Sanders has detailed how we would pay for some of his initiatives. A $70 billion a year plan to make tuition free at public college and universities, for example, would be funded by a tax on Wall Street speculation, he says.
But in other cases, Sanders’s vision remains a work in progress. For instance, he has said the wealthy would start paying their “fair share” of income taxes during his presidency but has not spelled out exactly what that means.
Sanders’s agenda also includes moving to a single-payer health-care system, guaranteeing workers paid family and medical leave and providing universal child care and pre-kindergarten education.
“So you’re saying we can pay for all of this without raising taxes on anybody but the 1 percent?” Maher asked during the show.
“We may have to go down a little bit lower than that — but not much lower,” Sanders replied.
Maher suggested there is a great deal of skepticism among voters about the label “democratic socialism.”
“They hear ‘socialist,’ they think ‘herpes,’ Bernie,” he said.
Highlights from Bernie Sanders’s campaign, in pictures
Maher suggested Sanders emphasize to voters existing programs that are already socialist in nature.
“Socialism is the programs they already like,” Maher said. “They like Social Security. That’s socialism. They like Medicare. They like the [Veterans Administration.] They like the military. … It’s already a socialist country.”
“No, it’s not a socialist country,” Sanders replied.
“Quasi,” Maher said.
“Quasi,” Sanders said.
Maher also marveled at the large crowds Sanders, who is 74, has been attracting on the campaign trail during his race for the Democratic nomination against Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“The last man your age to cause this kind of excitement, I’ve got to think, is Mick Jagger,” Maher said, referring to the longtime frontman of the Rolling Stones.
Jagger, for the record, is now 72.