Exclusive: Bernie Sanders open to raising middle-class taxes to fund health care

When asked in an interview in Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday which of his big-ticket proposals would cost the middle class more in taxes, the insurgent presidential candidate said “I think if we can guarantee healthcare to all people comprehensive healthcare, no deductibles, and if we can cut people’s healthcare bill substantially.”

Sanders disputed to TIME it was a middle-class tax hike, saying it would ultimately save taxpayers money by cutting out private health insurers.

He added that Clinton’s attacks over the bills were a “distortion of reality.”

“What media sometimes does, what my opponent does, what Republicans do, is they really try to take a cheap shot. If you were paying $10,000 in private health insurance and I said to you, guess what, you ain’t going to pay that $10,000 and more but you’re going to pay $5,000 more in healthcare premiums, you’d be jumping up and down for joy. You save $5,000 on your healthcare bills,” Sanders told TIME.