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Clinton and Sanders on Health Care: Do the Numbers Add up for Single-Payer?

Taxpayer funding of U.S. health care vs. other nationsHillary Clinton claimed in Thursday night’s debate with Bernie Sanders: “So if you’re having Medicare for all, single-payer, you need to level with people about what they will have at the end of the process you are proposing. And based on every analysis that I can find by people who are sympathetic to the goal, the numbers don’t add up, and many people will actually be worse off than they are right now.”

STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER, M.D., via Mark Almberg, mark at pnhp.org, @PNHP
Dr. Woolhandler co-founded Physicians for a National Health Program, which does research and advocacy for single-payer health care, but does not endorse candidates. She is a professor at City University of New York at Hunter College, who sees patients in the South Bronx and recently co-wrote the piece “On Kenneth Thorpe’s Analysis of Senator Sanders’ Single-Payer Reform Plan.” Almberg is communications director for PNHP.

Dr. Woolhandler said today: “The numbers on single-payer do, in fact, add up. It’s indisputable that single-payer systems in other countries cover everyone for virtually everything, and at much lower cost than our health care system.

“For instance, Canadians have a system that covers everyone, without co-payments or deductibles, and they live two years longer than Americans. Yet their system costs about half as much per person as ours.

“Much of the cost difference between our system and Canada’s is the extraordinary cost of paperwork in our system. As my colleagues and I found in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, our insurance companies’ overhead is seven times higher than Canada’s single-payer program. And insurers force doctors and hospitals to spend billions fighting to get paid. Overall, bureaucracy consumes 31 cents of every health care dollar in the U.S. vs. 16.7 cents in Canada.

“Our research shows that if the U.S. moved to a single-payer system as efficient as Canada’s, we’d save $430 billion on useless paperwork and insurance companies’ outrageous profits, more than enough to cover the 31 million Americans who remain uninsured, and to eliminate co-payments and deductibles for everyone.

“A single-payer system could save even more money by bargaining with drug companies for discounts on drugs. Other countries get discounts of about 50%, and as the biggest customer we could have the bargaining power to get similar savings.

“Finally, single-payer systems have been better at controlling costs over the long-haul. Our medical arms race — with hospitals competing to offer expensive high tech care, even when they don’t do enough to be good at it — has driven up costs and compromised the quality of care. In contrast, single-payer nations have used thoughtful health planning, to invest in expensive high tech care where it’s needed, not just where it’s redundant but profitable.

“Experience in countries with single-payer systems, such as Canada, Scotland, and Taiwan, proves that we can have more, better and cheaper care.”

Sanders Biographer: He’s a Pragmatic Populist

People's Republic CoverGREG GUMA, mavmedia at aol.com@proverbialG
Guma is author of numerous books including, The People’s Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution (1989). He has written many essays on Sanders, including “Progressive Eclipse: Burlington, Bernie and the Movement That Changed Vermont.”

In 2013, Guma wrote the piece ‘One-Man Show: What Happens If Bernie Runs for the Presidency?” which tracked his rise from a third party candidate placing in single digits to a major force in state politics and projected a similar trajectory on the national stage. 

Guma said today: “Many people are now trolling around for dirt on Bernie, but it’s unlikely to stick. … It’s critical to understand that Bernie is not and never was a party builder, he was a candidate. He originally won because of low voter turnout but rose because of increasing voter turnout. 

“His campaigns in Vermont were based on the same thing as his current presidential campaign: If you repeat a strong core message enough, people will catch on. We ran on the same ticket in 1981 — both he and I were about to run for mayor of Burlington and we decided he’d run for mayor and I’d run for city council. He barely won that election — his first after many defeats — and that propelled his political career. 

“Power corrupts, but Bernie has become more human as he has risen. He had years with a hand-to-mouth existence — being elected mayor was I think his first real job. 

“He’s a natural born politician, but not out to build a cult of personality. He originally didn’t run as a socialist, but as an independent, which has a strong history in Vermont. And in office he focused on culture as much as anything else — creating an atmosphere of tolerance in Burlington, fostering the arts. 

“His campaign now is the largest overtly ideological national campaign in a long time and dovetails and contrasts with Trump in many ways. Sanders is an insurgent with the message to the Democratic Party of: ‘we are not of you, but we want to revive you,’ while with Trump, it’s more of a hostile takeover attempt. Trump is saying that Bernie can’t get things done, but Bernie has a certain conservative, cross cultural appeal. He’s gone along with the NRA at times and been targeted by them at times. He talks about democratic socialism, but in concrete terms is really re-asserting the New Deal. He know how to close a deal with the voters and make a deal with opponents. Even though his message is highly aspirational, as a populist, he’s a pragmatist. 

“Sanders was a co-founder of the Progressive Caucus, but he’s also been open to left-right coalitions.” Guma’s 2010 piece “What Makes Bernie Speak?” notes that: “One unusual aspect of Bernie’s approach in Congress has been to wage congressional battles with people whose stands on other issues he abhors. In fact, much of Bernie’s legislative success has come through forging deals with ideological opposites. An amendment to bar spending in support of defense contractor mergers, for example, was pushed through with the aid of Chris Smith, a prominent opponent of abortion. John Kasich … helped him phase out risk insurance for foreign investments. And it was a ‘left-right coalition’ he helped create that derailed ‘fast track’ legislation on international agreements pushed by Bill Clinton. The power of that strategy may have reached its apex in May 2010 when Bernie’s campaign to bring transparency to the Federal Reserve resulted in a 96-0 Senate vote on his amendment to audit the Fed and conduct a General Accounting Office audit of possible conflicts of interest in loans to unknown banks.” Guma’s recent pieces have included, “Is a Progressive/Libertarian Movement Possible?” 

“If it becomes a national security election, I doubt Bernie could adjust his campaign — his record is at best muddled on that. If the media were serious, they’d ask him about the military budget. Military contractors in Vermont have had a negative effect on the state and Bernie has been fine with that.” See Guma’s piece “Lockheed in Vermont: Sanders’ Corporate Conundrum.” 

Flint-Type Crises “Will Continue Until EPA is Accountable”

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 9.09.18 AMThe Hill reports: “Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is turning down a request from House Democrats that he testify about his role in Flint, Mich.’s drinking water crisis.

“Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton said Monday that the governor won’t attend on Wednesday because he’s due to present his annual budget proposal that day in Michigan.”

MARSHA COLEMAN-ADEBAYO, nofearcoalition at aol.com, @nofearcoalition
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is an EPA whistleblower who worked at the agency for 18 years. She is the author of No Fear: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA‘ Her lawsuit led to the historic No Fear Act. She just co-wrote the piece “Water crises like Flint’s will continue until the EPA is held accountable” for The Guardian, which states: “The ultimate responsibility to safeguard public health rests with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), per the Clean Water Act. In fact, there are provisions of the Clean Water Act that provide for criminal prosecutions for violations that can result in fines and imprisonment.”

“The EPA has 200 fully authorized federal law enforcement agents who can carry firearms, 70 forensic scientists and technicians, and 45 attorneys who specialize in environmental crimes enforcement. Yet the EPA, mandated as the public’s last, best line of defense, failed the people — yet again — when it came to the Flint water crisis.

“The Flint atrocity could, with congressional and presidential resolve, be the last one — agency administrators and political appointees serve at the pleasure of the president, and Congress is responsible for doling out funding to them.

“But for that resolve to crystallize, the horrors of the poisoning of Flint need to be seen within the historical contexts that show the crimes committed against the people of Flint fit a toxic template with deep roots in the managerial culture of the EPA that has repeatedly created sacrifice zones in poor, predominantly black and brown communities of America, often backed by congressional and presidential inaction.

“Congress, acting on behalf of the people, must break this cycle and hold all public officials who were complicit in the tragedy in Flint to account.

“Ten years ago, municipal water quality expert Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech professor who is now part of the group investigating Flint, took on the EPA and the CDC about lead poisoning in Washington D.C. It took six years and tens of thousands of his own dollars to fight two federal agencies charged with protecting the public. After that period, by virtue of wresting FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request information that both agencies had withheld from the public — and surviving both agency’s efforts to discredit him as an unreliable rogue — the agencies finally had to admit they had misled the public, and that a disproportionate number of Washington’s children of color suffered lead poisoning.”

Economist: With Sanders, Income and Jobs Would Soar

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.43.58 AMCNN reports in “Under Sanders, Income and Jobs Would Soar, Economist Says” that: “Median income would soar by more than $22,000. Nearly 26 million jobs would be created. The unemployment rate would fall to 3.8 percent.

“Those are just a few of the things that would happen if Bernie Sanders became president and his ambitious economic program were put into effect, according to an analysis given exclusively to CNNMoney. The first comprehensive look at the impact of all of Sanders’ spending and tax proposals on the economy was done by Gerald Friedman, a University of Massachusetts Amherst economics professor.”

GERALD FRIEDMAN,  gfriedma at econs.umass.edu, @gfriedma
Professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Friedman’s work was the basis for attacks on Sanders in the Wall Street Journal, which the Clinton campaign seems to have be drawn from and which Friedman has previously debunked.

In the Feb. 4 Democratic debate with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton cited a study by Kenneth Thorpe at Emory University to attack Sanders’ health insurance reform proposal — Medicare-for-All. In “Friedman Responds to Thorpe on Single-Payer,” written for Dollars & Sense magazine, Friedman writes: “Unfortunately, Kenneth Thorpe does not provide enough documentation to make an explicit comparison between his estimates and those provided in detail by the Sanders campaign. He lists his projected Federal spending per year, he fails to explain how he calculated these numbers. While this failure makes it impossible to consider his claims on a point by point basis, it is possible to extract enough from his statement to conclude that his analysis is so deeply flawed that it implies some clearly unrealistic assumptions.”

Friedman also recently wrote the piece “What Would Sanders Do?” for Dollars & Sense: “Taxes on the wealthy would pay for widely shared benefits. See Figure 3. Sanders would finance expanded infrastructure, universal free pre-K education, free public higher education, universal health insurance, and other programs with progressive taxation and through the elimination of tax deductions for rich individuals and large corporations. While the benefits of the increased spending would be widely shared, increases in income taxes and other targeted tax changes would be borne mostly by the richest Americans; almost half of the tax changes would be paid by the richest 5 percent and nearly 30 percent by the richest 1 percent. In addition, measures like a financial transactions tax and elimination of favored tax treatment for fossil fuels would promote greater economic efficiency by discouraging economically and environmentally harmful activities.”

TPP, Pharma Bro

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.29.11 AMThe Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed last week but has yet to be ratified. See in The Hill: “Trump: I ‘very much agree’ with Sanders on trade.” See Politifact: “Hillary Clinton flip-flops on Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

ZAHARA HECKSCHER, BookZahara at gmail.com, @ZaharaHeckscher
Heckscher
is a breast cancer patient, writer and educator who lives in Washington, D.C. She released the following statement upon release from jail following arrest at a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) protest on World Cancer Day.

“I am a mom with advanced breast cancer. I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was 11. That’s why I was arrested at a protest on World Cancer Day at the headquarters of PhRMA, which has been lobbying to increase monopolies for medicines in the TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership. …

“If ratified, the TPP would lock in monopolies for certain new medicines, biological medicines that help people like me stay alive. Monopolies allow drug companies to increase prices dramatically, and high prices decrease access. This means that some people with cancer will die because they can’t get the medicine they need. …

“The day of our protest, World Cancer Day, coincided with the testimony in Congress by ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli. He is called ‘the most hated man in America’ because he raised the price of a medicine for toxoplasmosis from under $20 to $750 per tablet.

“Congress rightly took Shkreli to task for his unconscionable actions. But if Congress votes for the TPP, they will be locking in policies, most likely for decades to come, that create incentives for pharmaceutical companies to act like Shkreli did. For cancer patients, that would be truly unconscionable.”

See from Public Citizen, which includes video of Heckscher’s arrest: “On World Cancer Day, Cancer Patients Arrested at PhRMA Headquarters to Warn of ‘Death Sentence’ Imposed by Trans-Pacific Partnership Expansion of Medicine Monopolies.”

Clinton, “Endless War” Candidate

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 8.57.48 AMMARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal at gmail.com, @marjoriecohn
Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and editor most recently of the book Drones and Targeted Killing. She just wrote the piece: “Want Endless War? Love the U.S. Empire? Well, Hillary Clinton’s Your Choice,” which states: “Hillary Clinton likes to extol her foreign policy credentials, particularly her experience as secretary of state. She attaches herself to Barack Obama’s coattails, pledging to continue his policies. But she is even more hawkish than the president. …

“Obama, who continues to prosecute the war in Afghanistan 15 years after it began, is poised to send ground troops back to Iraq and begin bombing Libya. … The president has bombed some seven countries with drones. …

“Although Clinton supports the [Iran] nuclear deal, she talks tough about Iran. In September 2015, she provocatively declared, ‘I don’t believe Iran is our partner in this agreement. Iran is the subject of the agreement,’ and added, ‘I will confront them across the board.’ … In an August 2014 Atlantic interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, Clinton maintained, ‘There is no such thing as a right to enrich.’ Apparently, she has not read the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which gives countries like Iran the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. …

“One country that does possess nuclear weapons is Israel — which refuses to ratify the NPT. Clinton has consistently and uncritically supported the policies of the Israeli government. …

“Clinton’s vote in favor of President George W. Bush’s illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq cost her the 2008 election. It also cost more than 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis their lives.

“Yet Clinton cynically told corporate executives at a 2011 State Department roundtable on investment opportunities in Iraq, ‘It’s time for the United States to start thinking of Iraq as a business opportunity.’

“The same year, Clinton led the campaign for forcible regime change in Libya, despite opposition by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Responding to the gruesome sodomizing of President Moammar Gadhafi with a bayonet, Clinton laughed and said, ‘We came, we saw, he died.’

“Both the Iraq War and regime change in Libya paved the way for the rise of Islamic State and dangerous conflict in the Middle East. …”

Clinton: A “Progressive” Who Gets What Done?

progressiveJEFF COHEN, jcohen at ithaca.edu, @Roots_Action
Cohen is director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, founder of media watch group FAIR and co-founder of the online activism organization RootsAction.org, which just released the statement “Thousands Ask Clinton to ‘Stop Lying’ About Iraq Vote.”

At last night’s debate in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton again described herself as a “progressive who gets things done.” Cohen just wrote the piece “Hillary Clinton Turns Stand-Up Comic: ‘I’m a Progressive Who Gets Things Done.'”

Cohen writes: “A quick review of Hillary Clinton’s record shows that much of what she gets done is anti-progressive (not unlike President Clinton in the 1990s). For example:

Promoting Fracking Worldwide is Not Progressive: On behalf of Chevron and other US oil companies, Secretary Clinton and the State Department pushed fracking globally, as Mother Jones has documented: “How Hillary Clinton’s State Department Sold Fracking to the World.”

Boosting Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals is Not Progressive: Secretary Clinton repeatedly praised the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – as it was being negotiated by the U.S. Trade Representative and her State Department – and she recruited countries into the deal. In October, with Bernie Sanders climbing in the polls, Clinton said she no longer supported the pact, and prevaricated about her earlier boosterism.

Enabling Military Coups is Not Progressive: When she headed the State Department, it enabled a military coup in Honduras that overthrew democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, a progressive. Clinton was briefed on the dishonesty that allowed aid to illegally reach the coup government.

Pocketing Millions from Corporate Lectures Fees is Not Progressive: When Wall Street, Big Pharma and other corporate interests paid a soon-to-be presidential candidate an average of $230,000 for a speech, did Hillary Clinton think it was for her brilliant stand-up comedy? Or was it more akin to political bribery? Clinton now says these firms just wanted to hear the views of a former Secretary of State on our ‘complicated world’ — or about the Bin Laden raid. But Politico reported in 2013 soon after one of her three speeches to Goldman Sachs: ‘Clinton offered a message that the collected plutocrats found reassuring, according to accounts offered by several attendees, declaring that the banker-bashing so popular within both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish.’ (Releasing the speech transcripts would help settle the matter.)

Escalating the Afghan War is Not Progressive: As insider books on the Obama administration have revealed, Secretary Clinton was among the most hawkish of Obama’s advisors in country after country – for example, vociferously urging the failed and pointless 2009 troop surge in Afghanistan.

Chaotic Military Intervention in the Middle East and Libya is Not Progressive: If not for Hillary Clinton’s 2002 Senate vote in support of Bush’s Iraq invasion, Obama would not have defeated her in 2008. As if having learned nothing from the post-invasion chaos in Iraq, Secretary Clinton was one of the strongest voices in 2011 urging Obama to militarily depose Qaddafi in Libya, a country now in total, deadly chaos.”

UN Panel: Assange Detention Should End

160205033303-julian-assange-ruling-elbagir-lok-00014718-large-169The Guardian reports today: “UN panel calls on UK and Sweden to end Julian Assange’s ‘deprivation of liberty.'” The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention states that “the detention” of the WikiLeaks founder “should be brought to an end and that Mr. Assange should be afforded the right to compensation.” Here is the legal opinion. See video of news conference.

CAREY SHENKMAN, careyshenkman at riseup.net, @CareyShenkman
Shenkman is an attorney for Julian Assange in the U.S. and works for Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Shenkman said today: “Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador due to a risk of persecution and inhumane treatment in the United States for publishing activities. Free speech organizations worldwide have condemned the U.S. attempts to prosecute Julian Assange; this includes a statement just yesterday by the ACLU’s executive director Anthony Romero calling a U.S. case against Mr. Assange ‘unprecedented and unconstitutional.’ Nevertheless that U.S. case was confirmed in December 2015. The asylum has nothing to do with Sweden. The UN’s highest authority on detention has now held that both states have failed to provide adequate consideration for the risks faced by Mr. Assange.”

Will Clinton Cut Social Security?

51atcu4gcsL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_NANCY ALTMAN via Lacy Crawford Jr. lcrawford at socialsecurityworks.org, Linda Benesch, lbenesch at socialsecurityworks.org@SSWorks
Altman is the president of Social Security Works and is the co-author of Social Security Works! Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All.

She said today that the Iowa caucus results provided “a clear rejection of Wall Street ideas, including cutting Social Security. Regardless of who they were supporting, 84 percent of Iowa Democrats said that they want to support someone who will never cut even a single penny of Social Security benefits. Given the nation’s looming retirement income crisis and growing income and wealth inequality, that is the right policy. 

“This situation presents Hillary Clinton with an excellent opportunity to showcase her independence from Wall Street, and build momentum going into New Hampshire. Senator Sanders has already pledged that he will never cut Social Security’s earned benefits under any circumstances. If Secretary Clinton does the same, it will demonstrate to Democratic voters that she stands with them against all attacks on Social Security. We call on her to meet this challenge.

“Some politicians who want to cut Social Security but do not want to lose the support of current seniors propose cuts in the future — pledging, for example, not to cut the benefits of anyone currently aged 55 or older — but these will cut the benefits of those who will need them most, when the retirement income crisis is in full swing. Others, who want to dismantle Social Security by converting it from insurance into welfare, propose to improve benefits for the most vulnerable, but cut them for those they call ‘higher income’ but are decidedly middle class. Various so-called centrist groups, like Third Way, which is primarily funded by Wall Street, have proposed these kinds of plans.

“Secretary Clinton has not been clear about where she stands. She has talked about expanding benefits for those who are most vulnerable, but has been silent about whether she would support cuts. She has actually hinted in some statements that she might be open to them.

“Now, as the campaigns head into New Hampshire, is the time for her to stand clearly and strongly with Main Street, not Wall Street, and pledge no cuts for today’s beneficiaries and no cuts for those who follow.”

Party Bosses Rigging Debate Process

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The next Democratic Party debate is Thursday night. The next Republican Party debate is Saturday night. See accuracy.org/calendar for upcoming events.

GEORGE FARAH, gfarah@opendebates.org
Farah is executive director of Open Debates and author of the book No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates.

He said today: “During this election, the Republican and Democratic parties have asserted unprecedented control over the primary debates, and the results have been disastrous. Historically, the major parties exercised limited influence over primary debates. Dozens of media entities and civic groups organically emerged every four years to host primary debates featuring a range of innovative formats. In 2008, for example, there were 25 Democratic primary debates and 21 Republican primary debates. …

“Yet, rather than celebrate the profusion of primary debates, the major parties have denounced them. In February 2015, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican Party, said, ‘I don’t think having our candidates running around in a traveling circus and doing 23 debates, slicing and dicing each other is in the best interests of our party.’

“Indeed, the major parties are uninterested in maximizing voter education. Instead, they want to crown a ‘viable’ nominee as swiftly as possible and shield that candidate from bruising attacks by intra-party rivals. …

“To accomplish their goals, the major parties took exceptional steps to assert control over the primary debates for the 2016 election. Both parties adopted the same radical, anti-democratic policy: if a candidate participates in a debate that is not sanctioned by the party, that candidate will be summarily excluded from the debates approved by the party. This was the first time in the history of televised presidential debates that a major party has threatened to punish a candidate for participating in a debate. …

“The Republican Party only scheduled a paltry twelve primary debates for a record-breaking 17 candidates. The party could not simultaneously include all 17 candidates in a debate. The party should have rotated them through an initial round of debates. This would have provided each candidate with an opportunity to introduce themselves to voters, before polls were used to winnow the field in later debates. Instead, beginning with the very first debate, the party established a two-tiered debating system, whereby front-runners were featured in primetime debates and those polling at the bottom were prematurely relegated to undercard debates.  As result, several candidates were permanently consigned to undercard debates, which effectively extinguished their candidacies before they started …

“The Democratic Party has behaved even worse. Initially, the party only authorized six primary debates for the 2016 election and scheduled three of those debates on weekends, when viewership declines. The head of the Democratic Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, previously served as co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008. This election cycle, she has sought to coronate Clinton with minimal opposition to her candidacy by limiting debate viewership. …

“Now that Clinton is unexpectedly facing a vibrant challenge from Bernie Sanders, she needs more primary debates to make her case to voters. On cue, the Democratic Party — which so strenuously rejected pleas for more debates from Sanders and Martin O’Malley last year — has scheduled four more debates.

“Such blatant favoritism is shameful. …

“It is particularly important that primary debates are abundant and inclusive considering that the major parties have rendered the general election debates so limiting and exclusionary.  General election debates are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a private corporation that was jointly created by the Republican and Democratic parties in 1987. Every four years, the Commission excludes third-party and independent candidates and allows the major party nominees to excessively shape the debate formats.”

The group RootsAction has set up a petition: “Remove Debbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC Chair“: “Wasserman Schultz has tried in other ways to minimize competition for her candidate, Hillary Clinton. She has done this by scheduling very few primary debates, and scheduling them at times of low TV viewing. In Congress, she has served as a pro-militarist and corporatist tool of the high bidders.”

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