Health care took center stage at the Democratic debate on Tuesday night. The loudest voices, mainly Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, yelled for Medicare for All while demonizing private insurance companies.

A few of the other candidates attempted to remind them that private insurance has satisfied many people. Warren and Sanders refused to listen, but David Axelrod, a former advisor to President Barack Obama, cautioned the Democrats that most people oppose Medicare for All along with a few other radical talking points.

Axelrod, now a CNN contributor, said to Warren after the debate:

You said something interesting when was, it isn’t good enough to argue that the country doesn’t want this. It does seem as if you’re running for president that you ought to take into consideration what the country wants. And the fact is large numbers of people oppose the Medicare for All proposal if it replaces private insurance.

We’ve seen it in poll after poll, a large number of people in this country do not believe the border should be decriminalized. A large number of people in did country don’t believe that undocumented immigrants should qualify for public [aid]…

I appreciate your feelings about these issues and I’m very passionate about health care myself. I was in the White House when we fought just to get the Affordable Care Act, couldn’t get a public option. So Bernie Sanders was there. He knows that. He knows that what he’s talking about is not going to happen any time soon.

And so should the party move forward — this is what Democrats are asking. Do we move forward with these idealized proposals that are going to beg opposition and make it easier for Donald Trump to make his case and win re-election when the stakes are so high? This is what a lot of Democrats are worried about.

Warren insisted “she would build a movement to gain support and reminded Axelrod that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act passed despite not having the majority support of American people.”

The moderators and the CNN panel afterwards pressed Warren about paying for Medicare for All, bringing up taxing the middle class. She always avoided a straight answer probably because it would have to happen to pay for the program.

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight wrote six days ago that Medicare for All is not popular among Americans…even Democrats:

The thing is, though — according to new polling from Marist College this week — Sanders’s plan isn’t actually the most popular idea in the field. Instead, that distinction belongs to what Marist calls “Medicare for all that want it,” or what’s sometimes called a public option — something very similar to Joe Biden’s recently unveiled health care plan, which claims to give almost everyone “the choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare.”

In the Marist poll, 90 percent of Democrats thought a plan that provided for a public option was a good idea, as compared to 64 percent who supported a Sanders-style Medicare for All plan that would replace private health insurance. The popularity of the public option also carries over to independent voters: 70 percent support it, as compared to 39 percent for Medicare for All.

On Tuesday morning, The Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll discovered that only 51% of Americans support Medicare for All. The support dropped five points since April when it hit 56%.


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