If the 2020 presidential campaign illustrates anything so far, it’s the yawning chasm between Democrats’ rhetoric and their reality. Not only do the party’s presidential candidates not practice what they preach, they seemingly have little shame in failing to do so.
Last Thursday evening, one of the candidates running for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), appeared on CNN for a town hall discussion. During the discussion, Bennet criticized his fellow senator and presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), for his single-payer health-care plan.
Following the forum, the press dutifully reported on Bennet’s criticisms. But they did not go further, and ask one fundamental question behind Bennet’s attack: Why has someone who claims he wants to build on Obamacare not signed up for Obamacare coverage himself?
Qualifies for Obamacare Subsidy, Yet Won’t Buy a Plan
In his town hall comments, Bennet claimed that “what we would be better off doing in order to get to universal health care quickly is to finish the job we started with” Obamacare:
Sen. Michael Bennet says Sen. Bernie Sanders is "wrong to propose" Medicare for All because it would eliminate the role of private insurers. "I think what we should do is give American people a choice,” he says. #CNNTownHall https://t.co/b1WYiUadVn pic.twitter.com/B7iGlR3h31
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) May 31, 2019
Yet consider this paragraph from Bennet’s op-ed the week previously, in which he outlined health care, and his recent prostate cancer diagnosis, as the reason for announcing his candidacy: “My cancer was treatable because it was detected through preventive care. The $94,000 bill didn’t bankrupt my family because I had insurance through my wife’s employer” (emphasis mine).
Anyone notice a slight contradiction between those two statements?
Remember: The federal Office of Personnel Management promulgated an arguably illegal rule in October 2013 that makes members of Congress eligible for subsidies for Obamacare coverage. Yet even with access to these illegal subsidies, Bennet has no interest in buying an Obamacare plan. That might be because he knows—as I do by being forced onto an exchange plan—that these Obamacare plans are junk insurance, with high premiums, high deductibles, and in many cases poor access to physician networks.
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Some may argue that because Bennet does not support Sanders’s single-payer proposal, at least he will not force others to give up their health coverage (even as he refuses to go on to Obamacare). But in 2009, one analysis of a government-run “public option,” which Bennet supports as an alternative to single-payer, concluded that it would lead to a reduction in private insurance coverage of 119.1 million people. This would shrink the employer-provided insurance market by more than half.
Even Bennet’s “moderate” proposal could lead to many millions of Americans immediately losing the coverage they have if employers drop coverage en masse. Yet will Bennet give up his employer coverage and go on to Obamacare? Not a chance.
Upon reading Bennet’s op-ed, I immediately noticed the contradiction between his rhetoric and practices with respect to his own health insurance:
— Chris Jacobs (@chrisjacobsHC) May 20, 2019
Yet to the best of my knowledge, few (if any) reporters have asked Bennet—let alone the myriad other Democratic presidential candidates—whether they purchase exchange coverage.
Some may question why I write about this topic so often. After all, if every member of Congress, or every Democratic presidential candidate, suddenly decided to sign up for Obamacare, it wouldn’t significantly affect the exchange’s overall premiums and coverage numbers. But lawmakers’ coverage decisions have outsized importance because they reveal their true motivations.
To many Democrats, the issue isn’t about health care so much as it is about power and how to seize it from the American people. If liberals really believed their own rhetoric about fairness and access to health care, they would gladly sign up for Obamacare coverage, even if it cost them a little bit more in premiums. To his credit, Barack Obama signed up for an Obamacare plan in 2013, paying thousands of dollars in premiums out of his own pocket, even though as president the military provided all his health care free of charge.
Obama’s action, however, represents the exception that proves the rule. Instead, liberals want to order other people to buy Obamacare health insurance while not doing so themselves. They epitomize Ronald Reagan’s 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing,” in which he referred to a “little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital,” who believe they “can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
By promising to expand Obamacare even as he fails to enroll in it himself, Bennet demonstrated himself part and parcel of that “little intellectual elite.” So have his fellow Democratic presidential candidates. Americans should take note—and vote accordingly next November.