Will Democrat primary voters care if Elizabeth Warren's health care plan can't possibly work?

Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign is over.  Kaput.  Finito.  Nipped in its enviously green bud.  The senator's essay for the Oval has been foreshortened before the first caucus ballot is cast.  Her supporters have nothing left to do but light up some peyote and stare bug-eyed at a giant blown-up golden retriever

At least, that's what the author of a recent predictive column in the Boston Herald posits.  Titled "Stick a fork in Liz Warren, Medicare-for-All has cooked her," syndicated scribbler Adriana Cohen inflates the hopes of RNC employees by dismissing the unofficial Democratic presidential frontrunner.

Warren's ambitious, and till-busting, health care proposal is sure to turn voters off, Cohen argues.  "Now that she's finally released details on her Medicare-for-All plan and its eye-wincing $52 trillion projected price tag, there's no way that 160 million Americans who like their [health-care] plans — including labor unions — will want to see them made illegal."

Cohen uses the experience in Canada — long wait times to see a doctor, even longer for a specialist — to pad her proposition that Warren's progressive perspicacity has scuttled her bid.  She then reiterates that Warren's ballooning of Medicare will outlaw private insurance, which nearly half the country enjoys.

Cohen's conjecture is all thumbsuck, and a souring one at that.  Yes, Warren's Medicare nationalization would make private health insurance a fusty concept of the past.  It's also true that the price tag would blow a bigger hole in the national debt than the Chicxulub crater.  And if — which is still a mighty big if, even according to Hillary Clinton — Warren got her druthers and signed Medicare for All into law on the Resolute desk, we'd soon resemble our northern neighbor, complete with six-month waits to see a hepatologist and all.

Where Cohen errs is in her estimate of the Democratic electorate.  The unpleasant consequences of Warren's signature health care policy aren't about to spoil her primary chances.  If anything, they'll have the opposite effect, further ingratiating her to the party's perfervid base.

That Warren even put out such a sweeping plan is garnering her plaudits from journalists who've made their admiration of the bookish senator no secret.  One MSNBC host described the plan as the "ultimate clapback" to conservative critics, appropriating a slang term that wouldn't go unnoticed had a white conservative employed it, while another correspondent claimed the costly conspectus "allows Warren to come off her heels and start going on offense."  Paul Krugman, the cantankerous New York Times columnist, called it a "real plan, not a trickle-down fantasy" that manages to be more about "signaling values and policy seriousness" than sillily providing an actuary-approved budget that pays for everyone's health care, down to removing little Jimmy's tonsils.  "Elizabeth Warren's Plan Is a Massive Win for the Medicare for All Movement," wrote activist Ady Barkan.  How so?  Because ensuring people "get the doctors and caregivers and treatments [they] need...for free" is a "deeply appealing vision."

Notice the language being used in these defenses: "vision," "values," "offense."  These terms don't jibe with the Warren campaign's cutesy strapline, "I've got a plan for that."  They're abstract, appealing to pathos rather than green-eyeshaded reason.  But then, that's always been Warren's — pardon the capitalist term — specialization.

Warren's main appeal is the same as her fellow bolshie Bernie, though it's dressed up in wonky costume jewelry.  Their campaigns are fueled by an intoxicating mix of invidiousness and tall poppy syndrome, with a heavy pinch of victimology.

Though Warren tried to style her Medicare for All plan as more detailed, and thus realistic, than her Leninist rival's, the math still isn't there to make it serious.  But are Democratic voters who've already cottoned to Warren going to view fiscal irresponsibility as a pesky burr in their side?  And since when have Democrats given a toss about the deficit?

In his underrated political intrigue drama, The Apple Cart, George Bernard Shaw's fictional king Magnus laments, "The people have found out long ago that democracy is humbug, and that instead of establishing responsible government it has abolished it."  The responsibility and shrewdness of governing, Magnus continues, no longer belong to kings or statesmen, but "whoever is clever enough to get them."

Pie-in-the-sky promises, vapid soundbites, paeans to collective prosperity, heedless anger — these rhetorical devices, employed in clever language drafted by highly paid consultants, are what attract primary voters and win over cable-TV chatter heads.

Shaw foresaw the emotive popularity contest democracy would soon become in an age of mass media.  In a primary field occupied entirely by candidates who wish to overturn the last election through impeachment, voters aren't concerned about a few more zeroes on the National Debt Clock. 

Elizabeth Warren's chances in the Democratic primary contest are just fine.  For now.

Image: Edward Kimmel via Flickr.

Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign is over.  Kaput.  Finito.  Nipped in its enviously green bud.  The senator's essay for the Oval has been foreshortened before the first caucus ballot is cast.  Her supporters have nothing left to do but light up some peyote and stare bug-eyed at a giant blown-up golden retriever

At least, that's what the author of a recent predictive column in the Boston Herald posits.  Titled "Stick a fork in Liz Warren, Medicare-for-All has cooked her," syndicated scribbler Adriana Cohen inflates the hopes of RNC employees by dismissing the unofficial Democratic presidential frontrunner.

Warren's ambitious, and till-busting, health care proposal is sure to turn voters off, Cohen argues.  "Now that she's finally released details on her Medicare-for-All plan and its eye-wincing $52 trillion projected price tag, there's no way that 160 million Americans who like their [health-care] plans — including labor unions — will want to see them made illegal."

Cohen uses the experience in Canada — long wait times to see a doctor, even longer for a specialist — to pad her proposition that Warren's progressive perspicacity has scuttled her bid.  She then reiterates that Warren's ballooning of Medicare will outlaw private insurance, which nearly half the country enjoys.

Cohen's conjecture is all thumbsuck, and a souring one at that.  Yes, Warren's Medicare nationalization would make private health insurance a fusty concept of the past.  It's also true that the price tag would blow a bigger hole in the national debt than the Chicxulub crater.  And if — which is still a mighty big if, even according to Hillary Clinton — Warren got her druthers and signed Medicare for All into law on the Resolute desk, we'd soon resemble our northern neighbor, complete with six-month waits to see a hepatologist and all.

Where Cohen errs is in her estimate of the Democratic electorate.  The unpleasant consequences of Warren's signature health care policy aren't about to spoil her primary chances.  If anything, they'll have the opposite effect, further ingratiating her to the party's perfervid base.

That Warren even put out such a sweeping plan is garnering her plaudits from journalists who've made their admiration of the bookish senator no secret.  One MSNBC host described the plan as the "ultimate clapback" to conservative critics, appropriating a slang term that wouldn't go unnoticed had a white conservative employed it, while another correspondent claimed the costly conspectus "allows Warren to come off her heels and start going on offense."  Paul Krugman, the cantankerous New York Times columnist, called it a "real plan, not a trickle-down fantasy" that manages to be more about "signaling values and policy seriousness" than sillily providing an actuary-approved budget that pays for everyone's health care, down to removing little Jimmy's tonsils.  "Elizabeth Warren's Plan Is a Massive Win for the Medicare for All Movement," wrote activist Ady Barkan.  How so?  Because ensuring people "get the doctors and caregivers and treatments [they] need...for free" is a "deeply appealing vision."

Notice the language being used in these defenses: "vision," "values," "offense."  These terms don't jibe with the Warren campaign's cutesy strapline, "I've got a plan for that."  They're abstract, appealing to pathos rather than green-eyeshaded reason.  But then, that's always been Warren's — pardon the capitalist term — specialization.

Warren's main appeal is the same as her fellow bolshie Bernie, though it's dressed up in wonky costume jewelry.  Their campaigns are fueled by an intoxicating mix of invidiousness and tall poppy syndrome, with a heavy pinch of victimology.

Though Warren tried to style her Medicare for All plan as more detailed, and thus realistic, than her Leninist rival's, the math still isn't there to make it serious.  But are Democratic voters who've already cottoned to Warren going to view fiscal irresponsibility as a pesky burr in their side?  And since when have Democrats given a toss about the deficit?

In his underrated political intrigue drama, The Apple Cart, George Bernard Shaw's fictional king Magnus laments, "The people have found out long ago that democracy is humbug, and that instead of establishing responsible government it has abolished it."  The responsibility and shrewdness of governing, Magnus continues, no longer belong to kings or statesmen, but "whoever is clever enough to get them."

Pie-in-the-sky promises, vapid soundbites, paeans to collective prosperity, heedless anger — these rhetorical devices, employed in clever language drafted by highly paid consultants, are what attract primary voters and win over cable-TV chatter heads.

Shaw foresaw the emotive popularity contest democracy would soon become in an age of mass media.  In a primary field occupied entirely by candidates who wish to overturn the last election through impeachment, voters aren't concerned about a few more zeroes on the National Debt Clock. 

Elizabeth Warren's chances in the Democratic primary contest are just fine.  For now.

Image: Edward Kimmel via Flickr.