WASHINGTON -- Elizabeth Warren took a lot of flak at this week's Democratic presidential debate for being evasive about the taxes needed to pay for the $30 trillion Medicare for All plan she champions. There's a reason for being vague: Her team hasn't yet figured out how to pay for it.
"Her taxes as they currently exist are not enough yet to cover fully replacing health insurance," University of California, Berkeley economics professor Emmanuel Saez, who advised the Warren campaign when developing the wealth tax, told Bloomberg News on Wednesday.
Warren -- who campaigns on the theme that she has a plan for everything -- is relying on the wealthy and big corporations to pay for her vision of restructuring American society, including funding student debt, free college, universal childcare, green energy and affordable housing plans.
She has promised to fully cover those costs with her big ideas -- a wealth tax, corporate surtax, an increase in the estate tax and the elimination of President Donald Trump's tax cuts.
But she has made the strategic decision to adopt Bernie Sanders' government-run health care plan rather than develop one of her own. Sanders acknowledged in Tuesday's debate that "taxes will go up," but neither of them have detailed how much or who those taxes would hit, prompting the toughest criticism she has faced from her Democratic primary rivals, including Joe Biden, with whom she is tied for the lead in most polls.
The Warren campaign said they are continuing to review revenue options to fund Medicare for All and would support pay-fors that prioritize reducing costs for the middle class.
Warren has made it a hallmark of her campaign to demonstrate how she'd pay for her dozens of policy proposals. Her 2% wealth tax on America's richest would be one of the biggest sources of revenue, bringing in about $2.75 trillion over a decade.
That would finance some of her most ambitious plans: $1.07 trillion for universal childcare, $610 billion for free college, $640 billion for eliminating student debt, and among others, $100 billion to combat the opioid crisis. All told, Warren's wealth tax would pay for her plans with some room -- $303 billion -- to spare.
That's true for the rest of her plans. In total, she's proposed an agenda that she estimates would cost nearly $6 trillion, according to her campaign. She's offset those costs with more than $7.3 trillion in tax increases, according to Warren's estimates and projections from the non-partisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.
"She is offering a Medicare for All plan and not offering even close to enough to pay for it," said Kyle Pomerleau, the chief economist at the conservative Tax Foundation. "One place she hasn't gone yet is raising the existing individual income tax for top earners."