Not Too Early To Coalesce Around A Progressive Candidate For President For 2024
I love Bernie; I love Elizabeth Warren and I understand why they're not comfortable launching presidential bids until Biden announces he's not running. But... what the Democratic Party could use is someone ready to say she's running no matter what Biden does because Biden is a disastrous president and because she will be a much better one.
But Bernie and Elizabeth are certainly making noises as though they plan on running. Reporting for NBC News yesterday, Jonathan Allen and Natasha Korecki wrote that Bernie's staff thinks he's leaning that way. It looks like Elizabeth Warren is as well. What a great ticket those two would be!
Other media-approved contenders are absolutely horrible-- as bad as Biden: Kamala Harris, Mayo Pete, Gavin Newsom, Amy Klobuchar-- no one I'd ever vote for, even if the opponent was Trump or DeSantis. On the other hand, many grassroots progressives have been trying to talk Marianne Williamson into running, someone who can speak Truth without being wrapped in in the garb of a career politician.
Allen and Korecki floated "the possibility-- although no prospective candidate has said it-- that Biden could face credible opposition in a primary. Lyndon Johnson was the last Democratic president to fail to win renomination, as he withdrew from contention amid the Vietnam War and collapsing support within his party. While Biden remains more popular than Johnson with Democrats, the shuffling beneath him can't help but be destabilizing."
Ro Khanna (D-CA), who has interest in running in 2028 or thereafter, said he believes Biden is likely to run and would be tough to beat in a primary. But if he doesn't, he said, Sanders would be well-situated for another bid.
“I do think the third time may be the charm,” said Khanna, who was a national co-chairman of Sanders’ 2020 campaign. “He’s a revolutionary on progressive policy... His populist economics need to be front and center in the midterms and beyond to channel the anger that people have at Washington.”
Newsom may have the most complicated calculus, because he has said he won't run against Harris, a former senator from his state. That, according to a person who knows him well, means he would look at a race only if Biden ran and had serious competition from elsewhere within the party.
But he is engaging in national politics and criticizing his own party.
"Where is the Democratic Party?” Newsom asked as he warned that the draft Supreme Court opinion was a wake-up call to launch a "counteroffensive" against conservatives who would roll back federal privacy protections long guaranteed by the high court. “Why aren’t we standing up more firmly? More resolutely? Why aren’t we calling this out?”
The person who knows him well pointed to his remarks about abortion as evidence that he is eager to get ahead of the party's national leaders on politically contentious issues.
"He clearly has presidential ambitions," the source said. "He's posturing and getting ready to position himself."
Klobuchar has long kept her own counsel, and people close to her say they don't know whether she would run if Biden doesn't. One of them said any political moves she makes-- which included a recent visit to New Hampshire, the longtime site of the country's first primary-- should be seen in the light of a perpetual effort to solidify her political standing.
"Amy's being Amy," said a former adviser who played down the idea that Klobuchar is maneuvering for a run. "She's going to position herself... In Amy's mind, there's always that political calculus of 'how can I step up and be in the middle'" of national politics?
That's all most of the prospective candidates can do for now: raise their profiles, build their fundraising lists and collect chits by working to elect fellow Democrats in the midterms. And wait on Biden.
Biden endorsed some candidates as well, corrupt and unpopular conservative ones, Blue Dog Kurt Schrader (OR) and New Dem Shontel Brown (OH). Yesterday Bernie did something it would be hard to imagine Biden trying-- he wrote an OpEd for Fox News explaining a key piece of the progressive agenda: Medicare for All, a bill which he just re-introduced yesterday. It is probably something that Fox viewers are closed off to. But perhaps not ever single one of them:
It's Time For Medicare For All
-by Sen. Bernie Sanders
The United States has the most dysfunctional, inefficient, bureaucratic and expensive health care system in the world.
That’s not just what I believe. That’s what the American people know to be true. According to a March 2022 survey by Gallup and West Health, an estimated 93 percent of American adults feel what they pay for health care is not worth the cost. That poll also showed that 64 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the availability of affordable health care.
Today, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), we now spend an unbelievable $12,530 per person for health care. Yes. $12,530 for every man, woman and child in this country.
Despite this huge expenditure, 30 million Americans have no insurance at all and 112 million struggle to pay for the health care they need.
Further, we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs with nearly 1 out of 4 patients unable to fill the prescriptions their doctors write.
Despite spending more than twice as much on health care as the average developed country our health outcomes are worse than most. For example, our life expectancy is about 4.5 years lower than Germany’s and we have the highest infant mortality rate of almost any major country on earth.
While the current system is not working for ordinary Americans, it is working VERY well for insurance and drug companies and their CEOs.
Last year, the six largest health insurance companies in America made over $60 billion in profits, led by the UnitedHealth Group, which made $24 billion in 2021. The CEOs of 178 major health care companies collectively made $3.2 billion in total compensation in 2020-- up 31% from 2019.
According to Axios, in 2020, the CEO of Cigna, David Cordani, took home $79 million; the CEO of Centene, Michael Neidorff, made $59 million; and the CEO of UnitedHealth Group, Dave Wichmann, received $42 million in total compensation.
In terms of the pharmaceutical industry, last year Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie-- three giant pharmaceutical companies – increased their profits by over 90 percent to $54 billion and the CEOs of just 8 prescription drug companies made $350 million in total compensation in 2020.
The Medicare for All Act of 2022 which I have just introduced with 15 co-sponsors would provide comprehensive health care coverage to every man, woman and child in our country-- without out-of-pocket expenses and with full freedom of choice regarding health care providers. No more insurance premiums, deductibles or co-payments. And comprehensive means the coverage of dental care, vision, hearing aids, prescription drugs and home and community based care.
The transition to the Medicare for All program would take place over four years. In the first year, benefits to older people would be expanded to include dental care, vision coverage and hearing aids, and the eligibility age for Medicare would be lowered to 55. All children under the age of 18 would also be covered.
In the second year, the eligibility age would be lowered to 45 and in the third year to 35. By the fourth year, every man, woman and child in the country would be covered by Medicare for All.
Would a Medicare-for-all health care system be expensive? Yes. But, while providing comprehensive health care for all, it would be significantly LESS costly than our current dysfunctional system because it would eliminate an enormous amount of the bureaucracy, profiteering, administrative costs and misplaced priorities inherent in our current for-profit system.
Under Medicare for All there would no longer be armies of people billing us, telling us what is covered and what is not covered and hounding us to pay our hospital bills. This not only saves substantial sums of money but will make life a lot easier for the American people who no longer have to fight their way through the nightmare of insurance company bureaucracy.
In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that Medicare for All would save Americans $650 billion a year.
Now, trust me. I know the 30-second ads coming from the insurance and drug companies will tell you that if Medicare for All becomes law, your taxes will go up. And they are correct. But what they won’t tell you is that under Medicare for All, you will no longer be paying premiums, deductibles and co-payments to private health insurance companies.
And what they certainly will not tell you is that Medicare for All will save the average family thousands of dollars a year. In fact, a study by RAND found that moving to a Medicare-for-all system in New York would save a family with an income of less than $185,000 about $3,000 a year, on average.
Now, if Medicare for All was so great, you might ask, why hasn’t it been enacted by now? Why hasn’t the United States joined every major country on earth in guaranteeing health care for all?
Well, the answer is pretty simple. Follow the money. Since 1998, in our corrupt political system, the private health care sector has spent more than $10.6 billion on lobbying and over the last 30 years it has spent more than $1.7 billion on campaign contributions to maintain the status quo. And, by the way, they are "bi-partisan." In fact, they own many of the politicians in both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Guaranteeing health care as a right is important to the American people not just from a moral and financial perspective; it also happens to be what the majority of the American people want. In 2020, in a Hill/Harris poll 69 percent of the American people supported providing Medicare to every American.
Now is the time for Congress to stand with the American people and take on the powerful special interests that dominate health care in the United States. Now is the time to improve and extend Medicare to everyone.
Here is the bottom line: If every major country on earth can guarantee health care to all and achieve better health outcomes, while spending substantially less per capita than we do, there is no reason, other than greed, that the United States of America cannot do the same.