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Elizabeth Warren Learns That Being a Front-Runner Isn’t All Fun and Games

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Elizabeth Warren made her debut as a Democratic front-runner at Tuesday’s debate, and it wasn’t her best performance. She wore a target, and many of her competitors came right at it. Warren needs some better answers — on Medicare for All, especially — but some of her thirsty rivals made themselves look bad, too, so she survived.

Call me a nitpicker, but I continue to believe Warren has to acknowledge that her Medicare for All plan will raise taxes even on middle class people. She can quickly explain that away by showing how much less such folks will pay, overall, in medical expenses. Warren backers I respect love to see her thumb her nose at MSM nostrums like this — and they could be right. But her refusal to admit the tax increase that even Senator Bernie Sanders acknowledges — and hell, she’s supporting Bernie’s bill! — is starting to make her look dodgy.

Warren began her explanation of Medicare for All by saying “Let me be clear.” So far so good: “Let me be clear on this: costs will go up on the wealthy, they will go up for corporations, and costs on the middle class will go down.”

I know all of that is true, but she was asked about taxes.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg came after the Massachusetts senator for dodging the raising-taxes issue, which he called “a yes or no question that didn’t get a yes or no answer. Look, this is why people here in the Midwest are so frustrated with Washington in general and Capitol Hill in particular. Your signature, senator, is to have a plan for everything. Except this.”

Warren got a break there, given that Mayor Pete, who’s raising Warren-sized money without garnering Warren-sized support in the polls, or delivering Warren-sized ideas to solve our problems, did a smarmy job coming after her. He’s the purveyor of “Medicare for all who want it,” which Warren correctly lambastes as “for all who can afford it.” 

Then Senator Bernie Sanders, who arguably had the best night, came in to change the focus: “At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of people will save money on their health care bills.” Whew, if you’re Warren. Or maybe not.

“But I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up. They’re going to go up significantly for the wealthy. And for virtually everybody, the tax increase they pay will be substantially less – substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out-of-pocket [expenses].”

Hmmm. Maybe that didn’t help Warren so much.

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