From the Left



Warren put brakes on 'Medicare for All' after she listened to what people actually want

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a woman of uncommon intelligence. But like all of us mortals, she sometimes makes mistakes.

Take, for example, the Massachusetts Democrat's embarrassing retreat on "Medicare for All." Please.

After weeks of being pressured to show some details as to how she would expand Medicare to cover all Americans and not just seniors, she announced a promise to enact Medicare for All by (drumroll, please) the end of the third year of her presidency.

That's another way of saying "never." Talk about kicking the can down the road. She just blasted it out of a bazooka.

History tells us that presidents need to enact their biggest promises as soon as possible, before the new administration loses legislative momentum. The third year, which follows midterm elections with possible setbacks, might as well be in another universe.

Remember, for example, how President Barack Obama and his congressional allies introduced his far less ambitious Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, in 2009 and barely got it passed in March of his second year in office, before the 2010 midterms?


And that's not counting numerous amendments and court fights that continued into the administration of President Donald Trump, who failed in repeated attempts to repeal Obamacare as its popularity grew.

By the 2018 midterms, Republicans had changed their earlier mantra from "repeal" to "repeal and replace," yet never came up with a replacement bill that a consensus of their own caucus, let alone Democrats, could agree on.

Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House again thanks to a new Democratic majority that had made a central issue of protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions. The growing popularity of Obamacare, as more Americans learned what actually was in it, emboldened Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Democratic presidential candidates to push further, this time for expanding Medicare to cover everybody.

I supported that goal, and I still do. But I also support math. If the affordability numbers don't add up, it's time to go back to the computers and calculators.


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