Updated on November 1 at 1:58 p.m. ET
Senator Elizabeth Warren is giving the middle class a surprising reprieve.
For the past few months, it seemed like the Massachusetts Democrat was slowly preparing the nation for a fiscal truth bomb: If progressive voters wanted a universal, Medicare for All health-care system, middle-class voters would have to fork over more in taxes.
That was virtually the only conclusion to draw from Warren’s steadfast refusal to vow not to hike taxes on the middle class. As my colleagues and I have documented, Warren has dodged this crucial policy question over and over again. In each Democratic debate, she has pivoted to the safer territory of costs, pledging that regardless of their tax bill, middle-class Americans would pay less overall under a government-run insurance program.
The prevailing assumption was that Warren would finally break an unspoken but durable taboo for top-tier Democratic presidential candidates, who for decades have pledged to shield middle-income voters from the tax increases they invariably try to levy on the rich.
That assumption, it turns out, was wrong. This morning, Warren released her plan detailing how she’d pay for Medicare for All. The proposal is lengthy—a 37-minute read, according to the estimate on her campaign’s Medium page. But the upshot is that Warren is proposing to put the bulk of the burden for the $20.5 trillion estimated cost of Medicare for All on businesses and the wealthy. Middle-class families would not see their taxes go up “one penny,” she says. Warren has already proposed a 2 percent wealth tax on assets above $50 million, but the money she’d raise from that is going entirely toward new education spending.