Why is everyone debating Pete Buttigieg’s Medicare for All stance?

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Last night, Pete Buttigieg’s campaign sent out an email with a bold “FACT CHECK” noting that “Pete Buttigieg has been consistent on healthcare.”

It’s thrilling stuff from 2020’s most dynamic candidate. But the blast comes amid a fight percolating online between leftist organizers and Mayor Pete’s staff.

The whole online imbroglio began Monday when Justice Democrats, a leftist organization, released a video of Buttigieg calling for single-payer healthcare in February, followed by a video of him saying this month he didn’t think “Medicare for All” was the “right” thing to do.

Buttigieg, one of nearly two dozen Democrats seeking their party’s 2020 nomination, has both risen in polls and tacked center in a race with two prominent leftists at the top.

Buttigieg now has a plan he calls “Medicare for All Who Want It,” which, long name aside, is a Medicare buy-in. He argues that is part of a pathway to Medicare for All.

But the circulating clip seems to strongly contradict that, since he says he doesn’t believe it’s  “right” to tell Americans to leave their private insurers.

Critics also dug up an old Buttigieg tweet where he said he never opposed Medicare for All, which sure makes it sound like he had a firmer stance when he first entered the race.

Buttigieg, as he has risen, has been getting attacked for a move to the middle. At issue here is whether his idea of Medicare for All is really a pathway to single-payer or is ceding major ground in a fight he has no interest in winning.

Buttigieg’s team fought back against the circulating clips and accused them of being misleading. His people said Buttigieg has never changed his position but is offering practical solutions instead of pie-in-the-sky dreams.

So is it disingenuous to say that he’s changed his position on Medicare for all? Buttigieg’s site’s healthcare tab explains his position on Medicare for All Who Want It and says it will create “a natural glide-path to Medicare for All.” He was in favor of Medicare for All when it launched, but his current plan doesn’t aim nearly as high as progressives think it should.

Whether that’s a change in position or a technocratic solution to structural impediments, well, progressive would say that’s one and the same.

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David Covucci

David Covucci

David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]