There is no question that affordable universal health care coverage is an idea that has caught on as the awfulness of the current system becomes increasingly apparent, and almost all the Democratic candidates have signed on to it. The most comprehensive plan, and in my view the simplest one to understand and implement, is the Medicare for All plan proposed back in the 2016 campaign by Bernie Sanders and endorsed by most progressives. So where does this leave those ‘centrist’ and ‘moderate’ Democrats (those being euphemisms for Democratic politicians like Joe Biden whose have strong allegiances to the business and financial world) who do not wish to alienate the health insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital lobbies whose profits feel threatened by this proposal? These groups come under the labels of Third Way and the Center for American Progress and are favored by the Democratic party establishment.
We learn that those people are trying to find ways to undermine support for Medicare for All.
A new poll by a firm linked to Joe Biden is testing messages designed to undercut support among Democrats for Medicare for All, one of the most contentious issues splitting the party’s top presidential contenders.
The survey, commissioned by the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, found that primary voters start off favoring the government-run health care system by a margin of 70% to 21%, but can be persuaded to oppose it. The study showed that Democrats are most swayed by the arguments that the program would impose a heavy cost on taxpayers and threaten Medicare for senior citizens.
The poll was conducted by Lisa Grove of Anzalone Liszt Grove Research. Her partner, John Anzalone, is the chief pollster and an adviser to Biden, who opposes Medicare for All and wants to make government-run insurance optional.
In other words, these so-called moderate and centrist Democrats are acting like Republicans, which should come as no surprise.
Union leader Randi Weingarten says that employer-based health plans have been getting steadily worse over time and that such tactics as those above are presenting people with a false choice, and that there are more reasonable middle-ground proposals.
If we reduce this debate to a zero-sum trade-off between protecting people who like their insurance vs. expanding insurance to those who might want or need a public plan, we have handed a win directly to the corporate insurance giants before we even start.
One way to think about it is that Medicare could set the floor, not the ceiling. Employer-based insurance would be allowed to exist to the extent that plans met or exceeded the standards set by the Medicare plan. If not, employers and their employees would either be required to make their plans better, or transition to the expanded Medicare program.
The idea put forward by these party establishment types that centrist and independent voters will be scared off by progressive proposals in the next election and will vote for Trump, and that in order to win the party needs to tone down its message is an argument of doubtful validity. It really does not matter who the Democratic party nominee is or what they say they stand for. Donald Trump and the Republicans will paint them as raging extremists who will take away their guns, flood the country with immigrants, take away their health care, force everyone into same-sex marriages, outlaw Christianity, and impose Sharia law. Pete Buttigieg made this point well at the last Democratic debate, “If we embrace a far left agenda, they’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists.”
Appealing to the kind of people who would believe this kind of Republican nonsense if futile. You cannot reason with such people. A progressive agenda has the potential to excite a lot of people who are sick and tired of the Democratic party nominating people who do not really stand for much other than to say that they are not as bad as Republicans. Such voters have tended to be apathetic and even sit out past elections. If they can be excited by proposals and brought in, their numbers may well swing the election.