Progressives and Centrist Dems Unite on Medicare for All
What seemed impossible just a few years ago now seems inevitable as a slew of senate Democrats in the past 48 hours have announced they will co-sponsor Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill that he introduced on Sep. 13. Shocking to both progressive and establishment Democrats, the first to announce their co-sponsorship was California senator Kamala Harris; this was a blow to establishment Democrats who in many ways liked Harris because she wasn’t a Sanders style progressive. To this day, very few have commented on her support of Sanders’ bill other than to note that several Democrats have lined up behind it.
The bill has two more notable supporters; Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand. Booker of course is known for taking more money than almost anyone in congress from Wall Street and donors, as well as his advocacy for charter schools, his defense of private equity firms, and his vote against a Sanders-Klobuchar amendment earlier this year that would have allowed the importation of cheap Canadian drugs to be sold in the US market.
Booker, as it turns out, during his career has taken over $400,000 from the pharmaceutical industry. Like Kamala Harris, he’s often talked about in establishment circles as a strong 2020 prospect, so his co-sponsorship is in many ways likely laying the foundation for a run for the White House. Nonetheless, for Clinton-Democrats who are against or at least resistant to single-payer, it’s a bit of punch in the face. Gillibrand, the female senator from New York, is in many ways seen by members of the establishment as ‘Hillary Clinton lite,’ which makes her co-sponsorship even sweeter and an even bigger kick in the head to the establishment.
Today a slew of new co-sponsorships have rolled in from senate Democrats. As of right now, 16 Senate Democrats have lined up behind Bernie’s bill; Kirsten Gillibrand, Al Franken, Tammy Baldwin, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Mazie Hirono, Patrick Leahy, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Martin Heinrich, Jeanne Shaheen, Tom Udall, Brian Schatz, Elizabeth Warren, and Sheldon Whitehouse.
This comes as a recent poll from Quinnipiac University from the summer found that 60% of Americans support expanding Medicare to cover everyone. 53% of Trump voters support the public option. Also important to keep in mind is the fact that the Rep. John Conyers’ House version of Sanders’ bill, HR 676, currently has 117 co-sponsors––60% of the Democratic House caucus.
At a time when many see a ‘civil war’ within the Democratic party between the progressive left and the establishment center-right, there’s actually a lot of unity going on and this is a perfect example. There’s strong unity happening right now on the issue of healthcare. In the senate, both the progressive Bernie-Warren wing of the caucus are joining together with the Booker-Gillibrand centrist wing of the party to make healthcare a right for all, not just a privilege for the wealthy. Democrats in the House and Senate are coming together on single-payer.
Some form of single-payer healthcare has long been a goal of the Democratic Party. There is now a resurgence in Democrats who want to make healthcare a right, free to all at the point of use and make part of FDR’s dream of the second bill of rights come true…What someone once described Medicare for All as a theoretical idea that will “never ever come to pass” and compared it to promising people a “pony” now more than ever seems like an inevitable reality waiting to happen.