Shades of the past. Kamala Harris is setting up the Democrats to repeat history and lose a perfectly winnable election. In a throwaway line in her first television interview Harris called for ridding 180 million Americans of the private health insurance they find perfectly acceptable. With such careless chatter, Donald Trump will chew her up like a dog toy if she is the nominee.
Harris, like so many other Democrats, has bought into “Medicare for All” as America’s new health care system. Medicare is a very popular program, so why not extend it to everyone? Sounds good, except for a couple of practical problems. Current Medicare is not on a sound financial footing, it is running short on money just at the time baby boomers are entering the Medicare population.
So the only practical way for Medicare for All to work is either for massive tax increases, or for old people to die faster so there will be more dollars to spread around. Can you imagine the fun Trump and the Republican political machine will have telling that to the senior population!
Then there is the problem that Medicare is already in large part a private health insurance program. Original Medicare does not cover all medical needs so seniors have to buy supplemental insurance from private insurers. A popular and growing part of Medicare is Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C – you assign all your Medicare dollars to a managed care health insurance company and it covers all your health needs.
Medicare Advantage plans have grown in popularity and now account for more than a third of all Medicare patients. All this would go down the drain under Harris’ proposal to get rid of private health insurance.
But the biggest problem with socialized health care that Harris is running on is the long waiting times for medical services. In Canada, more than a million patients with serious medical needs waited for care in 2017 under Canada’s single payer health care. The British socialist system is even worse. “It’s been more than five hours,” the New York Times quoted one frustrated woman waiting in a UK government hospital. “We get to the front of the queue and then someone more ill comes in and we get pushed back. It’s outrageous.”
Where do we find this model right here at home? Why of course, it is the Department of Motor Vehicles where you can wait for hours just to get your driver’s license renewed. The Harris model for government run health care will be the DMV in spades. Perhaps she will resolve the waiting time situation by keeping sick people in line long enough that they die.
What is so odd about this lurch to the left by Harris and almost all the Democratic candidates is that they should be running on the numerous failings of the Trump Administration. They seem to have learned nothing from the last time they played around with America’s health care system.
In 2009, the Obama Administration, with large majorities in Congress, passed Obamacare, but it turned out to be so confusing it completely backfired on Democrats at the next election, the 2010 off-year elections. That year Democrats lost control of the House of Representative, hundreds of state legislators and many governors. This opened the door to the massive Republicans gerrymanders in 2011 that kept the GOP in control of many states throughout this decade.
There is another problem with the Harris approach, highlighted in an article in The Atlantic by Ron Brownstein last week. It will devastate the Democrats in the very areas where they scored biggest in 2018, high income suburbs. “It will test how a party increasingly drawn toward populist economics confronts the challenge of managing a political coalition growingly reliant on voters who are thriving financially and attracted to the party largely on cultural grounds.
“The Medicare for All debate sharpens that tension because the college-educated voters moving away from the GOP in the Donald Trump era overwhelmingly receive insurance through their employers—and polls show that the vast majority of them are satisfied with that coverage.”
Antics of leading Democrats like Harris are reminiscent of a similar election 48 years ago. In 1972, the unpopular Richard Nixon, a minority president elected in 1968 who had failed to end the Vietnam War, seemed a likely loser. His party was badly beaten in the 1970 election, and he was trailing the leading Democrat, Sen. Ed Muskie, in 1971 polls.
But then instead of nominating a sensible mainstream Democrat in 1972, the party lurched left and went with Sen. George McGovern, the most extreme Democrat on the Vietnam War. Nixon and the Republicans tore him to pieces, even employing some of the dirty tricks that eventually brought Nixon down.
When it was all over, Nixon won with 61 percent of the vote and carried 49 states. If Democrats nominate Harris or another leftist clone, look for a similar Trump sweep.
Dog toys anyone?