The Tennessee Democratic Party recently passed resolutions supporting “Medicare for All,” a $15 minimum wage and medical marijuana.
The resolutions reflect the state party’s lurch to the left. They were passed by the executive committee Oct. 28 and detailed in a Nov. 2 news release.
“Medicare for All” is a movement led by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressives that would nationalize health care.
“Too many Tennessee families cannot take their children to the doctor when they are sick because they can’t afford insurance,” said Will T. Cheek, a Democratic National Committee executive committee member from Nashville, in the news release. “Eight rural hospitals have closed since 2010 in Tennessee leaving entire communities with no emergency care. Tennessee Democrats are making it clear the priority has to be solving these problems and ensuring that health care is guaranteed to everyone and ‘Medicare for All’ does exactly that.”
However, Steven Rattner, a Wall Street executive who advised the treasury secretary under former President Obama, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times Oct. 24 saying that supporting “Medicare for All” would be a mistake for Democrats. Rattner wrote:
As a centrist Democrat, I’m scared to see my party pulled into positions that are both bad politics and dubious policy. And I’m disappointed that few of our party’s moderates are willing to resist the freight train coming at us from the left…
Privately, many moderate Democratic senators are harshly critical of Sanders’s tactics. ‘It’s radioactive for me,’ one Democrat facing re-election in 2018 told me.
But publicly, even Democratic senators who have declined to endorse Medicare for All have done so in measured terms to avoid antagonizing the progressives…
Our model of democratic capitalism has stood us well for more than two centuries; now is not the time to embrace the kinds of ideas, often involving deep government economic intervention, that have often fallen short elsewhere, notably in much of Europe.
On present course and speed, we can take back the House of Representatives in 2018 and defeat President Trump in 2020 – unless we Democrats do something stupid, like nominating candidates from the fringe of our party.
Support for a $15 minimum wage is a position that has gained traction among progressives, but is seen as problematic among many Republicans, who say higher labor costs would lead to fewer jobs.
Medical marijuana is being studied by the state legislature. Many conservatives are adamantly opposed or have serious reservations, but some are open to moving in that direction. House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), who is running for governor, has said she is open to discussing medical marijuana because of an injury her sister suffered.
Tennessee Democratic Party committeeman Gary Blackburn pointed to “a growing body of a research about the benefits of medical uses of marijuana, including for the treatment of chronic pain.”
“At this moment, when legal opioids have created an epidemic that is devastating our communities, giving doctors any other options seems like a good idea,” Blackburn said.
Critics, however, say the benefits of medical marijuana are overstated and that it is often an attempt to eventually allow recreational marijuana use.