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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's two-part plan to pass a public option as a transition into Medicare for All — and then full-blown Medicare for All a few years later — has revealed the difficulty of appealing to both the pragmatic and progressive wings of the party.

The big picture: Warren's already being criticized by progressives for not being a Medicare for All purist, and because of the realities of governing, they may have a point: Passing two major health reforms in one term is unheard of.

Details: Warren's transition plan — which she said she'll try to pass within her first 100 days in office — would allow anyone over 50 to enroll in an "improved Medicare program," and "every person in America" could get coverage through a "Medicare for All option."

  • Coverage under the public option would immediately be free for children under 18 and families making 200% of the federal poverty level or less. Over time, it'd become free for everyone.
  • Then, by no later than her third year in office, Warren would push Congress to pass full-blown Medicare for All.

Reality check: The political capital that it'd take to pass Warren's public option, even through a special procedure called "budget reconciliation" that'd allow her to bypass GOP opposition, would be enormous.

  • And Medicare for All supporters weren't enamored with the more incremental approach. "In my first week as president, we will introduce Medicare for All legislation," Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted on Friday.

What they're saying: "Passing one major piece of health care legislation with a knock down, drag out fight, followed by another one three years later, sounds pretty difficult," said the Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt.

  • "A more likely scenario is that a public option would pass, and be given time to work. Depending on how that debate went, Medicare for [A]ll could be a rallying cry for a reelection campaign."

The bottom line: Warren's "transition" plan — which also includes a long list of actions she'll take to protect the Affordable Care Act, aggressively enforce antitrust laws, end surprise medical bills and lower prescription drug prices — also works as a standalone health care plan. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on who you ask.

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.