Pete Buttigieg Attacks His Top Rivals On Health Care Just Before Tuesday Night Debate

Pete Buttigieg Attacks His Top Rivals On Health Care Just Before Tuesday Night Debate

WESTERVILLE, Ohio – South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg released new ads targeting his fellow White House rivals just hours before tonight’s Democratic primary debate. The new digital ad campaign takes aim at Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont by name criticizing their proposals to provide “Medicare for All” as too extreme.

“Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren believe that we have to force ourselves into Medicare for All, where private insurance is abolished,” the ad shows CNN’s Joe Lockhart declaring.

The ads, titled “Makes More Sense,” showcases the Indiana mayor’s more slowly socialist approach to health policy. Buttigieg would allow Americans to sign up for a government plan but not make it mandatory, allowing private insurance to exist instead of immediately banning it, like “Medicare for All” would.

Contrasting Buttigieg’s claims, however, a study has found that “within one short year, a government-run health plan would eliminate the private coverage of 119.1 million individuals—two-thirds of those with employer-provided insurance.” That’s because government can force taxpayers to pay the costs for people on its plan and thus offer below-market rates that will quickly bankrupt competing private health insurers and make government-run care the only option relatively quickly.

“Mayor Pete said, ‘Medicare for all who want it.’ That’s a much better formulation,” CNN political commentator Van Jones is shown praising in Buttigieg’s ad.

“The ad highlights Pete’s bold approach to health care would not kick millions of people off their private health care, and would give them the option to choose the plan that’s right for their them,” Buttigieg’s campaign said in a press release.

Buttigieg’s plan, dubbed “Medicare for All Who Want It,” might seem moderate compared to an immediate government takeover, as Sanders and Warren are advocating, but is still radical, involving another dramatic expansion of the government’s interference in health care along with a claimed $1.5 trillion price tag for the first ten years. Even that $1.5 trillion is a fraction of the $32 trillion health plans put out by Sanders and Warren over the next decade.

On Sunday, Buttigieg, who is gay, also took aim at former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke’s extreme statements during CNN’s town hall on LGBT issues. O’Rourke demanded the government revoke tax exemptions for organizations that refuse to support same-sex marriage, including churches.

“Do you think religious institutions, like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?” CNN’s Don Lemon asked during the primetime event.

“Yes,” O’Rourke said without skipping a beat. “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone, or any institution, any organization in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us.”

During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, Buttigieg branded the proposal as divisive while supporting its legal underpinnings.

“I think that’s just going to deepen the divisions that we’re already experiencing,” Buttigieg said.

“I agree that anti-discrimination law ought to be applied to all institutions,” Buttigieg said on CNN’s State of The Union. “But the idea that you’re going to strip churches of their tax exempt status if they haven’t found their way towards blessing same-sex marriage, I’m not sure [O’Rourke] understood the implications of what he was saying.”

Buttigieg, a mayor of a minor city in the Midwest who also ran to chair the Democratic National Committee, has surprised many by beating prominent Democratic power players to qualify for every Democratic debate so far this election cycle. Buttigieg will appear alongside 11 other top Democratic contenders Tuesday night at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio for the fourth primetime primary debate.

Cindy Baumgartner, a Westerville resident, said Buttigieg is currently her number one candidate because of his intellect. Buttigieg speaks seven foreign languages including Norwegian, Arabic, Spanish, Maltese, Dari, French, and Italian, and claims degrees from Harvard and Oxford universities.

“I feel like he’s a fixer,” Baumgartner said, but cautioned that she is concerned about Buttigieg’s vulnerability in the race with dismal support among African-Americans in a primary where support among this key voting bloc is a must-have for any viable Democrat. Baumgartner added that she was optimistic about Buttigieg’s ability to confront his lack of African-American support, but was otherwise discouraged by the overall Democratic field.

Tristan Justice is a staff writer at The Federalist focusing on the 2020 presidential campaigns. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at [email protected]
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