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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Warren outlines plan for universal insurance

Caitlin Conant

Senator Elizabeth Warren on Friday pledged to "fight to pass legislation that would complete the transition to full Medicare for All" by her third year in office, reports CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. 

"Every serious proposal for Medicare for All contemplates a significant transition period," Warren wrote in her latest plan, which included a series of measures she said she would take in her first 100 days of office to pave the path toward healthcare for all Americans.

The plan says that the first bill Warren would pass is a "comprehensive set of anti-corruption reforms which include ending lobbying as we know it and knocking back the influence of Big Pharma and insurance companies." It would be followed by a lightened version of Medicare for All, which would continue to allow Americans to stay on private health insurance for the time being. 

Warren refers to that bill as "fast-track budget reconciliation legislation," which she wrote would expand public health care to cover all children and for families at less than twice the federal poverty level. It would also improve Medicare for everyone over 50 and afford every American "the choice to enter an improved Medicare program," she said.

Warren's transition plan is likely to be regarded as something of a middle ground between those of Senator Bernie Sanders, who wrote the "Medicare for All" bill, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has adopted a more moderate "Medicare for All Who Want It" plan. While Warren wrote that Sanders' bill already includes the potential for a small private market to cover the special needs of some unions, she also opened the door to "allow private employer coverage that reflects the outcome of a collective bargaining agreement to be grandfathered into the new system."

But Buttigieg adviser Lis Smith fired back at comparisons between his and Warren's plan in a statement. "Despite adopting Pete's language of 'choice,' her plan is still a 'my way or the highway' approach that would eradicate choice for millions of Americans," Smith said. 

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden's deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, argued that Warren's progressive plans could lose Democrats the general election, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. "We're not going to beat Donald Trump next year with double talk on health care, and we're not going to beat him with a plan that hikes taxes on the middle-class, kicks Americans off their private insurance, and kills millions of jobs," Bedingfield said in a statement.

Details of the transition aside, Warren's plan remains closer in essence to the one introduced by Sanders, and the Massachusetts senator has repeatedly said she is "with Bernie on Medicare for All." Sanders, for his part, didn't name Warren, but took a thinly veiled swing at her with a tweet quoting a nurses association leader's assertion that any watering down of his plan is a mistake. 

"We know that there are ample opportunities for politicians to compromise on Medicare for All, and we know, having worked with Senator Sanders before, that he won't compromise when people's health is at stake," the tweet quoted National Nurses United Co-President Debora Burger saying, along with a video of her and other NNU executives talking about the Sanders' plan.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

Joe Biden's campaign is out with a handful of new endorsements in Nevada, ahead of the former vice president's visit to the state for a forum hosted by the Nevada State Democratic Party this weekend. Among them is Roberta Lange, the third former state party chair to back Biden this cycle, according to CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. Nearly every declared Democratic presidential candidate is slated to speak at the dinner in Nevada on Sunday, including two – Biden and Warren – who decided to "publicly snub" a similar California Democrats cattle call the day before. 

In Vermont, former Governor Peter Shumlin also endorsed Biden on Friday. CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says Shumlin endorsed Secretary Hillary Clinton in 2016. Shumlin appeared at a fundraiser for the former vice president in Norwich, Vermont, last weekend. The endorsement comes a week after Biden formally filed for the New Hampshire Primary. 

CORY BOOKER

Senator Cory Booker filed for the New Hampshire Primary on Friday, adding his name to the ballot and bringing dozens of supporters into the New Hampshire Statehouse with chants of "we will rise!" Sganga says Friday is the final day to file for the New Hampshire Primary. 

Booker doubled down on his disapproval of super PACs despite one  – "United We Win"— springing up in his favor on Thursday. "I don't take corporate PAC dollars, I don't take lobbyists' money, I don't take pharmaceutical executive dollars," Booker told reporters following his official filing. "We are running this campaign, and will win this campaign, because of the incredible support we're getting from small-dollar contributions." 

Booker reiterated that he is "running my race" as he sidestepped questions about former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who entered the race on Thursday. "I do not take it as a personal insult that my friends believe that they are the best person to be president." 

Booker later added, "The decisions that voters are going to make are by how well I take shots at other Democrats. In fact, I think in this race, that should be a flaw that people should point out and should make them choose the person that doesn't take pot shots at other candidates."

AMY KLOBUCHAR

Senator Amy Klobuchar announced two new endorsements in Iowa on Friday from longtime State Representative Cindy Winkler and Fremont County Democrats Chair Alice Hodde. CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says Winckler has represented House District 90, which includes Davenport, since 2001. She praised Klobuchar's record in the U.S. Senate saying her "accomplishments as a legislator is matched by her commitment to bringing civility back to our politics." 

Hodde is a longtime local party activist from Fremont County, which is located on the western side of the state just south of Council Bluffs. This is a small county of about 7,000 people where President Trump won in 2016 by more than 40 points. Hodde said she's been impressed with Klobuchar's "poise, grit, and grace under pressure." Hodde also pointed to the senator's legislative record as a reason she is endorsing her campaign for the presidency. 

BERNIE SANDERS

Senator Bernie Sanders announced endorsements from 11 different Latino community leaders across Iowa. Bidar says the list includes activists, small business owners, and a DACA recipient. "Across the state, Latino Iowans are standing up and fighting for justice," said Sander's Iowa Co-Chair Nick Salazar. 

Last week, ahead of a rally in the state with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders released his immigration policy. The campaign says they have received more contributions from Latino voters than any other candidate. Tin says Sanders also locked down endorsements with two heavyweights in California labor: the National Nurses Union and United Teachers Los Angeles. 

ANDREW YANG

Andrew Yang's signature policy proposal, "The Freedom Dividend," is coming under increased scrutiny, CBS News political unit associate producer Ben Mitchell reports. Yang's universal basic income plan of $1,000 a month for every American over the age of 18 remains central to his growing appeal, and the campaign believes that its success is due in large part to its non-partisan, non-ideological framework. 

But instead of finding a happy medium between right- and left-wing visions of a UBI, Yang's policy is meeting resistance from UBI advocates from across the political spectrum. From a libertarian perspective, Yang "doesn't necessarily make all the tough decisions that need to be made," like eliminating the welfare state wholesale to make funding more realistic. From the far left, where UBI is seen as a potential redistributive tool, Yang's is criticized for asking some Americans to forgo their existing benefits to receive the $1,000 check, and for a lack of clarity and consistency concerning the types of benefits that would "stack" with the dividend. And from the center left, it's seen as an unnecessary use of public funds that could be used instead on essential government services like health care and education. 

Most notably, there is broad agreement that Yang's idea to fund the plan with a value added tax, or VAT, is misguided and would negatively impact the economy. But the Yang campaign rejects these criticisms full-stop and says the broad disagreement from all sides is proof that the plan is consistent with Yang's slogan of "Not Left, Not Right. Forward." 

"With the VAT helping to finance the Freedom Dividend, it effectively constitutes a raise or boost in spending power for the bottom 94 percent of Americans. $1,000 a month that goes straight into the hands of low-income Americans will go a lot further than those in higher income brackets," says S.Y. Lee, national press secretary for the Yang campaign. "There is no silver bullet to the economic challenges we face. However, the Freedom Dividend is a big step in the right direction to ensure every American has a floor upon which to build from."

STATE-BY-STATE

CALIFORNIA

As more than three-thousand of California's Democratic Party faithful gather in Long Beach this weekend for the party's endorsing convention, so too will nearly a dozen Democratic White House hopefuls. While party delegates won't officially vote on a pick for the presidential primary, Tin says candidates and their surrogates will be sure to lobby for their support as campaigns ramp up in the Super Tuesday state. 

GOVERNOR'S MANSION

Navarro says the last governor's race of the year is the latest test of how far President Donald Trump's clout can take a Republican candidate, especially after going 1-of-2 in gubernatorial races with a loss in Kentucky and a win in Mississippi. In Louisiana, incumbent Governor John Bel Edwards is trying to keep his title as the only Deep South Democratic governor. 

Republican Eddie Rispone helped force a runoff after getting enough votes in October's jungle primary to keep Edwards from 50%, and he's hoping to find that same success, and more, against him on Saturday. After a Wednesday night Trump rally, CBS News associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice reports Rispone has been making his last pitch to voters as a "conservative businessman outsider" that can shakeup the state economy.  

"The citizens of Louisiana, they are tired of being last. They really have wakened up and said we don't have to be last. God has blessed this state with incredible natural resources, most of all our people, and it's time for a change. We can be number one in the south when it comes to jobs and opportunity," Rispone said in Shreveport. It was the first of seven stops he was making throughout the state in a final effort to get out the vote before Election Day. Voters in attendance told CBS News there was appeal in a businessman running the state government.

Edwards, who was working Friday to get out the vote in New Orleans, has been touting his record as governor during the whole race, pointing to his work with Medicaid expansion and bringing the state into a budget surplus. While Rispone has tied himself to Mr. Trump's image, Edwards has strayed far from his national and concentrated on local issues in Louisiana, a historically conservative state that Mr. Trump won by about 20 points. 

The runoff's early voting indicates that African American turnout has ticked up about 6 points since October, which is a good sign for Edwards. State Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Randal Gaines told Navarro that many black voters assumed Edwards would win the jungle primary, but are now energized. 

"Sometimes when there's confidence, there's less of a sense of urgency. Once he didn't win in the primary, the broad support that he has in this state basically became energized, and a sense of urgency rose," Gaines said. Both campaigns are expecting a close race, and the latest Mason-Dixon poll shows Edwards with a slight 2-point lead. Polls in Louisiana open at 7 a.m. CST and close at 8 p.m.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Here is a roundup of the Political Unit's reporting for CBSN and CBSNews.com this week: 

CBSN

·         Monday Daily Trail Markers Segment // By Nicole Sganga

·         Thursday Daily Trail Markers Segment // By Sarah Ewall-Wice 

CBSNews.com

·         "Barnstormer for Pete" look to boost Buttigieg's chances in early states // By Sarah Ewall-Wice

·         Democrat Mike Espy announces Senate run in Mississippi // By Eleanor Watson  

·         For Andrew Yang, New Hampshire is a "homecoming" and a big bet // By Nicole Sganga

·         Mark Sanford suspends Republican primary challenge // By Grace Segers & Nicole Sganga

·         New Hampshire woman enlists candidates to send thousands of holiday cards to troops // By Nicole Sganga

·         The "Freedom Dividend": Inside Andrew Yang's plan to give every American $1,000 // By Ben Mitchell

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