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Sanderscare is all cheap politics and magic math

Catherine Rampell on

WASHINGTON -- For years Democrats have (rightfully) hammered Republicans for spouting empty slogans and magic math.

Tax cuts will pay for themselves? Uh-huh, if you say so. Maybe have a chat with Kansas.

Build a wall, and Mexico will pay for it? Hmm, that's not what Mexico says.

Repeal and replace Obamacare? Right-o, show us a replacement plan, any replacement plan, that won't raise rates and cause millions of Americans to lose their insurance.

These were hollow promises, with no serious plan backing any of them.

Thanks to the Grand Old Party's demagoguery, Democrats have for a little while enjoyed a virtual monopoly on facts, evidence and experts. Dems -- or some of them, anyway -- embraced serious, solutions-based, often technical policymaking and the hard choices that went along with it.

But the lesson the Democrats seem to have taken from the 2016 electoral trouncing is that they need to become more like Republicans. Meaning: Abandon thoughtful, detail-oriented bean-counting and attempts to come up with workable solutions grounded in (occasionally unpopular) reality, and instead chant virtue-signaling catchphrases.

Such as "single-payer."

On Wednesday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, unveiled his latest iteration of "Medicare for All." Unlike the last time he introduced such legislation, in 2013, this bill had 16 co-sponsors -- a third of the Democratic caucus. Among those co-sponsors were many potential contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, such as Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Cory Booker (N.J.).

In a sense, they had to sign on. Single-payer is rapidly evolving into a litmus test for Democrats wishing to prove themselves sufficiently progressive for their leftward-shifting party's base.

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