Michael Bennet on the situation in Syria, American health care and impeachment


JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado
is one of 18 Democrats vying for his party’s presidential nomination. Like other presidential hopefuls, he’s making
his case to voters why his health care plan is better than his opponents, even as issues
like Syria and impeachment have taken center stage in Washington. Senator Bennet joins us once more. Thank you very much for being here. SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), Presidential Candidate:
Thanks, Judy, for having me. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let’s talk first about
Syria. It’s in the headlines. You’re a member of the Senate Intelligence
Committee. My question is — I know you have been critical
of what President Trump has done there, taking U.S. troops out, but what would you do differently
as president? Would you have taken the troops out in the
first… SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: Well, I never would have taken
these troops out. In the first place, unlike many things in
the Middle East that we have done wrong, this was a case where what we were doing was working. We had been there for five years. It was a critical mission to defeat ISIS. We had lost six Americans, which is tragic,
but only six Americans. The Kurds lost 10,000 Kurds in the same actions
that we were taking. And we had managed to deal with ISIS, which
is not the same thing as finishing or ending ISIS. And, today, the president’s put us in a position
where we’re not going to have the opportunity to deal with ISIS if they reemerge. And Syria, Russia, and Iran, and Assad are
splitting up the region. JUDY WOODRUFF: But the president of Turkey
is telling you, we’re sending our troops across the border into Syria. You’re saying U.S. troops would have faced
off against Turkey’s… (CROSSTALK) SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: All it would have taken was
a strong president to say, don’t even think about coming across that line. And the evidence that Erdogan had not come
across that line is that he didn’t through the Obama administration and through the Trump
administration. This was a moment of incredible weakness on
the part of an American president, not just abandoning the Kurds, but rolling over for
Erdogan. Erdogan would never have done this without
a permission slip from Donald Trump. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, right now, would you put
U.S. troops back in there? SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: I don’t think that’s feasible. I don’t think that’s viable. This is one of those cases — where the president
seems to think that he makes these decisions, and then he’s got all kinds of optionality. What he’s doing is foreclosing options. And one of those is our putting troops back
in Northern Syria. JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s ask you… SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: I just hope the ones that
are leaving can get out safely. JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about health
care. You call your plan Medicare-X. SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: It would create a public option. And you say it’s cheaper than the Medicare
for all plan that Senator Sanders, Senator Warren have proposed. But, as you know, what they say is that, when
they eliminate premiums, they eliminate co-pay, they eliminate deductibles, that means, they
say, that it would be a net savings for consumers. Why isn’t that idea better than… SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: I know they say that, but
America doesn’t believe it. And even Vermont didn’t believe it. They tried to pass something similar to this
in Bernie Sanders’ home state of Vermont. And when they saw what the costs would actually
be there, a 10 percent tax increase on individuals, an 11 percent tax increase on businesses,
they rejected it, just like the American people are going to reject a health care plan that
raises $31 trillion in taxes. Bernie Sanders and I are the only two people
in this race who’ve been consistent on our positions for the last 10 years. And he has been. And I honor his consistency. Just like he says he wrote the damn bill on
Medicare for all, I wrote it on the public option. And it not only is cheaper. It actually would benefit the federal treasury. And I think we could cover everybody in three
years, without stripping the American people of their choice to buy health insurance or
a public option, if that’s what they want, and without raising taxes at all on the American
people, much less massively. JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you believe that a Democrat
who is the nominee who proposes single-payer — a single-payer plan, which is what Medicare
for all would be, enhances the prospects of President Trump getting reelected? SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: I do. I hope any Democrat will beat Donald Trump,
but this is not just about beating Donald Trump. It’s about winning a majority in the Senate
as well. And if these candidates can’t even be candid
about what — how they’re going to pay for these plans today — I mean, Elizabeth Warren
has a plan for every single thing, except for how to pay for her health care plan, which
is something that she’s had since the very beginning of this election. Bernie is honest about it. Bernie is telling the American people, I can
— at least I can pay for half of my plan, which is $16 trillion, by raising taxes on
everybody in America who are making $29,000 or more. That’s never going to fly, Judy. And it’s never going to — you — I mean,
that’s one way to lose a Senate race in Iowa and Colorado and Arizona. It might be a way of losing the presidency. JUDY WOODRUFF: You… SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: And it’s so unnecessary. JUDY WOODRUFF: Impeachment. You — excuse me, because there are a couple
of other things I want to… (CROSSTALK) SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: Go ahead. JUDY WOODRUFF: You waited to endorse an impeachment
inquiry, you said, because you believed it would have to have broad public support. But with information that’s come out about
President Trump, the phone call with the president of Ukraine, the request about Joe Biden, are
you now convinced that this president should be impeached by the House? SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: Well, I’m absolutely convinced
that he committed impeachable offenses. And I’m absolutely convinced that we should
have the impeachment inquiry that we’re — that we’re going to have. And I think the stuff that he’s done, whether
— is reprehensible. And our standard has fallen so low, Judy. I mean, these congressmen today rushing into
a secure briefing, like a mob, President Trump pretending that the rest of the world isn’t
watching us abandon our allies in the Middle East, and that the American people are going
to stand for having a president who, in this instance, is asking Ukraine to weigh in on
the election by digging up dirt on Joe Biden, this stuff is terrible. JUDY WOODRUFF: You know, if the House impeaches,
it moves to the Senate. There would be a trial that would go on for
weeks, if not months. Are you worried all that interferes with the
Democrats running for president? SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: I’m not worried about it,
because we have a job to do and we have a solemn responsibility to fulfill in the Senate. What I hope for is that this whole process
is going to end up leading to a place where we can restore the American people’s confidence
in our exercise in self-government and in the rule of law. And I hope to play a part in that. JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Michael Bennet, seeking
the Democratic nomination for president, thank you. SEN. MICHAEL BENNET: Thanks for having me.

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