Issues & Insights

Democrat’s Health Care ‘Debate: Textbook Distinction Without A Difference

There they go again.

In the latest installment of the way-too-long-running Dem Debaters Gone Wild series the other night, cuddly “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg and Senator Amy “Don’t-Forget-to-Duck-When-I-Hurl-Binders” Klobuchar were working overtime trying to create separation from their out-in-orbit competitors – and thereby revive the myth of the “moderate Democrat.”

The Dynamic Duo from the Midwest, claim the media, were staking out the party’s “centrist” wing versus the “progressives” with their attacks on Elizabeth Warren and her Medicare for All plan – appropriately challenging the Massachusetts solon on how the galactically expensive scheme would be financed (more on that in a minute).

You see, both the senior Senator from Minnesota and the CEO of sleepy South Bend (2010 population: 101,168 and sinking) are positioning themselves as guardians of private healthcare policies – and common sense – with their advocacy of a “public option.” Said proposal would ostensibly allow Americans to choose a version of Medicare or, in the immortal phraseology of one Barack Obama (in an expression once rated the Lie of the Year), keep their own plans.

The public option versus Medicare for All, spake Ms. Klobuchar, represents “the difference between a plan and a pipe dream.”

A positioning that might just have worked – except that Mayor Pete gave the game away months ago. In way of a reminder: in the first round of the Democrats’ July two-night talk-stravaganza, this leading inhabitant of the “moderate” wing admitted, “(I)f people like me are right that the public alternative is going to be not only more comprehensive but more affordable than any of the corporate options around there, we’ll see Americans walk away from the corporate options into that Medicare option – and it will become Medicare for All without us having to kick anybody off.”

And of course, since the feds don’t have to listen to market signals but can subsidize any healthcare plan they want in any way they want, they can make darn sure that the “public alternative” is “more comprehensive” and “more affordable” – and thereby drive, rather than legislate, private plans out of existence.

In other words, the public option is the ultimate “difference” – per Senator Amy – without a distinction.

In fact, the Democrats have had full government control of health care in their sights for years. As Ted Cruz foresaw in his gallant and lonely 2013 battle to defund Obamacare, and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid readily admitted at the time, the Democrats goal in ramming through that monstrosity was really to set the stage for single-payer. Klobuchar’s and Buttigieg’s public option (which, BTW, was part of the original Obamacare legislation) is just another way-station on the Democrats’ inexorable drive to taking over the entire system.

Which means, since the two “centrists” really end up exactly where Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would, they too own the entire prospective cost of the Medicare for All “pipe dream” – and the responsibility to explain how it would be paid for. And by the way, the relatively left-leaning Urban Institute just upped estimates of that price tag to $34 trillion in new federal spending over the program’s first decade (don’t forget that the government already spends $1.1 trillion on health care).

According to The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein, that’s more than the total expenditure over the coming decade for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid combined. To pay for single-payer alone, says the publication’s senior editor, federal revenues would have to rise an unheard-of three-quarters as a share of GDP, to close to 30 percent – compared to the previous apex, at the height of World War II, of 20.5 percent.

In other words, if Mayor Pete and Senator Amy have their way – in reality, the same way as Medicare for All advocates – it won’t just be Klobuchar staffers, and Miz Lizzie on the debate stage, needing to duck under attack.

No matter which Democratic presidential candidate from the current field might get elected, American taxpayers would also face some serious incoming – an unprecedented assault on their livelihoods.

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Bob Maistros

Bob Maistros, a messaging and communications strategist and crisis specialist, is of counsel with Strategic Action Public Affairs, and was chief writer for the Reagan-Bush ’84 campaign, three U.S. Senators, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at

1 comment

  • It’s going to get worse for Amy Klobuchar and any Democrat who even suggests Public Option Minnesota.

    This is coming from the Western/South?Southwestern suburbs of Minneapolis where United Health and Prime Therapeutics and Blue Cross Blue Shield are headquartered. Collectively they have market value in excess of $280 billion and there are hundreds of thousands of high paying jobs directly and indirectly related to those firms actually EXISTING.

    While we may not like the possibility of Minneapolis becoming a Cold Detroit-1980 …it’s now much more of a probability since all of the D’s in Minnesota are now in favor of either a Public Option or Medicare for All…both of which bankrupt United Health, Blue Cross and Prime Therapeutics.

    The only question is whether those college educated white women who hate Trump are smart enough to figure out their $750,000 homes..great public schools…and Escalades and Pilates classes are only possible because of the economic impact of these big health care firms.

    The only other question is whether Trump is smart enough to exploit it during his campaign,.

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