A new CNN poll released this week suggests that the issue that is most important to voters is not the economy, nor immigration, but health care.
Even among Republicans, the poll notes, a full 48% said that Pelosi’s potential return as Speaker of the House — where she governed disastrously from 2007-11 — was “not that important.”
CNN may not be the most reliable source, and a recent Gallup poll put health care far down the list of “non-economic problems.” (Immigration was the number-one most important issue, Gallup found.)
But Obamacare premiums are expected to rise again next year, eating into the windfall that many families might otherwise have enjoyed due to the Republican tax cuts.
Democrats are taking full advantage. Every Democrat who has won a special election has focused on one of two issues — and sometimes both: they have opposed electing Pelosi as Speaker, and they have promised to spend more on health care.
In a midterm election that has tended to avoid issues in favor of debates about President Trump, one clear policy idea has emerged: namely, “Medicare for All.”
“Medicare for All” — a liberal euphemism for what conservatives call “socialized medicine” — is estimated to cost more than $3 trillion per year, almost what the entire federal budget is today.
It is such a spectacularly impractical idea that even California’s Democratic Speaker of the Assembly, Anthony Rendon (D-Los Angeles), blocked a vote on a similar bill last year when the price tag reached $400 billion — more than double the existing stage budget in one of the nation’s highest-taxed states.
As Rendon put it a the time, “[The bill] does not address many serious issues, such as financing, delivery of care, cost controls or the realities of needed action by the Trump administration and voters to make [this] a genuine piece of legislation.”
In other words: where’s the money?
No one knows, not even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who avoids questions about how much “Medicare for All” will cost federal taxpayers by pointing out all the other things the federal government pays for without having the money.
Still, it is a compelling idea. And Republicans, thus far, have not proposed an alternative.
President Trump likes to boast that he has, effectively, repealed Obamacare. And Congress did repeal the individual mandate, the most constitutionally offensive part of Obamacare. The Trump administration has also issued a slew of executive orders to help individuals find work-arounds, like short-term insurance plans, that were previously restricted by the Obama administration.
But Republicans have failed to replace Obamacare with anything. The Senate infamously failed to pass a House bill last year that, however flawed, was a step in the right direction. And Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) returned to Capitol Hill from medical treatment to perform his infamous “thumbs-down” vote against a narrower bill.
After that failure, Republican leaders have been AWOL on the issue. Democrats have filled that vacuum by telling voters that the GOP would prefer to get rid of their health insurance altogether.
Democrats broke the health care system — perhaps deliberately, in a “Trojan Horse” effort to make socialized medicine the only alternative. Still, voters may trust them more than Republicans simply because the GOP is not even talking about what it wants to do. Republicans are not showing that they care about the health care costs hitting working families — many of which provided the key votes in Trump’s 2016 victory.
If they want to hold onto Congress, and fulfill the promise of that extraordinary election, Republicans have to find a coherent healthcare policy — and quickly.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.