Before things get out of hand, let’s recall the facts. The first issue is whether Democrats should aim to tear the Affordable Care Act apart in order to replace it with “Medicare for All” or, alternatively, should strengthen and expand a law that’s working remarkably well, given the headwinds. It’s certainly true, because the Senate elected in 2008 wouldn’t support the public option, that the Affordable Care Act left a role for the private sector. But that’s no reason to abandon a law that expanded health coverage to 20-plus million more Americans. And the politics don’t work either. The ACA passed without a Senate vote to spare nearly a decade ago. Is there any reason to believe that the Senate elected in 2020 will be capable of repealing the existing law or replacing it with Medicare for All? In an age of debilitating public cynicism, Democrats should be very careful not to promise something they can’t deliver.
Second, yes, the Obama administration deported undocumented criminals. That’s hardly the same as separating children from their families and using racially divisive language. There’s really no moral equivalence here. Remember, Obama explicitly fought tooth and nail to protect the Dreamers, even while maintaining that America is both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. Finally, the tax regime in place when Obama left office might not have been as progressive as some Democrats would have liked—and Trump’s tax cuts for the rich have since made it much worse. But let’s not forget that Obama raised taxes on the very rich as part of the ACA and then again after the 2012 election. That may not have been a total rewrite of the federal code—but Obama struck huge blows for economic fairness.