House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave a stern warning to the 2020 Democratic primary field that progressive policies that might fire up the party’s liberal wing could prove damaging in the general election.
Pelosi said proposals such as “Medicare for All” and a wealth tax that have been promoted by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) could appeal to progressive pockets but fail to win in key swing states.
“What works in San Francisco does not necessarily work in Michigan,” Pelosi said in an interview with Bloomberg News published Saturday. “What works in Michigan works in San Francisco — talking about workers’ rights and sharing prosperity.”
“Remember November,” she added. “You must win the Electoral College.”
While Pelosi declined to endorse any candidate in the primary race, she criticized progressive policies, saying they fail to make inroads with swing voters who backed President Trump in 2016.
“As a left-wing San Francisco liberal I can say to these people: What are you thinking?” Pelosi said. “You can ask the left — they’re unhappy with me for not being a socialist.”
The speaker specifically focused on Medicare for All as an example of a policy that may be beyond the pale for moderate voters the party will need to win back next year.
“Protect the Affordable Care Act — I think that’s the path to health care for all Americans. Medicare For All has its complications,” Pelosi said, adding that “the Affordable Care Act is a better benefit than Medicare.”
These comments come as Warren and Sanders remain in the top tier of the primary field, with the Massachusetts Democrat in particular laying claim to the title of front-runner in a series of national and early state polls.
The two progressive candidates have fiercely defended their policies as bold proposals that are needed to shake up the status quo. They have also hinted that their competitors’ policies fail to sufficiently restructure systems they bash as inequitable.
Warren lashed out at her critics Friday in defense of her Medicare for All plan after some Democrats voiced concerns over its cost.
“Democrats are not going to win by repeating Republican talking points and by dusting off the points of view of the giant insurance companies and the giant drug companies who don’t want to see any change in the law that will bite into their profits,” Warren fired back.
“But if anyone wants to defend keeping those high profits for insurance companies and those high profits for drug companies and not making the top 1 percent pay a fair share in taxes and not making corporations pay a fair share in taxes, then I think they’re running in the wrong presidential primary,” she continued.