Thanks to Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid in 2016, his signature “Medicare for All” proposal is the litmus issue for Democrats in the unfolding 2020 campaign. With supermajority support among Democratic and independent voters and backed by more than half of Republicans, the single-payer scheme was endorsed by a majority of Democratic candidates in November’s House races.
Most of the declared Democratic presidential candidates claim to back Medicare for All, including even New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who has accepted more money from Big Pharma than any other member of his party. So compelling is the issue, a Politico-Harvard poll shows that fully 84 percent of Democrats want the party to make Medicare for All “an extremely important priority.”
It should be huge news, then, that the top Democrat in Congress, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, is actively working to discredit and sideline the most popular domestic political proposal of the century. But apparently not.
The Intercept’s February 5 blockbuster, “Top Nancy Pelosi Aide Privately Tells Insurance Executives Not to Worry About Democrats Pushing ‘Medicare for All,’” was picked up by only one “mainstream” corporate media outlet: Newsweek. In burying this bombshell, the plutocrat-owned press is protecting Pelosi from the extreme embarrassment of being caught conspiring with insurance companies to subvert Democratic voters’ highest priority issue, with the obvious aim of derailing Bernie Sanders’ now-announced second run for the presidency.
The Intercept got its hands on the slide presentation that Pelosi advisor Wendell Primus presented to Blue Cross Blue Shield executives on December 4. Primus assured the executives that Democratic leadership has “strong reservations” about Medicare for All and “would be allies to the insurance industry in the fight against single-payer health care.”
The slide presentation outlined Pelosi’s three-prong attack on single-payer:
- Cost: “Monies are needed for other priorities.”
- Opposition: “Stakeholders are against; Creates winners and losers.”
- “Implementation challenges.”
Primus’s mission was to enlist the insurance industry as allies in Pelosi’s planned countercampaign to reduce drug prices, which is also good for Big Insurance bottom lines. But that requires assuring the insurance fat cats that Medicare for All will, in Hillary Clinton’s words, “never, ever come to pass.”
Pelosi’s strategy is to orchestrate a defense of what’s left of Obamacare while softening up the drug industry over prices in a possible alliance with Donald Trump, who signaled his willingness to partner with Democrats on the issue in his State of the Union address:
“It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place. This is wrong, this is unfair, and together we will stop it. We will stop it fast. I am asking the Congress to pass legislation that finally takes on the problem of global freeloading and delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients.”
In light of the Primus presentation, it is clear that Pelosi had her “Grand Bargain” with Trump and the GOP in mind when she spoke of “a responsibility to seek common ground where we can,” shortly after the polls closed in November. “Openness and transparency, accountability [and] bipartisanship [are] a very important part of how we will go forward,” she said.
Undermine in secret
Pelosi’s game plan to deal with single-payer supporters in her own party is exactly the opposite: subversion and backdoor deals to undermine Medicare for All, in secret. The corporate media is part of the conspiracy of silence on Pelosi’s undercover Medicare for All machinations, just as they collude in ignoring Bernie Sanders’ steady stream of speeches on this issue and a slew of wildly popular proposals that would end private exploitation of a whole range of services to the people.
Although single-payer healthcare would directly benefit most businesses that employ workers, by eliminating profit-driven insurance payments and driving down drug and hospital costs,
Nobody but the Lords of Capital believes in “the market,” which is nothing but the state-protected right to profiteer from essential human needs. To preserve the fiction that “there is no alternative” to capitalist markets (as Margaret Thatcher said), the corporate media erases the people’s public options through its control of the political narrative.
That’s what Russiagate is really about – not fantasy plotters in Moscow, but silencing actual dissent to the corporate narrative at home.
Unfortunately, Bernie Sanders and his brand of Democrat “socialists” can’t grasp the connection.
They embrace the half of the corporate narrative that justifies endless war with Russia, China, Syria, and now Venezuela – while rejecting its twin: endless austerity. And then they wonder why the corporate narrative is just as hostile to single payer, free college tuition and a Green New Deal as it is to Putin, Assad and Maduro.
Which leaves them at the mercy of their conniving corporate overseer, Nancy Pelosi.
Glen Ford is executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com. Email him at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.