Retiring Dem senator: When you talk 'Medicare for All,' you 'start losing people in my state'

The week between Christmas and New Year after an election is usually filled with retiring (or defeated) politicians summing up their careers and giving the benefit of their wisdom – or lack thereof – to their colleagues.

Outgoing Indiana senator Joe Donnelly made an appearance on CNN, where he warned his liberal Democratic colleagues that pushing "Medicare for All" in 2020 will doom the party's chances.


When asked by CNN's Dana Bash on "The Lead With Jake Tapper" if Democrats could be viable without appealing to interior state votes, Donnelly replied, "I don't know how you do that."

Donnelly said that during President Donald Trump's visits to Indiana in the weeks before the midterms – in which Donnelly lost his seat – the President made not voting for Republicans seem like a personal betrayal by voters.

"We have not made enough of a connection ... that the people of my state understand culturally, we (Democrats) want to make sure you succeed," he said.

"But when you talk 'Medicare-for-all' ... you start losing the people in my state," Donnelly added.  "When we start talking about, 'Hey, we're going to work together with the insurance companies to lower premiums,' that's what connects."

"The talk on the coasts just doesn't get it done in the middle," he said.

What Donnelly is saying is that a Democratic candidate for president who wins the nomination by pushing "Medicare for All" won't necessarily do well in the general election.

While he declined to name a specific candidate he thought would fare best, Donnelly said the ideal candidate would engage directly with people in the interior states on issues such as manufacturing and health care.

They would be the "kind of person who can go into Michigan and go to the auto plant" and have "talked to the workers there, and have talked to the families at the churches and have talked to them about how important it is for their kid to get decent health care," he said.

"Medicare for All" appeals to the far left and to those who already receive government subsidies.  But most voters see it for what it is: a ruinously expensive boondoggle that would lower the quality of American health care to third-world levels.

I don't think Democrats will be able to resist the impulse to nationalize the health care system.  They failed with Obamacare and are ready for a second bite at the apple.  Their spin merchants and wordsmiths might have to change the name to something more palatable, but whatever they call it, it will be a disaster.