Although tamed compared to the 2016 primary, skirmishes on health care and taxes arrived unexpectedly at the start of the 2020 contest. Michael Reynolds / Getty Images
It did not take long.
Barely a month after the start of the 2020 Democratic primary, discrepancies between the party's liberal and moderate factions erupted this week. They were released by an intraparty feud over health care and taxes that could spell the battle against President Donald Trump.
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Senator Kamala Harris's remarks at a town hall meeting Monday began to support the elimination of the health insurance sector to ensure Medicare for all. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Min.) S & # 39; is far from the proposal aired on CNN the next day. She warned of an immediate change to our insurance system in which more than half of Americans benefit from private insurance.
It was not just health care. At the end of the week, the Democratic contenders were fighting for taxes, including the wave of proposals to soak the ultra-rich.
"I'm a little tired of listening to things that are going well in the sky, that we will never pass, that we will never be able to afford. I think it's only bad faith to promote these things. Something needs to be done, "said former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, himself a billionaire.
Elizabeth Warren did not have it. "Billionaires like Howard Schultz and Michael Bloomberg want to keep a rigged system that benefits only them and their friends," she said.
Although still moderate compared to the beards traded by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at the height of the primary, the skirmishes of the week on health care and taxes arrived unexpectedly at the beginning of the 2020 contest, foreshadowing a volatile year. And while the Democrats' attention is focused on Trump's public approval, this week has recalled the party's divisions and warned against the prospect of improving Trump's hand.
"We have no center in any game and we have extremes in both games," said Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime Democratic strategist based in New York. "The question is, how does it work? Not good. Not good because it creates a bigger conflict … If you have bigger conflicts, how do you get together around a candidate? The only force uniting here is Donald Trump's aversion. "
Political disputes are a typical part of the disputed presidential primaries, and Jaime Harrison, associate president of the Democratic National Committee, said they would be likely to be particularly vocal in a contested race where "you have a group of smart people who have thought and worked in politics for their entire lives. "
"When people engage in this arena and commit, you will not wait until the very last minute to say how different you are from your opponent. You will engage yourself, "said Harrison, former president of the state party of South Carolina. "I think it's good for the Democratic Party to decide where it is, what it wants, what it values and what will be the hallmark of the party by 2020".
However, Mike McCauley, a former member of the campaign and administration of former President Barack Obama and Democratic strategist in South Carolina, is astonished at the speed with which the political debate has erupted, especially when the field of candidates is not yet defined.
"But when you have such an open field, that's maybe how you separate the wheat from the chaff," McCauley said. "People either walk in the mud or they shine."
McCauley praised Harris' decision to appear in front of CNN City Hall this week in Iowa. "I think it took a lot of courage," he said.
And McCauley predicted that the Harris campaign's decision to stick to its response regarding Medicare for all and the elimination of the private health insurance market, while providing the context in which it also supports less ambitious bills in the Senate, would have an early impact not only on: the far left, but beyond.
"Knowing where you are and who you are and not trying to criticize or turn the queue deserves the respect of people in places like South Carolina – or in Iowa and New Hampshire, of 39 elsewhere, "he said.
On Thursday, Sanders added to the first catalog of progressive policies from future presidential campaigns, introducing a bill to expand the federal estate tax. Sanders' office said its plan would raise $ 2.2 trillion by taxing inheritances worth more than $ 3.5 million, well below the current $ 11 million threshold.
Sanders' proposal followed the publication of Warren's "ultramillionary" tax proposal. Harris proposed alternative tax relief, focused more on middle-income taxpayers. His plan would give $ 6,000 in tax relief to families earning up to $ 100,000 a year.
In the midst of progressive politics, Bill Bloomfield – a major California donor who fought against former Democrat Henry Haxman as an independent in 2012 – said a moderate Democrat candidate, like Bloomberg, could be supported by the latter.
Democrats have adopted progressive positions on health and taxation, suggested Bloomfield, "they fish in a small pond". At the same time, Bloomfield said that Bloomberg's both plain and practical approach, combined with its positions on gun control and its work elect Democrats at the mid-point in 2018, give it areas where he can appeal to a wider Democratic electorate and become a surprise in Iowa and New Hampshire.
He also considers former Republican New York mayor become independent, turned Democratic, as the most formidable opponent of Trump in the general election.
"If I were Donald Trump," Bloomfield said, "I hope the candidate's name will not be Michael Bloomberg."
Of the Progressive Democrats who are at the forefront of the 2020 agenda, policy differences on issues ranging from health care to taxes and climate change are relatively minor and have so far attracted less attention than biographies of potential candidates. Michael Ceraso, a Democratic strategist who has worked on the presidential campaigns of Sanders and Obama, said Democratic voters in 2020 are more likely to consider a candidate's record than the policies they propose.
"I think the past will be evaluated much harder than the Senate bills that people are now presenting in an attempt to attract media attention," he said.
And the week also highlighted democratic unity when Schultz announced that he was planning to run independently for the presidency.
Fearing that a third-party bid could siphon the Democratic candidate's votes, potentially proposing a second term in Trump, the Democrats of all Schultz supporters this week are relentlessly critical of the former CEO of Starbucks.
"It somehow unites the Democrats," said Sean Bagniewski, president of the Polk County Democrats in Iowa. "Thus, people who may have felt very far away from health policy or tax policy now hear that we do not like the way it attacks us."
In this regard, he said: "You see almost all factions uniting."
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