Moderate Democrats Warn That AOC Is Distracting From Their Nonexistent Message

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Meanwhile, centrist Democrats have blocked their party passing a bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices

Moderate Democrats are sick and tired of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her “squad” dominating the headlines. Thus, to ensure that those four progressive congresswomen do not garner any additional media attention, several House moderates decided to complain about them anonymously in interviews with CNN Wednesday.

This airtight plan appears to have backfired.

... Obviously, moderate Democrats intended CNN to broadcast their concerns to the world. But it is difficult to reconcile lawmakers’ complaints with their apparent strategy for resolving them:

House Democrats were united in their vote to condemn President Donald Trump’s racist tweets this week, but some Democratic lawmakers are quietly expressing concern that far-left progressives have outsized influence in their caucus …

“The President’s words and actions speak for themselves. We need to focus on the issues that got (Democrats) here: jobs, health care … instead of the issues the President brings up deliberately,” said one House Democratic lawmaker, who asked for anonymity to speak freely. “Anything that takes away from bread-and-butter issues is playing into his hands.”

“The President won this one,” said another House Democratic lawmaker of the showdown. “What the President has done is politically brilliant. Pelosi was trying to marginalize these folks, and the President has now identified the entire party with them.”

If your goal is to galvanize media attention around bread-and-butter issues, whining to Jake Tapper seems like a less effective tactic than, say, taking interesting stances on bread-and-butter issues. And yet, as Vox’s Matt Yglesias notes, it has been House moderates — not Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, or AOC — who have prevented House Democrats from advancing several of their most compelling messaging bills. Nancy Pelosi’s caucus finally passed a $15 federal minimum wage Thursday. But Pelosi had promised to pass that (popular) policy within 100 hours after assuming the speakership. Instead, it has taken seven months for her to grind down moderate opposition.

Meanwhile, centrist Democrats have blocked their party from passing a bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, a measure that would effectively transfer large sums of money out of Big Pharma’s profit margins and into seniors’ pockets. This a winning issue in every district in the country (at least, if you value the approval of voters more than lobbyists). A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 86 percent of Americans approve of Medicare negotiating lower drug prices. There is a reason that Donald Trump pretended to support such a policy through the bulk of his presidential campaign, and is now desperately searching for more industry-friendly means of pushing down the cost of pharmaceuticals. The GOP cannot compete at the national level without winning an outsize share of older voters. And older voters cannot stomach the rising cost of their pills. This gives Democrats a golden opportunity to expand their coalition by gaining the upper hand on a high-salience issue: As the party that’s less allergic to price controls, they’re well-positioned to give a right-leaning constituency something it desperately wants, but cannot get from the GOP. ...
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