MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hillary Rodham Clinton is spending the coming weeks promoting a series of tax benefits that she says will help boost the take-home pay for middle class families.
"You deserve a pay increase, not a tax increase," she said Friday at a campaign event in Memphis. "Nobody who works full-time in America deserves to live in poverty."
Clinton, who was in the midst of a campaign swing through the South, has tried to create a wedge on taxes with her main rival for the nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
In Memphis, she touted a tax refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 for families and $2,500 for individuals she proposed earlier this year. Americans with out-of-pocket health care expenses exceeding 5 percent of their income would be eligible for the refund. Her campaign says the tax cut will be funded through tax increases on wealthy families and by "demanding" rebates from drug manufactures.
The former secretary of state says that she is the only primary candidate committed to not raising taxes on average workers. She has accused Sanders of promoting programs that she says would raise taxes on middle-class families, including his plan for a single-payer health system based on Medicare.
Clinton has said Sanders' approach would eliminate major pieces of the health care system, including private insurance, Medicaid, the Tricare system for veterans and other coverage. Her campaign has pointed to a bill proposed by Sanders in the Senate in 2013 to create a single-payer health care system that would have increased income taxes and payroll taxes to pay for it.
Instead, she's vowed to defend the president's health care plan and encourage Republican governors, like Gov. Bill Haslam in Tennessee, to expand their states' Medicaid program under the federal law.
"I'm going to campaign in Tennessee to try and turn it blue in November 2016," she said. "And I'm going to try to convince more governors like your governor here in Tennessee to expand Medicaid."
Sanders says his plan would incorporate Medicare into a broader system intended to cover all Americans and wouldn't mean the government would stop paying for seniors' health care.
Under Sanders' proposal, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program would be absorbed by the new single-payer system and be run by the states under federal rules. Private insurance companies would be sidelined to selling supplemental coverage and his plan specifies that Medicare beneficiaries would be covered during the transition.
Sanders' campaign says that his single-payer health system would save taxpayers money in the long run because it would eliminate wasteful health spending.
Lerer reported from Washington.