Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir has hit back at Pete Buttigieg’s remark on the economy and Medicare for All, saying it reflects Buttigieg being influenced by big money.
It comes as the Buttigieg camp has sought to open up a new front in the campaign, with the polls tightening and less than 48 hours to go until New Hampshire primary voters cast their ballots.
Speaking at a town hall on Sunday in Nashua, Buttigieg called for Democrats to focus on deficit reduction in spite of the issue “not being fashionable in progressive circles”.
The deficit has again blown out under President Trump having been decreased from Bush era highs under President Trump. He went on to attack Bernie Sanders on the cost of Medicare for All, again echoing traditional conservative talking points on the cost of the policy. This is in spite of analysis suggesting America would in fact save as much as $600 billion from reducing bureaucracy associated with private insurance.
It is established political wisdom that progressive candidates don’t win talking about debt and deficit, even though the Democrats have a better record on it. In a tweet, economics professor Stephanie Kelton rejected the move by Buttigieg, condemning Buttigieg echoing “bogus arguments about debt and deficits that have been used to undermine the progressive agenda for decades”.
These sentiments were echoed in a tweet from Sanders’ campaign manager, who said Buttigieg’s billionaire donors had led him to “deviate away from the interests of working class Americans and instead hew more closely to the interests of the wealthy and well-connected”; as we’ve reported, he has at least 40, second only to Joe Biden.
Senator Sanders is still the frontrunner, and is rated as a roughly 2 in 3 chance by polling analyst Nate Silver to win on Tuesday, but Buttigieg has steadily nibbled away at his lead. The rhetorical shift from Buttigieg seems reflective of a broader effort to court more centrist voters, with Amy Klobuchar increasing her vote in some polls as voters increasingly abandon Joe Biden.
The overall impact remains to be seen, but today’s comments again raise significant questions about the sincerity of Buttigieg’s progressive credentials.