Comments this week on health care by Sen. Elizabeth Warren are sparking speculation that she may be pivoting when it comes to her support for a government-run “Medicare-for-all” single-payer system, as presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden ramps up his search for a running mate.
The progressive champion from Massachusetts — who made “Medicare-for-all” a key issue in her White House run before suspending her campaign in March — said earlier this week: “I think right now people want to see improvements in our health care system. And that means strengthening the Affordable Care Act. We should be doing that anyway. That should be easy. We should be doing it right now.”
The senator’s comments — part of a speaker series for the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics — were prominently spotlighted in a story Thursday by Politico that was headlined: “Warren pivots on Medicare for All in bid to become Biden’s VP.”
Warren and Biden have repeatedly traded fire over health care policy, from last summer through early this year during the heat of the Democratic primaries. She and fellow populist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont championed “Medicare-for-all.” Biden, less of a firebrand than Warren, pushed for a public option based on traditional Medicare to strengthen the Affordable Care Act — better known as ObamaCare — that was passed and implemented during Biden’s eight years as vice president.
Warren’s comments come as she’s considered very much in the running — among other contenders — to be Biden’s running mate, and many political pundits are reading her words as the latest public signal that she very much wants to be the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee, and wants Biden to view her as a candidate in synch with his governing philosophy.
Biden — who announced in March that he would name a woman as his running mate — has long said he wants to “pick someone who is simpatico with” him on the key issues.
While the two candidates took aim at each other on numerous issues during the nomination battle, the two have coalesced since mid-March. Soon after Warren dropped out of the race, Biden adopted her proposal for bankruptcy reform, which was a key component of Warren’s progressive presidential campaign.
Earlier this month, Biden co-authored an op-ed with Warren in McClatchy newspapers, calling for stronger oversight of coronavirus pandemic relief funds. In that opinion piece, the former vice president joined Warren in acknowledging that “for many Americans, our economy wasn’t working even before the devastation of the COVID-19 crisis.”
This week, Biden publicly praised Warren’s questioning of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at a Senate hearing. And Fox News confirmed that Warren and Biden’s policy teams have been communicating on economic policy.
In her comments this week, Warren did add that she still wants to eventually get to a single-payer system in the U.S.
But David Sirota — who was a top political adviser on Sander’s 2020 presidential campaign — took to Twitter to argue that “Tens of millions of Americans are losing their health care during a lethal pandemic — this seems like a *particularly* odd time to “pivot” away from Medicare for All,” and he retweeted the Politico article.
But Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee who was a major supporter of Warren’s White House bid, fired back at that characterization.
“Right now” @BernieSanders is pushing for Medicare to pay people’s #coronavirus bills, not Medicare For All. Like Warren, Sanders still supports #MedicareForAll. Also true is that the case for Medicare For All is more clear daily. Surprised when smart people fall for clickbait,” Green wrote in response to Sirota’s tweet.