Ok, I admit: the title is rather pompous. But I can never resist a Judas Priest reference.
In a piece published on July 23rd of this year, I suggested that Senator Elizabeth Warren was the ‘Corporate Compromise Candidate’. This phrase meant that she was as far left as the corporate elite would tolerate. They had seen that the energy in the primary was in the populist wing of the Democratic party. Thus, they needed a candidate who was populist enough to excite the base but who would ‘play ball’. It gives me no great pleasure to say that I was right in my prediction. Senator Warren has backtracked on the major issue of this primary: Medicare4All. In addition, despite ripping on the rich in public, her campaign has maintained close links with major Democratic donors.
Senator Warren and Med4All, Part One: The Backflip
In a recent set of tweets, cited by the Washington Post, Warren put forth her plan to, over the course of her first term
reverse Trump’s sabotage of the ACA, lower drug prices, lower the Medicare age to 50 and create a true Medicare for All option—and fully transition to #MedicareForAll
Warren appears to have adopted the corporate Democrat talking point about strengthening ObamaCare, which was, we should note, originally a rightwing plan. Medicare4All would replace this individual mandate system, which forces people to buy private insurance, with universal coverage paid for by tax revenue. The Medicare for All ‘option’ that she talks about is but a slight variant on the corporatist lines ‘Medicare for All who want it’, ‘preserving choice’ and ‘expanding access to care’. Specifically, if the goal is Medicare for All, why would you not go directly to that, instead of putting an extra destination on the trip?
Senator Warren and Med4All, Part Two: Nice While it Lasted
There is a degree of incrementalism in Senator Warren’s plan that is disturbing. She appears to lack vision and boldness. She does not realise (or is ignoring) that the people support Medicare4All as a specific policy initiative without transition. Senator, it is not necessary to hold the hand of the electorate and walk them towards something to which they wish to run.
In addition, the Medicare4All ‘option’ is, as Axios notes, a public option, which the Democrats were not able to get during the original healthcare debate under Mr. Obama. The public option represents a halfway point between the current system and universal coverage. Once again we see the Senator’s incrementalism. As a snide jab Senator, the idea is to wait until you win the primary before pivoting to the ‘centre’. Finally on the public option, as Secular Talk’s Kyle Kulinski noted, the private insurance companies would simply palm off the sick onto the public system and keep the healthy for themselves. The public system would suffer, ultimately collapse and, after a time, things would return to business as usual. Just as the corporations like it.
Senator Warren’s backflip on this was present in the ether as early as October. In that month, former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did an interview with CNN. He noted that Warren was ‘more pragmatic’ (read corrupt) than to pursue Medicare for All. Reid seemingly knew something the rest of us did not, and he was right.
Senator Warren and The Donor Class: Public vs Private Positions
Warren is running a populist campaign, or so she claims. Publically, she has ripped on the rich. This culminated in her selling a mug with the phrase ‘Billionaire Tears’ on it. However, as Politico notes, Senator Warren maintains connections to a wide network of Democratic party big donors. We should note that she is never actually present at fundraisers. This is a laudable effort to eschew paid access to her. In spite of this, she is still raising money from big donors and vowed earlier this year to take corporate money in the general (election).
Now, before anyone suggests that ‘this is how the game is played’, I offer a counter-example: Senator Bernie Sanders. Per the Rational National on YouTube, Sanders has broken yet another fundraising record in terms of individual donors, breaking the previous record that he also set. In addition, many of Sanders’ donors are recurring. These include monthly pledges which will allow him to continue beyond the primary should he be successful. Bernie is thus showing that it is possible to run a successful primary campaign without reference to the corporate elite.
Returning to Senator Warren, before anyone argues that it is the campaign rather than her that is doing this, stop. She is ultimately (and quite literally) the face of this campaign. The buck stops with her. If the staff acted without her knowledge (no evidence of that) she should fire them post-haste. Her own claims earlier this year (referenced above) about corporate money in the general tend to argue against this idea.
Conclusion: Warren as Corporate Compromise Candidate
As I suggested in July, Senator Warren is the ‘left gatekeeper’ of this Democratic primary. She is as far left as the corporations will tolerate. Her falling into line with the establishment, rhetorically and financially, outs her as an Obama-style Democrat. A corporate wolf in social-democratic sheep’s clothing.
At least Mr. Obama had the good sense to get elected before turning on his base and becoming another corporate Democrat.
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