Walking and chewing gum by @BloggersRUs

Walking and chewing gum

by Tom Sullivan

Photo by Nicole Fara Silver via Creative Commons.

One reason House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is tepid about impeachment is she's trying to keep her caucus focused on the issues that helped them flip the House in November, argues Martin Longman. If they turn all their focus to the president, they're not talking about health care, jobs, and better government. Besides, he adds, "Pelosi understands that if she acts like she wants something, that alone will make her less likely to get it."

In that regard, the sitting president is helping her by floating a budget voters will hate.

“We’ve lost the messaging battle on the issue”

Trump ran on protecting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (or are Republicans now calling it Socialist Security?) — without cuts. “Have to do it,” Donald Trump promised in 2015.

Priorities USA found in post-election polling that using cuts to Social Security and Medicare to pay for Trump's tax cuts topped the list of concerns of new Democratic voters and voters who voted Democrat in 2018 after supporting Trump in 2016.

An leaked internal GOP poll concurs, Bloomberg's Joshua Green reports:

That study, conducted in September for the Republican National Committee, found that Americans worried the tax law would prompt cuts in Social Security and Medicare, leading “most voters [to] believe that the GOP wants to cut back on these programs in order to provide tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.”
The Republican pollsters wrote to the RNC in a memo, “We’ve lost the messaging battle on the issue.” That was before November's blue tsunami.

Trump just made it worse.

His proposal to cut $845 billion from Medicare over 10 years, $241 billion from Medicaid, and $25 billion from Social Security is Paul Ryan’s "dream come true," write Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent:

Trump is seeking an additional $8.6 billion for his border wall — after making the election all about the border (he even sent in the military as a campaign prop) and after losing a government shutdown battle over this same topic, one in which majorities firmly sided with Democrats.

Trump is seeking to block-grant Medicaid, impose work requirements and zero out the Medicaid expansion — after an election in which Democrats routed Republicans in districts across the country by campaigning on a vow to protect Obamacare, which of course includes an open-ended expansion of Medicaid in states that have opted in.

And the Trump budget would make the tax cuts he signed permanent — after Republicans suffered a dramatic repudiation at the polls, despite their effort to sell those tax cuts as their primary accomplishment of the Trump era. Those tax cuts, of course, have led to an explosion of the deficit, repudiating GOP economic theory. Yet this budget only doubles down on that theory and the broader set of priorities embedded in it, deeply cutting spending to help fund tax cuts and his border wall, even as his budget would produce trillion-dollar deficits in coming years.

You might call him a slow learner.

Democrats for all

Meanwhile, the special counsel saga and impeachment rumors eclipse a string of Democratic proposals to enhance people's lives.

Where once Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) carried the Medicare-for-all banner, he is now playing catch-up. Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash.) Medicare-for-all bill has the support of 100 House Democrats and goes further than Sanders' original proposal:
Jayapal’s bill would provide everyone in the United States — including undocumented immigrants — with a full set of health benefits including dental care, long-term care and vision care, all services the Medicare program doesn’t currently cover. Patients wouldn’t be charged co-pays for doctor visits, nor would they have to meet a deductible before coverage kicked in.
Sanders is expected to present an update of his plan that brings it more in line with Jayapal's. Both agreed last week to add long-term supports and services (LTSS) for disabled Americans. Those features are already included in the "Medicare Extra for All" plan proposed in January by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)

Jayapal's bill overhauls the U.S. system so drastically, it is not likely to survive in its current form. More moderate Democrats advocate adding something like a public option to the Affordable Care Act. Nonetheless, strengthening consolidation behind fixing the broken, patchwork of private and public insurance is a sea change. But it's fighting for column inches with the scandal-a-day Trump circus and impeachment chatter. Good thing Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Happy π (Pi) Day: