The NY Times published a news story today which finally says what many observers have noted for months. There is almost zero chance Medicare for All will become law even if Bernie Sanders wins the White House. In fact, even if Democrats win the Senate and change the filibuster rules, that probably wouldn’t matter either.
Just 14 members of the Senate have signed on to his Medicare for All Act, which would require a huge expansion of federal spending, and Democrats would need to pick up four seats in November to gain majority control of the chamber. Even if they succeeded, most of the Democrats seeking to unseat vulnerable Senate Republicans — John Hickenlooper in Colorado, for example, and Mark Kelly in Arizona — have come out against Medicare for all, raising the curious prospect of Democratic Senate candidates opposing the Democratic presidential nominee’s most prized policy plan.
In the House, a similar Medicare for all bill has 119 sponsors, all Democrats, out of a total 435 members — at least 218 votes are needed to pass legislation — and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not among the supporters. Nor are most of the roughly 40 freshman Democrats known as “front liners,” who helped their party win control of the House in 2018 by flipping Republican seats…
Even if the rules were changed to get rid of the filibuster, making it possible to pass major legislation with only 50 Senate votes, “there is not any guarantee that the 51st Democrat would be willing to support Medicare for all or anything close to it,” said Mark Peterson, a professor of public policy, political science and law at the University of California, Los Angeles.
In sum, there’s almost no chance this is going to happen. And that’s even before you consider the substantial push back that would begin the moment Democrats tried to make this happen.
The industry groups that were largely on board for the Affordable Care Act have already mobilized, through groups like the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, to squelch any thoughts of Medicare for all. They are aggressively lobbying Congress and spending on television ads, one of which aired during the most recent Democratic debate.
Here’s the ad which opposes all of the Democratic proposals including the Public Option:
What’s odd is that nothing in this story is really news. Since Bernie Sanders announced he was running for president last February all of the same conditions have been in place. Sanders has promised his supporters Medicare for All several hundred times, in stump speeches and on television since then. So why is the Times only now getting around to mentioning that his top campaign priority isn’t possible?
I think there are two reasons. First, last month a number of high profile figures on the left suddenly decided it was important for people to know that Medicare for All had no chance of passing even if Bernie Sanders was elected. One of the people delivering that message was AOC, Bernie’s top surrogate. Paul Krugman said the same thing about a week later. This happened as Bernie Sanders was peaking in the polls and expected to do well on Super Tuesday. Suddenly people in Sanders’ camp decided it might help his campaign if moderates were less nervous about Medicare for All. So they began stating the obvious: It wasn’t going to happen no matter what Bernie said.
And then you had the South Carolina primary followed by Joe Biden’s big night on Super Tuesday. Rather suddenly, it looked as if Bernie’s campaign could be over in another week or two. There’s simply no more harm that can be done at this point by telling the truth.
That’s my guess as to why the Times finally wrote this story now instead of any time in the past year. Bernie’s people said it was okay and not long after that it appeared it wouldn’t matter anyway.