Suddenly realizing that she couldn’t win the Democratic nomination if she refused to play straight with reporters about her plan to pay for Medicare-for-All, Elizabeth Warren finally released an outline last week to come up with the $20 trillion needed to fund her version of universal healthcare. But while Warren still won’t cough up the truth about the middle class tax hike buried in the plan, the enormous boost in federal spending has down-ballot Democrats worried that they will now be saddled with the unenviable task of defending Medicare-for-All in their home districts.
In remarks to Politico, Colorado State House Democrat Bri Buentello said if Warren wins the primaries, it could spell doom for vulnerable Democrats.
“This is going to cause down-ballot damage in swing districts and states if she’s the nominee,” Buentello lamented.
The consternation about Warren’s extraordinary proposal to expand the size of the federal government isn’t limited to Democrats in precarious districts.
“I’m not a big fan of Medicare-for-All,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admitted this weekend. “I welcome the debate. I think that we should have health care for all. I think the Affordable Care benefit is better than the Medicare benefit.”
And 2020 frontrunner Joe Biden says that Warren’s plan still doesn’t explain how she will overcome the spending shortfall it produces.
“She’s making it up,” Biden said of Warren’s optimistic figures. “We don’t have to go that route. All we have to do is go back and restore Obamacare.”
Other Democrats fear that rolling out a socialist policy like Medicare-for-All sends the exact wrong message at a time when the party is trying to defend itself from criticisms of socialism from the right.
“You don’t win with a message of socialism in a swing state like Florida,” said former Sen. Bill Nelson.
But the candidate herself is defiant, certain that her big-government gamble is just the thing to push her past Biden and secure the nomination.
“Democrats are not going to win by repeating Republican talking points and by dusting off the points of view of the giant insurance companies and the giant drug companies who don’t want to see any change in the law that will bite into their profits,” Warren said. “If anyone wants to defend keeping those high profits for insurance companies and those high profits for drug companies and not making the top 1 percent pay a fair share in taxes and not making corporations pay a fair share in taxes, then I think they’re running in the wrong presidential primary.”
Problem is, of course, that a huge employer payroll tax hike has nothing to do with “high profits for insurance companies” or the supposed greed of the “1 percent.” It – and other aspects of this enormously expensive plan – will come down hard on the middle class. And no matter what the rhetoric might be from Warren and Sanders, they aren’t going to trick hardworking Americans into forgetting that fact.