A recent Wall Street Journal op-ed by Elizabeth Warren, in which the Massachusetts senator urged Democrats to campaign on Medicare For All, is a sign the tide is turning.
Liz Warren is no dummy. She’s up for re-election in 2018. She knows what sells, and she knows that unlike most Republicans, Donald Trump is entirely capable of running simultaneously to the left AND to the right of Democrats.
The Affordable Care Act was a Republican plan, originally floated by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and called “Romneycare” when it was enacted into law in Massachusetts in the 1990s.
When Obama stole the Republican plan to bail out insurance companies, it deprived Republicans of contributions from the insurance industry and Big Pharma, and left Republicans with nowhere to go politically.
So the plans pushed by the House and Senate Republican leadership are standard things which pursue old Republican goals like turning Medicaid from a program supposedly based upon need into one funded up to a set amount and no more, instituting health savings accounts and using that Medicaid money for more tax breaks for the wealthy. Republicans might not like Obamacare, but they are for the moment unable to whip their own Senate majority behind the plan of their leaders.
What no corporate media outlet will tell you is that a majority of House Democrats have now signed on to John Conyers’ current Medicare For All bill. So-called progressive Democrats are known for striking courageous poses when they don’t have majorities to pass them, but this is a very different political moment than nine years ago.
So where is the nation’s foremost proponent of Medicare For All, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders? Nowhere. Early in the year Bernie’s office was telling people to expect a Senate version of Medicare For All that might drop in March, or April or May. It’s July now.
Maybe Bernie has postponed the push for single payer because Democratic Party unity is more important. Maybe Bernie doesn’t want to shame his fellow Dems – he is the party’s outreach chairman now – by getting too far out in front of them on this. The potential embarrassment is real. California Democrats, firmly in control of their state government, killed their own single payer bill two weeks ago.
Whatever the reason, there exists NO Medicare For All Senate bill to which Greens, Democrats and others might demand senators affix their name to. Nobody’s holding that up but Senator Bernie Sanders. The US Senate is a good old boys club, and Liz Warren despite her gender is very much a good old boy. Warren will never put Bernie on the spot by introducing her own single payer bill, and neither will any other Senate Democrat.
So the tide is finally turning on Medicare For All. But at this moment Bernie Sanders is blocking that tide.
Bruce Dixon is managing editor of BlackAgendaReport.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.