Friday, August 11, 2017

Are Democrats United?

Yeah, pretty much. Sure there's some ongoing tension between erstwhile Sanders supporters and erstwhile Clinton supporters, but really it doesn't amount to much despite the occasional heavy-breathing newspaper article. Compare to the knife fights we regularly see in the Republican party. It's not even close.

That doesn't mean of course that there isn't debate within the party on how to best move Democratic priorities forward. That's as it should be. But what Democrats shouldn't have is aggressive litmus tests on which exact policy Democrats must support to embody those priorities. That would be one way current Democratic unity really could start going south.

Paul Krugman had some useful thoughts along these lines in a recent column

Krugman argues:
Some even want to make support for single-payer a litmus test for Democratic candidates....A commitment to universal health coverage — bringing in the people currently falling through Obamacare’s cracks — should definitely be a litmus test. But single-payer, while it has many virtues, isn’t the only way to get there; it would be much harder politically than its advocates acknowledge; and there are more important priorities.....
I’d enhance the A.C.A., not replace it, although I would strongly support reintroducing some form of public option — a way for people to buy into public insurance — that could eventually lead to single-payer.
Meanwhile, progressives should move beyond health care and focus on other holes in the U.S. safety net...When you compare the U.S. social welfare system with those of other wealthy countries, what really stands out now is our neglect of children. Other countries provide new parents with extensive paid leave, provide high-quality, subsidized day care for children with working parents and make pre-K available to everyone or almost everyone; we do none of these things. Our spending on families is a third of the advanced-country average, putting us down there with Mexico and Turkey.
So if it were up to me, I’d talk about improving the A.C.A., not ripping it up and starting over, while opening up a new progressive front on child care.
I completely agree with Krugman on the desirability of taking on the child care issue in a big way. And speaking of improving the ACA, Gerard Anderson, Jacob Hacker and Paul Starr have an excellent piece in Health Affairs on "Making the Exchanges More Competitive by Bringing Medicare into the Fold". Well worth reading and another demonstration that there are many ways, not just one way, to further the goal of universal health coverage.

So let the debates continue. But Democrats should skip the litmus tests stuff. Leave that to the Republicans and their ongoing civil war.

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