The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee—the group tasked with making sure Democrats win House races around the country—has a problem. You see, while Donald Trump and his cronies do everything in their power to dismantle anything even resembling reasonable healthcare legislation in the United States, the DCCC is worried that its candidates will go too far and start pushing for “wild” solutions like, say, single payer healthcare. The solution, according to a new Politico story? Warn candidates about the danger of even mentioning single payer.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee warned aspirants last year about the political liabilities of endorsing “single payer,” according to sources familiar with the advice. An influential progressive group even urged candidates to discard the often-misunderstood phrase and embrace “Medicare for all” to draw strong connections with the popular seniors’ health program.
And later in the same story:
Early last year, the DCCC shared verbal guidance with candidates and political consultants about the liabilities of supporting single payer, including polls that showed support for the idea declined once voters heard that it would likely come with significant tax increases and the potential loss of private health coverage many Americans have today, according to sources who saw the guidance.
Democrats also wrote a number of bills to expand access to health care. In addition to the Murphy-Merkley bill [to allow anyone, of any age, to buy into Medicare plans], Democrats proposed allowing people to buy into Medicare, buy into the Medicaid program and add a government-run health option to private payer options. The multiple options provided needed cover for candidates who backed expanding access to government health programs but didn’t feel comfortable embracing Sanders’ [Medicare For All] plan.
The fear among some at the DCCC, Politico explained, is that candidates even using the term “single payer” might enough to turn away some voters, while opening Democratic candidates up to attacks from the right.
I have reached out to the DCCC to see what its latest guidelines are around talking about and using “single payer” and will update this story with any response.
Despite the establishment Democrats’ reticence, supporting single payer has actually proven to be a wining platform for many candidates—at least in their own party’s primary races. And, according to a CBS poll published just this week, a full 78% of Democratic voters said they wanted to hear their party talking about universal healthcare “a lot.”
And while it might be easy to write off primary victories as flukes that have no possible chance of being repeated in a general election, consider this: According to a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in April, 51% of the public supports some form of single payer plan. Compare that to the 53% who support the Affordable Care Act—which is already the law, at least for now.
Democrats are well known for their chronic inability to seem like they stand for anything. Instead, they come off as wishy-washy centrists who compromise on everything, and get nothing in return. Trying to shut down or rhetorically camouflage all talk of single payer is pretty excellent evidence of that.
This is stupid. Just say “single payer!” The appetite is clearly there—just tap into it!
Or, I don’t know, keep doing what you’ve been doing. Go ahead and see where that gets you come election day.