The Corner

Politics & Policy

Biden Hits His Rivals from the Right on Health Care

Joe Biden joins Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on a campaign stop in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2019. (Kyle Grillot/Reuters)

Of the four top candidates for the Democratic nomination — Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren — Biden is the only one who has not come out for outlawing most private health insurance. But you didn’t see him defend that position or criticize his rivals over it during last week’s debate. Apparently he wasn’t willing to take the risk of explicitly taking on the left wing of the party on the issue, even when a significant number of Democrats and most of the general public is on his side.

Now he’s taking that risk. In a CNN interview he criticized single payer: [I]f they like their employer-based insurance, which a lot of unions broke their neck to get, a lot of people like theirs, they shouldn’t have to give it up. He also differentiated himself from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, suggesting (accurately) that the Democratic candidates who gave the party a House majority last November are to her right.

He staked out more centrist territory than some of his rivals on immigration, too, declaring himself against the decriminalization of illegal immigration. (He may also be trying to reposition himself on health coverage for illegal immigrants by making a distinction between emergency care, which he supports and has been legally mandatory for decades, and taxpayer-provided insurance, which he may not support; but the transcript leaves his thinking on this issue unclear.)

But Biden took one position on health care that might not go over with the public. He wants to bring back the individual mandate. He says it would be popular compared to what’s being offered. Whether he meant it would be popular compared to single payer or President Trump’s health care policies or both, I’m not sure.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Tired of ‘Winning’ Yet?

I’ve never really thought of Mark Steyn as a Palestinian suicide bomber before. You’ll want some context. Steyn, a wonderful writer and former National Review colleague, was filling in for Rush Limbaugh a few weeks ago, and he made the case for using antitrust law to bully technology platforms such as ... Read More

Tired of ‘Winning’ Yet?

I’ve never really thought of Mark Steyn as a Palestinian suicide bomber before. You’ll want some context. Steyn, a wonderful writer and former National Review colleague, was filling in for Rush Limbaugh a few weeks ago, and he made the case for using antitrust law to bully technology platforms such as ... Read More

The Need to Discuss Black-on-Black Crime

Thomas Abt’s book Bleeding Out (2019) has garnered a fair amount of attention for its proposals to deal with gun violence in mainly black urban neighborhoods. The entire focus of the book is on interventions in high-crime locations to stem the violence, including: hot-spots policing, working with young males at ... Read More

The Need to Discuss Black-on-Black Crime

Thomas Abt’s book Bleeding Out (2019) has garnered a fair amount of attention for its proposals to deal with gun violence in mainly black urban neighborhoods. The entire focus of the book is on interventions in high-crime locations to stem the violence, including: hot-spots policing, working with young males at ... Read More

Jason Isbell’s Alt-Alt-Country Masterpiece

There has long been a chasmic disconnect between the creators and the consumers of Americana music. The Americana songwriter still wants to be Woody Guthrie, but the Americana listener stopped being Tom Joad about 60 years ago. Americana — or alt-country, or folk, or whatever we’re calling it this week — ... Read More

Jason Isbell’s Alt-Alt-Country Masterpiece

There has long been a chasmic disconnect between the creators and the consumers of Americana music. The Americana songwriter still wants to be Woody Guthrie, but the Americana listener stopped being Tom Joad about 60 years ago. Americana — or alt-country, or folk, or whatever we’re calling it this week — ... Read More

Protesting Works. Rioting Doesn’t.

The tragic death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis has set off massive protests in the city and elsewhere. The protesters point to a video in which a police officer uses his knee to restrain Floyd, applying pressure to his neck for several minutes, as Floyd protests that he can’t breathe. This will ... Read More

Protesting Works. Rioting Doesn’t.

The tragic death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis has set off massive protests in the city and elsewhere. The protesters point to a video in which a police officer uses his knee to restrain Floyd, applying pressure to his neck for several minutes, as Floyd protests that he can’t breathe. This will ... Read More