Harris wimps out again: I didn't mean to strongly suggest at the debate that I'd get rid of all private health insurance

Harris wimps out again: I didn't mean to strongly suggest at the debate that I'd get rid of all private health insurance

The woke commentariat is heavy-breathing this morning over her attack on Biden for his opposition to busing in the 70s, but this clip may have more legs. For the second night in a row, a top-tier Democrat (two, actually) appeared to endorse flushing the health insurance of 180 million people down the toilet and starting over.

That answer was surprising, and not the first time she’s been surprising on this topic. Soon after her campaign launched in January, she was asked on CNN why she’s co-sponsoring Bernie’s Medicare for All bill. Wouldn’t that eliminate private health insurance? Harris responded with a short speech about access and bureaucracy under the current private system, finishing with “Let’s eliminate all of that.” Sounded like a yes! But she took heat afterward for it from centrist liberals who were hoping she’d be a compromise choice as nominee between the Bernie wing and the Biden wing, someone younger and more progressive than Uncle Joe but not so far out there as Comrade Sanders that she’d want to dump all private plans. So, a few months later, in another interview with CNN, she cleaned up her answer. What I meant when I said “Let’s eliminate all of that,” she claimed, was all of the bureaucracy associated with private health insurance, not private health insurance altogether.

But the bill you’re co-sponsoring would eliminate all private insurance, countered Jake Tapper, except for ancillary stuff like cosmetic surgery.

To which Harris replied, essentially: Well, that still counts as private insurance. Ahem.

Fast-forward to her answer last night, seemingly re-endorsing the idea of scrapping private health insurance. Another flip-flop? Nope — she claims she misunderstood the question. Never mind that the candidates on the first night of the debate were asked this very same thing, whether they’d support eliminating all private insurance; never mind, as my pal Karl notes, how super-prepared Harris was on all other topics except for this perfectly foreseeable one. She wants you to believe that when Lester Holt noted that many people have insurance through work and then asked if the candidates would “abolish their private health insurance,” she understood “their” to be a reference to the candidates’ own personal health insurance, not Americans’ health insurance. Even though no other candidate on stage seemed to have trouble understanding the question.

And even though Holt’s use of the word “abolish” made it perfectly clear that he was talking about a policy change, not choosing to switch one’s own private plan to a government plan.

Time for another clean-up, then. She executed the rare flip-flop-flip-flop on CBS this morning, insisting that she misunderstood Holt — coincidentally, in front of a televised audience of progressives getting their first sustained look at her agenda — and that private health insurance would still exist under her version of Medicare for All. But again, only for penny-ante stuff like cosmetic surgery, not for any meaningful health benefits. To Harris, that counts as protecting private insurance even though it would still mean tossing 180 million people off of their current plans. For all her alleged boldness last night towards Biden, she simply cannot bite the bullet as Warren did two days ago and own the logic of the health-care policy she’s endorsed. It’s reminiscent of Obama’s big “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” lie. You can’t keep your plan under Harris’s proposal, but if you like your private insurance, you can keep some meager form of private insurance. If you’re in the market for a tummy tuck, sure, feel free to go out and buy a plan that’ll cover that. Everything else gets swept up in socialized medicine, though.

Honestly, this is like Trump saying to critics of the border wall that it won’t technically count as a wall because it’ll have a gate here and there. Bernie or Warren is going to smash her for her wimpiness on this topic next time.

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