Sen Kamala Harris, D-California was one of the original cosponsors of Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill. Medicare for All would take away all private insurance from Americans who have it and force them to accept a government-run healthcare system, much as it exists in Great Britain and Canada. Now, as the Daily Beast reports, Harris is having second thoughts.
“At a fundraiser in the Hamptons this weekend, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) told wealthy donors she has ‘not been comfortable’ with the Medicare-for-All proposal pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), one of her leading rivals in the primary.
“’I think almost every member of the United States Senate who’s running for president and many others, have signed on to a variety of plans in the Senate. And I have done the same,’ Harris said, according to remarks provided by her campaign. ‘[A]ll of them are good ideas, which is why I support them. And I support Medicare for All. But as you may have noticed, over the course of the many months, I’ve not been comfortable with Bernie’s plan, the Medicare for all plan.’”
Harris’ campaign claims that her sudden discomfort is not a matter of political calculation. She is starting to have some reservations about how the concept might work, or not according to one’s point of view. Of course, as the Daily Beast story suggests, Harris is hearing about Medicare for All from real, informed voters, such as the 91-year-old lady who demanded that she stop trying to mess with her healthcare. Since she is now running for president, she has been starting to wonder whether or not the idea of government-run health care is a political loser, especially in the general election. Harris now endorses a private option for healthcare, albeit one that is heavily regulated by the government.
Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, is not pleased. He took to Twitter, the great social media platform for the great and small to express their displeasure and let Harris have it.
“I don’t go to the Hamptons to raise money from billionaires. If I ever visited there, I would tell them the same thing I have said for the last 30 years: We must pass a Medicare for All system to guarantee affordable health care for all, not just for those who can afford it.”
It should be noted that despite Sanders’ barb about going to the Hamptons to raise money from billionaires, most of the other Democrats are headed to that playground of the rich with hat in hand. Besides Sanders, only Sen. Elizabeth Warren. D-Mass is making a show of snubbing the wealthy. Warren’s reliance on small donors is, so far, paying off, netting her about $19 million for the second quarter.
Harris, as noted for her visit to the Hamptons, is courting the big money people. She was even obliged to say that she “believes in capitalism,” a statement that surely counts as heresy for the out and proud “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders.
Harris, as it turns out, is not the only candidate who is having second thoughts about Medicare for All. The Washington Post notes that several others, mainly second-tier candidates, are also backing away from a total government takeover of healthcare.
“The Democratic senator from California is hardly alone. The idea of Medicare-for-all — a unified government health program that would take over the basic function of private insurance — became a liberal litmus test at the outset of the presidential campaign, distinguishing Democratic contenders who cast themselves as bold visionaries from more moderate pragmatists.
But in recent months, amid polling that shows concern among voters about ending private insurance, several of the Democratic hopefuls have shifted their positions or their tone, moderating full-throated endorsement of Medicare-for-all and adopting ideas for allowing private insurance in some form.”
The disquiet comes from the fact that right now Democrats poll better on healthcare than Republicans. The reason, most analysts suggest, is that the GOP has not articulated a coherent, free-market vision that provides healthcare to as many people as possible. Obamacare may have been a disaster, but it counts as something with what one cannot fight with nothing.
Medicare for All might prove to be an electoral loser, according to the Post’s analysis. The Republicans can paint it as an attempt by Democrats to take away peoples’ private health insurance which, media spin aside, most Americans are happy with. Harris has made this calculation and is back peddling. Sanders is sticking with his principles and is going full bore socialist. Which approach will prevail has yet to be seen.