Interesting perspective, but I’m afraid this article is deficient on facts, as are many of Bernie’s policy proposals and his legislative strategy for getting those proposals accomplished.
I like Bernie and think he’s spot on about income inequality and the negative influence of corporate contributions on our politics. I also like Bernie’s supporters because a lot of them are my friends and they remind me of the feeling of possibility I felt as a Howard Dean supporter when I was in college, or when I supported Obama in 2008.
Yet, I think the bigger difference in this democratic primary is not not progressive vs. neo-liberal, but rather progressive idealist vs. progress pragmatist. I simply don’t think that Bernie’s proposals are achievable.
Is universal healthcare the right thing to do? Of course. But don’t we remember the bruising fight for the Affordable Care Act? Obama had majorities in both houses of congress, and yet even discussing the public option caused a near total meltdown in the debate. Getting democrats in red/purple districts, who were worried about losing their next election, and getting just 1 republican to vote for the bill, meant we ended up with a less than perfect compromise. Indeed, many democrats in more conservative districts who supported the bill lost their seats in the 2010 congressional mid-terms, which killed Obama’s chance at passing immigration reform and other parts of his agenda.
Now combine that dose of political reality with the fact that the healthcare system represents 20% of the US economy and employs roughly 12–13 million people (doctors, nurses, aides, support staff, etc.). Health insurance companies alone employ over 500K people. Moreover, many (most?) people that have employer-sponsored health insurance are by and large happy with their insurance coverage. You’re telling over one hundred million people that are happy with their current coverage will now be covered by the government? Liberals may rejoice, but many people will be pissed. It’s one thing to complain about your private insurance company denying coverage for a procedure, but when the government does it, the level of outrage is at a different level. And make no mistake, for Bernie to achieve the healthcare efficiencies his plan proposes, there will be limits on what is covered. After the hysteria caused by Obamacare, do we honestly think that this will fly? And in terms of cost, while Bernie’s plan may save a family of four on their total bill, it represents roughly $1.5-$2 trillion in new government spending…do we think the republicans will go for that? I hate to sound jaded, but if you think this is feasible, I can give you a great deal on a bridge.
Hillary’s approach is incremental and will cost much less, and has a more realistic chance of passing and moving the current 90% coverage closer to 100%. Is her plan perfect? No. Is Hillary the perfect candidate? Of course not…she’s a politician and a pragmatist, and that can lead to uncomfortable compromises at times, but compromise is how government works. No side gets everything they want…you meet somewhere in the middle.
I could go on and on about other aspects of Bernie’s platform vs. Hillary’s…but the gist is that while Bernie’s supporters are excited about his proposals, there hasn’t been nearly enough scrutiny regarding how those proposals can be accomplished. Would you rather have a 20% chance at perfect or an 80% chance at good. I’ll take the latter, which is why Hillary gets my vote.