'Progressive policies can win. Being branded as a socialist is problematic': Dowd

The "This Week" Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics, including the top campaign priorities for the 2020 presidential election.
9:59 | 04/07/19

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Transcript for 'Progressive policies can win. Being branded as a socialist is problematic': Dowd
from health care. You can't do it. We're going to keep the senate. And we're going to keep the and we're going to bring back the house. So, essentially, what I'm saying is we're going to come up with a health care plan, we're not going to vote on it until after the election. We'll all promise it's going to be our first vote. Because we blew it the last time. And we're back with "The roundtable" right now. I want to start with lanhee Chen. You're a health care expert. We saw a pattern from the president this week. On he at first said, he came out, he had his administration join the court case trying to overturn Obamacare. Said they would vote on it right away. Come up with a new plan. Mitch Mcconnell says no. Wants to close the border. Members of congress go nuts, the economic community goes nuts. He backs off that. Does he want these issues to be front and center in the next campaign? I think he wants imxwrags to be front and center. I think he feels it galvanizes his base of support. Even if he doesn't have the solutions? That is less consequential. He'll get out there and say, look, I have built the wall. I've continued to fight for border security. He's going to make the case on immigration. Health care is a little tougher to figure out. In the long run, saying that Republicans need to get gather on this is not a bad thing. I think it's a catalyzing thing in a lot of ways. Obviously, Mitch Mcconnell didn't feel the Republicans were ready to do it. Except that everybody is going to say, what's your plan? And people are going to be, if, in fact, the court does overturn Obamacare, a lot of people will be without health care. And then what do the Republicans say? Better to have that discussion now than two or three years from now when it happens. And I think that's the point. It's better, at least now, to force members of congress and his own administration, frankly, to decide what they want to do than wait. The problem the president has, you said even if he doesn't have a solution, Donald Trump likes to talk about these things because he doesn't have a solution. Because there's nothing firm in this. There was a test case for just this campaign. On immigration on the wall and on health care. 2018 midterms. And Democrats won it by 10 million votes. An historic margin. Almost every single close race in the house was decided on what trump was doing at the border and on health care. Both went against the Republicans. I don't think the president ultimately wants to run on health care. He's going to, as lanhee said, he wants to run on immigration. The problem for him is, it impacts about a third of the country loves that. But a huge majority of the country doesn't. He may want to run against medicare for all. Call it socialized medicine. I think Democrats were salivated when they heard the president saying health care would be the center of the campaign. Oh, absolutely. Let's have that conversation. Because as my fellow panelists have said, he has no plan. He has no credibility. They had both chambers of congress and tried to destroy the plan we had. The idea that he cares now about the health care and the lives of Americans is not true. He was touting at the state of the union, a child that was doing a gofundme for cancer. That's the Republican plan. For health care right now. And meanwhile, he's mocking the fact that many Americans are facing bankruptcy under the weight of rising medical costs. We want to see what the Republicans think about it rather than characterizing it under this umbrella of socialism. If I were the Democrats, I would spend this congress not investigating the president. I would investigate all the things this administration is doing to weaken our health and safety laws. The environment is just being allowed to be polluted. Drilling off our coasts. Food safety. You can do both, can't you? You can do both. But I would emphasize the things that affect people's daily lives much more. Barack Obama, former president Barack Obama, weighing in on the democratic debate over these divisions over things like medicare for all and the green new deal. He spoke in Berlin yesterday. Among Progressives in the United States we start creating what's called a circular firing squad. Where -- you start shooting at your allies because one of them is straying from purity. And when that happens, typically, the overall effort and movement weakens. A strong warning there to a very large democratic field. I think he's right to make a preemptive warning. But from my observation of the Democrats right now, there's a lot of big ideas that are being presented. It's not been personalized in a way you would think would do lasting harm. I think right now, it's a healthy debate. It seems the division, which I think is representative of the kind of leaders we need, are the people that push the art of the impossible. The big idea that they know it will take time to get there. And the people that say, we need to do what is practical and get things done. I think that conversation, he's right to weigh in and say, don't let it go too far. Debating big ideas is a good thing. He was the hope and change candidate. The organizer who talked about becoming a, you know, a representative in Chicago. Becoming a senator and then the president. And the very individuals who are representing now are -- were inspired by him. So they're the hope and change of now. They're the ones who rose up after trump and decided, regular, everyday Americans to run for congress. And frankly, to put a wet blanket on that doesn't seem right to me when most Americans have the same values. Shared values for medicare for all. Believe we need to do something right now. They support many of these candidates that he's talking about as dividing the party. You need that energy in your party. This is what primaries are about. Primaries are about fighting on very narrow turf. You distinguish on matters of character politics or matters of policy. We're seeing policy distinction. There's some Democrats out there fighting for medicare for all system which will destroy our health care system. I would disagree. They're free to do that. Others are saying, let's reaffirm the affordable care act. In a similar way, you have some pushing for aggressive regulation of tech, like Elizabeth Warren. You have big ideas like this universal basic income idea of Andrew yang. The ideas discussion is important. It's natural. As long as they don't depart from issue people care about. Talking about getting rid of the electoral college. Taking about getting rid of filibusters. Talking about all kinds of things that are just not -- They're inside politics. Exactly. They don't affect you. I disagree with that. I think the path to get to the big ideas has to begin with government reform in a system that is no longer functional. Our democracy is fundamentally broken when 70% of the ideas that the American public supports can't get through. The democratic primary will be nonlinear. There's no -- That is such a good point. Every candidate is having their moment. This week is mayor Pete's moment. He's rising up. Kamala Harris had a moment. We can expect everyone is going to get some attention. And lots of ebb and flow, right? As the American people get to challenge the ideals of these people. Look at their history. This is going to be a very long primary. I think it's a good thing. For the Progressive side of our party the idea that we can challenge these candidates and find how where they stand on the issues that matter. And are they going to fight to make sure we win against trump and for the ideals that matter for most Americans, like health care, education. Income inequality. The metrics at the end of the day. We're going to get to next March and there will be a few Democrats standing. And the metrics that we use. Who has a good message? Who is able to raise money? Who has good organization on the ground? Who is out there deploying and getting people? The debates are going to matter. They are. And those conventional metrics. We talk about a different kind of campaign cycle. Those traditional metrics will matter. People have to start voting. That is the only way we're going to know what is going to happen here. Is to see what the voters are going to do. That is going to start happening soon. But there is going to be a tension. The real tension is, there's going to be people pushing big ideas. The majority of the democratic party wants to beat Donald Trump. And the question becomes. Can somebody match those two things together? You talk about Joe Biden. He looks like the best or a good general election candidate against Donald Trump. But duke might be able to beat Virginia in a final. But they have to beat Michigan state in a pregame. That's what Joe Biden has to do. At some point, a lot of Democrats saying we can't have someone who called himself a socialist to be the nominee? Absolutely not. We're in a new wave. People are trying to figure out who is best positioned to not only beat Donald Trump, which I think a person who also supports these ideals can. So to answer your question. But who is really going to make change? People are fed up. People are fed up with -- But independents, 75% of independents say that they are uncomfortable with the word socialist or anybody what embraces socialism. At the end of the day, it's not what you call it. Give me my health care. Donald Trump will call it. Aggressive policies can win. Being branded as a socialist is a problem. That is going to have to be the last word for today. Now we honor our fellow Americans who serve in sacrifice. In the month of March, four service members died overseas supporting operations in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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