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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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Let`s turn to Bernie Sanders, independent senator from Vermont, a fighter for the people. Senator, good to have you with us tonight. You just heard those sound cuts. This was from the stump today. Republicans are saying that they are saving Medicare. What do you call it?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, everybody understands that they are destroying Medicare as it is currently constituted. What they intend to do is convert Medicare, over a period of years, into a voucher program. So what they`re going to say to a 70-year-old senior who is dealing with cancer or heart disease, here is a check for 8,000 dollars.

Go out, get the best private insurance policy you can, and lots of luck. Now, you tell me, Ed, if somebody is dealing with cancer or heart disease or a serious illness, what 8,000 dollars is going to do. Everybody knows what it means is that, A, seniors are going to have to come out of -- come up with more money out of their own pocket or their kids are going to have to help them. Or worse, they`re not going to get the care that they need.

SCHULTZ: Senator, what they are doing is they are playing this 700 billion dollars bullet point, saying that -- you heard Reince Priebus, that President Obama stole this money, that they`re going to be shafting seniors. That simply isn`t the case. And I like the fact --

SANDERS: No, it isn`t the case. It isn`t the case, Ed. And the point to be made is, as I hope most people know, in the United States today, we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as do the people of any other country. We have a wildly inefficient and wasteful system.

So what we were trying to do and what we did is not cut benefits for seniors, but make the system more efficient. That`s a good start. I`m a single payer advocate, because I think we could do a lot more.

SCHULTZ: If it`s turned over to the states, that, of course, is a whole different ball game. But selling the American people on Obamacare and making them understand exactly, you know, that this is a lie -- this is a major lie. They`re using this money --

SANDERS: Ed, I want to say a word on Medicaid and the massive cuts that they are proposing. Let`s be very clear. A lot of people don`t understand this. This year alone, we`re going to be losing about 45,000 people who die because they don`t get to a doctor when they should. These are people who don`t have any health insurance.

If Medicaid is significantly cut, that number will increase significantly. And what that means is a death sentence for a whole lot of people all over this country. We have 50 million people who have no health insurance today; 45,000 are dying because they don`t get to a doctor. The idea that you would make devastating cuts in Medicaid, leave people, children, working people, out there with no access to health care at all, is criminal. And it cannot be allowed to happen.

SCHULTZ: Your thoughts on the Ryan pick? Now that you heard a sound
bite earlier tonight, he thinks progressivism is a cancer.

SANDERS: Well, I happen -- as a strong progressive, I think what the fight here is about is the feeding the oligarchic form of government that Romney and Ryan want. What they believe government should be is a handful of wealthy people controlling the economics and politics of the country. That`s what they believe.

I happen to be old fashioned, and believe that we need to have a strong middle class, happen to be old fashioned and believe that instead of Citizens United, you have a democracy where ordinary people can be heard rather than just billionaires.

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