BETTENDORF — California Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris says the government must intervene to address escalating prescription drug prices.

“We literally can solve this, but government has to do its job and leaders have to do their job,” Harris said Tuesday in Bettendorf.

Harris unveiled her plans Tuesday morning, before speaking at a forum sponsored by AARP and The Des Moines Register. Harris is suggesting that a federal agency should determine the “fair price” for any prescription medication and drug company profits above that price would be taxed at 100 percent.

“The government of the United States is so much in the pocket of the pharmaceutical companies that we’re allowing them to charge our seniors and our people more than other countries are allowing them to charge their people. That’s outrageous,” Harris said, to applause.

Harris is calling for an end to the tax credit pharmaceutical companies get for advertising medications. She’d try to speed up the sale of cheaper generic alternatives by ending the abuse of patents for brand-name drugs.

“What that means is that they’re suppressing competition and when they suppress competition, that means they can keep the prices jacked up because they’re the only game in town,” Harris said.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand told the AARP gathering she’s considering a proposal that would provide a new benefit to Americans who are full-time care givers.

“How about considering anyone who’s doing full-time care, who’s working full-time caring for a loved one in their family, get that Universal Basic Income?” Gillibrand asked..

Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro told the crowd Democrats need to press forward with a single-payer “Medicare for All” health care system.

“If we have a Democratic president, a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate which we’ve had in 1993 and in 2009-2010, the lessons of those years are we have to go for it,” Castro said.

Four more presidential candidates will be on stage in Cedar Rapids Wednesday afternoon to talk to another group of AARP members. The series of candidate forums will resume Friday and Saturday in Sioux City and Council Bluffs.