Krystal Ball rips Warren over implementation of 'Medicare for all'

Opinion by: Krystal Ball

With another debate just days away, Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden, Sanders lead Democratic field: poll Advocates call for ObamaCare open enrollment extension after website glitches The Memo: 2020 Democratic tensions burst to surface MORE is out with more details of her so-called “Medicare for All” plan and one thing is abundantly clear. She's really not good at this whole politics thing.

You will recall, this was her original, very clear position on health care at the first June debate:

I'm with Bernie. Of course, to be fair, it was always a bit questionable just how "with" Bernie she was on Medicare for All since she insisted it was just a framework and went through elaborate and evasive maneuvers to avoid saying the word taxes with respect to the financing. But that didn't stop Biden, Buttigieg and others from hitting her for her rhetorical embrace of Medicare for All.

Warren weathered those hits from the right for months and it has in fact cost her in the polls. A new CBS News poll in Iowa finds her falling to fourth and Pete rising. He is now beating her with college grads and those paying a lot of attention to the race. Meanwhile, Bernie has plummeted to first place in the Hawkeye State. Should he drop out?

Well, now that she's already taken the hit in the polls from the right, I guess Warren decided she really wants to get hit from the left too because she's just released a Medicare for All transition plan which essentially co-opts Mayor Pete's medicare for those who want it positioning. In a medium post she explains that first:

I will fight to pass fast-track budget reconciliation legislation to create a true Medicare for All option that's free for tens of millions....and finally, no later than my third year in office, I will fight to pass legislation that would complete the transition to full Medicare for All.

In other words, she wants to pass Pete's plan first, and then 3 years later get around to that whole Medicare for All thing.

Or for those visual learners here is a meme version courtesy of Reddit and hat tip to friend of the show Zaid Jilani.

So to be clear, after caving to B.S. Republican orthodoxy on taxes, she is now caving to neoliberalism, third way and the health insurance industry on the very plan itself. Not only is it the wrong policy decision it is a catastrophic political decision.

This really exposes a fundamental flaw in Elizabeth Warren's whole political approach and theory of change. Something that frankly we've been talking about here for a while. Sure, it is a justifiable theoretical idea to have a transition period to Medicare for All. If you were designing a policy in a hermetically sealed think tank with zero concern for political realities, you could make an argument for it. But the idea politically that you are going to first pass a public option, something so challenging in and of itself that the Obama administration failed with a Senate super majority and large majority in the House, and then turn right around and pass Medicare for All, that is a farce. Remember the second passage, the time that really counts will be after a midterm election in which the party in power almost always loses ground. Yeah, great idea Senator.

It will already be unbelievably hard to pass Medicare for All once with a massive outside pressure campaign by an organized grassroots movement and a presidential mandate in the first 100 days of an administration. In fact, it so absurdly fanciful that it's hard to escape the conclusion that really, this is a plan to *avoid* having passing Medicare for All, not one to actually get us there.

In fact, it's completely clear what she's trying to do here. In a long line of Democrats who say one thing in the primary and another in the general, this plan is a purely cynical ploy that allows Warren to say she's with Bernie in the primary but then forget about that whole Medicare for All folly in the general. This is exactly like what Kamala tried to pull off by cosponsoring Bernie's plan in the Senate, pretending for a second she supported it and then coming up with a compromise position once she heard from her consultants, donors, and focus groups.

And how did that work out for Kamala? She lost all credibility and began her never to be recovered from descent in the polls. That's the other reason why I say this plan exposes Warren's bad political instincts as much as her ill-fated DNA test. Everyone can see what she's up to here and this kind of ham-handed cynical political calculation absolutely disgusts voters. It looks even worse from Warren who is supposed to be a populist authenticity candidate and not some poll-tested donor created amalgam of platitudes like Pete. Even Biden while he has adopted the wrong approach by settling for a public option at least seems to sincerely believe in that approach. To be honest with you I don't really have any idea what Elizabeth Warren actually believes on healthcare or will actually fight for and that's as much of a problem for her as anything else.

By the way, in what should be considered political malpractice someone on her team actually admitted to the Washington Post that they had no idea they'd really have to talk about healthcare on the trail. That's right, one of the top candidates for the democratic nomination was gob-smacked that they would have to have details on the top issue of the election cycle!

An unnamed person close to the Warren campaign told the post: "It wasn't really clear that we were going to be spending the fall drilling down on the details of her [health-care] plan...they wanted to make sure they were stapling themselves to Medicare-for-All, but it wasn't clear that there was going to be much more to it then advocating for Bernie's plan."

And let's be honest, Warren was actually in a better place when she was just stapling herself to Bernie's plan as this unnamed source put it. It didn't take Bernie more than a couple hours to jam Warren on her new squishiness. At an event accepting the endorsement of National Nurses United, Sanders announced he would introduce Medicare for All in the first week of his presidency. And you know that he will. He said it again at his big rally in East LA on Saturday.

So, we reported here on a recent CNN poll of New Hampshire that had Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden, Sanders lead Democratic field: poll The Memo: 2020 Democratic tensions burst to surface Sanders should fix the child food programs we already have before creating new dysfunction MORE leading. Why was he in first there? Well if you looked at the crosstabs he was the most trusted candidate on voter's number one issue, healthcare. On Friday we told you about a new Reuters IPSOS national poll that had Bernie and Biden tied for first. Why? Well if you look at the crosstabs Bernie was the most trusted candidate on healthcare followed by Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden, Sanders lead Democratic field: poll Schumer asks McConnell for Mulvaney, Bolton to testify in impeachment trial Nadler: Giuliani trip to Ukraine shows 'crime in progress' is being committed against American democracy MORE.

You cannot win the democratic nomination if you are not trusted on the most important issue to democratic voters. Elizabeth Warren was already in a hole on this one and she can't seem to stop digging. But I guess her hands are tied, right Senator?

Well, with these kind of moves, she won't be a player for long. As we get down to it, the differences between these candidates are becoming more clear every day.