With friends like these …

There is no question that affordable universal health care coverage is an idea that has caught on as the awfulness of the current system becomes increasingly apparent, and almost all the Democratic candidates have signed on to it. The most comprehensive plan, and in my view the simplest one to understand and implement, is the Medicare for All plan proposed back in the 2016 campaign by Bernie Sanders and endorsed by most progressives. So where does this leave those ‘centrist’ and ‘moderate’ Democrats (those being euphemisms for Democratic politicians like Joe Biden whose have strong allegiances to the business and financial world) who do not wish to alienate the health insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital lobbies whose profits feel threatened by this proposal? These groups come under the labels of Third Way and the Center for American Progress and are favored by the Democratic party establishment.

We learn that those people are trying to find ways to undermine support for Medicare for All.

A new poll by a firm linked to Joe Biden is testing messages designed to undercut support among Democrats for Medicare for All, one of the most contentious issues splitting the party’s top presidential contenders.

The survey, commissioned by the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, found that primary voters start off favoring the government-run health care system by a margin of 70% to 21%, but can be persuaded to oppose it. The study showed that Democrats are most swayed by the arguments that the program would impose a heavy cost on taxpayers and threaten Medicare for senior citizens.

The poll was conducted by Lisa Grove of Anzalone Liszt Grove Research. Her partner, John Anzalone, is the chief pollster and an adviser to Biden, who opposes Medicare for All and wants to make government-run insurance optional.

In other words, these so-called moderate and centrist Democrats are acting like Republicans, which should come as no surprise.

Union leader Randi Weingarten says that employer-based health plans have been getting steadily worse over time and that such tactics as those above are presenting people with a false choice, and that there are more reasonable middle-ground proposals.

If we reduce this debate to a zero-sum trade-off between protecting people who like their insurance vs. expanding insurance to those who might want or need a public plan, we have handed a win directly to the corporate insurance giants before we even start.

One way to think about it is that Medicare could set the floor, not the ceiling. Employer-based insurance would be allowed to exist to the extent that plans met or exceeded the standards set by the Medicare plan. If not, employers and their employees would either be required to make their plans better, or transition to the expanded Medicare program.

The idea put forward by these party establishment types that centrist and independent voters will be scared off by progressive proposals in the next election and will vote for Trump, and that in order to win the party needs to tone down its message is an argument of doubtful validity. It really does not matter who the Democratic party nominee is or what they say they stand for. Donald Trump and the Republicans will paint them as raging extremists who will take away their guns, flood the country with immigrants, take away their health care, force everyone into same-sex marriages, outlaw Christianity, and impose Sharia law. Pete Buttigieg made this point well at the last Democratic debate, “If we embrace a far left agenda, they’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists.”

Appealing to the kind of people who would believe this kind of Republican nonsense if futile. You cannot reason with such people. A progressive agenda has the potential to excite a lot of people who are sick and tired of the Democratic party nominating people who do not really stand for much other than to say that they are not as bad as Republicans. Such voters have tended to be apathetic and even sit out past elections. If they can be excited by proposals and brought in, their numbers may well swing the election.


  1. machintelligence says

    “Democrats are most swayed by the arguments that the program would impose a heavy cost on taxpayers and threaten Medicare for senior citizens.”
    That and the fear that we might end up with a bureaucracy with the efficiency of the post office and the sympathetic attitude of the IRS. An overstatement, perhaps, but I live in Denver and have watched the VA hospital debacle.

  2. jrkrideau says

    Rick Sanchez on RT America just had a thing on the cost of US Healthcare. It was terrifying. As far as I can see it looks like the medical and insurance Industries are looting the American public. It is difficult to see why and how the American public can let themselves be blatantly robbed like this. I guess if you lie to all the people all the time some people will believe those lies.


  3. Mark Dowd says

    That and the fear that we might end up with a bureaucracy with the efficiency of the post office and the sympathetic attitude of the IRS.

    Why would people fear an improvement like that?

  4. fentex says

    The U.S would probably do better to adopt the Swiss way of it -- which it happens the Affordable Health Care act was kinda sort-of edging towards.

    To put it simply; In Switzerland the government ensures everybody is insured, but does not run any health care provider allowing for an open market. Citizens choose between providers of health care with funds guaranteed by their government.

    Thus the governments interest is in cheaper health care (to minimize their outgoes) so they can be expected to encourage vigorous effective competition, with their citizens free choices providing the market discipline.

    The U.S’s problem in health care is the countries fundamental corrupt way of governance creating absurd incentives and protecting sharp business practices -- maybe the Swiss method would help deal with those issues in a manner consistent with the way the U.S would like to think of itself?

  5. Mano Singham says

    jrkrideau @#4,

    You have to realize that many Americans have no idea of how anything works outside the US, and sometimes even outside their state. Hence they are easily persuaded that the health system they have is the best since, after all, they think that the US is best at pretty much everything

  6. Sam N says

    I do not get the hate against the post office. It has been an egalitarian and enormously important American institution. American defense institutions make post office efficiency seem as though it breaks thermodynamic laws. Maybe choose a target worth the ire.

    Yes, the post office serves rural communities, which is inefficient. They also are dominated by people who most detest ‘wasteful government spending’ and would be the first to gripe about the inability to receive packages at the current very cheap costs. But I despite their idiocy, I think that nature, that it connects everyone is terribly important.

  7. lanir says

    The conservatives only have one argument against progressive ideas and it’s a very simple one. We haven’t tried progressive ideas in living memory. Instead the conservatives want incremental changes so small they amount to minor refinements on an idea that is already not working. It’s been quite a long time since the New Deal. It’s time for another.

    People who complain about the US Postal Service and the IRS are not paying attention to how those organizations actually work.

    The USPS is so efficient that for many packages they’re the last-mile carrier. Even if you hire DHS/FedEx/UPS/whoever to deliver a small package, odds are good someone from the USPS will be the delivery person. This is not an accident.

    I’ve dealt with the IRS while digging up records and dealing with identity theft. They were always very helpful and polite. I’d been brought up thinking the whole place would be filled with angry people just looking for ways to get money from me but the reality is nowhere close to that.

  8. rich rutishauser says

    I second Sam N at #9. Also picking on the VA which has been chronically underfunded for decades on purpose…there are many politicians who have wanted to force it to fail which would enable them to further push the “privatize it” narrative.

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