Now, I’d like to get more detail on those “cost savings” and the “corporate tax reform” (and why aren’t Democrats promising to raise the capital gains tax rate to equal or nearly equal the rates for salary income, a much bigger revenue-generator?). Buttigieg also promises “additional plans to address issues such as drug pricing, innovation and health equity,” which will need to come with funding mechanisms.
Nevertheless, Buttigieg has a compelling argument: Candidates are obligated to offer bold ideas that are doable. He argues, “Rather than flipping a switch and kicking almost 160 million Americans off their private insurance, including 20 million seniors already choosing private plans within Medicare, my plan lets Americans keep a private plan if they want to.” The latter is a reference to Medicare Advantage, which would go away under a strictly single-payer system.
The approach favored by Buttigieg, Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and other moderates would be cheaper and allow people to gradually migrate to Medicare (if that is what they want). Moreover, if Democrats want to accomplish anything, it likely will require a Democratic majority in the Senate and use of reconciliation; they would at least need a majority. There is not, as we speak, a majority of Democrats in both houses who support Medicare-for-all.
Part of the problem with this discussion is that the Medicare-for-all advocates are adept at deflecting pesky questions about cost, logistics and political feasibility. They shouldn’t be allowed to skate by on ad hominem attacks (That’s a Republican talking point!) or non sequiturs (Let me tell you how great Medicare-for-all is!) or platitudes (We’re going to fight!).
Progressives who get fussy when their candidates are pressed to answer basic questions are doing their candidates and their cause no good. The nominee will have to answer these questions in the general election. Unless they figure out now how to make the case now, Democrats will wind up with a nominee who is a sitting duck for President Trump and the right-wing media.
Politicians should stop infantilizing voters with the “easy fix” canard of populism. Whether on the right or left, populism that posits the answers are simple (if only those miserable politicians had guts to fight the “deep state”/special interests/corporations) leads to inevitable disappointment, cynicism and dysfunction.
If we learned anything from Trump, it is that we need skilled and experienced leaders and an electorate insistent on operating in a reality-based policy world.