Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is calling on Democrats to embrace a single-payer healthcare system in order to win back Congress and the White House in upcoming elections.
Warren argued that simply blocking the Republican rollback of the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, is not enough to distinguish Democrats from their GOP counterparts in the minds of voters.
"It's time for the next step. And the next step is single payer." —Sen. Elizabeth Warren
"President Obama tried to move us forward with health-care coverage," Warren said, "by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts. Now it's time for the next step. And the next step is single payer."
While putting pressure on her Democratic colleagues, Warren is also traveling this week to communities that supported Trump in the last election—connecting with working- and middle-class voters as the president's party attempts to push through the new Senate healthcare bill which would end health coverage for 22 million Americans by 2026. Speaking to a crowd of about 500—including some who traveled from New Hampshire—in the economically distressed city of Lowell, Massachusetts, Warren said,
"We talk about how the middle class has just taken one punch after another for nearly 40 years now. Understand that Donald Trump and these Republican majorities are poised to deliver the knockout blow."
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While the city of Lowell voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, Trump carried four of the five other towns in the area. He also won 60 percent of the vote in the Republican primary, against four other contenders.
Warren is planning more town hall meetings and events throughout her state's pro-Trump areas, to deliver a clear message in support of progressive issues that she says many residents support, despite their 2016 votes. In addition to attacking the Republican healthcare bill in Lowell, she spoke about raising the minimum wage, forgiving student loan debt, and cracking down on the for-profit college industry—issues that she insists are popular with many working Americans.
"The progressive agenda is America's agenda," she told the Journal. "It’s not like we’re trying to sell stuff that people don’t want…It's not that at all. It's that we haven’t gotten up there and been as clear about our values as we should be, or as clear and concrete about how we're going to get there."
Meanwhile, Republicans appear to be poised for a fight with Warren in 2018 and 2020, although she refuses to say whether she's planning to run in the Presidential election. The Republican opposition research group America Rising has called her "a major priority" and has launched a project called The Elizabeth Warren Initiative, with the stated goal of "making Warren's life difficult during her 2018 Senate re-election contest."
But in light of the recent news about the huge loss of coverage that would result from the Senate healthcare bill, Warren seems focused on offering working voters a clear alternative to the GOP’s agenda.