Kamala Harris Shows Us How the System Works

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Kamala Harris was in the Hamptons this past weekend raising money from rich people. There, she told people that she was not cool with Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan.

Technically, according to Bloomberg, what Harris said was, “I have not been comfortable with Bernie’s plan.” She also stressed that her own healthcare plan would leave room for private insurance.

This is all routine enough—people can have their disagreements all they want about healthcare. But there’s one odd thing about Harris’ sudden, vocal discomfort around the Sanders plan: she signed onto it in the Senate just a couple of months ago. Harris was one of a number of co-sponsors of the Medicare for All Act of 2019 in April, well into her presidential run. And lest you think that Harris was just sort of standing in the back and didn’t want to take any credit, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski pointed out that her office issued a press release placing her at the center of the whole thing. The release literally says “Harris, Colleagues Introduce Medicare for All.”


It’s actually the second time Harris has backed Sanders on the issue; she also signed onto the 2017 version of his bill.


The full transcript of Harris’ remarks shows her essentially saying that she’s signed onto a bunch of different things in the Senate, and she supports them all, of course she does, but also she doesn’t support them all, and people aren’t into the Sanders plan and she decided that she doesn’t actually like it.


The relevant bit, somewhat edited down by me:

I think almost every member of the United States Senate who’s running for president and many others, have signed on to a variety of plans in the Senate...and all of them are good ideas, which is why I support them...but, as you may have noticed, over the course of many months, I’ve not been comfortable with Bernie’s plan. And I’ll tell you why. And again, it comes back to listening. I’ve been listening to people, and people don’t want to—to your point—they don’t want to not have a private option...I went back to my team and said we need a better plan.


What a great insight into how the process works. If you’re a senator, you get to co-sponsor lots of legislation and you even get to issue press releases about how good it is and what a crucial role you played in its development, and then just a few months later you can say, actually, never mind. If I was a more cynical person I’d say Harris never believed in the plan in the first place, but I would never accuse a politician of acting disingenuously.