Sen. Elizabeth Warren admitted last Friday that she had made a colossal, potentially fatal, campaign error—and immediately proceeded to make it worse. If the Warren presidential bid flops, this will be the moment to mark.
That admission didn’t come in so many words. It came instead in the form of a major update to Ms. Warren’s Medicare for All plan. The Massachusetts senator now proposes a two-year “transition” period, in which Americans would be able to opt in to Medicare. Put another way, Ms. Warren now calls for the same sort of public option as her “moderate” competitors. She says that she will wait until the third year of her presidency to abolish private insurance.
Her defenders are putting the best spin on this move—declaring her “two step” process a means of getting more government insurance to more people faster. In reality, it’s a wholesale abandonment of the risky Medicare for All plan that she unveiled only a few weeks ago—a plan so expensive, so convoluted and so draconian that it worried even her most fervent supporters.
The precise origin of this debacle was the moment in the first June Democratic debate when Ms. Warren announced she was “with Bernie”—Sen. Sanders of Vermont—on Medicare for All. Up to that point, she had afforded herself wiggle room, saying that she believed in a government-run system but stressing that there were many different “paths” for getting there. Her desire in that debate to keep pace with Mr. Sanders opened her up to relentless demands that she explain how her own plan would work. How could the woman who “has a plan” for everything speak in vague generalities about health care?