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Pete Buttigieg critical of Elizabeth Warren's 'math' to fund Medicare plan

A recent poll shows Democratic presidential candidate Pete

A recent poll shows Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, seen on Saturday, gaining support. Credit: Getty Images / Joshua Lott

Surging presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg criticized Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's $20 trillion plus plan to fund "Medicare for All."

Warren on Friday said she would find a way to fund Medicare for All, a government-run health insurance plan that would eliminate private insurance without raising taxes on the middle class. Warren said her proposal relies on cuts to government spending and steep taxes for the wealthy, among other measures.

How to reform the nation's health care system — and how achievable the reforms are — have emerged as a top issue in the Democratic primary.

Buttigieg told "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, "the math is certainly controversial."

"What is just not true is that hers is the only solution," he said of Warren. "This my way or the highway idea, that either you're for kicking everybody off their private plans in four years or you're for business as usual."

He said he's "proposing Medicare for all who want it."

"Not everyone wants to go" off their private plans, Buttigieg said.

He said he does not support kicking Americans off their private plans and said his plan would be funded in 10 years through rolling back corporate tax rate cuts and allowing Medicare to negotiate rates.

Buttigieg said Medicare for All "could very well be the long-run destination, but I think there's got to be some humility in our policy here. Let's put this out there and see if it's really the best plan for everybody."

"If it's the right plan," he continued "then everybody will move to it until it is the single payer. And if it's not the right plan for everybody, then we're going to be really glad we didn't kick some Americans off their private plans."

Buttigieg's poll numbers have been rising nationally and among likely Iowa caucus goers.

Buttigieg overtook former Vice President Joseph Biden in a recent New York Times/Siena College poll, garnering 18% of support behind Sanders, with 19, and Warren, with 22%.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday showed Biden in first place in national polling, with 28% support. He was followed by Warren, with 23%, and Sanders, with 17%. Buttigieg, with 9%, was in fourth place, showing a five-point jump since September.

Buttigieg appeared to say on Showtime's "The Circus" that he sees a possibility in which the race could narrow down to just him and Warren — "it’s coming down to the two of us."

Buttigieg said, "Not yet, no. Look, there is a — a tremendous amount of energy for a range of candidates who are extremely capable." Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS' "Face The Nation" that it is "naive for him to think that at this point, that the fate of this election has been determined. Just look at history." 

Harris, who let go of most of her New Hampshire staff last week, said she was "all in" in Iowa. Harris said in an interview Saturday that she had not read the details of Warren's plan, but said, "I'm not taking choice from people."

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