Column: The 2020 Election Conundrum


Who Will Represent the Vast Center of American Society?

By Patricia Chadwick

Watching the twenty plus Democratic candidates debating on back to back nights in late July, I found it almost comical to observe how most of the them appeared to be in a mad scramble to outrank each other as the “most left wing liberal of the moment”.

The Federal Government was offered up as the solution for all social issues – from health care to the cost of education to the environment, while whole industries that employ millions of American workers were castigated as though they were a national enemy.

Given that most of the candidates had at least one graduate degree, it was puzzling – and downright disconcerting – that they seemed entirely ignorant of that sound economic concept known as cost-benefit analysis.

And then from amongst their midst came a solo voice of reason – a relative newbie to the game of high stakes politics – the recent U. S. Congressman from Maryland – John Delaney.

He was certainly not a household name, but he stood out in the crowd (at least he did to me) because of his common sense attitude to addressing complex issues, his ability to espouse centrist themes in a field of candidates who were relishing their status as near socialists, and his willingness to challenge positions espoused by fellow candidates.

A case in point was the discussion on health care, in which nearly every candidate was a standard bearer for “Medicare for All”. John Delaney boldly pushed back with this memorable statement, “I think we should be the party that keeps what’s working and fixes what’s broken.”

The Congressman then cogently argued that many of the health care options available in this country are far superior to Medicare. He had done his homework and was able point out that every hospital administrator in this country admitted that it would have to shut down if its bills were reimbursed at the Medicare rate.

He could have gone on to remind the candidates, particularly those who are over 66 years old and enrolled in the Medicare system, that every Medicare recipient is obligated to purchase supplemental PRIVATE insurance. 

Delaney knew something about the health care industry, unlike most of his confreres on the stage, because he had been a co-founder of a company that helped to finance small health care service providers. He understood small business, the backbone of American enterprise, because he was CEO of CapitalSource, a firm that provided capital to thousands of small and medium-sized companies across the country. 

Watching television alone on that evening of debate, I found myself cheering out loud and making a mental note that, Democrat or Republican, John Delaney was my kind of candidate!

His biography is impressive. From humble beginnings, the son of a union member electrician, and through dint of hard work, John Delaney became a highly successful businessman before he turned 40.

I wonder how many Americans realize that more than 150 million people living in this country get their private healthcare through a benefit plan offered by their employer. Such plans provide an egalitarian approach to health care – from the lowest paid to the highest paid, all are covered with the same benefits. In some cases, the higher paid employees will pay a larger share of the premiums, but the benefits are applied equally to all.

The primary beneficiaries of the elimination of such privately provided health care would be the corporations themselves, who would be off the hook. Eight years or so ago, when the prior administration announced that it would set a date by which it would levy a 40% “Cadillac” tax on private health care benefit plans that it – the Government in its ‘wisdom’ – deemed to be too lucrative to employees, many companies jumped the gun and took the opportunity to reduce their health care benefits. There were two beneficiaries of that action – the employer, which was able to reduce its premiums, and the insurance company which reduced its liability. The losers were the employees who were left with a reduced benefit.

Two months ago, that “Cadillac” tax was repealed almost unanimously by the Democrat-led House of Representatives. Ironically, the Republican-led Senate has yet to follow suit. 

Sadly, John Delaney will not be on the debate stage in September. It’s a crying shame because we all know that once the Democratic Presidential candidate is chosen, he or she will be making a mad dash to the center of the see saw during the general election campaign and will most likely be plagiarizing Delaney’s very words.

The vast majority of the electorate in this country are pragmatists who are tired of watching Government work in its own interest rather than for the common good.

For my part, come November, I will vote for whichever candidate convinces me that he or she can:

– Reach across the aisle, engage in compromise, and work collaboratively with both parties in Congress. 

– Respect that the role of the Executive branch of our Government is to enforce the laws, not to “de facto” create law through executive action.

I hope I won’t be forced to vote for a candidate who has no chance of winning.

Patricia Chadwick is a businesswoman and an author. She recently published Little Sister, a memoir about her unusual childhood growing up in a cult. Learn more at www.patriciachadwick.com.

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