Give CNN credit for the best political television idea in many months: The debate next Tuesday night between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) over ObamaCare and the future of healthcare.
As every reader knows, including honest Republican readers, the GOP has a huge problem repealing and replacing ObamaCare. Ever since President Trump was elected, as talk of repealing ObamaCare became high voltage, the popularity of ObamaCare has gone up in poll after poll, and the number of new signups for ObamaCare has risen.
When the Trump White House ordered the federal government to stop running TV ads for Obamacare, that was the ultimate surrender in the battle of ideas over healthcare. Republicans are afraid that too many new customers have been signing up for the ObamaCare they want, while many current ObamaCare enrollees are angry at the GOP for trying to take away the ObamaCare they already have.
When Sanders faces off against Cruz, the result will electrify progressives and bring single-payer healthcare, which Sanders champions, to center-stage in the healthcare debate.
Liberals are thrilled at the prospect of running against TrumpCare, whatever it turns out to be. Cruz will have a tough time defending TrumpCare, or whatever he calls it, and Sanders will paint Cruz correctly as the champion of insurance conglomerates and Big Pharma against customers.
Sanders will take the debate to a whole new level by defending ObamaCare, promoting the public option and going the distance in the debate by advocating and explaining single-payer healthcare — which exists in virtually every democratic nation in the world and is long overdue in America.
What thrills progressives, including yours truly, about Sanders is that he is a policy pure player who pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. By the end of the 2016 presidential campaign, President Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, to their credit, had both joined Sanders and progressives in actively supporting the public option, which should have been included in the original ObamaCare.
Sanders takes the healthcare debate to the ultimate level by defending ObamaCare and supporting the public option, but making the full case for the real healthcare reform deal of single-payer healthcare.
It was no coincidence that throughout last year, of the Sanders worldview versus the Trump worldview, Sanders repeatedly won those polls by landslide margins — a fact every Democrat should remember.
In the Sanders-Cruz debate, will Cruz agree with ObamaCare by vowing that he supports maintaining the good and popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act, maintaining coverage to consumers with preexisting conditions and maintaining coverage of children in their parents' insurance policies?
If so, ObamaCare wins and Sanders has the upper hand in the debate.
If not, how will Cruz defend any potential TrumpCare that would do so much harm to so many Americans?
What will make the Sanders case so powerful and appealing to so many progressives and others on CNN next Tuesday is that, first, he offers the real-deal program of single-payer healthcare; and second, he will argue correctly that those who oppose ObamaCare from the right are doing the work of the lobbyists for insurance companies and Big Pharma.
The brutal fact of healthcare in America is that the reason we don't have the single-payer system found in most democratic nations is that in our government, politicians are limited by the power of the big money that infects our system and the influence peddling against reform that big money buys.
When Sanders make these points, and says that drug prices and insurance premiums are too high and the positions of Cruz and Republicans will make them higher, he will be on the high ground of policy and politics.
When Sanders says our country should join democratic nations around the world and enact single-payer healthcare, and the reason we have not yet done so is that the swamp of special interests in Washington is worse than ever with Trump, he will be making the case that will show Democrats how to win elections in 2018 and 2020.
The GOP has a huge problem with the healthcare issue. There are good reasons that Republicans, no matter how much they attack ObamaCare, have failed to propose even one real alternative throughout the last seven years.
When Bernie Sanders debates Ted Cruz, voters will know why.
Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.