Deval Patrick may hail from the same adopted state as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but he isn’t quite on the same page when it comes to policy.
After officially announcing his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday morning, the former Massachusetts governor signaled differences on three of Warren’s core proposals in an interview on “CBS This Morning.”
Patrick’s late entrance into the 2020 race reportedly comes amid his personal doubts that any of the current frontrunners for the Democratic nomination can unite the party’s more moderate and progressive wings in a general election.
“We seem to be migrating to, on the one camp, sort of nostalgia, ‘Let’s just get rid, if you will, of the incumbent president and we can go back to doing what we used to do,’” he said in the CBS interview Thursday, alluding to the thematic appeal of former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign.
“Or, you know, ‘It’s our way, our big idea, or no way,’” Patrick said, echoing Biden’s recent criticisms of Warren. “And neither of those, it seems to me, seizes the moment to pull the nation together.”
As a political contributor for CBS News this fall, the former governor has reacted underwhelmingly to the candidacy of Biden, whose support Patrick has suggested is “soft” and whose debate performances he expected to be “crisper.”
At the same time, the 63-year-old Bay State Democrat said he wouldn’t go as far to the left as Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on health care, expressing opposition to the idea of getting rid of private health insurers as part of a Medicare-for-All system. Patrick also called Warren’s recent dodges on Medicare-for-All “enormously frustrating,” even if he agreed that she was right that it would lower overall costs.
Patrick has previously extolled the potential benefits of a single-payer health care system. But when asked Thursday, he said he didn’t support Medicare-for-All “in the terms we’ve been talking about it.”
“I do support a public option, and if Medicare is that public option, I think it’s a great idea,” Patrick said.
Patrick also said he supports efforts to significantly reduce current levels of student debt, but added there are “other strategies” than the most popular proposals. Warren, as well as Sanders, have made massive student loan forgiveness plans central to their campaigns.
“I think there other strategies that we’ve heard about to just that — and we have to do that in order to enable people to reach their potential,” he said.
Additionally, Patrick suggested that he wouldn’t support a wealth tax, which Warren has proposed to pay for her student debt cancellation plan, universal child care, and other government programs. Patrick said a wealth tax “makes a lot of sense directionally,” but said he would propose “a much, much simpler tax system,” eliminating “all or most of the deductions” and increasing rates on “the most prosperous.”
“I don’t think wealth is the problem,” he said. “I think greed is the problem.”
Patrick added that it was time to break the “fever” of trickle-down economics, which he said had resulted in the benefits of the country’s prosperity being “horded” by a small slice of the population.
Patrick’s answers Thursday aligned with his record as a pragmatic progressive, whose aspirational rhetoric often evokes the style of his close friend, former President Barack Obama (while Obama is remaining neutral in the primary race, Patrick said he spoke to the former president on Wednesday).
“There is an opportunity right now for big ideas as big as the challenges we face and — in the crafting and development of those ideas — to bring us together,” Patrick said.
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