Earlier in the week, we took note of Kamala Harris test-driving a talking point in defense of her breathtaking multi-trillion-dollar agenda. She told CNN over the weekend that her gigantic proposals were essential and "not about a cost." She claimed that the eventual return on those "investments" would justify the actions taken. As I argued in my analysis, regardless of whether one agrees with her ROI calculus, such judgments do not eliminate the costs associated with each element of new spending. She can try to persuade people that the lofty price tags are worth the money -- and, by extension, the methods of collecting all that money from taxpayers. She cannot, however, argue that those lofty price tags don't actually exist, and that the bills wouldn't need to be paid.
It now looks like her answer to John King's question was not an accidental one-off. She's leaning into it as a go-to deflection away from extremely important questions about the role of government, the scope of government, and the fiscal solvency of government. Here she is appearing on a podcast in Iowa, repeating the same vacant formulation:
"I would say to them that we have to reframe the perspective," Harris said. "And instead of looking at the issue of ensuring that all people have access to health care because the premise there is that access to affordable health care should not be a privilege, it should be a right. It should not only be accessible to those who can afford it, it should be accessible to all. Then when people start saying cost, cost, cost, my response is ‘No, it's not about cost. It's about investment. It's about investment.'"
To reiterate, this is a jumble of words. It is not a remotely serious answer, especially after a former CBO director has ballparked the full cost of the Harris-endorsed 'Green New Deal' at approximately...$9.3 trillion per year, which would requiring tripling the annual budget. Take these already-huge tax hikes and put them on steroids. Perhaps Harris has decided not to address policy specifics and consequences because she's already gotten burned by a short discussion of single-payer healthcare. Why risk serious responses when aspirational word salads satisfy much of the audience? These people may suddenly care when she's trying to dramatically raise their taxes to pay for a fraction of her programs, but that's a problem for another day. Matthew Continetti argues that Harris is proving herself to be a clumsy and unthinking communicator:
Her strength is that she seems a perfect fit for the current shape of the Democratic party. Her weakness is a blithe and insouciant manner that is sure to cause her trouble. In fact it already has...An audience member asked Senator Harris for her “solution to ensure that people have access to quality health care at an affordable price,” and “does that solution involve cutting insurance companies as we know them out of the equation?” You bet it does, was Harris’s answer...Harris seemed not to understand the magnitude of the change she supports. She mentioned the “process of going through an insurance company,” how “going through all of that paperwork” has caused delays and headaches for many. “Let’s eliminate all of that,” she said. “Let’s move on.”... Harris did not give the impression that she took either the question or the implications of her answer all too seriously. This is something that happens often.
He goes on to mention two other instances, including Harris' wince-inducing handling of the Jussie Smollett hoax, and a marijuana-related joke that earned a scorching rebuke from the candidate's own father. As you consider the vacuity of the "it's not about a cost" line, I'll leave you with a liberal CNN host fretting that Democrats are abandoning facts and reason by embracing fantasy politics. His negative assessment of the GOP is no surprise (although the myth of Democratic support for "science," empiricism and moderation is increasingly preposterous), but his admonition for his preferred party is interesting nevertheless:
Parting thought: Does Harris support 107 House Democrats' even farther left new 'Medicare for All' plan? I'll have much more on this scheme later today.