Reid: Medicare for All, Decriminalizing Border Crossing Bad Ideas

'Of course' the proposals would be problematic in the general election

Getty Images

Former Senate majority leader Harry Reid called Medicare for All and decriminalizing border crossings bad ideas in an interview with Vice News published on Tuesday.

When asked if Medicare for All would be problematic for his party in 2020, Reid said, "Of course it would be."

"How are you going to get it passed?" Reid asked. "I think that we should focus on improving Obamacare. We can do that — without bringing something that would be much harder to sell."

The Democratic Party has moved farther left since Reid's departure from politics. Many leading 2020 Democratic candidates have embraced Medicare for All, with Sens. Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), and Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) all cosponsoring Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) Medicare for All legislation. The legislation would eliminate private insurance and force everyone into a government-run insurance plan.

Despite her cosponsorship, Harris has recently come out against Sanders's legislation, saying people want to be able to choose.

"I finally was like, I can't make this circle fit into a square," Harris explained to wealthy donors.

When asked about some of the 2020 Democratic candidates push to decriminalize border crossings, Reid said the party should have other priorities.

"There are so many more important things to do. Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list. It should be way, way down at the bottom of the list," Reid said. He added that this position would also be problematic for Democrats during the election.

"People want a fair immigration system. They don't want an open-door invitation for everybody to come at once," Reid said.

Democratic candidate Julian Castro, former HUD secretary under President Obama, has led on the issue of decriminalizing border crossings. His position has led to clashes with other former Obama cabinent members, like Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. Johnson wrote a piece in the Washington Post, in which he called Castro's proposal "open borders." Castro responded by accusing Johnson of using "Republican talking points."

Castro is joined by fellow 2020 candidates Warren and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg in support for decriminalizing border crossings.