Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) argued Wednesday that Americans "would be delighted" to pay higher taxes if the government guaranteed them health care.
During an appearance on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, Sanders compared the United States to Europe, where many countries guarantee health care and college.
Recent Stories in Politics
"Look, what we have to understand, for example, just for example: The United States is the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all people as a right," Sanders began. "In many countries in Europe, Germany, for one, you go to college and the cost of college is zero. I think in Finland they actually pay you to go to college. In most countries around the world the level of income and wealth inequality, which in the United States today is worse than in any time since the 1920s with three families owning more wealth than the bottom half of America, and that level of income and wealth inequality is much less severe than it is right here in the United States."
Cooper asked about the high taxes needed to fund such a generous welfare state.
"As you know, the taxes in many of those countries are much higher than they are in individual and personal tax are much higher than they are in the United States," host Anderson Cooper pointed out.
"Yeah, but I suspect a lot of people in the country would be delighted to pay more in taxes if they had comprehensive health care as a human right," Sanders responded.
Sanders's "Medicare for all" proposal would cost the country more than $32 trillion over ten years, according to an analysis by the Mercatus Center. It would also require enormous tax increases as "a doubling of all currently projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be insufficient to finance the added federal costs of the plan."
The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 60 percent of the public opposes "Medicare for all" if it requires higher taxes.
As for the European countries Sanders named, they have not had universal success in health care. The government of Finland collapsed earlier this year due to the rising cost of universal health care and the prime minister's failure to enact reforms to the system.
Reuters reported at the time that soaring treatment costs and longer life spans were particularly affecting Nordic countries.
"Nordic countries, where comprehensive welfare is the cornerstone of the social model, have been among the most affected," according to Reuters. "But reform has been controversial and, in Finland, plans to cut costs and boost efficiency have stalled for years."