For seven and a half years, Republicans have campaigned and voted to replace the Affordable Care Act. When given a real chance at success, with governing control, they were impeded by a president who’s ignorant on the issue. Then, after Republican senators slipped behind closed doors to come up with their own plans, they provided products that voters, even some Trump supporters, overwhelmingly spotted as frauds.
As justified as the Democrats’ ridicule is of this, it’s also creating a trap for them: They overreach if they think they can now push for a single-payer, government-run system. Such a course threatens to be a problem in the 2018 midterm election cycle and certainly would be in 2020.
Turning to a single-payer system, instead of trying to improve the Affordable Care Act, maybe with a public option, is a loser on the politics and policy — “a fool’s errand,” says Ezekiel Emanuel, a leading Democratic health care expert who helped craft Obamacare.
The pressure on Democrats is building, as conversations with several members of Congress suggest. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, leaders of the influential left wing, are pushing a single-payer system. In the House, 115 members have sponsored this initiative, and more state and county Democratic Party committees are embracing it.
On single payer, says Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota, rank-and-file Democrats “are energized in a way I have not witnessed in a long, long time.” He’s a veteran liberal who wins in the populist Iron Range district of Minnesota that Donald Trump also carried.