...Amid Massive Bribes
California Democrats have a supermajority in the state legislature and a Democratic governor who campaigned on single payer healthcare, as did most of the legislators. So... done deal, right? Wrong; the bill, AB 1400, failed yesterday. And without a roll call, which would have identified conservative Democrats (and Republicans) who opposed it. A vote would also have clarified which politicians who take inordinate bribes from Big Insurance have sold their asses... a certain worthless neo-liberal governor first and foremost. Many say that it is because of Newsom that California will not be able to get private insurers out of the healthcare business. Sometimes the lesser evil candidate is not quite lesser enough.
Progressives in control of the party endorsement process, vowed to block Democratic Party endorsements for anyone who voted against the bill-- a very credible threat, especially for conservative corporate whores from the so-called "Mod Squad" like Rudy Salas, who is running for Congress against progressive mayor Brian Osorio, and Adam Gray who is running in the new 13th congressional district. Yesterday, as Cal Matters noted this morning "After several tense hours Monday afternoon, during which a scramble of meetings took place just off the Assembly floor, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, the San Jose Democrat carrying AB 1400, announced that he would not bring up the measure for a vote. Kalra declined multiple requests to discuss his decision and whether he would seek another path forward for his proposal. Following the floor session, he waited on a members-only balcony outside the chamber until a group of reporters was told to leave by a sergeant-at-arms. 'I don’t believe it would have served the cause of getting single payer done by having the vote and having it go down in flames and further alienating members,' Kalra said on a Zoom call with disappointed supporters later in the evening, in which he shared that he believed the bill, which needed 41 votes to pass, was short by 'double digits.'"
The political obstacles to such a radical restructuring of the health care system remain enormous, even in a state as putatively liberal as California.
The influential California Chamber of Commerce, which represents business interests in the state, labeled AB 1400 a “job killer” shortly after it was reintroduced in January, indicating it would be a top priority to defeat. Its lobbying campaign-- joined by dozens of insurers, industry groups and the associations representing doctors and hospitals-- included social media advertisements and a letter to members denouncing the “crippling tax increases” that would be needed to pay for the system. After the bill stalled Monday, the chamber declared it would be ready if ideas from the “dangerous proposal” resurfaced.
...The decision not to bring up AB 1400 for a vote on Monday may have been about protecting members from having to take a position one way or the other on the bill, as Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon did with the last single-payer measure in 2017.
Legislation to move the state toward a government-run health care system passed the state Senate that year, but was held by Rendon without a hearing because the bill included no plan to pay for it. That put him in the crosshairs of single-payer supporters, who blasted him on billboards.
This time, Rendon said he supported the effort, but he was not closely involved in rounding up votes for AB 1400. He declined to answer questions after the floor session on Monday and, in a statement, he pushed the blame onto Kalra.
“The shortage of votes needed to pass this bill out of the Assembly indicates the immense difficulty of implementing single-payer healthcare in California,” he said. “Nevertheless, I’m deeply disappointed that the author did not bring this bill up for a vote today. I support single-payer and fully intended to vote yes on this bill.”
...The California Nurses Association, the main sponsor of AB 1400, slammed Kalra for “providing cover” for his colleagues by not holding a vote.
“Nurses are especially outraged that Kalra chose to just give up on patients across the state,” the association said in an unsigned statement. “Nurses never give up on our patients, and we will keep fighting with our allies in the grassroots movement.”
Amar Shergill, chairperson of the California Democratic Party’s progressive caucus, said he would continue with plans to pull endorsements from Assembly members who did not publicly support the bill.
During the Monday night call, he and other advocates repeatedly criticized Kalra for setting back their movement and urged him to name the members who were opposed. “We are protecting them from negative scrutiny of a ‘no’ vote,” Shergill said.
Newsom, who is running for reelection and has-- God forbid!-- presidential aspirations, campaigned on single payer but worked behind the scenes to kill it... on behalf of his Big Insurance campaign donors. He talks a good game but is rotten to the core. Like Republicans, he's now talking about "access" to healthcare, rather than a system for delivering actual healthcare to actual people. Newsom is a truly horrible governor for a state like California. Remember when the scumbag deceitfully persuaded the Nurses Union to support him by saying "I’m tired of politicians saying they support single-payer but that it’s too soon, too expensive or someone else’s problem."
But he's never tired of accepting corporate bribes. As Walker Bragman pointed out yesterday at the Daily Poster, "Blue Shield of California has been a huge donor to Newsom and state Democrats, as well as the governor’s pet causes. Blue Shield has donated at least $99,000 to Newsom's campaigns since 2010, and $2.7 million to the California Democratic Party since 2006, according to data from the National Institute on Money in Politics. That includes a $1 million contribution to the state party last summer, as Newsom was working to fend off a recall effort. State records show Blue Shield donated $100,000 to Newsom's inaugural fund in 2019, and has made several other sizable contributions on Newsom’s behalf. The largest was a $20 million donation in 2020 to Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. to support Project Homekey, the governor's COVID-19 homeless housing initiative. In 2020, Blue Shield gave $300,000 in 2020 to a nonprofit supporting the Commission on the Future of Work, which Newsom had created by executive order. The donations were reported as behested payments-- the term for when California politicians raise money from corporations or other groups and contribute the money to a nonprofit. Amid the COVID epidemic, Newsom awarded Blue Shield a $15 million no-bid vaccination contract and recruited the insurer’s CEO to help shape the state’s COVID-19 testing strategy. The insurer Anthem and its affiliates have donated $78,000 to Newsom’s campaigns since 2013, on top of $770,000 to the California Democratic Party since 2002. Anthem also gave $25,000 to Newsom's 2019 inaugural fund. Blue Shield and Anthem are both part of a coalition lobbying against the legislation, claiming it 'would create a new and exorbitantly expensive government bureaucracy' and cause 'significant job loss to California.' UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, is also opposing the single-payer bill, and has been pressing its employees to lobby California lawmakers against passing the legislation. The insurance giant has contributed $130,000 to Newsom's campaigns since 2011, and $513,000 to the state Democratic party since 2007. In 2019, UnitedHealth Group and one of its subsidiaries donated $100,000 to Newsom's inaugural fund."
So what to do? Help defeat right-of-center "Mod Squad" leader Rudy Salas in his congressional bid by contributing to Brian Osorio here. It's essential we defeat every Manchin-Sinema "Democrat" running for office at any level. We must not allow ourselves to be led by the nose down a garden path painted by careerist leaders like Schumer and Pelosi and by the "lesser of two evils" strategy of the Democratic Party that regularly pukes up elected officials like Rudy Salas and Adam Gray who get on the path to career advancement financed by the sworn enemies of anyone who isn't part of the top one percent.