With more of them embracing government-run single-payer health care, Democrats should be forced to explain how they’re going to pay for $32 trillion in new government spending.
At the end of Dave Weigel’s piece, the DNC’s Keith Ellison repeats his call for Democrats to embrace single-payer on the campaign trail in 2018: “But I’ll tell you this — if you’re a Democrat looking for an applause line, get up and say something about Medicare for all.” (Hopefully Democrats find a better answer for how they’d pay for it than this Wisconsin congressional candidate gave yesterday on CNN.)
But why let minor details like cost get in the way of Ellison’s “applause line” of promising voters free new government benefits?
More Democrats embrace universal coverage — and the GOP goes on the attack
July 6, 2017 – 9:22 AM
Democrats, who are largely using the week-long recess to rally opposition to the Republicans’ deeply unpopular attempt to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, are now facing a political challenge of their own: increasing pressure from their liberal base to embrace universal, government-funded health-care coverage.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), perhaps the country’s most prominent proponent of universal coverage, is waiting for an opening — likely after the GOP’s repeal push succeeds or fails — to introduce a new bill. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), both seen as potential 2020 presidential candidates, each said last week that the party needed to get behind “Medicare for all.”
Republicans have noticed — and have begun to attack. Facing a widespread voter backlash over the House and Senate repeal bills, they’re trying to make universal coverage a political anchor for Democrats by asking if they can seriously defend trillions of dollars in new taxes and spending.
The $32 trillion refers to H.R. 676, a Medicare-for-all bill sponsored every year by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.); the cost estimate comes from a study by the Urban Institute.
Sanders’s upcoming bill will have a lower price tag and cost-sharing measures that will be easier to sell, according to aides. But any single-payer plan will require a tax hike larger than any Democrats have run on since the Great Depression. In 2016, Sanders proposed paying for his plan with a 2.2 percent federal income tax hike and a 6.2 percent health-care payroll tax on employers. Some red and purple state Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W. V.), have blanched at the cost.
The single-payer chorus has been growing louder, too. Gillibrand has talked about expanding Medicare for years, but it was only last week when she fully embraced a single-payer, government-funded model. Bryce is among the new faces on board.
Last week, as Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Ca.) addressed a pro-ACA rally outside the Capitol, members of Democratic Socialists of America chanted “single payer!” As Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) finished his first town hall meeting of the recess, a 35-year old Web developer named Justin Speers demanded he talk about the Conyers bill.
“Senator Wyden!” Speers shouted. “Will you support Medicare for all, H.R. 676, and quit taking money from Blue Cross/Blue Shield?”
In states dominated by Democrats, single-payer campaigns have been thwarted by the high cost estimates — a preview, some worry, of what would happen if the plans went national. In 2014, Sanders’s own Vermont, run entirely by Democrats, bottled a single-payer plan that would have been paid for by a 11.5 percent tax on businesses and 9.5 percent premium assessment.
This year, in California, progressives got a single-payer outline through the state Senate, where Democrats hold a supermajority. But the state’s budget rules would have required a state referendum or a yearly, supermajority vote to pay the estimated $400 billion annual bill. House Democrats blocked a vote on the single-payer plan, which kicked off protests led by the California Nurses Association and a coalition of single-payer groups. RoseAnn DeMoro, the executive director of CNA, said Democrats were running on single-payer without ever planning to deliver.
“Sure, Republicans are going to attack, but I think we’ll just have to defend,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a co-sponsor of H.R. 676 and vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee. … He added: “If they don’t believe in having a Medicare for all system, I don’t want them to get up and say they do,” said Ellison. “But I’ll tell you this — if you’re a Democrat looking for an applause line, get up and say something about Medicare for all.”
Budget and Spending Taxes