Mark my words: if Brian Schweitzer runs for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, he will do exceptionally well. Michael Warren’s profile of Schweitzer in the Weekly Standard helps illustrate why. Consider that though Howard Dean was widely regarded as a moderate governor of Vermont, his forceful opposition to the Iraq war helped him vault to prominence as a champion of the Democratic left. Schweitzer has moderate bona fides as well — his defense of gun rights, his entrepreneurial bent, the emphasis he placed on tax cuts and spending restraint as governor — yet he is also a populist who championed causes like the re-importation of prescription drugs from Canada.
The reason I think Schweitzer could shake up the race is that, as Warren notes, he has been a consistent critic of Obamacare from the left:
So what are Schweitzer’s progressive bona fides? For one thing, he has no patience for Democratic third way-ism on economic issues. It’s the perspective that prompts him to refer to Obama’s presidency as corporatist. He criticizes Obamacare from the left, blaming fellow Montanan Max Baucus (the chairman of the Senate committee responsible for drafting much of the law) for allowing special interests to influence the bill. “This bill, which was written by the insurance company and pharmaceutical lobbyists, doesn’t challenge the expenses,” Schweitzer tells me. “Why would it? If you’re in the business, and you get to write the bill, what are you going to do?”
His own national health care reform would “fit on the back of an envelope.” Explaining the whole thing takes him half an hour. (“Am I boring you yet?” he asks around minute 25.) At the center of his proposal is allowing citizens below the retirement age to enroll in Medicare, forcing private insurers to compete against the government rate.
“As you probably recall . . . most Democrats were calling for a public option. . . . But what came out of the Senate Finance Committee did not have a public option,” Schweitzer says, blaming health insurance lobbyists and their enablers in both parties. “We now have the corporate party and the corporate-lite party.” [Emphasis added]