Joe Biden draws line against progressives on health care
DES MOINES, Iowa – Joe Biden is taking an aggressive approach to defending the Affordable Care Act, challenging not just President Donald Trump but also some of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination who want to replace the current insurance system with a fully government-run model.
The former vice president has spent the past several weeks highlighting his support for the health care law, which is often called “Obamacare.”
He told voters in Iowa that he was “against any Republican (and) any Democrat who wants to scrap” the law. He’s also talked of “building on” Obamacare.
He released a proposal on Monday that would add a “public option” to the 2010 health care overhaul, with expanded coverage paid for by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
He was back in Iowa and touted the public option as “the quickest … most rational way to get universal coverage.” A sudden transition to “Medicare for All,” he said, “is kind of risky.”
Biden hopes his positioning as Obamacare’s chief defender will be a reminder of his close work alongside former President Barack Obama, who remains popular among Democratic voters.
And it could reinforce his pitch as a sensible centrist promising to rise above the strident cacophony of Trump and more liberal Democrats who are single-payer advocates.
The emerging divide between Biden and his progressive rivals could give him an opportunity to go on the offense ahead of the next presidential debates at the end of the month.
Biden has spent the past several weeks on defense, reversing his position on taxpayer funding for abortions and highlighting his past work with segregationist senators.
Kamala Harris slammed Biden during the first debates, blasting the segregationist comment and criticizing his opposition to federal busing orders to desegregate public schools during the same era.
Those episodes called Biden’s front-runner status into question, and in New Hampshire over the weekend it was clear he wanted to turn the tables on his rivals backing Medicare for All.
“I think one of the most significant things we’ve done in our administration is pass the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said. “I don’t know why we’d get rid of what in fact was working and move to something totally new. And so, there are differences.”
He argued that some of his opponents, with the exception of Bernie Sanders, aren’t fairly representing the consequences of their proposals. /gsg
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