Sunday, November 03, 2019

Arguing From Behind

On November 1, Politico posted an article by Ryan Lizza attempting to strike fear in the heart of the middle class of Elizabeth Warren's support of Medicare for All. We were to be surprised, or at least impressed, that veterans of the Obama White House preferred the Affordable Care Act, lest Americans learn there are better ways to ensure that more individuals become insured.

And now we hear from Politico's Marc Caputo and AlexThompson that Medicare for All scares such Democrats as Nancy Pelosi; Joe Biden, Joe Biden's campaign manager; a Democratic congressman from a district which voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump; former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper (whose withdrawal from the presidential race earlier this year disappointed nine people in the Denver suburbs); Biden surrogate Bill Nelson (who lost his re-election bid in Florida in 2018); and Bill Burton, whom we remember as  "former spokesman for President Obama’s campaign and the founder of a super PAC that supported his reelection, who also briefly worked for billionaire Howard Schultz's brief 2020 presidential campaign."

That's Howard Schultz, as in the former CEO of Starbucks, who is worth an estimated $3.5 billion, and who himself probably would be exorcised about paying the additional taxes the Warren or Sanders Medicare for All would extract from him.

Admittedly, the more credible Ohio senator Sherrod Brown also is cited as opposed but, at least since the crucifixion, no one is perfect.

Caputo and Thompson do add

"I’ve always felt that the scrutiny of Medicare for All and its cost is ridiculous, because none of the other plans are being asked this and it’s always being done without the context of what our current system costs,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), lead author of the House Medicare for All bill, said.

“Warren’s plan is good because it really challenges the naysayers,” she said. “Now, every candidate should have to explain why they want to keep a for-profit system in place that has no cost containment and doesn’t cover everybody.”

Jayapal recognizes the flaw in the health care debate which has been on full display in the presidential debates and throughout the campaign.

Among the candidates, there are precisely two who are supporters of Medicare for All. (Kamala Harris appears to want to get there at some distant point in a far-away galaxy.) The very fact that there are only two candidates- and certainly no Republicans anywhere in Washington- who publicly support the bill has allowed their rivals and the media to cast them as outliers, and their advocacy as radical.

Additionally, both Sanders and Warren generally have avoided attacking their opponents on the issue. That is in part because they recognize that someone other than themselves may be nominated, and providing GOP talking points would not be helpful next fall (if only the centrist candidates possessed the same sensibility).

Those others would like to improve health coverage and are keen on tinkering around the edges. That is not satisfactory- not for Americans who are uninsured, who skip doctor's appointments, pass up treatment recommended by their doctor, or fail to fill prescriptions because their insurance company wouldn't approve.

Yet most of the candidates have, at one time or another in some manner, placed themselves in the  warm embrace of  the Affordable Care Act, which has not fulfilled its promise to eliminate the flaws of a broken health care system. However, it  would be a tricky balancing act for either Senator Sanders or Senator Warren to do as they must: question "Obamacare."

As the debate surrounding Donald Trump's obviously impeachable, borderline treasonous, actions continues, Democrats and pundits everywhere justifiably marvel at the continuing allegiance of the GOP popular base to the President. Democrats, however, also continue blind allegiance to an individual whose name is preceded by "President."

Barack Obama was a far more credible, knowledgeable, honest, sincere, open-minded, reasonable, and patriotic president than is Donald Trump. (The bar is set extraordinarily low.) But while the name "Trump" remains almost unassailable among Republican voters, support for Obama among Democrats similarly is almost idolatrous.

Senators Sanders and Warren are loathe not only to criticize Mr. Obama, but also his policies. It appears thus far to be a risk they will not take. 

Nonetheless, there may be no choice. Their signature policy has been beset by criticism from the right and the center, from the media and those with vested interests. Their supporters have, in many instances, ridiculouslyattacked supporters of the other progressive candidate.

If the debate continues as it has been, "without the context of what our current system costs," neither the Massachusetts, nor the Vermont, senator is likely to be nominated. And if one of them does, winning the presidency would be very difficult indeed.

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