Forcing people off private health insurance and requiring taxpayers to wipe out student-loan debt for others — after they’ve sacrificed and strived to retire their own college costs and boost their insurance plans, often over decades — is a losing prescription in the White House race, Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney said Saturday in Guthrie County.
A former Maryland congressman, who has favored old-school, town-hall meetings in Iowa over fevered Twitter posts and emotional viral send-ups, Delaney issued his most urgent warning to fellow Democrats who want hundreds of millions of dollars in student loan forgiveness.
“You’ll buy a bunch of millenial votes in the primary, but you’ll lose the general election on that issue,” Delaney said.
Delaney, who is positioning himself as a solutions-oriented, middle-of-the-road Oval Office aspirant, spoke to about 30 people at the Panorama West Golf Course and Clubhouse less than 48 hours after completion of a two-tiered, two-day Democratic debate last week.
“I don’t want to be your president just to be your president,” Delaney said. “I want to be your president to do the job.”
In many ways, Delaney said, the key question in the 24-candidate primary-and-caucuses field, the nominating process for Democrats, is who is best prepared to take on GOP President Donald Trump.
It’s by capturing voters in the middle, Delaney said.
“The Republicans are going to put up big numbers and we’re going to put up big numbers,” he said.
Delaney said proposals from other Democrats to eliminate college loans aren’t going to find a receptive general-election audience, especially among those living with student debt of their own who think, “I just busted my butt for the last 20 years, and I just paid off my student loans. I feel like a fool.”
Similarly, killing private insurance, which millions of Americans view as essential in their lives, is a big mistake, Delaney said.
“Medicare for all, I think it’s dangerous,” he said.
Take private insurance away and “we’re going to lose to Donald Trump by 10 points,” Delaney said.
Delaney advocates universal health coverage, and his plan, which he calls “Better Care,” would keep Medicare intact and automatically enroll people in a government plan but allow those who want private insurance to opt out with a tax credit.
Warren Varley, a Stuart attorney and 2018 Democratic Statehouse candidate, noted that Des Moines is home to major insurance operations.
“We’re not going to win by being the party of big government,” Varley said.
On education, Delaney advocates guaranteed community college, a new PreK-14 system of publicly funded education, and he would provide access to bankruptcy for certain people who cannot pay off student loans.
Delaney also proposes making most bachelor degrees obtainable in three years, essential shifting the concept of college from four years to three years. That would cut costs and direct students toward learning plans that lead to jobs more quickly, he said.
One big-vision idea Delaney described: Investing heavily in negative emissions technology — devices that capture carbon from the air — and creating a throughway near existing utilities, to move carbon to places where it can be disposed of or used for energy production, all the while attacking climate change and boosting rural economies with better jobs.
“You’ll create literally hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Delaney said.
Near the end of the 90-minute Panorama event, Delaney responded to a question about President Trump’s use of the social-media platform Twitter. Will Delaney tweet if elected?
“I’ll tweet with dignity,” he said.