ARNOLDS PARK, Iowa — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders visited Arnolds Park Tuesday during a tour of multiple Iowa cities to campaign for next February's Iowa Caucus.
"We are living in a dangerous and unprecedented moment in American history," Sanders told audience members. "If somebody represents us in the White House, we have to at least — pretty low bar — believe that he is telling the truth."
Sanders added that he opposes President Donald Trump's policies regarding immigrants and working-class people. Then he addressed specific policy priorities he plans to address if elected president.
Sanders referred to the high rate of childhood poverty in the U.S. as compared with other developed nations. He bemoaned what he called a "dysfunctional childcare system" that includes "child care workers who make less than McDonald's workers."
The senator said part of the solution to the child care crisis is redefining which kinds of jobs are important. He added that 25 American hedge fund managers make twice what all 140,000 American kindergarten teachers make combined, and suggesting that priorities are twisted.
Sanders expressed ambitious plans for the U.S education system. He intends to triple funding for Title I schools and "make sure that every teacher in America makes at least $60,000 a year."
He also believes that public colleges, universities and trade schools should be tuition-free, and supports cancelling all student debt.
"I will tell you exactly how we're going to pay for this," Sanders added. Since American taxpayers bailed out Wall Street 11 years ago, he said, a tax on Wall Street should pay for Americans to be educated. Sanders advocated for a Wall Street speculation tax that would raise $2.4 trillion over 10 years.
Sanders supports a Medicare for All, single-payer health care system. He believes health care is a human right.
To answer how to pay for universal health care, Sanders offered, "We are already paying for it." He explained that health care in the United States costs about $11,000 per person, which is twice what it costs citizens of every other industrialized nation.
"And yet they manage to provide health care for all their people," he added.
Sanders said the reason for the discrepancy is that health care is for-profit in the United States. He added that 87 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured, 30,000 die each year because they can't afford adequate health care and 500,000 go bankrupt from medical debt.
"This is inhumane, this is obscene, and together we will end that," Sanders said.
Sanders' plan includes lowering the Medicare eligibility to 55 the first year, 45 the second year, 35 the third year and no age requirement the fourth year.
He plans to pay for universal health care out of the general tax base. While he acknowledged this would mean higher taxes, he also said that in the long run, health care would be cheaper because nobody would need to pay premiums or co-pays.
Sanders also said that under his health care plan, nobody in the United States will pay more than $200 per year on prescription drugs. He used insulin as example of an exorbitant pharmaceutical cost. Insulin costs 10 times in the United States what it costs in Canada — "because there is nothing to stop the prescription drug company from legally doubling the price," Sanders said.
"We are fighting for the future of the planet," Sanders said., adding that he plans to work with other nations to combat climate change cooperatively. "This is not an American issue. This is a global issue."
To finance efforts, Sanders called for repurposing funds currently used to build weapons of war.
Sanders concluded that he believes he should win the Democratic nomination because he will not try to fix America's problems himself, but work together with the American people.