N.H. — Casey Junkins The Telegraph, Nashua, N.H.

Oct. 09--NASHUA -- Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed legislation that would raise New Hampshire's minimum wage to $12 per hour, but every Democratic presidential candidate with a polling average of at least 5% in the Granite State promises to hike the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Also, these candidates want items such as mandatory paid family leave, as well as compulsory background checks for gun purchases -- measures that also met Sununu's veto pen this year.

As New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary nears, Democratic candidates continue introducing bold initiatives. Every candidate with a Real Clear Politics poll average of at least 5% in New Hampshire, except former Vice President Joe Biden, favors a form of Medicare for All.

The Washington, D.C.-based Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates Medicare for All would cost up to $32 trillion for 10 years.

To put that in perspective, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office shows the entire federal budget for fiscal year 2019 was $4.4 trillion.

"Joining every other major country on Earth and guaranteeing health care to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare for All, single-payer program," Vermont's Bernie Sanders states as a goal on his website.

"Medicare for All is the best way to give every single person in this country a guarantee of high-quality health care. Everybody is covered. Nobody goes broke because of a medical bill. No more fighting with insurance companies," states the website of Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Calling his proposal, "Medicare for All Who Want It," Pete Buttigieg of Indiana states, "The choice of a public plan empowers people to make their own decisions regarding the type of health care that makes sense for them by leveling the playing field between patients and the health care system."

Finally, California's Kamala Harris declares on her website, "In America, health care should be a right, not a privilege only for those who can afford it. It's why we need Medicare for All."

Biden emphasizes he wants to provide health coverage to "more than an estimated 97% of Americans," but not through Medicare for All. Biden, instead, favors a public option to be added to Obamacare, which is formally known as the Affordable Care Act.

The Biden campaign estimates his plan's net cost at $750 billion over 10 years, paid for by raising taxes on upper-income people and on investment income. If the estimate is correct, this cost is minuscule compared to that projected for Medicare for All.

"I understand the appeal of Medicare for All, but folks supporting it should be clear that it means getting rid of Obamacare -- and I'm not for that," Biden said in a video posted on his website.

Sununu's Vetoes

As for the measures Sununu vetoed this year that the Democratic presidential contenders plan to implement at the federal level, all five top contenders say they want a minimum wage of at least $15 per hour.

"It's well past time that we increase the federal minimum wage to $15," Biden's website states.

Sununu, meanwhile, stopped a New Hampshire plan that would have the state's increased New Hampshire's minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10 per hour, effective Jan. 1 -- and ultimately to $12 per hour on Jan. 1, 2022.

If an employee earning the current $7.25 minimum wage worked 40 hours per week for 52 weeks in a year, he or she would realize an annual salary of $15,080, or $290 per week. However, Sununu claims less than 1% of Granite Staters earned minimum wage in 2018, with most of those being employees who also collected tips.

"I will not be the governor that signs a bill that will lead to lost jobs, cut hours, and less money in the pockets of hardworking Granite Staters," Sununu stated in his veto message for the minimum wage hike.

Sununu also vetoed mandatory paid family and medical leave, as he referred to the program's funding mechanism as an "income tax."

On Monday, Harris said she would implement a six-month paid leave plan as part of her "Children's Agenda." She said anyone making less than $75,000 per year would receive "full wage replacement" during leave.

"Guaranteeing six months of paid leave will bring us closer to economic justice for workers and ensures newborn children or children who are sick can get the care they need from a parent without thrusting the family into upheaval," Harris said on Monday. "To give all children in America the opportunities they deserve, this comprehensive children's agenda will protect their rights, ensure they have access to health care and high-quality education, and dramatically reduce child poverty."

Finally, Sununu vetoed three pieces of gun-control legislation:

--House Bill 109: Requiring background checks for commercial firearms sales;

--House Bill 514: Imposing a waiting period of three days from the time of purchase to the time of delivery for a firearm; and

--House Bill 564: Banning firearms on school property.

"These three bills would not solve our national issues, nor would they prevent evil individuals from doing harm, but they would further restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding New Hampshire citizens," he stated in his veto message.

Each of the five Democrats polling at more than 5% in New Hampshire favors universal background checks for gun purchases.

Also on Tuesday, Biden announced a $750 billion plan for free community and technical college. The plan would also make a $50 billion investment in workforce training, including community college-business partnerships and apprenticeships.

"A good education should be a reliable pathway to the middle class. But for too many, earning a credential or degree after high school comes with a mountain of debt or is out of reach altogether," Biden tweeted.

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