by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The clear loser of the Democratic primary is “Medicare for All.”
First, it demonstrated the unreliability of Kamala Harris out of the gate, when she endorsed it before quickly backing off. Now, it has blunted the momentum of Elizabeth Warren, made a mockery of her claim to be an uber-wonk and shredded her implicit appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters as an equally committed left-winger without the baggage.
Under pressure for weeks to cough up details related to her version of the proposal, Warren has now backed all the way down to promising to pass Medicare for All by the end of the third year of her presidency.
This is an implicit concession that she won’t do it at all. No presidential candidate ever pledges to do something important in Year 3. That’s when, if history is any guide, a president has suffered a midterm drubbing and lost all legislative momentum. Warren wants us to believe that this would be the opportune time for her to pass perhaps the most sweepingly intrusive government measure in American history.
Besides, how does Warren expect this midterm to go if it’s fought, as it inevitably would be, on a proposal so far-reaching and radioactive that she didn’t dare offer it in the initial phase of her presidency?
Warren’s fundamental mistake was to believe, like almost all the Democrats early in the race, that she had to chase Bernie Sanders around the track, which inevitably involved backing his signature health-care proposal. But it became immediately evident that it’s one thing to promise to eliminate all private health insurance if you are a self-declared socialist; it’s quite another if you imagine yourself anything short of that.