Liberals Fume About Sanders-Klobuchar Agreeing to Debate Graham-Cassidy on CNN Monday Night

By Susan Jones | September 22, 2017 | 7:20 AM EDT

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has agreed to debate Republicans on the merits of his single-payer, Medicaid-for-all health care plan versus the Republican bill to send health care dollars to the states on Monday night on CNN. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

( - "All you got to do in the next week is stay focused on how terrible this Republican bill is," liberal pundit John Heilemann said Friday morning.

He and the other liberals on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," including Joe Scarborough himself, are very upset that Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have agreed to engage in a CNN-sponsored, nationally televised health care debate with Republicans Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (La.) this coming Monday night.

Their main objection: The debate will boil down to a choice between single-payer socialism (Sanders) and states-rights federalism (Graham-Cassidy), instead of pitting the Republican plan against the current Obamacare system.

"Let the Republicans stack this up against Obamacare," Scarborough insisted.

In that contest, federalism would win, the liberals indicated. They said Sanders is injecting an element in the debate that doesn't need to be there.

According to "Morning Joe" host Mika Brzezinski, "A Democratic source told NBC news, quote, 'This is exactly the debate Graham and Cassidy want to have. Sanders is looking out for himself, rather than being a team player.'"

Brzezinksi also quoted former Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor, who tweeted: "I'm not sure single-payer versus Graham-Cassidy is the debate we want right now."

"I cannot believe how stupid this is politically," Scarborough said. "I cannot believe that Chuck Schumer or anybody could have ever signed off on this idea where you're actually going to drive a lot of people towards Lindsey Graham's bill because you got...socialism, Medicare-for-all, which we already know it's going bankrupt; versus returning it all to the states and taking a chance."

Scarborough asked, "Do I want to go with the radical plan that I know is going to bankrupt America or the radical plan that may not bankrupt--" He did not finish the thought.

Heilemann said the whole point is to "keep the focus on how bad this Republican bill is. We can have a debate later, if you're Bernie Sanders, about the virtues of Medicare for all and single payer. You might win that debate--"

"How about after next Saturday?" Scarborough interrupted.

Republicans have until next Saturday to get at least 50 votes to pass the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. At last count, two Republicans were no (Susan Collins and Rand Paul), but two others may be wavering (John McCain and Lisa Murkowski).

Scarborough warned, "If this health care bill passes, then it will be hung around Bernie Sanders' neck like an albatross for the rest of his political career. He will not survive it."

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), appearing later on "Morning Joe," had a different view:

"Well,  I actually don't think Bernie Sanders is going to be talking about single-payer health care on Monday night. No, I think he's going to be talking about why Graham-Cassidy is such an immediate threat to the country," he said. "I've actually heard that from Bernie's folks, that their focus is going to be on Graham-Cassidy."

CNN anchor Jake Tapper and political correspondent Dana Bash will moderate the 90-minute health care debate live from Washington at 9 p.m. Monday.

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