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Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 in 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Election, Economy, Health | 12 comments

Washington Post Editorial Board Spreading Fictions About Bernie Sanders

The Washington Post has carried op-eds both in support of Bernie Sanders and in opposition to him. I looked at a couple of them yesterday. The  Post followed this up with an editorial full of right wing attacks on Sanders which were out of touch with reality. Bernie Sanders has responded:

At a breakfast with reporters here Thursday that was hosted by Bloomberg Politics, Sanders fired back — again and again and again.

“That’s not a new argument. We’ve been hearing that months and months, and that’s in a sense what this campaign is about,” Sanders said in response to a request for his reaction to the editorial. “People are telling us, whether it’s the Washington Post editorial board or anybody else, our ideas are too ambitious — can’t happen. Too bold — really? Well, here’s something which is really bold. In the last 30 years, there has been a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class and working families of this country. The middle class has become poorer and trillions of dollars have been transferred to the top one-tenth of 1 percent.”

“That’s pretty radical, isn’t it?” Sanders said. “Where was The Washington Post to express concern that the middle class was shrinking?”

…When he was asked about foreign policy, Sanders detoured: “Getting back to The Washington Post — check out where all the geniuses on the editorial page were with regard to the invasion of Iraq.” (They supported it.)

At another point: “I know The Washington Post may think I’m radical, but I’m not.”

More on Sanders’ response at Common Dreams.

Just as The Washington Post was wrong on the facts when they supported the Iraq war and in ignoring the economic meltdown, they totally botched the health care issue:

He admits that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay for his universal, Medicare-for-all health-care plan, and he promises massive savings on health-care costs that would translate into generous benefits for ordinary people, putting them well ahead, on net. But he does not adequately explain where those massive savings would come from. Getting rid of corporate advertising and overhead would only yield so much. Savings would also have to come from slashing payments to doctors and hospitals and denying benefits that people want.

He would be a braver truth-teller if he explained how he would go about rationing health care like European countries do. His program would be more grounded in reality if he addressed the fact of chronic slow growth in Europe and explained how he would update the 20th-century model of social democracy to accomplish its goals more efficiently. Instead, he promises large benefits and few drawbacks.

Medicare for All is not a program which Sanders has pulled out of the air. Supporters of health care reform have discussed this for years. It is not difficult to see where the savings would come from. To begin with, Medicare is much more efficient in the use of health care dollars than the private insurance industry. This isn’t just about getting rid of corporate advertising and some overhead costs. This is about eliminating the vast amount of money spent on the health insurance industry and the huge profits they make. This is all money which would be better spent on health care for Americans.

Rationing? These days all health care payers have restrictions on what they will pay for. We already have rationing, and often it is the private payers which are more restrictive than the government Medicare program.

Some of the savings will come from the fact that Medicare often pays less than private insurance. Despite this, there is good reason why many of us doctors support the plan. The secret is that we believe we will come out ahead financially with Medicare for All. Here’s why–

Back in the old days, a medical practice would typically have one biller. Now things are much more complicated. Many practices need to pay additional people to handle the billing because of the complexity of handling different rules from each payer–and the billers are very likely the highest paid non-medical employee in any medical practice you step foot in. It gets even worse. We also have to have employees to handle getting prior authorizations from different payers for tests, procedures, and prescriptions, again dealing with multiple sets of rules. On top of all this, a growing amount of payment to physicians comes from incentive payments which come from not only practicing medicine as required, but having somebody enter all the data into the insurance company computer systems. Again, each payer has their own set of rules, often requiring more than one employee to handle them. Plus it is a headache to try to keep track of all the rules from each payer.

Just compare this to the overhead of a medical practice in Canada, which has a single payer plan similar to Medicare for All.

Plus if we have Medicare for All, we will no longer have to worry about bad debts from uninsured patients, and receiving payments significantly lower than from Medicare on patients with Medicaid. It is a win financially for many physicians, as well as for most Americans who will no longer have the large insurance premiums and out of pocket expenses they now face.

The Washington Post also questions whether Sanders  can pass his agenda. Whether or not he can is a fallacious reason not to support him. Sanders’ supporters see what Sanders speaks about as being a description of his long-term goals, not a set of promises to be completed his first hundred days in office. With our current grid lock in Washington, no candidate will be able to quickly get their goals through Congress, but I see Sanders has having a far better chance of bringing in members of Congress who will support him than Clinton. If Clinton is the nominee, my bet is that many people will split their ticket, wanting members of the other party to keep an eye on a president they know is untrustworthy.

Plus the important thing in voting for a president is over matters more directly under the control of the president. Sanders is far less likely to get us involved in unnecessary wars than Clinton or the Republican candidates. Sanders is more likely to reform the surveillance state and back away from the drug war. A Sanders Justice Department will treat those who violate the law on Wall Street far different than I would expect a Clinton Justice Department to respond.

It is The Washington Post, not Bernie Sanders, which is spreading fictions.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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Copyright 2016 The Moderate Voice
  • KP

    As you know from years of discussion, I am in favor of Medicare for all.

    However, the quote below makes my skin crawl, as when Obama promised something similar.

    < < He admits that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay for his universal, Medicare-for-all health-care plan, and he promises massive savings on health-care costs that would translate into generous benefits for ordinary people, putting them well ahead, on net. >>

    I don’t believe that.

    However, I do believe he thinks it is true (just as Obama promised me six years ago).

    It has become clear to me the middle class will pay for most of everything; with their money, with their health or with their lives.

    Those on the bottom will be lifted (good news). The middle class will bear more burden and those doing the best will continue to do the best.

    • What I don’t get is that I have seen many Hillary supporters promoting this piece. That’s disturbing- a hit piece full of false right wing talking points.

      • Hillary and her supporters have frequently used right wing talking points against Sanders, as they did against Obama.

        They also use the right wing press. One of the Clinton attacks on Sanders’ economic programs last fall came directly from a Wall Street Journal hit piece.

        Hillary Clinton is a conservative and I would expect her to make right wing arguments. That is essentially what the DLC has always done in trying to turn the Democratic Party into a Republican-lite party.

        The problem is that many of her supporters would not be citing right wing arguments if not for following the Clinton campaign. There is the danger that a Clinton presidency would move the country further to the right than a Republican one could. The Republicans would aim further to the right than Clinton, but would face more opposition from Democrats. Far too many Democrats would go along with right wing policies when promoted by Clinton.

    • The difference is that Obamacare brought necessary reforms but did little to change costs. We are still paying the high cost of private health insurance, with the advantage that it can’t be canceled for medical reasons. (I have many lower income patients who do come out ahead more than us due to subsidies or qualifying for the expanded Medicaid program.)

      Medicare For All will result in real savings from reducing health care costs, in contrast to the ACA. It will require higher taxes. The middle class will have to pay taxes for this but should come out ahead from no longer having to pay premiums. As with any big program, I would not be surprised if the savings turn out to be less than initial estimates.

      • There was an interesting piece where it pointed out how much the specifics of Bernie’s program didn’t matter, since congress would write any legislation- if anything were to make it that far. I think one thing ignored when looking at numbers though is a further proposal- removing the SS cap and applying the payroll tax to all income (earned and unearned). If that were done, you could lower the percentage taxed, raise the Medicare tax, and largely break even on overall taxation. I think it is also left out that premiums are charged for Medicare (left out by all sides) in our current system, along with supplemental policies that most purchase out of pocket. Personally, I look at universal coverage/ single payer as a goal- not a specific. When it comes to specifics, we have programs world wide to look at and base our options on. Point being, I see it more as a JFK ‘put a man on the moon’. He didn’t give specific details on how that would be accomplished- what tech would be used, budgets- he set a goal.

        • Slamfu

          That’s how I see it too.

        • Bob Munck

          I see it more as a JFK ‘put a man on the moon’. He didn’t give specific details on how that would be accomplished- what tech would be used, budgets- he set a goal.

          But Kennedy made that announcement before a joint session of Congress, after long consultations with NASA. That’s very different from a candidate for the office putting it in his stump speech. This year we have at least on candidate whose planning seems to go no deeper than “we’ll figure it out after I’m elected.” Sanders and Clinton can’t do anything like that; they have to give us sufficient specifics so that we can tell they’ve actually done the work.

          • Slamfu

            One very critical difference between Kennedy consulting NASA and other before making going out on a limb to set that goal. It had never been done before. That is not the case with what Sanders is proposing. Those things have been done, the barrier isn’t one of technology or hinging on some new discovery. There is no need to consult about universal healthcare, people have already done it, therefore it is possible. The barriers here are political, not technological. It is therefore perfectly reasonable that we set that goal and fight for it. Regulating the financial sector? Just a matter of political will. Progressive taxation, infrastructure spending, free college tuition, campaign finance reform? All matters or political will.

            The system we have is pretty entrenched, and a lot of special interests stand to lose a lot, and a lot of stuff will have to be redesigned, so it’s going to be really hard, but will yield tremendous long term and indeed short term benefits for this country. But we won’t get there if we don’t elect leaders who can fight for that. Make a case for that instead offering up half measures, most of which are designed by the industries and interests they were supposed to get a handle on.

            When speaking of that which has already been done, for a country that has more resources at it’s disposal than any other in history, saying we can’t do a thing is just saying we don’t feel like doing that thing.

          • Did the Clintons give any specifics about their health care plans before Bill was elected?

            Sanders has done the work. He has proposed Medicare for All for years, and this is not an idea exclusive to him. The details will change as that is how legislation works, but we have a far better idea of Sanders’ goals than Clinton’s vague statements and constant flip flopping as the wind blows.

            Last night she was a progressive. A few months ago when she thought she had a safe lead she said she was a centrist. Anyone who is confident she will govern as a progressive if elected is ignoring her history.

  • JSpencer

    FYI, if you want more details of Bernie’s tax plan than you can shake a stick at, knock yourselves out:

  • JSpencer

    “I know The Washington Post may think I’m radical, but I’m not.”

    If a corrupt system of government that only pays lip service to concepts of equal representation is your cup of tea, then maybe it’s radical. If you’re one of the 1%, then maybe it’s radical. Otherwise it’s in the category of fair and sensible. That doesn’t mean it won’t be hard work, but so what, we’ll just have to put some back into it. Do we want to be the country the greatest generation fought to protect in WWII, or do we want to be a country controlled by oligarchs with no use for history, social justice, economic justice, environmental justice, or the intent of the founders?

    • The mindset is that only a very narrow set of views are acceptable and the rest are too radical.

      Sanders expands what we can consider, opening matters up to how much of the rest of the world sees things.

      Clinton and her supporters limit what is possible, such as with saying we will not have a single payer system, and moves us further to the right.

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