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Wed Sep 13, 2017, 09:24 PM

The Genius of Bernies Gradualism

http://prospect.org/article/genius-bernies-gradualism

The Genius of Bernieís Gradualism
Harold Meyerson
September 13, 2017

Sandersís Medicare for All bill is built on the understanding that revolutions take time.


snip//

But by far the most strategically savvy aspect of the bill is its gradualism. Sanders, itís important to recognize, has not made and does not make the perfect the enemy of the good. During the Republicansí war on the ACA, he more actively defended that legislationówhile at the same time making the case for going beyond itóthan most of his peers, touring the country to rally the opposition to the GOPís attacks. Likewise, the bill he just introduced, composed as it is of several time-specific steps, is designed to make it progressively easier for legislators to support and progressively more difficult for such entrenched interests as the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to defeat.

Suppose, as will likely be the case, that a legislative majority for the billís first trancheóexpanding Medicare to Americans under 19 and over 49óemerges first, before thereís a majority willing to enact the entire package. Politically, itís far less of a heavy lift to support a universal entitlement for children (who also incur low medical expenses) and for a slice of the population thatís worked for many years and is finding it more difficult to find remunerative employment in our brave new economy. Thatís a debate that single-payer advocates should welcome, and that Big Pharma and the insurance companies should feel somewhat nervous about. I suspect the billís 17 sponsors would see it as a victory if that first tranche were enacted as a separated-out piece of legislation, with the understanding that theyíd keep trying to secure majorities for the other tranches.

As the scope of Medicareís clientele expands and as that of the private insurers contracts, the financial and political heft of the private insurers would contract with it. The fight to lower the age of eligibility to 45, then 35, then to make Medicare truly universal, would be one in which private insurers would have progressively fewer arrows in their quivers. An industry that provides insurance to 60 million Americans, and then 40 million Americans, has smaller profits and less clout in Congress than one that provides insurance to 150 million Americans.

It may not be Sandersís intent to disassemble his bill into age-and-time-specific pieces of legislation. But the billís very design certainly makes that possible if itís politically necessary, and Sandersís own inclinations not to make the perfect the enemy of the good, and his understanding of the complexities of social change, suggest that he at least understands this may be the course that getting to single payer will take.

None of this is to suggest that enacting just the first tranche will be easyóit will, of course, require substantial Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and a Democratic president. Compelling pharmaceutical companies to negotiate prices and simply expanding the populations covered by Medicare will provoke a massive opposition campaign from Big Pharma and insurance companies, and other forces that thrive under the health care status quo. But itís easier to overcome those forces when the debate centers on the right to health care of children and longtime workers than it is to win an all-or-nothing battle that some on the left have advocated.

The gradualist approach in Sandersís bill also permits Democrats and progressives to have a more flexible approach to their own elected officials and candidates. A liberal or center-left Democrat in a red state may face electoral extinction if she endorses single-payer. She may well be strengthened at the polls, however, if she backs Medicare for kids and the middle-aged. Rather than encouraging some on the left to create a single standard for candidate supportóto wit, whether that candidate backs single-payer nowóthe Sanders bill creates a continuum that affords candidates the ability to position themselves on a sliding scale of support, depending on the politics of their state or district. Some on the left clearly want to cast elected officials who donít or politically canít support the entire package now into the eternal darkness; little Lenins at the Finland Station we certainly have with us. But Sanders himself has made no such argument, and his bill clearly invites the partial endorsement of Democrats who feel constrained from backing it in its entirety.

Besides, revolutions take time. Theyíre a process, not an overnight transformation. Bernie understands that; so should the left.

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Arrow 7 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Genius of Bernies Gradualism (Original post)
babylonsister Sep 13 OP
elleng Sep 13 #1
Pugster Sep 13 #2
samnsara Sep 13 #3
Justice Sep 13 #6
beam me up scottie Sep 13 #4
LexVegas Sep 13 #5
delisen Sep 13 #7

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 13, 2017, 09:27 PM

1. 'Sanders . . . has not made and does not make the perfect the enemy of the good. . .

Besides, revolutions take time. Theyíre a process, not an overnight transformation. Bernie understands that; so should the left.'

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 13, 2017, 09:29 PM

2. The first part would "require substantial Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress"

When will that happen?

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 13, 2017, 09:53 PM

3. we are almost out of time

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Response to samnsara (Reply #3)

Wed Sep 13, 2017, 10:14 PM

6. x1000

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 13, 2017, 10:07 PM

4. K & R!

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 13, 2017, 10:08 PM

5. Heh. nt

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Sep 13, 2017, 11:14 PM

7. So now its the Evolution Revolution


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