Bernie Sanders on 'Medicare-for-all,' Joe Biden and wanting to take on Trump in 2020

On "This Week," ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl joins 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail in Des Moines, Iowa.
11:44 | 05/05/19

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Transcript for Bernie Sanders on 'Medicare-for-all,' Joe Biden and wanting to take on Trump in 2020
Thank you. I love you. Thank you. Same name recognition not a problem anymore. I don't think so. Thank you very much. Big crowds for Bernie Sanders in Iowa this weekend when Sanders jumped into the last presidential campaign four years ago, he was the longest of long shots. By the end of that campaign, he was the leader of the national Progressive movement that nearly toppled Hillary Clinton. Now, Bernie Sanders is picking up right where he left off. He's on a first-name basis with iowan Democrats. This weekend, he looked like a front-runner. We caught up with him just outside the big farmers market in Des Moines. I started off by asking him about the issues he believes will animate this race. I think there's a profound anger at corporate greed, pharmaceutical companies make billions in profits and 1 out of 5 Americans can't afford the medicine they need. Insurance companies pay their CEOs outrageous levels of compensation. You got 34 million people who have no health insurance. Many people can't afford their deductibles and their co-payments when they go to the doctors. Wall Street makes profits and they're charging people 17% interest rates on their credit cards. I think people see the rich getting much, much richer. I'm sure you saw Joe Biden say that he's the most Progressive candidate in this race. Well, look, Joe is a good friend of mine and I'm not here to attack Joe. Joe voted for the war in Iraq. I led the effort against it. Joe voted for nafta and trade agreements with China. I led the effort against that. Joe voted for the deregulation of Wall Street, I voted against that. You know, I think, if you look at Joe's record and you look at my record, I don't think there's much question about who's more Progressive. You famously said about Hillary Clinton during the last campaign, I disagree with Hillary Clinton on virtually everything, would you say the same thing about Joe Biden -- See, this is early in the campaign. You've known Joe for a long time? I disagree with the votes he casted. I have stood up for the right of people to have health care because they're an American citizen. I don't think that's Joe's position. What I do want to say, Jonathan, I hope on the democratic side that what the campaign is about is a discussion of issues, not personal attacks. I think I can feel safe to say that no matter who the candidate is we'll come together to defeat the most dangerous president in modern American history, Donald Trump. Your medicare for all. Biden says that he'd like to see a more incremental approach, fix Obamacare. Allow a medical option. But allow people to have private health insurance if they want. Why not do an approach like that? I'll tell you why, the system today is dysfunctional. We're spending twice per capita. The medicare right now is the most popular health insurance program in the country. But it only applies to people 65 years of age and older. All that I want to do is expand medicare over a four-year period -- to cover every man, woman and child in the country -- But to do that you'd eliminate private health insurance. For basic needs, yes. What do you say to the firefighter in Iowa who has a health plan that they like? What I would say is, if you want a better program, a more comprehensive program with no deductibles, with no co-payments, with no premiums, will cost your family less support for medicare for all. Will people be able to see the doctor? Can you make that guarantee -- Absolutely. Look, the truth is right now, you may have an insurance plan that the doctor that you really like is not on that network. Well, what if everyone wants to see Dr. Sanders here in Des Moines -- That's the same problem you have today. Look, if you have a popular doctor right now under your current policy it may take you a while to get in there. But, under medicare for all, freedom of choice, with regard to doctors, to hospitals, we cannot sustain a system in which the cost of health care continues to soar. So, we have more economic numbers came out this week. The jobless rate hits a 50-year low, unemployment is down, and for the first time in a while, we're actually seeing wage growth. Donald Trump, one area he has a solid approval rating is on his handling of the economy, 56%. Does president trump deserve some credit for the fact that the economy by multiple measures seems to be doing quite well? The economy is doing well. I'm sure I don't have to give trump credit. He'll take the credit. But what we're looking at is a ten-year rebound from the wall Street crash of 2008. I do not believe that trump's massive tax breaks for billionaires is the cause of the good economy. But when you talk about good economy, and follow me around here in Des Moines, talk to the workers who are making $9 an hour or $10 an hour, the truth is, that half of the people in this country today, despite the good economy, are living paycheck to paycheck, and millions of people are working two, three jobs just to put food on the table. So, under your economic plan, who pays more taxes? Obviously the billionaires and the millionaires. It's a set of different policies. But basically, when you have the top 1% in America owning more wealth than the bottom 92%, when the very, very rich are becoming phenomenally richer and doing incredibly well, when you have companies like Amazon, you know how much Amazon paid in the country, taxes, owned by the wealthiest person, they paid 0 in taxes. Where do you draw the line? A family making $100,000 a year pay more, $50,000? For example, we're going to expand benefits on social security and we're going to do that by raising taxes, lifting the cap on people making $250,000 or more. We certainly are going to raise corporate taxes and do away with these tax havens where the wealthy and large corporations are stashing their money in the cayman islands. So, look, at a time of massive of income inequality, the average American worker today is making a few cents an hour more than she or he did a 43 years ago. We'll ask the people on top -- But where -- Well, look, it depends on where you're looking. We have a personal income tax. But at the end of the day, we cannot continue this grotesque level of income inequality that currently exists. Last time around, you said you're the only one in the race to take on the billionaire class, is that true today? I think Elizabeth Warren is a very good senator. My views are different on Elizabeth on this and that issue. She's certainly a Progressive candidate. Why are you a better choice for Progressives than Elizabeth Warren? I'll let the voters decide that. We'll deal with that. But right now. Elizabeth is a friend of mine. She's a serious candidate, she's a good candidate. We have our differences. Let the voters sort it out. Biden has called himself a obama/biden Democrat. Would you embrace that phrase? Well, look, Barack Obama was a very, very good president. What grade would you give him? I'm not going to give him a grade. Compared to the guy in the white house now, I'd give him an a-plus. Republicans want to run against socialism. Time for you to disavow that label? The problem is, in our television interview it's hard for me to describe in depth what we mean by that, when social security was created, what did the Republicans called it? Called it socialism. Any time you do things for the people and you stand up to the wealthy and powerful, you'll be labeled this and that and the other thing. Label you -- But all of the issues that we are talking about, they're supported by the American people. I heard from several of your opponents talk about the need for a new generation of leadership. So what do you say to those who say, you've been in Washington for 29 years, you've fought for these issues, your time has passed, it's time for a none generation? Let the voters decide that, okay, I will not criticize my opponents for not having a whole lot of experience. That would be wrong. Let the voters decide. I'm proud of the fact that in the last campaign you covered, we helped transform the debate in America. You know, when I talked about a $15 an hour minimum wage, four years ago that was radical, extreme, today, six states have already passed it. So, ideas that we brought forth have helped transform the discussion in America. We started that debate. I want to end that discussion and take those ideas into the white house. I want to ask you about the news overnight, North Korea has now launched what appears to be a series of missile tests. How would president Sanders handle that situation? This is one area where I do not fault with trump. I think the idea of sitting down with Kim Jong-un is the right thing to do. It is very, very difficult but clearly they're a threat to the planet. They're isolated, they're demagogic, and we have to do everything we can to have China and the people in the pacific rim put as much pressure on North Korea and make it clear they can't continue to act this way. Okay, lightning round. In your lifetime, the presidents you observed, who was the best president? I think Lyndon Johnson doesn't get the credit that he deserves for his domestic agenda. Vietnam was terrible, terrible, terrible. On domestic issues lbj deserves a lot more credit. Cory booker says he'll name a woman as his running mate. I'll consider that. Person of color? Zwl I think it's premature. You can't give us your short list right now? Do you favor adding seats to the supreme court? No. Do you favor doing away with the electoral college? I think when you have a guy in the white house right now who received 3 million votes less than his opponent something is fundamentally wrong. Last question, who's going to win the Iowa caucuses? Well, I'm not going to speculate. We did pretty well last time. We basically tied with Hillary Clinton. All I can say is, we're going to work hard. I hope we do. Bernie Sanders, appreciate your time. Okay, thank you. Our thanks to senator Sanders. Up next, the powerhouse

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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