The Question NBC’s Debate Moderators Should Ask Elizabeth Warren on #MedicareForAll

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Despite Warren’s protestations that she supports Medicare For All, she has been, to put matters as kindly as possible, “vague about how to achieve it.” That, plus her camaign staff’s virtual radio silence on the policy, has created confusion about whether she supports the policy at all, even in seasoned observers like Matt Taibbi:

[T]he observation about the Democratic race that’s sure to be relevant when real bullets start flying in primaries is that Democratic voters are in schism: there is a corporate-funded, centrist wing and an oppositional/anti-corporate/anti-war wing.

Warren has smartly marketed herself as having a foot in both camps. She may very well prove a unifying figure — if that is possible, given how fierce the resistance would inevitably be to any real attempt to reorganize the banking, pharmaceutical and tech industries. A lot will depend on how much credibility she’ll muster with hardcore progressive voters, some of whom are already grumbling, for instance, about her unwillingness (to date) to confront the health sector via Medicare-for-All.

Jacobin comments, in “Elizabeth Warren Has a Plan for Everything — Except Health Care“:

Warren’s avoidance of the issue is shocking. Health care repeatedly polls as the most important issue to voters — 80 percent told Gallup recently it’s “extremely” or “very” important to their vote. This is no surprise, as nearly 30 million Americans lack health insurance, and those who have it face prohibitive out-of-pocket costs and the ever-present fear that their employer will throw them off of their plan. The system is a colossal mess, and Americans are desperate for a solution. The majority of voters (as many as 85 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans) support Medicare for All for this very reason.

To be fair to Warren, that a candidate could say “I support Medicare for All” — as Warren often, but not always, says — and not necessarily have that mean “I support Medicare for All” is partly down to deliberate brand confusion by liberal Democrats, who hope to achieve their policy goal of preserving the health insurance industry as a donor class by labeling gimmicks like Neera Tanden’s Medicare Extra or the “public option” as “Medicare for All.” Nancy Pelosi says it best:

When most people say they’re for Medicare-for-all, I think they mean health care for all.

In this post, I’ll provide five reasons to believe that Warren does not, in fact, support Medicare for All, despite what she says. But I will conclude — plot twist! — with a new reason (at least new to me) to believe that she does. As the headline suggests, I think the way to get Warren’s stance clarified is to ask some probing questions in the upcoming debate next week.

1. Warren Has No “Plan” for #MedicareForAll on Her Campaign Site

As Gaius Publius points out, Warren’s “plan”-heavy campaign site provides no plan for #MedicareForAll, and indeed no plan for heatlh care generally. Here is the only verbiage I can find:

As the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, we can make investments that create economic opportunity, address rural neglect, and a legacy of racial discrimination–if we stop handing out giant tax giveaways to rich people and giant corporations and start asking the people who have gained the most from our country to pay their fair share.

That includes an Ultra-Millionaire Tax on America’s 75,000 richest families to produce trillions that can be used to build an economy that works for everyone, including universal childcare, student loan debt relief, and down payments on a Green New Deal and Medicare for All. And we can make a historic investment in housing that would bring down rents by 10% across America and create 1.5 million new jobs.

Leaving aside the fact that Federal taxes don’t fund Federal spending, #MedicareForAll is just one of a list of programs, with no details provided. That seems odd for a campaign that has crafted its candidate’s image as a virtuoso of policy details.

And here’s the first Google hit on ‘”medicare for all” site:elizabethwarren.com’ at the campaign site:

Really? I grant it’s only the blog, but… really?

2. Warren Downplays #Medicare on the Campaign Trail

Here is a description of a recent campaign swing from the Des Moines Register:

On a two-day swing through eastern Iowa this week, Warren dug deep into at least three of her proposals — providing free child care and preschool for children up to 5 years old and increasing wages for child care providers, building 3.2 million new units to address the affordable housing crisis, and her latest, eliminating student loan debt and making college free for every student…. Warren finds it second-nature to consider detailed policy one of the most important aspects of a presidential campaign, said Jon Donenberg, the campaign’s national policy director. She’s spent her career as a professor researching the financial pressures facing middle class families in America.

“For her, talking about ideas and how to fix these problems is the reason to run for president,” Donenberg said. “Her ideas make her a credible agent of change.”

(We will have more to say about Donenberg below.) All laudable programs, and none of them #MedicareForAll, which (reviewing the Gallup poll) 80% of Americans support. “Two-thirds of people who file for bankruptcy cite medical issues as a key contributor to their financial downfall.” Bankruptcy law and policy was Warren’s academic field. Donenberg says Warren wants to address “the financial pressures facing middle class families.” So isn’t the silence on #MedicareForAll proposals rather curious?

3. Warren Recycles Typical Liberal #MedicareForAll Verbiage Designed to Create Brand Confusion

Warren, in a really sycophantic interview with Ezra KleinMR SUBLIMINAL Get a room!, says this: “Medicare-for-all, that fight that [sic] matters to me.” From her CNN Town Hall, here’s how (and I have to quote this in its entirety, so you can see the liberal Democrat brand confusion at work):

Asked about “Medicare for All” at CNN’s town hall Monday night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren suggested that she was open to multiple paths to universal coverage.

“When we talk about Medicare for All, there are a lot of different pathways. What we’re all looking for is the lowest cost way to make sure that everybody gets covered,” Warren said.

The Massachusetts senator then voiced several ways to achieve universal coverage:

Lowering the age: “Some folks are talking about, let’s start lowering the age. Maybe bringing it down to 60, 55, 50. That helps cover people who are most at risk.”

Increasing the age: “Some people say do it the other way. Let’s bring it up from — everybody under 30 gets covered by Medicare.”

Employer buy-in: “Others say let employers be able to buy into the Medicare plans.”

Employee buy-in: “Others say let’s let employees buy into the Medicare plans.”

Expanding Medicaid: “I’ve also co-sponsored other bills including expanding Medicaid as another approach that we use.”

“For me what’s key is we get everybody at the table on this,” Warren emphasized.

She later added: “But what’s really important to me about this is we never lose sight of what the center is. Because the center is about making sure that every single person in this country gets the coverage they need and that it’s at a price that they can afford.”

(“At a price they can afford.” Oh, look. Co-pays, deductibles, and gatekeepers!)

This is not “support” for #MedicareForAll, even if Warren did co-sponsor Sanders’ bill[1]. Think of it this way. You’re a barista, and you have a customer, and your customer says: “I’d like a latté, except maybe an espresso, or an Americano. Or a plain coffee. A plain coffee is a path to a latté, isn’t it?” Does your customer know what they really want? If they do know, are they telling you?

4. Warren’s Own Health Care Plan Was Not #MedicareForAll

From Pete Peterson’s Fiscal Times in 2018, “Elizabeth Warren Has New Plan to Improve Health Care – and It Isn’t Medicare for All

Warren on Wednesday introduced a new health care bill — and unlike the Bernie Sanders bill that Warren still co-sponsors, it does not call for a single-payer system. Instead, the legislation, called The Consumer Health Insurance Protection Act, aims to make insurance within the existing Obamacare system more affordable and protect more enrollees from insurance company policy changes and premium hikes. It would increase federal subsidies for people buying Affordable Care Act plans, allow more people to qualify for ACA tax credits and impose tighter controls on private insurers. Health policy expert Charles Gaba calls Warren’s bill, and similar House legislation that was introduced recently, “ACA 2.0.”

Of course, anybody can make a mistake, and politicians get to evolve. Oddly, or not, the press — with the notable exception of critical thinkers like Taibbi — seems to have allowed Warren to morph smoothly from an ACA 2.0 advocate to a #MedicareForAll advocate without questioning the reasons for the change. Given Warren’s propensity for “talking about ideas and how to fix these problems,” isn’t her (putative) evolution on health care policy worth a little scrutiny?

5. If “Personnel is Policy,” the Warren Campaign Opposes #MedicareForAll

As Warren says: “I’ll say the same thing publicly that I’ve said privately — personnel is policy.” (There doesn’t seem to be a listing of Warren’s policy shop anywhere; Ballotpedia lists only campaign staff. Readers, if you know of such a list, please leave it in comments. I went with what I could find with the usual search tools.)

As an overview, Warren has an enormous staff, especially for this stage of an election. From WGBH:

What separates [Warren] from other presidential candidates in the crowded 2020 Democratic field are the dozens of organizers, researchers, designers, media professionals, and operations aides she’s already put on staff. They are hard at work every day making the voter impressions and laying the groundwork that could pay off when Democrats ultimately decide who has earned their support.

Many are located in the campaign’s Boston headquarters, but Warren also has a virtual army of 50 staffers in Iowa, where the critical caucuses are nearly 10 months away, and smaller numbers populating other early-voting states.

And yet, none of these personnel have produced an evident work product on #MedicareForAll, or indeed on health care.

Now let’s look at three individuals who wear policy hats (at least some of the time) and are close to Warren. (Again, I took this approach because I couldn’t turn up an official health care advisor for the Warren campaign on health care.( For each, I’ve done a Google search on their names and “medicare for all”/”health care” and come up (almost empty). Because Twitter is an important interface between campaign professionals and the press, I also searched there, with the same result.

Dan Geldon. Geldon is the most important figure, being very close to Warren and the chief of staff for her 2020 campaign. From the Boston Globe, “Dan Geldon is Elizabeth Warren’s secret weapon“:

Geldon helped [Warren] run her 2012 Senate campaign — and also managed to get married during it. People involved in the campaign say he served as Warren’s voice at every meeting, ensuring the entire operation was consistent with the values that had made Warren a national figure.

“He was kind of the moral compass of the campaign,” said Doug Rubin, a senior strategist for that bid. When her election victory returned them to Washington, Geldon served as deputy chief of staff, and was closely involved in episodes that showcased their commitment to advancing their causes, even if it meant annoying or even alienating fellow Democrats.

In 2014, they launched an extended effort to get the Obama administration’s Department of Education to crack down on for-profit colleges, combining a loud and public campaign with aggressive private outreach, instead of the polite back-channeling that is customary between political allies in government.

Later, Warren unleashed the power of her formidable grass-roots following to sink Obama’s nomination of Wall Street banker Antonio Weiss to a top Treasury position.

The successful attack on the Democratic administration reflected one of Warren’s and Geldon’s, motivating principles, that “personnel is policy.” There was other evidence it worked: During the 2016 race, Hillary Clinton and her campaign operatives sought input from Warren and Geldon on their picks for economic advisers.

But Geldon has nothing to say on #MedicareForAll. Here are the results of a Twitter search, in their entirety:

Jon Donenberg. Donenberg is senior adviser and policy director to Warrens’s 2020 campaign. From Time:

Jon Donenberg, senior adviser and policy director to the senator’s 2020 campaign, tells TIME Warren’s detailed ideas are extensions of who she’s always been and what she’s long been fighting for.

“Elizabeth’s bold ideas are a natural extension of her life’s work fighting to reverse the economic squeeze on working families,” he said. “Her commitment to big, structural change is credible because it is supported by an agenda of serious, specific and aggressive reforms to get our economy, our government and our democracy working for everyone — not just the wealthy and the well-connected.”

All very fine, but Donenberg has nothing to say on #MedicareForAll either (despite having written for the Yale Law Journal on health care policy). Here is the Twitter search:

Ganesh Sitaraman. Sitaraman served as Policy Director to Elizabeth Warren during her successful Senate campaign, and then as her Senior Counsel in the United States Senate (after which he became a Senior Fellow at CAP). During that time:

During the campaign and in the Senate, Sitaraman’s work spanned an extraordinary range. “I worked on a variety of policy issues—health and education, foreign policy, banking and finance, energy and environment.

However, Sitaraman has nothing to say about health care today, and he isn’t even on the Twitter:

However, Sitaraman has co-authored a book on the “public option” as a generic policy tool. So we can see where that goes.

If indeed personnel is policy, it’s hard to see how the Warren campaign does anything other than give #MedicareForAll lip service.

And Yet…. Warren Just Endorsed Massachusetts Bill H1194, “An Act Establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts”

And now the plot twist. As it turns out, Warren supported a Medicare for All bill in the Massachusetts House just last week. From Stephanie Murray in Politico, this:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Ed Markey will submit written testimony to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing today, their offices confirm, as the committee considers a series of health insurance bills. On the docket are several bills that aim to establish a so-called single-payer health care system in Massachusetts.

(I don’t know what that “so-called” is doing there.) Now, we’ve already seen that there’s brand confusion about Medicare for All, and we’ve also seen Warren crawfishing in her CNN interview to that effect, so we need to look more deeply at Politico’s reporting. Let’s start with the “docket” or agenda:

As you can see, Lindsay N. Sabadosa has introduced H.1194, “An Act establishing Medicare for all in Massachusetts,” in the Massachusetts House. (James B. Eldridge introduced the companion Senate bill, S.683.) Note also that if you compare the agenda to Warren’s crawfishing on CNN, there are several bills that could be construed as being “Medicare for All” besides H.1194/S.683. So, two questions. What words did Warren use to “support” Sabadosa’s bill? And is Sabadosa’s bill really single payer Medicare for All? Let’s take each in turn.

Here, Warren tweets her support:

Ugh. “Quality, affordable” is liberal Democrat bafflegab for ACA 2.0, and “lend my support to their fight” isn’t the same as “fighting for” (even if you buy the shopworn “fight for”MR SUBLIMINAL and never win trope).

However, Warren’s written testimony — available as of this writing only (!) as a screen shot on Stephanie Murray’s Twitter feed — is far less equivocal:

Not ugh. There’s none of the crawfishing language, health care is a right, and it’s Warren’s fight too, not just Sabadosa’s. Also, and importantly, several of the other bills on the agenda provided “paths to” #MedicareForAll (assuming that you believe this formulation is ever made in good faith). But Warren endorsed only Sabadosa’s bill. I find that encouraging.

Is Sabadosa’s bill single payer? The Daily Hampshire Gazette:

The bills filed by Sabadosa, Garlick and Eldridge would would make it state policy to provide access to health care services to all residents as a right, “without co-insurance, co-payments or deductibles,” through a new Massachusetts Health Care Trust.

Any federal health care funds and revenues from a 7.5 percent employer payroll tax, a 2.5 percent employee payroll tax, and a 10 percent tax on self-employed payroll and unearned income would go into the trust. The first $30,000 in payroll for employers and the self-employed would be exempt, and employers with 100 or more workers would face an additional tax of 0.44 percent.

I can’t say whether a Trust is a good idea or not. However, I did look at the bill:

Section 20. Funding Sources.

(a) The Trust shall be the repository for all health care funds and related administrative funds. A fairly apportioned, dedicated health care tax on employers, workers, and residents will replace spending on insurance premiums and out-of-pocket spending for services covered by the Trust.

And:

Section 21. Insurance Reforms.

Insurers regulated by the division of insurance are prohibited from charging premiums to eligible participants for coverage of services already covered by the Trust.

I welcome the interpretations of more cynical readers. However, it looks to me like Section 20 nukes the insurance companies, and that Section 21 makes sure (as in Canada) that if single payer covers a service, the health insurance companies cannot.

Conclusion

Of course, Warren endorsed the Sanders Bill for #MedicareForAll (S.1129). And after she did, she went and spouted all that nonsense on CNN. So her support for Sabadosa could be just as equivocal as her support for Sanders (though, again, Warren made a strong statement when the agenda gave her every opportunity to make a weak one)[2]. I think the moderators of NBC’s forthcoming Democratic Presidential Debate should put Warren on the spot and clarify her stance. Perhaps this question would do the trick:

Q: Senator Warren, given your unequivocal support just last week for Massachusetts bill H.1194, “An Act establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts,” is passing Senator Sanders’ bill S.1129, the “Medicare for All Act of 2019,” which you co-sponsored, your objective for the American health care system? And if you have other plans, will you put them on your campaign site?”

Readers, feel free to improve on this question!

NOTES

[1] Jayapal’s bill is better.

[2] She could also be sandbagging the left, especially those who make #MedicareForAll a litmus test.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

44 comments

  1. Another Scott

    As a resident of Massachusetts, I’m surprised to learn that we have affordable health care and am concerned that anyone, especially a Presidential candidate, thinks it is. Our insurance premiums are through the roof, Medicaid is eating the state budget, and treatment anywhere is expensive even for those of us with health insurance.

    But what else do you expect in a place where both parties nominated insurance CEOs in 2018, and where non-profits pay board members? Community hospitals and emergency rooms are shutting down, while the biggest hospital chains, such as Partners, Beth Israel Deaconess, and Tufts Medical Center (naturally all “non-profits”) continue to expand. And the state’s elected officials (state and federal) are more interesting in helping biotech and medical device industries than lowering the costs of drugs those companies make.

    Reply
  2. Louis Fyne

    like every career politician before her, Warren is triangulating her base, her donors, and her cocktail party friends.

    Massachusetts is ground zero for biotech/genomics and Democratic technocrats fetishize its pollution-free, well-paying jobs: learn to code or get a PhD in epigentics, plebes (/sarc).

    Just saying

    Reply
    1. EoH

      Elizabeth Warren is not a “career politician.” She spent a career raising her family and teaching law, rising from a top student at a middling state law school to a needle-in-haystack endowed chair at Harvard Law. She first entered elected office as a Senator in January 2013, at age 63.

      Joe Biden, OTOH, is an example of someone who has been a politician all his adult life.

      Just saying.

      Reply
      1. DanB

        Liz Warren is my senator and there is something to be said for her background, but for me the nitty gritty is, “What you see is what you get”. How is it that the the “I’ve got a plan for that” candidate has nothing but differing messages for differing audiences? IOW, observing that Liz came up the hard way and that she’s not a career politician is beside the point. Her vagueness is not an oversight (a bug), it’s a feature. Here’s what I’d ask her, “Senator, what role, if any, should market forces play in the delivery of health care -not insurance, health care- to the public?

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Here’s what I’d ask her, “Senator, what role, if any, should market forces play in the delivery of health care -not insurance, health care- to the public?

          That’s a good question but I think you’d get a lot of neoliberal bafflegab in response and the moderators would nod their heads and carry on.

          I think mentioning the bills by number is a more gotcha-style question (hence more likely to propagate). #MedicareForAll is often spoken of as a litmus test. So make it one!

          Reply
          1. DanB

            I think you’re correct interns of politics, Lambert, but I would like to hear her engage in “bafflegate” to satiate my increasingly cynical soul.

            Reply
          2. Carey

            The explaining class to the 90% [unspoken but well understood within
            the former class]: “you proles need to mostly die so we and our Masters
            can continue to live well!”

            Seems to fit the facts.

            Reply
      2. Fern

        Elizabeth Warren has been interwining politics and her career since day one. During her second year on the job at her conservative law school, she signed up to one of Henry Manne’s right-wing activist law “camps”, where she took intensive courses from him. She wrote a paper giving an ideological justification, based on efficiency arguments a la Manne for automatic utility rate increases, which pleased the utility companies and infuriated consumer advocates. Her paper was cited in many court cases, which no doubt pleased Manne no end. She was catapulted into an associate deanship in only two years, which may our may not have been related to her right-wing contribution.

        To buy the argument that Warren was just a little old apolitical mom is naive in the extreme.

        Eve Smith wrote about Henry Manne and the Law and Economics movement. Elizabeth Warren was part of it.

        https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/10/can-politics-ever-compassionate.html

        Reply
  3. taunger

    Sabadosa is a freshman that is well liked and well known in the area. If Warren turns her back on Sabadosa, there will be a whole new set of Dems in W.Mass that understand the actual agenda, and Warren would have made a huge blunder in her home state.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Apparently there is quite a strong #MedicareForAll movement in Massachusetts, especially in Western Mass, where her district is.

      I think it’s evident that there’s a contradiction (contrast the Tweet and the written testimony) not so much between public and private a la Clinton (though that may operate too) but between national and local. You cannot, as it were, code switch on actual policy. So the question is a wedge.

      Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    Over in Links, this guy on Twitter gave a reality check about some of Warren’s positions-

    Rob @philosophrob

    Elizabeth Warren

    • Says we need to “stand up to Assad”
    • Supports the Venezuelan opposition
    • Voted for and supports sanctions on Iran
    • Voted to increase Trump’s military budget
    • Says we need to “hold Assange accountable”
    • Says supporting Israel is a “moral imperative”

    Maybe they should also ask about her foreign policy ideas along with Medicare for all. She seems to be another Obama.

    Reply
    1. Steven

      Thanks! You just removed Warren from my list of consideration for potential Democratic presidential candidates (to replace the man they put in office with the nomination of HRC). We know how this farce is going to turn out – joking Joe, the man who will “cure cancer”, will be the nominee the Democratic party puts forward to keep him there. But it is nice to think our opinion matters if only for a few moments.

      Anyhow, what about Tulsi? What’s her stand on Medicare for All and climate change?

      Reply
      1. jrs

        She’s decent. The problem is you are running into some level of inexperience there when looking for a record.

        She’s for Medicare for All and seems to have been at it for awhile but with no actual power (the Dems didn’t even have congress). 6 years is pretty junior, in the house she was mostly focused on armed forces issues (helping vets and like, which is all good, and something she knows about, but limited), but introduced a bill to get off fossil fuels (into a republican congress so of course it didn’t get far) but a good sign. It’s not Inslee’s pages of plans and years trying to push the issue of climate change, but it’s decent.

        Reply
    2. Louis Fyne

      I’m sure that as a person, Warren is genuinely nice and honestly thinks that she’s doing the right thing.

      Yet she’s cut from the same Ivory Tower-Technocratic credentialed cloth as Obama and pretty much the entire DNC. (I’ve gone to school/worked alongside these types and it definitely doesn’t take one to know one)

      The GOP got reinvented with their street-fighter Trump. The Democrats/Left/Progressives/Liberals/whatever people are calling themselves these days need the same.

      I doubt this will happen in 2020 given all the Biden astroturfing. But given Chicago Mayor Lightfoot’s break-out, maybe it’ll happen.

      Reply
    3. Susan the other`

      these are all disappointing. This clearly, to me, indicates the dedication of both parties to oil. Assad vying for a pipeline to compete with Israel’s plans; our oil-friendly opposition in Venezuela; sanctions on Iran; and Trump’s military budget which is code for obtaining control over oil; and holding Assange accountable means that anybody who gets in the way of our control of oil has got to go. The next question to ask Liz would be about phasing out the use of fossil fuels. To control oil, not for immediate profit and power but instead to control it for the long, long haul to see us through climate change, is a reasonable goal as long as we do not harm other countries and their people. But if it is a ruse for more obscene profits from poisoning the planet then it is just more disgusting political maneuvering. Another question we should start asking all politicians is , “Why don’t you tell us the truth, don’t you trust our judgement?”

      Reply
    4. Oh

      Just reading this article told me she’s another Obama. Your comment clinched it! I feel that the only decent candidate in the DimRat primary race is Tulsi Gabbard. But als, she’s getting no support and is not being heard at all because of the wretched MSM.

      Reply
  5. johnnygl

    I like the idea, but would take a slightly different approach. The real question isn’t whether or not you LIKE medicare for all, it’s how badly do you want to get it passed?

    Q: will you override the senate filibuster to pass medicare for all?
    Gillibrand was clear, she said, “nah, norms fairy is more important. Filibuster stays.”

    Bernie said a clear “yes, filibuster must go.”

    Other Q: “when joe manchin says, ‘no’ to medicare for all, what do you do?”

    Again, bernie with the correct answer: maximum pressure.

    “i’d hold rallies in his state and tell his constituents to call/email/rally to pressure him to do the right thing”

    Does warren agree? Will she publicly, consistently pressure the holdouts and twist arms to get medicare for all?

    Reply
    1. JaaaaayCeeeee

      I fear supporting single payer health care in a state is as a strategy is a way to head off single payer indefinitely.

      Like doing a financial transaction tax, stopping subsidies, closing loopholes, corporate tax reform, making the tax code more progressive, stopping havens, passing financial and bankruptcy reforms, don’t you have to do them together if you want the electorate to see what you mean about growth that is sustainable and free market competition instead of looting, exploitation, and redirection upward?

      Isn’t a part of getting MedicareForAll the need to do some fixes and explain how single payer lets you do the rest, like Dean Baker’s list?

      http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/getting-to-medicare-for-all

      Reply
  6. Michael Fiorillo

    Warren is also a stealth school privatizer, with her chief education advisor coming from TFA, and her being introduced at an Oakland, Ca. rally by a charter school lobbyist masquerading as a “former Oakland teacher.” Unlike Bernie, who has come out unequivocally against charter expansion, Warren still misdirects by talking about “public charter schools.” That does not bode well for anything she might do regarding health care.

    Combined with her middling (at best) political instincts, it’s not a hopeful sign.

    Reply
  7. Fiery Hunt

    Words. Nothing but words.

    She doesn’t understand who the real enemies are. She’ll never “welcome their hatred”.

    Reply
  8. Gregorio

    Any healthcare legislation that allows insurance companies to profit from the youngest and least likely to get sick, while dumping the sick and elderly on the taxpayer, will never be economically feasible, because it stands the whole principle of “insurance” on it’s head. How can anyone take economics professor Warren seriously when she is attempting to dance around that fact?

    Reply
  9. Susan the other`

    Liz refuses to jump into M4A because it is a lightening rod politically and probably because there are intense on-going negotiations with all the parties. She says she wants everyone at the table – that means the insurance companies, the hospital companies and associations, big pharma and a myriad of other businesses which are all vying for profits to survive. It makes sense to me that if we took profit out of the system and gave the medical industry some R&R from excessive competition, one against the other, we would find it easier to bring them all together in an agreement that is good for the country. When Liz talks about a trust to “pay” for medical expenses so that everyone can be allowed their rightful medical care it is a little dissonant to say the least. We don’t need a trust fund. Not that Social Security hasn’t worked well. But medical care is not a “retirement benefit.” It is a right. Do we set up a trust fund so that everyone can have their day in court; so we all can have redress for infringements of our constitutional rights? No we wouldn’t ever do such an asinine thing. Nor should we set up a medical trust. Government is our trust. Citizenship is our trust. The sovereign currency is our trust. We don’t need another weasel finance plan that is just a shell game. Liz needs to just get on with it before she loses our trust. That’s the trust she should be worried about.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > We don’t need a trust fund

      I don’t see Warren advocating a trust fund at the Federal level. But I share your doubts about a Trust as the institutional vehicle. I guessed it was a Massachusetts thing.

      Reply
      1. marym

        HR 676, HR 1384*, and S 1129* all have Trusts. I have zero idea if this is equivalent at the state level, and/or a good thing, just putting this here for reference.

        * Section 701. in the current House and Senate bills

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          1. Susan the other`

            To my (reactionary) thinking putting social benefits into an account which answers to the funds available in a “trust” is pretty much pay-go and is just another way for congress to stand up and pontificate that we are spending too much and the fund is gonna run dry… But when it comes to something as basic as health care which is undoubtedly a giant complex industry geared to competition and survival, such a medical trust is not ring fencing the industry, it is ring fencing any demand for services that impede corporate profits. But at this point I’ve given up on honest government. All we can do is watch-dog this until it implodes on its own.

            Reply
  10. shinola

    “However, Sitaraman has nothing to say about health care today, and he isn’t even on the Twitter”

    Whatever else may be concerning about his stance on policy, I commend him for not engaging with the Twits. The signal-to-noise ratio on Twitter is awful.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The signal-to-noise ratio on Twitter is awful.

      It isn’t if you curate your list carefully, but that takes work. Also, as I said, Twitter is an important (and public) interface.

      Reply
  11. rc

    Warren understands the change in income and balance sheet of the average family from the 1970’s to today. This includes the massive risk and cost shifting that has happened in housing, healthcare and education.

    1. One should ask her, “At what percent of GDP should the country spend on universal healthcare where families do not take financial or access risk?”

    2. If that number is not among the lowest in the industrialized world, say 8% to 10% of GDP, then ask, “the US is the largest customer of healthcare in the industrialized world and funds nearly all of the basic research for breakthroughs, why aren’t we getting the lowest prices for administrative costs, drugs, devices, diagnostics and other supplies?”

    3. “Why doesn’t your plan apply steps every other country has effectively utilized to get to universal care at less than 10% of GDP with the better outcomes than the U.S.”

    Reply
  12. laughingsong

    My cynical take is: she knows full well that any state-level plan will not work, especially over time. The first downturn that comes along will gut a state-level plan – it will be attacked, crapified, and compromised, and users will complain. It will likely even be blamed for all the budget woes (well. . ..along with public sector pensions). Then all the dems can point and say “See? See? Single payer doesn’t work!” Warren herself can say “Well we tried it that way in my state and look what happened.”

    Reply
    1. jrs

      I think the problem with a state plan is how do you prevent every sick person in the country moving to that state because it suddenly has a state plan, hard to enforce residency requirements.

      Reply
  13. baldski

    Gee, all the lambasting Liz here, you’d think this was the website for Fox news and Trump was her middle name. You found one thing that she is doing wrong??? Well, gee, excuse me!!!!

    Reply
    1. pretzelattack

      if you’ll read the comments, you will find several things listed. if you’re going to criticise the comments, you should read them.

      Reply
    2. Yves Smith

      The “one thing she is doing wrong” isn’t true (see comments above, I’m not spoonfeeding you, go do the damned work).

      And the one thing Lambert talked about is the biggest source of bankruptcies in the US. She was the top bankruptcy prof as well as an expert on household finances. It also polls as the biggest issue among Democratic party voters.

      But keep it up. Name calling and false accusations are a fast track to getting banned.

      Reply
    3. vlade

      A huge value of this site, since inception, is that Yves calls BS on her side as much (if not more) than the other side.

      The current environment is too much of “this is our guy/gal, (s)he can’t do no wrong (or at least we have to be quiet).”, which ultimately leads to Clintons and the likes. We have to recognise that there are no Messiahs out there, and they are all flawed more or less. Warren has some good points (and can be easily argued one of the most progressive Dems there are, at least on some issues), but she also has problems. Voters should know about those, and understand them, because ultimately, it is about compromise (unless you’re British, in which case it’s about unicorns).

      Reply
  14. Bob Hertz

    Sen. Warren’s wealth tax will probably not generate anywhere close to the revenue she claims for it. The Affordable Care Act has had extra taxes on income and capital gains that bring in about $34 billion a year, and this generated enough paid-for Republican outrage for ten years of policy sabotage. A wealth tax that is six times larger would generate six times as much opposition.

    The universal health plans in Europe require VAT’s well over 10%, and they do not exempt food. They require payroll taxes in the 30% range, though this is not all for health care. The more cautious Democrats (like Warren) see that they would never get this kind of tax revenue, and virtually no one in Congress subscribes to MMT theory, The immediate question will be, “If federal taxes do not pay for federal spending, then what does pay for federal spending?” I am pretty darn liberal and I cannot answer this.

    I don’t think this has anything to do with the insurance industry lobby. Insurance companies lose money or break even on their non-Medicare business, with few exceptions. The Democrat timidity on Medicare for All is a fear of raising taxes on the middle class.

    Reply
  15. Bob Hertz

    The other countries that have universal health care tend to have VAT’s of 15% or more, and payroll taxes over 30% (though not all of this is for health care.)

    Warren and other cautious Democrats know that they will never get new taxes at that level, therefore they back off from full single payer.

    Congress can accept more deficits in moderate doses. The Republicans just raised deficits about $150 billion a year with their recent tax cut, although there may be some offset in economic growth, However, no Congress will raise deficits by over $1 trillion a year for health care, which is what would happen if taxes are not raised on the middle class.

    Reply

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