Why Warren May Be Wrong — For Democrats
Ed Rendell recently whacked Elizabeth Warren when she bashed Joe Biden for taking rich donors’ money. The former Pennsylvania governor wrote that he himself had run a “swanky” fundraiser for Warren’s Senate race, for which she thanked him royally. Furthermore, she transferred $10.4 million of her big-money hauls into her presidential campaign while bragging that she was only accepting small donations.
Calling that maneuvering sleazy would be overdoing it, but there is certainly something untoward about it.
Warren refuses to say what taxes she would raise to cover her “Medicare for All” health care plan. Bernie Sanders’ similar vision — a single-payer plan that does away with private coverage — would cost an estimated $33 trillion over 10 years.
Recall Warren’s efforts to repeal the medical device tax. (It covered such equipment as X-ray scanners, MRI machines, and pacemakers.) The tax was intended to help subsidize health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
It happens that a good number of medical device companies live in Warren’s state. Warren insisted that the tax had to go “so Massachusetts device companies can continue to innovate and save lives.” That’s the argument used to justify high drug prices.
The Congressional Research Service determined that the tax’s effect on these businesses would have been “modest” because it was “relatively small.” The tax is now “temporarily” suspended.
Republicans were delighted to work with Warren on this issue. Their tack is to kill Obamacare by taking away the means to pay for it. The medical device tax could have raised $29 billion over 10 years.
If Warren didn’t have the guts to defend this relatively minor contribution to expanding health coverage, how would she secure the trillions required to provide government health care for everyone? Add to that her expensive vows to make four-year college free, cancel student loan debt, and provide universal day care for children.
Politicians often dangle free stuff — minus plans to fund them — and some of these proffered benefits are desirable. But shooting off such a long list of extravagant promises insults the public’s intelligence.
And how is she going to square her populist appeals to working-class voters with her support for nearly open borders?
One can’t deny Warren’s smarts, verve and ability to speak plain English. At the same time, Democrats can’t ignore her shaky poll numbers against Donald Trump. Nearly all the recent general election matchups show Joe Biden beating Trump by double digits. Most also have Sanders and Warren besting Trump but by far less comfortable margins.
Remember also that, in 2016, Hillary Clinton easily outran Trump in the popular vote. It was her narrow losses in a few key states that delivered an Electoral College victory, and the presidency, to Trump. The latest poll numbers in these states show Biden ahead of Trump and Warren quite vulnerable.
In Wisconsin, according to recent polls, Biden would defeat Trump by nine points and Warren would tie. In Michigan, Biden beats Trump by 10 points and Warren wins by six. Let’s assume that Biden would take his home state of Pennsylvania.
And there are the other swing states. In Texas and Arizona, polls have Biden edging out Trump, Warren probably not. Ohio and Nevada polls have Biden ahead by about 8 points and Warren in a tie with Trump. The biggest surprise is New Hampshire, where Biden would win the general election by 10 points, but Warren would probably lose.
We know polls can be volatile and at times unreliable. But so many arrows point to Warren’s weaknesses in a general election. There really is something off about her. The sooner Democrats figure that out, the better their chances to defeat Trump in 2020.