What? Nancy Pelosi plays both sides against the middle while thinking strategically? The deuce you say. Politico’s Adam Cancryn reports that Pelosi apparently tried heading off newly-elected “Democratic socialists” shortly after the midterm elections by having her adviser stir up opposition to the Medicare for All proposal:
A top aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used a private meeting to encourage health policy groups to raise public concerns about “Medicare for All“ just weeks after Democrats recaptured the House majority, multiple people familiar with the session told POLITICO.
Wendell Primus, Pelosi’s senior health policy adviser and a long respected voice on health and domestic policy, told the roughly two dozen attendees at the Nov. 30 gathering that House Democratic leadership worried the progressives’ push for Medicare for All risked diverting attention from the party’s core health agenda — the agenda that won them the House and would likely animate Democratic voters right into 2020. …
Some of those six sources interpreted it as a request for data and economic analysis, but others saw it as a harder-edged invitation to discredit the idea, or at least amplify its risks.
“It came across as, we need this so we can get on with our agenda,” according to a person in the room. “Can you help us point out the problems?”
Pelosi’s press flack later claimed to Politico that Primus just wanted to gather facts on the proposal. He “absolutely did not ask for any kind of one-sided analysis” of the proposal, Henry Connelly insisted. “No one has anything to fear from good faith research on Medicare for All.”
Actually, they do, and that might be why Pelosi and Primus wanted to head off too much discussion of M4A. Estimates of its costs run over $30 trillion in the first ten years, a figure reached by the Right (Mercatus Center) and the Left (Urban Institute), and only escalate from that point. No one has proposed any way to fund Medicare’s existing unfunded liabilities, let alone the additional costs of expanding it into a national single-payer system. An attempt by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to argue that her proposed “billionaires’ tax” would cover it got ripped by the Washington Post’s fact checkers in January, which noted that the revenue would cover only 2.2% of M4A’s projected first-decade cost — and only by using static tax analysis.
Pelosi wants to work on achievable health-care reform rather than go The Full Socialist. That was apparent as soon as Congress reconvened after the midterms, which is why Politico’s take on Primus’ work probably hits pretty close to the mark. Pelosi doesn’t want to lose her slender House majority by handing off the policy agenda to Ocasio-Cortez and making suburban voters nervous all over again about the direction of the Democratic Party. Corralling AOC’s fact-free socialist cheerleading is a smart move … but whether Pelosi can corral that from the Democratic presidential contenders is another matter altogether.