September 24th, 2013
08:16 PM ET
9 years ago

Bernie Sanders: Obamacare is a ‘good Republican program’

Washington (CNN) – Noted Senate liberal Bernie Sanders stood in support of Obamacare Tuesday even while saying the bill doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats, reiterated his support of a universal single-payer Medicare for all, inspired by health care programs in Europe. On CNN’s Crossfire, he called the Affordable Care Act that Congress passed in 2010 a “good Republican program,” referring to the Massachusetts program introduced by former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that served as the blueprint for what has come to be known as Obamacare.

The U.S. is the “only nation in the entire industrial world that doesn’t guarantee health care as a right,” Sanders said.

Opposing Sanders was Sen. Lindsey Graham, a GOP leader who has said Obamacare “sucks,” while still opposing the plan to tie defunding the health care law with a continuing resolution to fund the rest of the government.

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“I can’t imagine filibustering a bill I’m actually for,” Graham said of efforts to prevent the Senate from moving forward to vote by GOP anti-Obamacare stalwart Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah. Cruz has argued that allowing a vote means accepting defeat, with a likely party-line vote by which Democrats will pass a continuing resolution that also funds Obamacare.

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Tuesday, Graham, of South Carolina, continually alluded to President Barack Obama’s signature legislation as socialized medicine, criticizing universal systems championed by Sanders like the one in Canada.

“Competition is a good thing,” Graham said of government guarantees of universal health care, which he argued lead to some services lacking. He said thousands of Canadians cross the border into the United States to get health care services not available to them at home.

Sanders responded that during the 1990s, “I took Vermonters over the Canadian border” to get medicine that was far cheaper than in the United States.

Sanders cautioned that “certainly the Canadian system is not perfect.” But he noted that the system is still widely popular.

In response, Graham said that “the European model is not going to go well here.”

While opposed to the bill overall, Graham said there were parts of Obamacare he would adopt, namely allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plan and the prohibition against denying people insurance because of preexisting conditions. Graham said he has a problem, though, with “the structure of the bill,” which is “so expensive to comply with.”

Cost remained one of Graham’s key criticisms, as he responded to the idea of universal Medicare by saying that Medicare and Medicaid will one day cost more in taxes than the U.S. government takes in.

Graham argued that the state health care exchanges going live next month are not the end of the debate over Obamacare but just the beginning, a key issue that Republicans can hammer home during the 2014 midterm elections.

“I’m trying to get votes on a bill that I think can be dramatically changed if people on the Republican and Democratic side had an opportunity to actually talk about it and vote on parts that we don’t like,” Graham said.

“The best thing the Republican Party can do is have a debate on Obamacare throughout 2014. It is now Hillary-care,” he said.

Hillary Clinton defends Obamacare against Republicans' 'bad politics'

Filed under: Bernie Sanders • Lindsey Graham
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Sonkarlay

    What the Republican offers since they wanna repeal Obama Care zero. let those clowns fool you about the Heath care law. they have heath care for life that is pay for by us. if they care about deficit so much.let then cut their salaries and their goldin heath care then we know they are serious about deficit reduction

    September 25, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  2. TomInRochNY

    Hillarycare! Good! Once people see it isn't what the republicans say it is and it really does help people, Hillary will have an easier time of it with congress. The extreme right won't have a leg to stand on.

    September 25, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  3. Gunderson

    No go far enough Bernie? Maybe right back to the Soviet Union and the 1930's eh Bernie? Maybe jobs vanish also.

    September 25, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  4. smith

    Only time will tell if ACA works or is a complete failure. Just have to wait and see. However, most of the time the goverment gets involed the results can turn out to be poor.

    September 25, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  5. Malory Archer


    "Noted Senate liberal Bernie Sanders..."

    Liberal? Sanders is a self-avowed socialist. And if he's in favour of Obamacare, that more or less proves it's an unamerican disaster.

    "The U.S. is the “only nation in the entire industrial world that doesn’t guarantee health care as a right,” Sanders said."

    So what? If you want "free" third-rate medicine, go somewhere else.

    Romneycare isn't a violation of the US Constitution, Obamacare is.


    henry, judging by your rant it's safe to assume that you've chosen to opt out of Medicare and Social Security, right?

    September 25, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    I like the ACA, but I dislike Obamacare because of all of negative things that have been said about over the past three years. I think that the Obama administration made crucial tactical error when it embraced the misnomer "Obamacare." In effect, what they did was to lend truth to the misinformation campaign against the ACA by the right wing. If they were going to embrace the law, they should have at least WAITED until it was implemented, when all of the lies would exposed.

    September 25, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  7. g

    republicans idea for health care-OBAMACARE

    September 25, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  8. Malory Archer


    Only time will tell if ACA works or is a complete failure. Just have to wait and see. However, most of the time the goverment gets involed the results can turn out to be poor.


    Actually, Medicare & Social Security are both very successful, well-run, low overhead programs. The problem with the former is fraud, waste & abuse committed by medical corporations and individual physicians. Of the latter; if presidents for the last 3 decades hadn't used the trust fund as a slush fund to pay for off the books adventures, and if wages had kept up with inflation, resulting in more $$$ going back into the fund there wouldn't be a problem – and the problem we have is quite easy to fix.

    September 25, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  9. Data Driven

    "Graham said that “the European model is not going to go well here.” - PROVE?

    By the way, it would be nice if media like CNN actually reported WHY Sanders would say that Obamacare is a "good Republican program". A small description like this would suffice: "Obamacare is closely modeled on the healthcare plan created by the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation in the early 90s and presented to Congress at that time as an alternative to 'HillaryCare'. Mitt Romney modeled his own plan on it when he was Governor of Massachusetts."

    September 25, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    The right wing takes some of the most self-contradicory positions on many issues by make the most puzzling arguments. But, I think I've got it figured out, though. The simple explanation is two-fold, greed and appeasement. They're trying to appease the greed of all of their political donoors, which sometimes means that motives of some donors are at odds with one another. The ACA is a perfect example of it.

    For example, we know that the right wing is being driven by the insurance industry to suppress and repeal the ACA. However, their arguments seem to be self-contradictory. On the one hand they argue that the cost of it hurts businesses, and that employer provided health care is cost prohibitive. They make this argument for the big business and other wealthy donors crowd.

    On the other hand they argue that health care completely provided by the government, and paid for through taxes, is a bad thing. They make this argument for the "low taxes, small government" little people crowd. But, wouldn't a health care system completely paid for by the government FREE UP businesses from the expense of providing employee health care?

    September 25, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  11. Malory Archer

    Fair is Fair

    Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The Harvard grad Cruz just shows that you can graduate from there and still be an idiot!!!!
    Yeah... I can think of another Harvard grad that fits the bill even better.


    Me too, and heaven knows he left a heckuva mess for President Obama to clean up!

    September 25, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  12. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Nobody listens to the GOP bs on obamacare when they have 0 to replace it with and are in the pocket of the health insurance companies . The GOP has 0 creditability on this issue, go home and shut up !!!!!

    September 25, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
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