There was one moment during the Democrats’ two-night debate-a-thon which demonstrated the degree to which the party has veered to the left.
It was no surprise that President Trump’s signature issue of immigration would be a hot topic given both the media and the presidential candidates believe it is his Achilles’ heel and one which he is out of step with American opinion.
But then NBC News reporter Savannah Guthrie stepped forward to ask one question that could change the direction of the race.
“Raise your hand if your government plan would provide coverage for undocumented immigrants,” Guthrie asked the candidates Thursday night.
All excitedly raised their hands, except for former Vice President Joe Biden whose position was briefly in doubt. Guthrie clarified that he would give illegal immigrants health care coverage if elected and then explained his position.
Biden said his plan would cover illegal aliens because “you cannot let people who are sick, no matter where they come from, no matter what their status, go uncovered,” and then added that insuring millions of illegal immigrants would help reduce the “overall cost of health care by them being able to be treated.”
Given the heated and hyperbolic rhetoric on immigration that has come from the Democrats since the 2016 election, the response from the top-tier presidential candidates was unsurprising.
But, it is worth revisiting where the Democratic Party was just three years ago to get a real sense of how far out of the mainstream they are.
During the 2016 Democratic presidential primary debates, Hillary Clinton and then-Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont both confirmed their support for allowing illegal aliens to purchase health insurance through Obamacare, but refused to go any further than that.
In terms of proposals to permit low-income legal or illegal immigrants receive tax credits to help pay their insurance premiums, the Wall Street Journal noted, “would be a much more far-reaching step – one that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders have now made clear that they can’t support.”
Sanders, who was on the stage Thursday night, has officially become a Democrat and officially switched his stance of giving illegal aliens health care.
Of course, it was just a decade when President Obama rolled out his health care reform plan during a Joint Session of Congress and insisted that “those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants” were not telling the truth.
“The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally,” continued Obama.
The statement drew the infamous and heavily-criticized response – “You Lie” -from Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who would apologize for the outburst, which turned out to be right.
It was not the first time Obama had publicly countered claims that his health care proposal would allow illegal aliens to get health care coverage. In fact, the administration had been on a media campaign disputing Republican claims.
In an August 2009 radio interview, Obama characterized as “misinformation” the notion of illegal immigrants getting health care. Yes, Obama used the now-prohibited phrase “illegal immigrants” in a prime time speech delivered from the well of the House of Representatives.
“This has been an example of just pure misinformation out there. None of the bills that have been voted on in Congress, and none of the proposals coming out of the White House propose giving coverage to illegal immigrants — none of them. That has never been on the table; nobody has discussed it. So everybody who is listening out there, when you start hearing that somehow this is all designed to provide health insurance to illegal immigrants, that is simply not true and has never been the case,” asserted the president.
After a follow up, Obama again noted that “nobody has talked about providing health insurance to illegal immigrants. I want to make that absolutely clear.”
“Given that we’re in the middle of a huge struggle just to get the U.S. close to where European countries already are in terms of the universality of insurance, it seems a bit much to ask that we should go far beyond what those countries are doing, and extend insurance to literally anyone who makes it across the border,” argued author James Surowiecki.
He went on to make the case that “offering insurance to anyone who comes to the U.S. would obviously create all kinds of complicated incentives for people to migrate here when they were sick, particularly since no other major industrial democracy offers insurance for illegal immigrants.”
His point was echoed in a 2009 article in the Atlantic.
“Since no other industrialized democracy offers health care for illegal residents, we could be flooded with requests from workers migrating to the States whenever they got sick,” wrote Derek Thompson.
But today’s Democrats and liberal media elite are different than way back a decade ago. They see health care as a right and the United States as inhumane and backward for not forcing American taxpayers to finance the health care of illegal immigrants. Then there are lots of cruel nations because Thailand is the only nation which gives full coverage to migrants.
So, while Democrats argue that they are not in favor of “open borders” and “socialism,” a picture of candidates with their hands raised says more than a thousand words.