Reporter tells Biden he sounds "like Trump” after Democrat claims media is wrong about Ocasio-Cortez

Biden said Democrats do not want Medicare for All, but polls show support from 77 percent of Democrats

By Igor Derysh

Senior News Editor

Published December 6, 2019 5:05PM (EST)

Joe Biden; Donald Trump (Getty/Photo Montage by Salon)
Joe Biden; Donald Trump (Getty/Photo Montage by Salon)

Former Vice President Joe Biden dismissed the influence of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., as he insisted that the Democratic Party is more aligned with his policies than progressive reforms like Medicare for All.

Biden has positioned himself as a moderate in the Democratic Party race, frequently criticizing proposals like Medicare for All and occasionally pushing false and misleading talking points to dismiss the plans.

Biden doubled down on his position in an interview with Axios set to air Sunday on HBO, arguing that his position is more in line with party members than those taken by progressives like Ocasio-Cortez.

“Medicare for All — do you think that’s political suicide?” reporter Mike Allen asked Biden in an excerpt from the interview that was published Friday.

“The party’s not there,” Biden replied. “The party’s not there at all.”

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s polling, 77 percent of Democrats support a Medicare for All plan, while 88 percent support a public option, which Biden has called for. Other polls have also shown that Medicare for All has majority support among Democrats, even if more voters support the public option.

"You know the numbers,” Biden told Allen, ignoring the numbers showing strong support for the program he has repeatedly criticized.

“You guys got it all wrong about what happened,” Biden told the reporter. “You all thought that what happened was the party moved extremely to the left after Hillary. AOC was the new party. She’s a bright, wonderful person. But where’s the party? Come on, man.”

“You sound like Trump,” Allen told Biden. “Fake news.”

“Yeah, I do,” Biden replied. “No, it’s not fake. It’s just bad judgment.”

Biden has made this criticism of Ocasio-Cortez before.

“I think Ocasio-Cortez is a brilliant, bright woman, but she won a primary. In the general election fights, who won? Mainstream Democrats who are very progressive on social issues and very strong on education and healthcare,” Biden told CNN in July.

"Look, it's center-left, that's where I am,” Biden said of the Democratic Party. “Where it's not is way left."

While Biden continues to lead in national polls, candidates pushing Medicare for All plans like Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., receive a larger combined share of the vote in nearly every survey. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released this week showed that voters believe that Biden has the best chance to defeat Trump but trails Sanders by a wide margin when it comes to healthcare.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll released in August showed that 65 percent of Democratic primary voters said they would be more likely to support a candidate who backs Medicare for All over incremental improvements to Obamacare, which Biden has proposed.

A Politico/Harvard University poll published earlier this year showed that 84 percent of Democrats believe that "providing health insurance coverage for everyone through a taxpayer-funded national plan like Medicare For All" should "be an extremely important priority."

While Biden continues to push the talking point that Medicare for All is too far left for the Democratic Party, the majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives have signed on to a Medicare for All bill introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., earlier this year. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, has said she is “not a big fan of Medicare for All.”

"There are improvements that can be made once you see the implementation of legislation, so I would rather call for health care for all Americans," Pelosi said at a CNN town hall on Thursday. "As we improve the Affordable Care Act, it may lead to Medicare for All."

But proponents of Medicare for All have long argued that Obamacare did not go nearly far enough, especially given that some states have opted out of the program’s Medicaid expansion and the dramatic increase in deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for plans on the healthcare exchange website.

A United Kingdom news outlet asked Brits this week if they would support opening up the British market, where residents are covered by single-payer health insurance akin to Medicare for All proposals, to American healthcare companies in trade negotiations between the U.S. and the U.K. British residents were shocked to find out how much healthcare costs in the U.S. nearly a decade after Obamacare was passed.

The Brits in the video were stunned to learn that an ambulance call in the U.S. can cost $2,500, an Epi-Pen could cost more than $600, giving birth at a hospital can cost $10,000, and an inhaler can cost $300.

“For an inhaler? Man, so if you’re poor you’re dead,” one woman said. “If you don’t have money, you’re fudged.”

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's senior news editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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