Politics & Government

When he got a word in debate, John Delaney knocked Medicare for all, backed carbon tax

“We’ll get to you in just a minute, Congressman Delaney.”

It was a refrain that was repeated several times during Wednesday’s Democratic debate in Miami, where former Maryland Rep. John Delaney had to share the stage with nine other candidates and jockey with them to answer to questions. By the end of the night, he spoke for about 6 1/2 minutes, the third least amount of time of the 10 candidates.

When Delaney, 56, could get a word in, he kept bringing the conversation back to a central theme of his campaign: solving the country’s problems with a practical, bipartisan spirit that focuses on policies that lie left of center — but not too far left.

If you asked him, it’s less of a left-right issue than it is about being pragmatic and balancing the ledger.

“We need real solutions, not impossible promises,” said Delaney, the businessman who has built his wealth after co-founding two publicly traded companies that financed small and midsize businesses before he was elected to Congress.

Despite his limited allotment, he managed to get a few moments to make his case: He favors universal healthcare, but not “Medicare for all.” He wants a “BetterCare” system, where all Americans under 65 have a right to a government healthcare insurance plan, but not without the option to purchase a private plan.

He had indicated he would be breaking apart from several of his fellow Democrats on this issue, hammering home that while he wants to provide universal coverage, he wants to achieve that through a hybrid model that still includes private plans.

“My dad was a union electrician. The [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers] got him great health insurance,” Delaney told reporters after the debate. “If I would have told my dad that I’m running on kicking him off his healthcare, he would’ve thrown me out of the room.”

He pledged to decouple healthcare from employment. He said his $5 trillion plan would be paid for by eliminating Affordable Care Act subsidies and taking away the corporate deductibility of healthcare.

On the economy, he presented a threefold platform — a higher minimum wage, paid family leave and doubling the current earned income tax credit.

“The problem right now is not jobs,” he said after the debate. “It’s pay. There’s a bunch of jobs — you could always have more — though unemployment’s low. But so many of them pay too little.”

He managed to squeeze in one distinguishing element of his plan for dealing with climate change — a carbon tax. His plan calls for a tax on carbon polluters and returning the money to U.S. taxpayers to offset higher energy bills.

The through line on his proposals: Making policy decisions that Americans can actually pay for.

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