'In a span of less than twenty minutes, while facing a decidedly friendly and nonconfrontational interviewer, Biden offered some clue as to why he’s maintained such a low profile this past week despite having recovered his status as the race’s front-runner. The first real sign of trouble came a few minutes in, when O’Donnell asked about Medicare For All:
Let’s flash forward, you’re president. Bernie Sanders is still active in the Senate, he manages to get Medicare for All through the Senate in some compromise version, Elizabeth Warren’s version or other version. Nancy Pelosi gets a version of it through the House of Representatives. It comes to your desk, do you veto it?
Somehow, Biden managed to summon a response even worse than the more familiar kind of Democratic triangulation: the former vice president answered in the affirmative. In O’Donnell’s hypothetical scenario, he would veto Medicare for All:
I would veto anything that delays providing the security and the certainty of health care being available now. If they got that through and by some miracle there was an epiphany that occurred and some miracle occurred that said “okay, it’s passed,” then you gotta look at the cost. I want to know, how did they find $35 trillion? What is that doing? Is it gonna significantly raise taxes on the middle class, which it will? What’s gonna happen?
It was an extraordinary answer given the premise of the question. Centrist Democrats usually have enough sense to cloak their ideological opposition to Medicare For All in the language of pragmatism. Not Biden, who was effectively saying he would veto Medicare For All even if it somehow did pass the House and Senate.
Having offered this answer, Biden proceeded to catch himself somewhat — pivoting to more familiar talking points about cost:
Look, my opposition isn’t to the principle that you should have Medicare. Everybody, health care should be a right in America. My opposition relates to whether or not, a, it’s doable, and, two, what the cost is and what the consequences to the rest of the budget are. How are going to find $35 trillion over the next ten years without having profound impacts on everything from taxes for middle-class, working-class people, as well as the impact on the rest of the budget.
Biden’s campaign unconvincingly tried to spin the comment yesterday by insisting he hadn’t actually used the word “veto” despite video evidence to the contrary.'