Wikileaks has exposed that the Clinton campaign really didn’t care for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) plan to institute single-payer health care. In a January email exchange between Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum—ThinkProgress is a side project of Center for American Progress, which was founded by Podesta—Legum notes some negative media attention being pointed at Sanders’ proposal.
“Not sure how it's playing out on your end but having been seeing a lot of negative stuff online about the single payer hit on Bernie. See it being fit into the she's dishonest/will say anything to win frame. So I just wanted you to make sure you were cognizant of that,” wrote Legum on January 14.
“Thx. His actual proposal sucks, but we live in a leftie alternative universe,” replied Podesta.
Yikes. Well, it certainly does at least show some differences between the two candidates in the sense that one is left and the other is hard left. Yes, I know there is an argument to be made that both are hard left candidates, but Clinton never really seemed keen on single-payer, though many have argued that the current collapse of Obamacare was intentional. That the law was designed to create a crisis in which the Left could argue that only total and complete control of health care policy through Washington could ease the premium spikes, the cost overruns, and finally get everyone access to quality care.
Instead, at a base level, Clinton seems content with expanding the program to fix the problem (no shocker there from a Democrat) while offering a public option in the form of a buy into Medicare and Medicaid for Americans 55 years of age or older at an affordable rate. What that rate is remains to be seen, though the expansion of Medicare and Medicaid to cover everyone is the Left’s end goal. In fact, some leftie pundits have pitched it that way since it sounds less scary that single-payer, or socialized medicine, but that’s essentially what it is—and what Sanders was pushing for.
In some ways, maybe it’s a tacit acknowledgement that Democrats know we’re not there yet on single-payer. If the GOP retains the House, then certainly that plan is dead. But it could also show that maybe in some areas Clinton might be a pragmatic centrist when she needs to be (not very comforting coming from a liar, but it’s for the sake of argument) on policy. That left-of-center Clinton mold is something that’s annoyed the progressive Left to no end, with many noting that Bill Clinton probably would never be able to win the nomination of today’s Democratic Party if he were to run today. Also, given that happy center Clinton used to take pride in could be what congressional Republicans remember about the former first lady. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who is expected to win re-election this year, says that they know Clinton—and that they would have an easier time working with her (some have stated otherwise) than Obama who came into power with little to no paper trail. Also, Clinton has been quietly contacting old GOP allies on the Hill, saying that she’s willing to work with them should she beat Donald Trump in November.
On the other hand, Clinton has moved to the Left, thanks to Sanders, on issues like trade. Though she was supportive of fracking to tap into natural gas reserves, a decades-old technique of drilling that is anathema to Democrats. Remember when Clinton said you should have a public and a private position on things. Well, this could be an example, though should she win—her political capital balance will be low. Go all in on fixing Obamacare or the Supreme Court?
Julie Pace of the Associated Press said that should Clinton win the election, and the Democrats retake the Senate, the pressure on her from the hard left of the party to possibly pick a judicial nominee fitting a hard core liberal mold that conservatives have longed feared to fill Scalia’s vacancy could be significant. Health care and SCOTUS are two huge issues facing a potential Clinton presidency, and Donald Trump’s for that matter should he win, in the coming months after inauguration day. All of this remains to be seen, but at least her top adviser, Podesta, who could reassume his old role as White House Chief Of Staff, thinks that single-payer is a crap policy. It’s not much of a silver lining, though it shows that some top Democrats view their more left wing brethren (comrades more appropriate?) as being bankrupt in the policy department.
Ali Meyer of The Washington Free Beacon added that the Tax Policy Center noted that Sanders’ plan would increase public and private health care spending by $5.5 trillion over the next decade.